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Direct Benefits Transfers

PM Gareeb Kalyan SchemeGovt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme

Mains level : Coronovirus outbreak and its mitigation


Union Finance Minister has announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Scheme, under which the government would provide a relief package of Rs 1.7 trillion to the underprivileged, poor and migrant workers affected by a lockdown amid the Covid-19 crisis.

PM Garib Kalyan Scheme

  • PM Gareeb Kalyan scheme is to have two parts — cash transfer and food security.
  • The package aims to take care of the welfare concerns of the poor and migrant workers who have been suffering because of a nationwide lockdown.

Two silos of the scheme

1) PM Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana

  • 800 million poor people in the country to get 5 kg of rice/wheat per month free of cost, in addition to the 5 kg they already get.
  • Additionally, each household to get 1 kg of preferred dal for free for the next three months

2) Cash transfer scheme

It has nine sub-parts

  • Farmers: First instalment of the PM-KISAN payment of Rs 2,000 to be frontloaded; move to benefit 87 million
  • MGNREGS: Wage increased from Rs 182 to Rs 202 per day. A wage increase to benefit 50 million families, as there will be about 2000 increase in their income
  • Poor widows, aged, and divyang: Ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 for the next three months, in two instalments. 30 million people to benefit. transfers to be done through direct benefits transfer (DBT)
  • Women with Jan Dhan Yojana accounts: 200 million to benefit from Rs 500 ex-gratia for the next 3 months
  • Beneficiaries of the Ujjwala scheme: 80 million households benefit from the gas cylinders provided under the scheme. These beneficiaries will get free cylinders for three months in view of the disruption the coronavirus lockdown will cause.
  • Women in self-help groups: 6.3 million SHGs get up to Rs 10 lakh collateral-free loans under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya National Rural Mission scheme. The cap has been doubled to Rs 20 lakh. The move will benefit 70 million households
  • Organised sector workers: Two parts to this. First, the Government of India will pay the EPF contribution of both employee and employer for the next three months. This will be for all those establishments which have up to 100 employees, 90 per cent of whom earn less than Rs 15,000 a month
  • Construction workers: States to be directed to utilise the Rs 31,000 crore welfare fund for building and construction workers for the benefit of 35 million workers in the midst of the coronavirus crisis
  • District mineral fund: State govts. to be urged to utilise this fund for medical screening, medical testing and providing health care services in the wake of the coronavirus crisis

Other initiatives

  • Insurance cover for healthcare workers attending to Covid-19 patients: Rs 50 lakh per person.
  • Two million health workers to benefit from the insurance scheme.
  • In what will benefit 8 million employees and 400,000 establishments, the EPFO regulation will be amended to allow the withdrawal of up to 75 per cent of their corpus as non-refundable advance, or three months’ salary, whichever is less.
Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Produce

MSP for Minor Forest Produce SchemeGovt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MSP for MFP Scheme

Mains level : MSP for MFP Scheme


The Union government’s ‘mechanism for the marketing of minor forest produce (MFP) through minimum support price (MSP) and development of value chain for MFP’ scheme can offer respite to forest-dependent labourers in the wake of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, according to experts.

About MSP for MFP Scheme

  • The scheme, launched by the Centre in August 2013, provides fair price for MFP collected by tribals through MSP.
  • It is designed as a social safety net for improvement of livelihood of MFP gatherers by providing them fair price for the MFPs they collect.
  • MFP comprises all non-timber forest produce of plant origin such as bamboo, brush wood, stumps, cane, tussar, cocoons, honey, wax, lac, tendu or kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tubers, etc, according to the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
  • The Scheme was been implemented in eight States having Schedule areas as listed in the Fifth Schedule of the constitution of India.
  • From November 2016, the scheme is applicable in all States.

Issues in implementation

  • Almost 60-70 per cent income of forest dwellers depends on collection and sale of MFP, according to the tribal affairs ministry.
  • However, the scheme has not been activated because in most cases, states have not given their 25 per cent share.
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[pib] Employees’ Pension Scheme (Amendment) Scheme, 2020Govt. SchemesPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EPS Scheme

Mains level : Scope and benefits of EPS


The Union Ministry of Labour & Employment has informed about the total enrollments under EPS.

Employees Pension Scheme (EPS)

  • EPS is a social security scheme that was launched in 1995 and is facilitated by EPFO.
  • The scheme makes provisions for pensions for the employees in the organized sector after retirement at the age of 58 years.
  • Employees who are members of EPFO automatically become eligible for EPS.
  • Both employer and employee contribute 12% of employee’s monthly salary (basic wages plus dearness allowance) to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme.
  • EPF scheme is mandatory for employees who draw a basic wage of Rs. 15,000 per month.
  • Of the employer’s share of 12 %, 8.33 % is diverted towards the EPS.

