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Recap: Minimum Support Price

Minimum Support Price (MSP) is the assured price at which foodgrains are procured from farmers by the central and state governments and their agencies, for central pool of foodgrains. The central pool is used for providing foodgrains under the Public Distribution System (PDS) and other welfare schemes, and also kept as reserve in the form of buffer stock.  However, in the past few months, there have been demands to extend MSP to private trade as well and guarantee MSP to farmers on all kinds of trade.

Is MSP applicable for all crops?

The central government notifies MSP for 23 crops every year before the Kharif and Rabi seasons based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, an attached office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. These crops include foodgrains such as cereals, coarse grains, and pulses.  However, public procurement is largely limited to a few foodgrains such as paddy (rice), wheat, and, to a limited extent, pulses.

Since rice and wheat are the primary foodgrains distributed under PDS and stored for food security, their procurement level is considerably high. 

How does procurement vary across states?

The procurement of foodgrains is largely concentrated in a few states.  Three states (Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana) producing 46% of the wheat in the country account for 85% of its procurement.   For rice, six states (Punjab, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Haryana) with 40% of the production have 74% share in procurement. 

The rice and wheat focus

  • Procurement of marketed surplus of paddy (rice) and wheat at Minimum Support Price (MSP) completely insulated farmers against any price or market risks. It also ensured a reasonably stable flow of income from these two crops.
  • Over time, the technological advantage of rice and wheat over other competing crops further increased as public sector agriculture research and development allocated their best resources and scientific manpower to these two crops.
  • Other public and private investments in water and land and input subsidies were the other favourable factors.
  • Thus, wheat in rabi and paddy in Kharif turned out to be the best in terms of productivity, income, price and yield risk and ease of cultivation among all the field crops (cereals, pulses, oilseeds).

85% wheat procurement is from three states (2019-20)

76% of the rice procured comes from six states (2019-20)

Punjab, Haryana vs. States

The region comprising Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, was an early adopter of Green Revolution technology. It was also a major beneficiary of various policies adopted to spread modern agriculture technology in the country.

  • High productivity, assured MSP which is often above open market price, free power, and fertilizer subsidy underlie the higher income per unit area from wheat and paddy cultivation.
  • Land-labour ratio is also very favourable in Punjab when compared to other States; on an average, a farmer owns and cultivates 2.14 hectares net sown area as against 1.42 hectares in Haryana and 1.17 hectares at the national level.
  • An estimate of income (derived from National Accounts Statistics) shows that all agriculture activities taken together to generate an annual net income of ₹5.31 lakh per cultivator in Punjab; it is ₹3.44 lakh in Haryana while the all-India average is ₹1.7 lakh (reference year, 2017-18).

How has MSP affected the cropping pattern?

According to the central government’s procurement policy, the objective of public procurement is to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices for their produce and do not have to resort to distress sale.  If farmers get a better price in comparison to MSP, they are free to sell their produce in the open market.  The Economic Survey 2019-20 observed that the regular increase in MSP is seen by farmers as a signal to opt for crops which have an assured procurement system (for example, rice and wheat).  

Declining Incomes

  • Loss of growth momentum in the income from the agriculture sector, which has fallen to 1% in Haryana and 0.6% in Punjab after 2011-12.
  • With the productivity of rice and wheat reaching a plateau, there is pressure to seek an increase in MSP to increase income. However, demand and supply do not favour an increase in MSP in real terms.
  • In India, the per capita intake of rice and wheat is declining and consumers’ preference is shifting towards other foods.
  • The average spending by urban consumers is more on beverage and spices than on all cereals. On the supply side, rice production is rising at the rate of 14% per year in Madhya Pradesh, 10% in Jharkhand and 7% in Bihar.

Issues related to procurement

  • Limited procurement in different regions.
  • MSP leading to farmer preference for the production of few crops like wheat and rice.
  • The growing rice production will further increase pressure on the procurement and buffer stock of rice. Rice and wheat procurement in the country has more than doubled after 2006-07 and buffer stocks have swelled to an all-time high.
  • The country does not find an easy way to dispose of such large stocks and they are creating stress on the fiscal resources of the government.
  • Procurement of almost the entire market arrivals of rice and wheat at MSP for more than 50 years has affected the entrepreneurial skills of farmers to sell their produce in a competitive market where prices are determined by demand and supply and competition.

Environmental issues, unemployment

  • The biggest casualty of paddy cultivation and the policy of free power for pumping out groundwater for irrigation is the depletion of groundwater resources.
  • In the last decade, the water table has shown a decline in 84% observation wells in Punjab and 75% in Haryana.
  • In the last couple of years, the burning of paddy stubble and straw has become another serious environmental and health hazard in the whole region.
  • Another rather more serious challenge for the two States is to provide attractive employment to rural youths. Most of the farm work in these two States is undertaken by migrant labour.

Is MSP mandatory for private trade as well in some states?

MSP is not mandatory for purchase of foodgrains by private traders or companies.  It acts as a reference price at which the government and its agencies procure certain foodgrains from farmers.

In September 2020, the central government enacted a new farm law which allows anyone with a PAN card to buy farmers’ produce in the ‘trade area’ outside the markets notified or run by the state Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs).  Buyers do not need to get a license from the state government or APMC, or pay any tax to them for such purchase in the ‘trade area’.  These changes in regulations raised concerns regarding the kind of protections available to farmers in the ‘trade area’ outside APMC markets, particularly in terms of the price discovery and payment.  

In October 2020, Punjab passed a Bill in response to the central farm law to prohibit purchase of paddy and wheat below MSP. Any person or company compelling or pressurising farmers to sell below MSP will be punished with a minimum of three-year imprisonment and a fine. 

Similarly, in November 2020, Rajasthan passed a Bill to declare those contract farming agreements as invalid where the purchase is done below MSP.   Any person or company compelling or pressurising farmers to enter into such an invalid contract will be punished with 3 to 7 years of imprisonment, or a fine of minimum five lakh rupees, or both.   Both these Bills have not been enacted yet as they are awaiting the Governors’ assent.

Way forward

  • The solution to the ecological, environmental and economic challenges facing agriculture in the traditional Green Revolution States is not in legalizing MSP but to shift from MSP crops to high-value crops and in the promotion of non-farm activities.
  • Rather than focusing on a few enterprises, Punjab and Haryana should look at a large number of area-specific enterprises to avoid gluts.
  • This will require a mechanism to cover price and market risks. Farmers’ groups and farmer producer organizations can play a significant role in the direct marketing of their produce.