Features of the 2020 Amendment

  • EPS pensioners will get normal pension even after getting a reduced pension due to commutation.
  • On retirement, if the employee opts for commutation of pension, a portion is paid as a lump sum based on the commutation factor while on the balance the pension begins.
  • In simple terms, commutation means a lump sum payment in lieu of periodic payments of pension.
  • In such a case, the amount of pension will be lower than the amount of pension without any commutation.
  • The amendment seeks to restore the original amount of pension as per the commutation table, after 15 years equal to the same amount as it would have been without commutation.

[pib] Various schemes implemented by Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs)Govt. SchemesPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various initiaitives mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Schemes for cultural promotion


The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has informed about its various schemes in the Lok Sabha.

Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs)

  • To preserve & promote various forms of folk art and culture of the tribals throughout the country including West Bengal, the govt. has set up seven Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs).
  • These are headquartered at Patiala, Nagpur, Udaipur, Prayagraj, Kolkata, Dimapur and Thanjavur.
  • These ZCCs organize various cultural activities and programmes all over the country on regular basis.

These ZCCs under Ministry of Culture are also implementing a number of schemes for promoting the folk/tribal art and culture, details of which are as below –

1) Award to Young Talented Artists:

  • The Scheme “Young Talented Artists” is carried out to encourage and recognize the young talents especially in the field of rare art forms.
  • Talented youngsters of the age group of 18-30 years are selected and given a one-time  cash award of Rs. 10,000/-.

2) Guru Shishya Parampara:

  • This scheme envisages transmitting our valued traditions to the coming generations. Disciples are trained under veterans in art forms which are rare and vanishing.
  • Rare and vanishing art forms of the region are identified and eminent exponents are selected to carry out the training programmes in ‘Gurukula’ tradition.
  • The monthly remuneration for Guru – Rs. 7,500/-, Accompanist – Rs. 3,750/- and        Pupils – Rs. 1,500/- each for the period of six month to maximum 1 year for one scheme.
  • The names of the Gurus are recommended by the State Cultural Affairs Departments.

3) National Cultural Exchange Programme (NCEP):

  • It can be termed as the lifeline of the Zonal Cultural Centers. Under this scheme, various festivals of performing arts, exhibitions, yatras etc are organized in member States.
  • Artists from other zones/states are invited to participate in these programmes. Participation of artists from the Zone in festivals held in other parts of the country are also facilitated.
  • Zonal centres also participate in Major festivals happening in member States by arranging performances during these festivals where large number of audience get chance to enjoy and understand art forms of other regions.
  • These festivals provide opportunity to taste and understand various cultures of our country.

4) Preservation of Languages

  • Sahitya Akademi, an autonomous organization under Ministry of Culture, encourages the preservation and promotion of languages, especially the unrecognized and tribal languages.
  • The Akademi periodically organizes language conventions throughout the country in this regard.

5) Theatre Rejuvenation:

  • To promote theatre activities including stage shows and Production oriented workshops, etc. Honorarium Up to Rs. 30,000/- per show excluding TA & DA is paid.
  • The groups finalized on the basis their credentials as well as the merit of project submitted by them.

6) Research & Documentation:

  • To preserve promote and propagate vanishing visual and performing art forms including folk, tribal and classical in the field of music, dance, theatre, literature, fine arts etc. in print/ audio – visual media.
  • The art form is finalized in consultation with state Cultural Department.

7) Shilpgram:  To promote folk and tribal art and crafts of the zone by organizing seminar, workshops, exhibitions, craft fairs, design development and marketing support to the artisans living in the rural areas.

8) Octave:  To promote and propagate the rich cultural heritage of North East region comprising of eight States namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura to the rest of India.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Jalyukta Shivar AbhiyanGovt. SchemesStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan

Mains level : Various schemes for drought management


 

Jalyukta Shivar, the flagship water conservation project launched by the earlier government has been officially scrapped by the present Maha government.

What is Jalyukta Shivar?

  • Launched in December 2014 after Maharashtra experienced consecutive droughts, the project aimed at rolling out measures that could potentially mitigate water scarcity in the most drought-prone villages in a systematic manner.
  • Nearly 52 per cent of the state’s geographical area is prone to drought, either naturally or due to poor rainfall.
  • This includes Marathwada and adjoining areas of Madhya Maharashtra and large parts of Vidarbha.
  • The project targeted strengthening and streamlining existing water resources like canals, bunds and ponds by arresting maximum run-off rainwater during monsoon.
  • Tasks to widen and deepen natural water streams and connect them to nearby water storage facilities like earthen or concrete check-dams were proposed.
  • In the first phase, planned during 2015 – 2019, Jalyukta Shivar envisaged making 5,000 villages drought-free, every year.
  • During its proposed tenure, the government eyed at making 25,000 drought-prone villages water-sufficient.