To encourage crop diversification and thereby reduce the consumption of water, some state governments are taking measures to incentivise farmers to shift away from paddy and wheat.  For example, Haryana has launched a scheme in 2020 to provide Rs 7,000 per acre to those farmers who will use more than 50% of their paddy area (as per the area sown in 2019-20) for other crops.  The farmers can grow maize, bajra, pulses, or cotton in such diversified area.  Further, the crop produce grown in such diversified area under the scheme will be procured by the state government at MSP.

  • Both Punjab and Haryana need to promote economic activities with strong links with agriculture tailored to State specificities.
  • Some options for this are: promotion of food processing in formal and informal sectors; a big push to post-harvest value addition and modern value chains; a network of agro- and agri-input industries; high-tech agriculture; and a direct link of production and producers to consumers and consumers without involving intermediaries.
  • The traditional Green Revolution States of Punjab and Haryana would need to shed “business as usual” approach and embrace an innovative development strategy in agriculture and non-agriculture to secure and improve the future of farming and rural youth.

References:-

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/punjab-haryana-need-to-look-beyond-msp-crops/article33339838.ece
https://www.prsindia.org/theprsblog/examining-urban-local-governance-india-through-case-bengaluru
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H/L Relevance News

Recap: New Labour laws

Another important topic for mains is the reforms in the labour laws. Revise this topic again with this piece of article.

  • The Parliament has passed new versions of three labour codes — Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020, Code on Social Security Bill, 2020 and Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2020.
  • The Code on Social Security 2020, which received the Presidential Assent on 28 September 2020, subsumes major regulations relating to social security, retirement and employee benefits.

What is Social Security?

  • Social security is “any government system that provides monetary assistance to people with an inadequate or no income”.
  • It refers to the action programs of an organization intended:
  • to promote the welfare of the population through assistance measures guaranteeing access to sufficient resources for food and shelter and
  • to promote health and well-being for the population at large and potentially vulnerable segments such as children, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed

Why need Social Security?

  • India has a very basic social security system catering to a fairly small percentage of the country’s workforce.
  • Traditionally, Indians relied on their extended families for support in the event of illness or other misfortunes.
  • However, due to migration, urbanization, and higher social mobility, family bonds are less tight and family units much smaller than they used to be.

Social Security System in India

  • India’s social security system is composed of a number of schemes and programs spread throughout a variety of laws and regulations.
  • Keeping in mind, however, that the government-controlled social security system in India applies to only a small portion of the population.
  • Furthermore, the social security system in India includes not just an insurance payment of premiums into government funds (like in China), but also lump sum employer obligations.

Generally, India’s social security schemes cover the following types of social insurances:

  • Pension
  • Health Insurance and Medical Benefit
  • Disability Benefit
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Gratuity

While a great deal of the Indian population is in the unorganized sector and may not have an opportunity to participate in each of these schemes, Indian citizens in the organized sector (which include those employed by foreign investors) and their employers are entitled to coverage under the above schemes.

Code on Social Security 2020

The 3 bills which were passed are

  1. Industrial Relations Code, 2020
  2. Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020 &
  3. Social Security Code, 2020

All the labour laws (29 in number) being amalgamated into 4 labour codes are :

Name of the Code Amalgamated laws
Wage Code  4 laws – The Payment of Wages Act, 1936 The Minimum Wages Act, 1948 The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
IR Code  3 laws – The Trade Unions Act, 1926 The Industrial Employment (Standing orders) Act, 1946 The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
OS Code  13 laws – The Factories Act, 1948 The Plantations Labour Act, 1951 The Mines Act, 1952 The Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 The Working Journalists (Fixation of Rates of Wages) Act, 1958 The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 The Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976 The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 The Cine-Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act, 1981 The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986 The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996
Social Security Code  9 laws – The Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923 The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 The Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 The Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959 The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 The Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981 The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996 The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008

Here are the key features of these bills:

 (A) Social Security Code, 2020

  • The facility of ESIC would now be provided in all 740 districts. At present, this facility is being given in 566 districts only.
  • EPFO’s coverage would be applicable to all establishments having 20 workers. At present, it was applicable only on establishments included in the Schedule.
  • Provision has been made to formulate various schemes for providing comprehensive social security to workers in the unorganised sector.
  • A “Social Security Fund” will be created on the financial side in order to implement these schemes.
  • Work to bring newer forms of employment created with the changing technology like “platform worker or gig worker” into the ambit of social security has been done in the Social Security Code.
  • Provision for Gratuity has been made for Fixed Term Employee and there would not be any condition for minimum service period for this.
  • With the aim of making a national database for unorganised sector workers, registration of all these workers would be done on an online portal and this registration would be done on the basis of Self Certification through a simple procedure.

 (B) Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020

  • Free health checkup once a year by the employer for workers which are more than a certain age.
  • A legal right for getting Appointment Letter given to workers for the first time.
  • Cine Workers have been designated as Audio Visual Worker so that more and more workers get covered under the OSH code. Earlier, this security was being given to artists working in films only.

(C)  Industrial Relations Code, 2020

Efforts made by the Government for quickly resolving disputes of the workers include:

  • Compulsory facility for Helpline for redressal of problems of migrant workers.
  • Making a national database of migrant workers.
  • Provision for the accumulation of one day leave for every 20 days worked when work has been done for 180 days instead of 240 days.
  • Equality for women in every sphere: Women have to be permitted to work in every sector at night, but it has to be ensured that provision for their security is made by the employer and consent of women is taken before they work at night.
  • In the event of the death of a worker or injury to a worker due to an accident at his workplace, atleast 50 % share of the penalty would be given. This amount would be in addition to Employees Compensation.
  • Provision of “Social Security Fund” for 40 Crore unorganized workers alongwith GIG and platform workers and will help Universal Social Security coverage
  • Occupational Safety & Health Code to also can now over cover workers from IT and Service Sector.
  • 14 days notice for Strike so that in this period amicable solution comes out.

Now let’s look up at the various loopholes of these Bills one by one:

A. The Code on Social Security, 2020

  1. No robust entitlements:
  • To begin, the Code does not emphasise social security as a right, nor does it make reference to its provision as stipulated by the Constitution.
  • In addition, it does not stipulate a clear date for enforcement, which will leave millions of workers vulnerable without clear social protections.

2. No universalization

  • A model scheme covering the issues such as education, health, social security, pensions and other benefits which can assure a dignified life for workers.
  • It is essential that social security protections be made universal for the entire Indian workforce, i.e. that such protections be universal.
  • Instead of this, the Code makes arbitrary categorizations that will leave millions of working poor out of its protections. While the Code defines multiple categories, most definitions are ambiguous.

3. Migrant workers find NO special mention

  • Interstate migrant workers should have been mentioned as a separate category with the establishment of a sizable Welfare Fund with contributions by sending and receiving states and employers.
  • Given the particular distress faced by such workers in the last few months, there are no provisions established for migrant workers who face very specific vulnerabilities.
  • There is not even a provision for the portability of social security which takes into account their continuous movement within the country.
  • There is no consideration for unemployment protection for unorganised workers, which is particularly important at times of great recession and crisis.

4. Pro-employer

  • Finally, the Code makes it easier for employers to flout legally required social protection for workers.
  • For instance, there is no stringent penalty for non-contribution of Provident Fund dues by employer/contractor.
  • As an effective deterrent and policy tool to ensure timely payment of dues, penal provisions should be incorporated for large employers who have the capacity to pay regular Provident Fund contributions.

B. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020

  1. Ignores key economic activities
  • The Code excludes many branches of economic activities, most notably, the agriculture sector which employs more than 50% of total working population of India.
  • Further, the employees in other unorganised sectors such as small mines, hotels & eating places, machinery repairs, construction, brick kilns, etc find no mention.
  • Also those employed as informal workers in organized sectors, including new and emerging sectors such as IT and IT enabled services, digital platforms, e-commerce, have also not found coverage under the Code.

2. Ambiguous occupational safety

  • It is appalling that the Code has got away by not fixing any responsibility on employers with respect to safety and health.
  • It does not specify even minimum standards for Occupation Safety and Health, or daily and weekly working hours and everything has been delegated to the Central government to be stipulated through notification.
  • A minimum Occupation Safety and Health standard should have been specified in the Code itself.

3. Issue of fair treatment

  • The Code does not contain any provisions for equal treatment for contract labour that perform work of a similar nature as that of permanent workers in the same establishment.
  • Contract labour that is engaged in similar work in the same establishment should have been treated on par with permanent workers in the matter of wages and other conditions of employment.

C. The Industrial Relations Code, 2020

  1. Restrictions on ‘Freedom of Association’
  • The definition of strike has been broadened to include “the concerted casual leave on a given day by fifty percent or more workers employed in an industry”.
  • This constrains workers’ ability to participate in collective bargaining processes and demonstrations.
  • Beside this, there are several restrictions made on right to strike – workers will be subject to penal sanctions for the mere fact of organizing or participating in a peaceful strike.
  • Imposing such sanctions on strikes that are justified amounts to a grave violation of the principles of freedom of association.

2. Definitional issues

  • The definition of “industry” includes terms like “charitable”, “philanthropic”, “social”, etc. which are undefined and can be misused.
  • A manufacturer of sanitary pads or toilet paper, for instance, may claim to be a social activity and therefore not an industry.
  • The change in the definition of “wage” is either the result of muddled thinking or made with malicious intent.
  • It will have the effect of reducing retrenchment compensation, subsistence allowance etc., which is deplorable.

3. Fixed-term contracts

  • There is an institutionalization of “fixed term contracts” as tenure of employment.
  • Workers employed on a fixed term basis may be terminated on the completion of their contract, even while there is an actual need for their services.
  • In other words, they may be terminated from service without any just and reasonable cause. This will further create instability and massive labour market unrest.
  • The fixed term employment does not guarantee the right to receive notice or wages in lieu of notice prior to the termination of services.

Conclusion

  • The government needs to work more to recognise that focusing on economic growth without redistribution of wealth leads to jobless growth and socially unaccountable prosperity.
  • Every law has to aim to maintain the best possible balance between competing interests and should try to give as much comfort to the weaker of the two sides, as much possible in the larger interest of our nation.
  • Ultimately these laws will be as good as their implementation, mere letters of law have no meaning.
  • The government has to ensure that they are implemented with honesty and integrity, then only the country will be able to achieve the desired goal of speeding up economic growth and unleashing the untapped potential of thousands and thousands of our industries, businesses and entrepreneurs to take the nation to new heights.

References

https://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/code-social-security-2020

https://www.financialexpress.com/money/the-code-on-social-security-2020-how-will-this-new-labour-code-benefit-employees-workers/2098269/

https://scroll.in/article/973877/why-the-new-labour-codes-leave-workers-even-more-precariously-poised-than-before

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Recap: Fiscal stimulus and COVID

“In an economy that is overleveraged to historic proportions, economic stimuli may not do the trick.”

– Kenneth Eade

Another topic to look into this mains season is the effect of covid on various other systems like financial, health, and social. Recap one of the relationship of covid with economics.

What is a Fiscal Stimulus?

A ‘stimulus’ is an attempt by policymakers to kick-start a sluggish economy through a package of measures. A monetary stimulus will see the central bank expanding money supply or reducing the cost of money (interest rates), to spur consumer spending. A fiscal stimulus entails the Government spending more from its own coffers or slashing tax rates to put more money in the hands of consumers.

Need for a fiscal stimulus

With monetary policy, both conventional and unconventional, having reached the limits of its effectiveness in most of the advanced industrial countries, the only instrument left for boosting demand is fiscal policy. There are calls for a government stimulus package to revitalize the economy.

 (1) Powering the Demand

  • When demand in an economy stays weak for long, businesses stop investing in new projects, unemployment rises, income shrinks and consumer confidence wanes. This prompts consumers to retreat further.
  • A stimulus could shot to consumer spending; it revives business confidence, restarts projects, creates jobs and sets off a virtuous cycle of feel-good, demand and growth.

(2) Boosting the Employment

  • Many people have lost their jobs or seen their incomes cut due to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Unemployment rates have increased across major economies as a result.

(3) Risking away the recession

  • The IMF says that the global economy will shrink by 3% this year. It described the decline as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • If the economy has to grow, it generally means more wealth and more new jobs and more spending, which is difficult without a stimulus package.

(4) Business resumption

  • The COVID-19 pandemic came as a major blow to almost every sector of our economy and has created a credit-crunch. With most business permanently shut, others are crippled and reluctant to resume their business.
  • Almost all manufacturing industries were affected by the crisis. Pharma was actually identified as one of the very few “winners”, while motor vehicles were (and continues to be) one of the biggest “losers”.