Was Jalyukta Shivar beneficial?

  • While the exact number of villages that were declared drought-free remains unknown, the programme attempted to bring water stress down in a majority of the most water-scarce villages in the state.
  • In January last year, then CM had announced that the scheme had transformed 16,000 drought-prone villages of Maharashtra.

What is the future of water conservation in the state?

  • Geologists and hydrologists, who worked on implementing the project, shared similar views and hailed Jalyukta Shivar.
  • This was mainly due to the interventions undertaken in the existing water reserves, planned de-silting activities, among many others.
  • However, experts agreed that the scheme was not appropriately implemented.
  • Now with Jalyukta Shivar no longer in existence, focused efforts of the past five years, in most likelihood, will go down the drain unless a similar scheme is introduced.
  • With rainfall variations getting more pronounced, in addition to depleting groundwater reserves, the state will need concrete interventions to tackle future water requirements.
Crop Insurance – PMFBY, etc.

Changes in Crop Insurance SchemeGovt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Crop insurrance schemes in India

Mains level : Impacts of the said changes


The Centre has decided to restrict its premium subsidy in its flagship crop insurance schemes to 30% for unirrigated areas and 25% for irrigated areas (from the existing unlimited), and to make enrolment of farmers in the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) voluntary from the 2020 Kharif season.

 Other changes in crop insurance schemes

  • The government has given flexibility to states/UTs to implement PMFBY and RWBCIS, and given them the option to select any number of additional risk covers/features like prevented sowing, localised calamity, mid-season adversity, and post-harvest losses.
  • Earlier, these risk covers were mandatory.

Why such a move?

By capping the subsidy for premium rates up to 30%, the Centre wants to dis-incentivize certain crops in such areas where growing these crops involve high risks in terms of crop insurance premiums.

What were the schemes?

  • At present, under PMFBY and RWBCIS, farmers pay a premium of 2% of the sum insured for all foodgrains and oilseeds crops of Kharif; 1.5% for all foodgrains and oilseeds crops of Rabi; and 5% for all horticultural crops.
  • The difference between actual premium rate and the rate of insurance premium payable by farmers, which is called the Rate of Normal Premium Subsidy, is shared equally between the Centre and the states.
  • However, states and UTs are free to extend additional subsidy over and above the normal subsidy from their budgets.
  • Until now, there was no upper limit for the central subsidy.
  • The Cabinet decided to cap the Centre’s premium subsidy under these schemes for premium rates up to 30% for unirrigated areas/crops and 25% for irrigated areas/crops.

How many farmers are covered under these two schemes?

  • During 2018-19, about 5.64 crore farmers are enrolled with PMFBY for an insured sum of Rs 2,35,277 crore, and 30% of the gross cropped is insured.
  • When the government approved PMFBY four years ago, it was described as a path-breaking scheme for farmers’ welfare” under which there was no upper limit on government subsidy.
  • Even if balance premium was 90%, it was to be borne by the Government
  • While PMFBY is based on yield, RWBCIS is based on proxies and farmers are provided insurance protection against adverse weather conditions such as excess rainfall, wind and temperature.
  • The number of insured farmers under RWBCIS is relatively low.

Impact of the move

This change will have two main implications.

  • First, it may bring down the rates of overall premium as the state governments now will not be required to invite bids factoring these risks.
  • Second, it will make these schemes less attractive for farmers.
  • However, states/UTs can offer specific single peril risk/insurance covers like hailstorm etc under PMFBY.

Burden of premium

  • One interpretation of this decision is that the burden of premium subsidy will go up for the states.
  • Example: In the old regime, if a farmer’s Kharif crop was insured for Rs 1,00,000 and the rate of actuarial premium was 40%, then the premium paid by the farmer was 2% (Rs 2,000), and the remaining premium was shared by the Centre and the state equally (19% or Rs 19,000).
  • In the new regime, for the same sum insured (Rs 1,00,000) and the same rate of premium (40%), the Centre will give subsidy for premium rates up to 30%.
  • This means that from the Kharif 2020 season , the Centre will have to pay premium at the rate of 14% (out of 30%, the farmer’s share is 2%, and the Centre’s and state’s 14% each).
  • The state has to bear the entire burden of the premium subsidy in cases where the rate of premium goes beyond the threshold of 30%.