Precautions necessary before ANY stimulus decision

Today’s stimulus measures have understandably been rolled out in haste — almost in a panic — to contain the economic fallout from the pandemic. Bad policies can contribute to inequality, sow instability, and undermine political support for the government precisely when it is needed to prevent the economy from falling.

 (1) Fear of liquidity trap

  • During periods of deep uncertainty, precautionary savings typically rise as households and businesses hold on to cash for fear of what lies ahead.
  • A liquidity trap is a situation in which, “after the rate of interest has fallen to a certain level, liquidity preference may become virtually absolute in the sense that almost everyone prefers holding cash.
  • Without a massive injection of emergency liquidity, there probably would have been widespread bankruptcies, losses of organisational capital, and an even steeper path to recovery.

(2) Inflationary outcomes

  • The fiscal response is driven by the need to arrest a major slowdown in economic growth.  However, there could be medium-term risks to the future inflation path, in the absence of timely fiscal consolidation.
  • A sudden spike in demand is highly inflationary in nature.

(3) Strain on the exchequer

  • Fiscal stimulus is warranted especially expenditures on health, food and income support for vulnerable households, and support for businesses.
  • This is likely to have a considerable impact on the government exchequer and the overall expenditure of the government on key sectors.

(4) Deterioration of public finances

  • India’s fiscal deficit in 2019-20 stood at around Rs 7.7 lakh crore, i.e. 3.8% of GDP. Hence, India’s fiscal room to opt for a massive stimulus appears much more limited.
  • Any aggressive stimulus spending will not only result in a surge in India’s gross public debt but will also negatively impact its credit ratings, highlighting the country’s fiscal conundrum.

India’s response to pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare our pre-existing fault lines and exposed the country to an unprecedented crisis. This situation has led to bold policy measures by governments at all tiers.

The Indian fiscal response is thus much weaker than what has been seen in advanced economies, but it is broadly in line with the average for emerging markets.

FISCALMONETARY
Economic Relief Package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana worth Rs 1.75 lakh crore (roughly 0.8% of the GDP).Repo rate and Reverse Repo rate reduced to 4.4% and 4% respectively on March 27 in an effort to boost liquidity into the system.
Direct food, cooking gas and cash transfers to selected sections of the lower-income households.Liquidity measures worth Rs 3.7 trillion via Long Term Repo Operations (LTRO) and a reduction of 100bps in Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR).
Insurance coverage for workers in the healthcare sector and wage support to low wage workers in terms of benefits for those currently working, as well as those who might lose their jobs.Provided relief to customers and lenders by granting a 3-month moratorium on loan repayments. SEBI has also relaxed its norms related to debt default on rated instruments.
Additional Rs 150 billion (roughly 0.1% of GDP) to be devoted to health infrastructure. Several measures to ease tax burden, including postponing compliance deadlines.Second round of measures which include Rs 50,000 crore liquidity for NBFCs and MFIs via TLTRO 2.0, Reverse Repo rate reduced to 3.75% to kickstart investments, WMA limit for state governments increased.

PM also announced Rs. 20 lakh crore packages for farmers, cottage industry, MSMEs, labourers, middle class etc., titled the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan in various tranches. These measures contain both fiscal and monetary measures combined into a single package.

International experience with the stimulus

India has surpassed almost all others in the stringency of its containment measures. However in terms of expenditure, India’s response isn’t that promising.

  • India’s fiscal stimulus to date, estimated at ₹1.7 trillion, is less than 1% of the country’s GDP, which is paltry compared to the magnitude of stimulus injections undertaken by many East Asian countries such as Japan (20%), Malaysia (16.2%) and Singapore (12.2%).
  • Even, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Egypt, all while averaging less stringent measures than those in India, have announced stimulus measures that are as large or more substantial, as a share of GDP.
  • Countries have also significantly expanded coverage of their cash transfer programmes from pre-COVID-19 levels; Bangladesh and Indonesia have increased the number of beneficiaries by 163% and 111%, respectively. Indonesia’s cash schemes now cover more than 158 million people (or 60% of the population).
  • Developing countries are resorting to drastic means to finance COVID-19 responses. Actions so far include the amendment of legal budget limits and the enhanced issuance of bonds — including a ‘pandemic bond’ by Indonesia.
  • Many developing countries have a dual strategy of providing immediate aid to workers who have been laid off and feeding poor families, while also trying to keep firms afloat. Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and China have all announced tax relief — in the form of deferments or reductions — for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in hard-hit regions.
  • Brazil has also created a $10 billion (₹760 bn) programme to allow businesses affected by COVID-19 to reduce workers’ salaries and hours by up to 70%, with the government partially compensating workers for up to three months.
  • One important omission from the Indian response is such direct wage support for micro, small, and medium enterprises, which account for the bulk of employment.

While we might not be able to match these advanced economies in terms of financial resources, we can implement policies on a similar scale.

“It is important that we note the weaknesses in our financial system, and work toward implementing solutions before the next crisis roars.”

Analysis of India’s response

The whole world is commending India’s efforts and bold initiatives that have prioritized “life over livelihood”. Based on the figures, it is safe to say that India has spent a lot less, especially on the fiscal front in terms of stimulus packages introduced by governments, as compared to other countries.

One might argue that these responses cannot be compared to each other due to two main reasons.

  1. First, the number of cases as well as the rate at which they are increasing is much less in India due to the early implementation of lockdown.  
  2. And second, India’s economy is much more different than the ones whose data has been mentioned above, so it is not at all necessary for the same measures to be effective for our country as well.

However, the economic crises faced by all these countries do share some common ground. Here’s what we can derive from this data:

1) Sectors like small businesses and MSMEs have been adversely affected by this crisis in all countries irrespective of how developed they are. India is yet to address their issues directly; hence, a strong assumption is that we will soon see measures from the government’s side to provide them with some relief.

2) India’s healthcare system is hardly as developed and advanced as in the above-mentioned countries. And yet, the amount these countries have allocated to this sector is much higher.

3) Unemployment is on the rise everywhere. A report by the ILO said that more than 40 crore Indian workers in the unorganised sector are expected to lose their jobs. Hence, printing more money in order to give it directly to people in these times as income, something which is already being done in countries like the US and UK, is worth considering for India as well.

4) Special focus has been given to worst affected industries like airlines, travel and e-commerce in these countries. We are yet to see something similar in India.

Moving ahead: India needs to spend more

  • Under the ambit of fiscal policy, first, the government should front-load its $250 billion spending plan under the National Infrastructure Pipeline.
  • Second, it should announce a sizeable package to compensate, at least partially, the irrecoverable loss of income suffered by the Indian industry, be it big, small, or medium.
  • Third, this is an opportunity for India to position itself as the next global manufacturing hub in sectors such as textiles, food processing, pharma, and metals (particularly steel). Trade, tax and investment policies should be calibrated accordingly to achieve this.

Under the ambit of monetary policy, following steps can amplify the impact of fiscal measures.

  • First, banks must extend term loans and working capital to Indian industry with a government backstop for the first loss up to 25%.  The government needs to provide credit protection to the banking system.
  • Second, banks should have discretion and flexibility to undertake loan restructuring aimed at ensuring the stability of operations across several sectors.
  • Third, a sharp reduction in lending rates is imperative. While the policy rate has fallen by 210 basis points, transmission to industry has been less than 60 basis points.
  • Fourth, banks must defer loan and interest payments by at least one year, as industry needs time to generate free cash flows.

Three T’s for optimum impact

To have the greatest impact with the least long-run cost, the stimulus should be timely, temporary, and targeted.

  • Timely, so that its effects are felt while economic activity is still below potential; when the economy has recovered, the stimulus becomes counterproductive
  • Temporary, to avoid raising inflation and to minimize the adverse long-term effects of a larger budget deficit, and
  • Well-targeted, to provide resources to the people who most need them and will spend them: for fiscal stimulus to work, it is essential that the funds be spent, not saved.

We can hope that the above steps are taken expeditiously and translated into action on the ground to reboot the Indian economy at the earliest.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the ongoing debate might be a misleading factor to judge our response to this crisis. And it definitely doesn’t mean what we’re doing is enough. This crisis happens to be an uncertain and unprecedented one; holding back on spending clearly doesn’t seem to be an option for the Indian government right now.

Maintaining the overall fiscal discipline, the government must not worry about the fiscal deficit, as reviving the economy is the need of the hour, even if it comes at the cost of high inflation, though such an outcome is unlikely.


References

https://www.livemint.com/opinion/columns/opinion-stimulus-is-the-need-of-the-hour-for-a-reboot-of-economic-activity-11587924077595.html

https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/which-economic-stimulus-works-120060901820_1.html

https://www.cbgaindia.org/study-report/numbers-edge-assessing-indias-fiscal-response-covid-19/

https://thewire.in/economy/liquiduty-fiscal-stimulus-covid-19-relief

https://bfsi.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/policy/india-v/s-the-world-response-to-the-coronavirus-economic-crisis/75284378

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-covid-19-fiscal-response-and-indias-standing/article32154153.ece

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H/L Relevance News

Recap: Agricultural Reform Bills 2020

As the farmers of Punjab and Haryana are protesting on the Delhi border against 3 farmer bills by the Centre, the topic becomes important for upcoming mains. So, let us recap the burning issues article related to these 3 bills.

What are these ordinances?

  1. The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020;
  2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and
  3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 (It is the Bill replacing the third that has been passed in Lok Sabha)

Let us study their key features:

(1) The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020

  • Trade of farmers’ produce: The Ordinance allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce outside: (i) the physical premises of market yards run by market committees formed under the state APMC Acts and (ii) other markets notified under the state APMC Acts.  Such trade can be conducted in an ‘outside trade area’, i.e., any place of production, collection, and aggregation of farmers’ produce including (i) farm gates, (ii) factory premises, (iii) warehouses, (iv) silos, and (v) cold storages.
  • Electronic trading: The Ordinance permits the electronic trading of scheduled farmers’ produce (agricultural produce regulated under any state APMC Act) in the specified trade area. The following entities may establish and operate such platforms: (i) companies, partnership firms, or registered societies, having permanent account number under the Income Tax Act, 1961 or any other document notified by the central government, and (ii) a farmer producer organisation or agricultural cooperative society.
  • Market fee abolished: The Ordinance prohibits state governments from levying any market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for the trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’.

(2) The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020

  • Farming agreement: The Ordinance provides for a farming agreement between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce.  The minimum period of an agreement will be one crop season, or one production cycle of livestock.  The maximum period is five years, unless the production cycle is more than five years.
  • Pricing of farming produce: The price of farming produce should be mentioned in the agreement.  For prices subjected to variation, a guaranteed price for the produce and a clear reference for any additional amount above the guaranteed price must be specified in the agreement.  Further, the process of price determination must be mentioned in the agreement.
  • Dispute Settlement: A farming agreement must provide for a conciliation Board as well as a conciliation process for settlement of disputes.   If the dispute remains unresolved by the Board after thirty days, parties may approach the Sub-divisional Magistrate for resolution.  Parties will have a right to appeal to an Appellate Authority (presided by collector or additional collector) against decisions of the Magistrate.  Both the Magistrate and Appellate Authority will be required to dispose of a dispute within thirty days from the receipt of application.  They may impose certain penalties on the party contravening the agreement.

(3) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020

  • Regulation of food items: The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 empowers the central government to designate certain commodities (such as food items, fertilizers, and petroleum products) as essential commodities.  The Ordinance provides that the central government may regulate the supply of certain food items including cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils, only under extraordinary circumstances. These include (i) war, (ii) famine, (iii) extraordinary price rise and (iv) natural calamity of grave nature.
  • Stock limit: The Ordinance requires that the imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise.  A stock limit may be imposed only if there is: (i) a 100% increase in the retail price of horticultural produce; and (ii) a 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items.

A Backgrounder: Long awaited APMC reforms

  • Agricultural markets in India are mainly regulated by state Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) laws.  APMCs were set up with the objective of ensuring fair trade between buyers and sellers for effective price discovery of farmers’ produce.
  • APMCs can:
  • regulate the trade of farmers’ produce by providing licenses to buyers, commission agents, and private markets,
  • levy market fees or any other charges on such trade, and
  • provide necessary infrastructure within their markets to facilitate the trade

Issues with the APMCs

  • The Standing Committee on Agriculture (2018-19) identified some issues includes: (i) most APMCs have a limited number of traders operating, which leads to cartelization and reduces competition, and (ii) undue deductions in the form of commission charges and market fees.
  • Traders, commission agents, and other functionaries organise themselves into associations, which do not allow easy entry of new persons into market yards, stifling competition.
  • The Acts are highly restrictive in promotion of multiple channels of marketing (such as more buyers, private markets, direct sale to businesses and retail consumers, and online transactions) and competition in the system.
  • During 2017-18, the central government released the model APMC and contract farming Acts to allow restriction-free trade of farmers’ produce, promote competition through multiple marketing channels, and promote farming under pre-agreed contracts.

Why were the ordinances promulgated?

  • The Ordinances collectively seek to-
  • facilitate barrier-free trade of farmers’ produce outside the markets notified under the various state APMC laws
  • define a framework for contract farming and
  • impose stock limits on agricultural produce only if there is a sharp increase in retail prices
  • The three Ordinances together aim to increase opportunities for farmers to enter long term sale contracts, increase the availability of buyers, and permits buyers to purchase farm produce in bulk.

Causes of nationwide dissent

(1) No consultation with stakeholders

  • The attempt to pass the Bills without proper consultation adds to the mistrust among various stakeholders including State governments.
  • The ruling government could have waited for the Parliament session, held discussions with all political parties before arriving at a decision.
  • Farmer organisations see these Bills as an attempt to weaken the APMCs and eventual withdrawal of the Minimum Support Prices (MSP).

(2) Issue over trade and MSP guarantee

  • While farmers are protesting against all three ordinances, their objections are mostly against the provisions of the first.
  • Their concerns are mainly about sections relating to “trade area”, “trader”, “dispute resolution” and “market fee” in the first ordinance.
  • In effect, existing mandis established under APMC Acts have been excluded from the definition of trade area under the new legislation.
  • According to the ordinance, any trader with a PAN card can buy the farmers’ produce in the trade area.
  • In the present mandi system, arhatiyas (commission agents) have to get a licence to trade in a mandi.
  • Critics view the dismantling of the monopoly of the APMCs as a sign of ending the assured procurement of food grains at minimum support prices (MSP). To the Centre’s ‘one nation, one market’ call, critics have sought ‘one nation, one MSP’.

(3) Legacy concerns

  • The Bills gives no assurance to the poor, small and marginal farmers of India (constituting over 85 per cent of India’s farmers) of protection of their interests, their livelihoods, and their future.
  • Critics argue that such legislation will let the farmers falling into the clutches of the monopolistic big corporates.
  • Lofty recommendations have been made several times in the past, including by the Swaminathan Committee, which suggested the removal of the mandi tax, creation of a single market and facilitating contract farming
  • However, no efforts have taken place for implementing these basic reforms over the years.

(4) Fear of food insecurity

  • Punjab CM, on the easing of regulation of food items, said, it would lead to exporters, processors and traders hoarding farm produce during the harvest season, when prices are generally lower, and releasing it later when prices increase.
  • This could undermine food security since the States would have no information about the availability of stocks within the State.

(5) Constitutional issues raised

  • Since agriculture and markets are State subjects – entry 14 and 28 respectively in List II – the ordinances are being seen as a direct encroachment upon the functions of the States and against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.
  • The Centre, however, argued that trade and commerce in food items is part of the concurrent list, thus giving it constitutional propriety.
  • The bills invite valid opposition: one, infraction of the states’ right to decide on intra-state commerce in agriculture, and two, officer-led dispute settlement outside the ambit of judicial review.

What are the promising features of these bills?

  • The new legislations would create an ecosystem where farmers and traders would enjoy the freedom of choice in the sale and purchase of agri-produce.
  • It would also promote barrier-free interstate or intrastate trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under the state agricultural produce marketing legislations.
  • The bills would also open up more choices for farmers, reduce marketing costs and help them in getting better prices.
  • At the same time, it would also help farmers of regions with surplus produce to get better prices and consumers of regions with shortages, lower prices.
  • The bill has also proposed an Electronic Trading Transaction Platform to ensure seamless electronic trade and the farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their products under this Act.
  • Interestingly, the bill aims for ‘One India, One Agriculture Market’ and also creates additional trading opportunities outside the APMC market yards to help farmers get remunerative prices due to the additional competition.
  • The new laws are not shutting down APMC mandis, nor are they implying that MSPs will not be functional.
  • This would supplement the existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement system, which also provides a stable income to farmers.

Still, why are the farmers fuming?

There has been bipartisan consensus over the last two decades or so—both the UPA and the NDA governments have tried and failed to convince state governments to reform APMC Acts, notwithstanding periodic manifesto promises and model APMC Acts.

They failed with all approaches, trying to link financial support to agriculture based on reforms. The present crisis created the perfect window to usher in these transformative reforms.

People on both sides of the divide are saturated with such reformative measures and have arrived at the commonsensical benefits that would be ushered in as well as the risks.

What lies ahead

  • Accelerating research and academic excellence can bring in the ‘best in class’ technologies and can multiply farmers’ incomes.
  • As far as the commission agents are concerned, the governments should work on a clear roadmap to modernize them by facilitating them in providing value-added services. They could be leveraged to set-up grading and sorting, warehousing, cold chains and food processing infrastructure. This way, it is a win-win-win for the state government, farmers and the commission agents.
  • Soil health improvement and water conservation measures should be the top priority for the governments to enhance farm productivity.
  • Similarly, by diversifying into high-value crops such as vegetables and fruit, India could become the food- processing hub for the world. Farmers have to be made part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem (FaME—Farmers as Micro-Entrepreneurs).

Conclusion

  • A lot of the success of these bills depends on trust and consensus. In the end, what will determine the results of this latest set of reforms will be their implementation.
  • There is genuine uncertainty over what private procurement will mean. Will it mean greater corporate power over farmers, possibly unhealthy monopolies or duopolies? Will they be harder to negotiate with than a state monopoly?
  • Leveraging the reforms and moving forward rather is the most feasible solution than to protest amid the pandemic.
  • What farmers need and are asking for is legally guaranteed remunerative prices. If the Bills are perceived of good intent, then the government should not shy away from a proper parliamentary scrutiny of all its details.
  • Political parties that are opposing these Bills should coordinate better keeping farmers’ interests in the forefront, and not their party politics.

References

https://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/farmers-produce-trade-and-commerce-promotion-and-facilitation-bill-2020

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-the-farm-bills-and-quandary/360640

https://frontline.thehindu.com/cover-story/article31951413.ece

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/explainer-why-are-the-agriculture-bills-being-opposed/article32618641.ece

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H/L Relevance News

Recap of Best Practices

In the cut-throat competition of civil services, each mark counts. “How can I make my answers different from the lot?”  is every aspirant’s constant worry. One way to do so is by quoting EXAMPLES in your answer. So, scroll down and find a list of contemporary best practices in various social sectors. Use these practices as examples in your mains papers to get that extra edge

[I] HEALTH AND NUTRITION

1) Arogya Kunji (Chatra Dist. Jharkhand)

Arogya Kunji initiative is an endeavor to ensure accessibility and availability of healthcare facilities in the district. It aims to extend the outreach and efficacy of timely medical aid and healthcare services in rural areas of this district through medical kits.

2) Centralised Kitchens for Better Nutrition (Nandurbar Dist. Maharashtra) 

In order to tackle deep-rooted problems of Malnourishment and Anaemia in the tribal-dominated district, the District Administration has established a Centralised Kitchen to provide hot and nutritious meals to children in residential schools, also known as Ashram Shalas.

3) Model Anganwadi Centres (Ramgarh Dist. Jharkhand)

The District Administration has established Model Anganwadi Centres across blocks to encourage best practices in management and improve learning outcomes.

These Anganwadis host regular outreach and awareness campaigns in the community to promote better health and hygiene, such as VHSNDs (Village, Health, Sanitation & Nutrition Days) that have been benefiting families across blocks. The Model Anganwadis include an upgraded in-house kitchen where nutritious meals are prepared for children to ensure a balanced diet.

4) ‘Hamar Swasthya’ App (Rajnandangaon in Chhattisgarh)

It helps for early detection of Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs) and registers the medical record of patients so that doctors and health workers have access to the medical history of patients and initiate timely treatment and subsequent follow-ups.

5) Hostels for pregnant tribal women (Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh)

The District Administration has constructed Hostels for pregnant women of these villages. Pregnant women are brought to the Hostel one month prior to the Expected Delivery Date (EDD). There, they are provided with home-like care and support along with nutritional food and intensive medical care, under the close observation of gynaecologists.

6) Kanya Taru Yojana (Hailakandi in Assam)

For encouraging Hospital Delivery parents of girl children born in any of the Government Hospitals are gifted with 5 saplings (Coconut, Litchi, Assam Lemon, Guava & Amla).

Parents are asked to take care of the saplings like their daughters. The fruits of the trees can be used to feed the child to develop her immunity through Vitamin C in Amla, fight malnutrition by Coconut and the profits earned from the sales could be redirected to investing in the girl’s education and improving green cover of the district.

[II] EDUCATION

1) Aakar Residential School for differently-abled (Sukma in Chhattisgarh)

To ensure inclusion of differently-abled students and to reduce their dropout rates, the District has started Aakar Residential School. The School undertakes other special activities catering to the overall need of these children including therapies for their cognitive development.

2) BALA- Building as Learning Aid (Shrawasti in Uttar Pradesh)

It is an innovative concept for teaching through child-friendly, learning and fun-based physical environment by building new infrastructure or refurbishing the existing School and Anganwadi buildings. The concept was originally developed by Vinyas, Centre for Agricultural Research and Design with the support of UNICEF. BALA includes the development of the entire physical environment of the School – indoor, outdoor and semi-open spaces.

3) Shiksha Saarthi Yojna (Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh)

Shortage of teachers in schools of rural areas is a major reason for poor learning outcomes. The main reason for the shortage is that teachers from urban areas are unwilling to move to rural areas due to lack of infrastructural facilities. To address this issue and ensure the availability of teachers in primary schools, Shiksha Saarthi Yojna was launched.

After the appointment of Shiksha Saarthis, student enrolments, attendance and proficiency level in all subjects have risen.

[III] AGRICULTURE AND WATER RESOURCES

1) Agriculture Entrepreneur Scheme (Ramgarh in Jharkhand)

It is a promising example of coordination between District Administration, CSOs and local citizens to develop a sustainable and scalable model of Agricultural development. The scheme involves imparting training to selected ‘Agri-Entrepreneurs’ for the incorporation of best practices in farming for a cost-effective and profitable model of Agricultural development.

2) Horticulture Price Agreement Initiative (Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh)

To make farming a profitable venture, this initiative was launched. The initiative has forward and backward linkages and guarantees procurement at maximum price & partnership in local microprocessing units for farmers, while generating employment for the local youth. The target groups in this Scheme are small and marginal farmers, families with female heads, families with specially challenged people as head of the family and farmers of deprived castes.

3) Sarvajal Project (Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand)

The project involves the installation of customised and decentralized drinking water solutions.

It leverages technology to bring community-level safe drinking water to the underserved. The solar-powered, cloud-connected water dispensing kiosks installed under the project have enabled citizens residing in remote areas, accessibility to clean palatable water.

4) ‘Taanka’ technique for rainwater harvesting and water conservation (Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh)

Taankas are underground rainwater storage tanks up to the capacity of 25,000 litres. This initiative follows the standard rainwater harvesting technique wherein rainwater from rooftops is collected through gutters and then made to pass through a sieve before being stored. Use of taankas has helped the district save enough water for lean summer months when the water demand is at its peak and supply invariably falls short.

[IV] FINANCIAL INCLUSION AND SKILL DEVELOPMENT

1) Solar MAMAs (Gumla in Jharkhand)

In the remote district, few hamlets have not yet been electrified due to scattered settlements, difficult topography and challenges of inaccessibility. To mitigate this challenge, the District Administration had organised local women in SHGs and trained them with skills needed for fabrication of solar panels, lights and photovoltaic circuits. These women are fondly addressed as Solar Mamas.

2) Khawa cluster concept (Osmanabad in Maharashtra)

In order to keep themselves afloat during severe droughts, farmers, within a Khawa cluster have come together, as an alternative to selling only milk. Khoya or Khawa (reduced dry milk) as a product has more demand and shelf life than milk and every farmer makes a profit for every litre. Farmers have organised themselves in cooperatives and are pooling their cattle for making Khawa (milk solids) from their daily milk production.

[V] BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE

1) Green technologies in Road Construction (Goalpara in Assam)

Depleting natural resources and closure of stone quarries had gravely hampered the progress of all-weather road construction. Despite this challenge, in order to provide all-weather connectivity to citizens, the district adopted various Green technologies for the construction of roads. Through this measure, apart from reducing dependence on natural resources and recycling waste plastic, the district has also been able to bring down the cost of construction and maintenance.

The technologies deployed by the district for construction of roads are-  Waste Plastic Technology, Cell Filled Concrete Technology, Geogrid Technology (Tenax 3D Grids), Cold Mix Technology and Interlocking Concrete Pavement Block (ICBP).

2) ‘Liter of Light’ Portable Lights (Ranchi in Jharkhand)

Here, women of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are being trained to lighten the lives of villagers in the district by producing portable room lights, designed and developed by the students of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai.

Recycled plastic bottles filled with water and a bit of bleach are fitted into the roof to provide lighting during the day, while at night, the same is upgraded with an LED bulb, micro-solar panels and a battery to provide a low-cost night lighting system.

3) Patsendri: A model colony under PMAY (Mahasamund in Chhattisgarh)

A Model Colony has been developed under the PM Awas Yojana (PMAY), with convergence between various physical work-related schemes and social sector schemes. Further expanding on this initiative, the District Administration has initiated convergence of various social sector schemes in Patsendri, and created a self-sustainable model for capacity building, employment generation, development & positive use of social capital, with a focus on the Patsendri Community.

Firstly, the convergence of schemes has led to the development of a Model Colony, wherein the houses, community hall, drainage, CC road have been built under PMAY, toilets are built under NREGA, electricity connection is provided under the Saubhagya Yojana, transformers, poles, etc. are provided under the Mukhya Mantri Majra-Tola Vidyutikaran Yojana, & water supply is provided under the Nal-Jal Yojana by the Public Health Department.

4) Swajal Water Testing (Barpeta, Assam)

The greatest threat to public health from Arsenic originates from contaminated groundwater. High levels of inorganic Arsenic is naturally present in the groundwater of the Aspirational District of Barpeta in Assam. Contaminated water used for the purpose of food preparation and drinking poses a great threat to the public. With community ownership and through participative planning, villagers, especially women in Barpeta, were sensitized about safe water practices and trained to use Field Testing Kits to ascertain the quality of drinking water.

[VI] GOVERNANCE

1) BDO Scorecards (Hazaribagh in Jharkhand)

To motivate the Block Development Officers (BDOs) who are the true foot soldiers of rural development in our country, here the District Administration has taken a first-of-its-kind initiative by devising a ‘BDO Scorecard’ to assess the performance of the BDOs in a transparent manner while taking into account the officers’ self-assessment.

Civil Servants are the first point of contact for citizens with the Government, and a motivated civil service is the best instrument to achieve outcomes desired by the State and society.

2) Lok Sewak App (Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh)

This district has established a new dimension in the direction of good governance by using the Lok Sewak App; an e-attendance and field monitoring tool that uses Geo-tagging technology. Through this App, the district has ensured the presence of Government officials at workplace thereby leading to significant improvement in the quantum and quality of work and facilitating their accessibility to the public.

The App has also ensured the availability of ASHA, Anganwadi workers, teachers and other key frontline workers involved in the implementation of various programmes.

3) Infrastructure Snapshot App (Goalpara in Assam)

Infrastructure Snapshot App, an innovative Android-based mobile application is a one-of-its-kind application developed specifically for the monitoring of Public Institutions like Government Offices, Schools, Health Centres and effective implementation of Government Schemes.

The App has smart features like GPS location-based service to capture current location in both online and offline modes with data sync facility, filing grievances for issues pertaining to infrastructure, recording absence of Government personnel like doctors, teachers, Anganwadi workers, etc. along with pictorial evidence.

The objective of the App is to reduce the gap between the public and the Administration and provide stepping stones for good governance through harnessing ICT.

The App has led to an increment in the resolution of public grievances and fast service delivery to the public. The App has also multiplied the community’s involvement in uplifting and ameliorating the District Infrastructure.

4) Maha Land Bank System (Washim in Maharashtra)

This district has created a unique repository of Government Land on a Portal, as a part of a State-wide programme in Maharashtra. The Land Bank serves as a repository of information for taking policy decisions on the allocation of Government Land such as the provision of Affordable Housing, Irrigation, Public Supply, Self-supplied Industries, Aquaculture, Mining, Tree Plantation, etc.

5) Meekosam Meal Scheme (Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh)

Labourers and daily wage workers coming to file their grievances and attend proceedings of the grievance cell, from places as far as 100 km will henceforth not have to return empty stomach.

For a meal worth ` 28/-, ` 10/- is collected from the petitioner and balance ` 18 is directly paid to the owner of the canteen. This initiative has resulted in a sharp rise in the number of petitioners attending grievance cell meetings.

For more insights into other best practices, you can refer to the document below. But the list above is also comprehensive and sufficient for mains exams.

With inputs from:

NITI Aayog Report on Best Practices in Aspirational Districts

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Announcements

UPSC 2020 Prelims Result released | Link inside

Dear students,

UPSC has released the result for Prelims CSE 2020 exam. Congratulations to those who have their names in the pdf, Let us gear up for mains. For those who could not make the cut, don’t get disheartened, fill the Samanvaya form (Link below) for guidance on what should be your next strategy.

The link for results are given below:

CIVIL SERVICES (PRELIMINARY) EXAMINATION, 2020

https://www.upsc.gov.in/sites/default/files/WR-CSP-20-231020-Engl-F.pdf

INDIAN FOREST SERVICE (MAIN) EXAMINATION, 2020

https://www.upsc.gov.in/sites/default/files/WR-IFSP-20-231020-Engl-F.pdf


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How to crack IAS Exam in just one attempt? | Fill Samanvaya form for IAS 2021

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Just making a workable strategy or covering the syllabus only is not enough.

Broadly, five factors determine your success in cracking this prestigious IAS exam: Planning and strategizing– the first step; Learning – Knowledge and information; Analyzing – making linkages, connections, etc.; Executing and utilizing information; and Constant course correction – because mistakes are inevitable, need to rectify them asap.

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80% IAS 2021 Aspirants struggle with time table. Talk to us, OK?

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5 minutes, or 10 minutes, no more than that. That’s all the time we will need to get to know each other before we start talking about your IAS Preparation strategies.

Our conversation with about 850+ aspirants via our Samanvaya outreach show that 65% are full-time aspirants and 35% are preparing for UPSC along with their job. Here’s what we chatted about:

  1. Working Junta? If you are preparing for IAS 2021 and working simultaneously, we can help you design a timetable that fits right in your hectic schedule.
  2. First-time prep? If you are in last year of college or thinking of dropping a year and preparing for IAS 2021 full time, we can help you pick the right books and craft a practical & personal strategy

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