No insurance of certain crops

  • Another interpretation is that the Centre may stop supporting insurance of certain crops in certain areas where the rate of premium is more than 30%.
  • The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare in consultation with other stakeholders/agencies will have to prepare State specific, alternative risk mitigation programme for crops/areas having high rate of premium.
  • While the average premium rate under PMFBY and RWBCIS at the national level was 12.32% for 2018-19, for some crops in certain districts, the rate of premium has been higher than 30% in recent years.
  • For instance, the rate of premium for Kharif groundnut has reached 49% in Rajkot of Gujarat, and the rate for Rabi paddy crop Ramnathapuram (Tamil Nadu) has reached 42%.

Impact on states

  • The states are already defaulting on their share, and the Centre’s new cap will put an additional financial burden on them.
  • Madhya Pradesh has not paid its share of premium even for Kharif 2018, which comes to Rs 1,500 crore. As a result, farmers have not got their claims.
  • In fact, most states have delayed the payment of their share of premium.
  • Sources said that in some states, the expenditure on premium of PMFBY is more than 50% of their budget for agriculture.

Immediate implications

  • That move will lead to a rise in the rates of premium, as the area covered under insurance and the number of enrolled farmers is expected to come down significantly.
  • As of now the schemes are compulsory for all loanee farmers and optional for other farmers.
  • Non-loanee farmers under the crop insurance schemes are much fewer than loanee farmers.
  • If the latter opt out of the schemes, the number of insured farmers will drastically come down.
  • In such a scenario the rate of premium of certain crops in some areas may go beyond 30%.

Back2Basics

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana – Min Premium, Max Insurance

Agricultural Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

[pib] Scheme for formation and promotion of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)Govt. SchemesPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)

Mains level : Role of FPOs


The Cabinet Committee has given its approval for 10,000 FPOs to be formed in five years period from 2019-20 to 2023-24 to ensure economies of scale for farmers.

What are Farmer Producer Organizations?

  • A Producer Organisation (PO) is a legal entity formed by primary producers, viz. farmers, milk producers, fishermen, weavers, rural artisans, craftsmen.
  • A PO can be a producer company, a cooperative society or any other legal form which provides for sharing of profits/benefits among the members.
  • In some forms like producer companies, institutions of primary producers can also become member of PO.
  • FPO is one type of PO where the members are farmers. Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is providing support forthe promotion of FPOs.

About the Scheme

  • It would be a new Central Sector Scheme titled “Formation and Promotion of Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs)” to form and promote 10,000 new FPOs.
  • Initially there will be three implementing Agencies to form and promote FPOs, namely Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC), National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
  • States may also, if so desire, nominate their Implementing Agency in consultation with DAC&FW.
  • DAC&FW will allocate Cluster/States to Implementing Agencies which in turn will form the Cluster-Based Business Organization in the States.

Modes for promotion

  • FPOs will be promoted under “One District One Product” cluster to promote specialization and better processing, marketing, branding & export by FPOs.
  • There will be a provision of Equity Grant for strengthening equity base of FPOs.
  • There will be a Credit Guarantee Fund of up to Rs. 1,000.00 crore in NABARD.

Benefits

  • Small and marginal farmers do not have the economic strength to apply production technology, services and marketing including value addition.
  • Through the formation of FPOs, farmers will have better collective strength for better access to quality input, technology, credit and better marketing access through economies of scale for better realization of income.
Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

SUTRA PIC India ProgrammeGovt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SUTRA PIC

Mains level : Protecting indigenous breed of bovines


 

The government has unveiled SUTRA PIC programme to research on ‘indigenous’ cows.

SUTRA PIC

  • SUTRA PIC stands for Scientific Utilization Through Research Augmentation-Prime Products from Indigenous Cows.
  • To be funded by multiple scientific ministries, the initiative, SUTRA PIC, is led by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • It has the Department of Biotechnology, the CSIR, the Ministry for AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homoeopathy) among others and the Indian Council of Medical Research as partners.
  • It has five themes:
  1. Uniqueness of Indigenous Cows,
  2. Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Medicine and Health,
  3. Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Agricultural Applications,
  4. Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Food and Nutrition,
  5. Prime-products from indigenous cows-based utility items

Aims and objectives

The proposals under this theme aim to:

  • perform scientific research on the complete characterization of milk and milk products derived from Indian indigenous cows;
  • scientific research on nutritional and therapeutic properties of curd and ghee prepared from indigenous breeds of cows by traditional methods;
  • development of standards for traditionally processed dairy products of Indian-origin cow

Other facts

  • In 2017, SEED constituted a National Steering Committee (NSC) for ‘Scientific Validation and Research on Panchgavya (SVAROP)’.
  • Panchgavya is an Ayurvedic panacea and is a mixture of five (pancha) products of the cow (gavya) — milk, curd, ghee, dung and urine.
  • Its proponents believe it can cure, or treat a wide range of ailments.
Soil Health Management – NMSA, Soil Health Card, etc.

[pib] Soil Health Card SchemeGovt. SchemesPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SHC scheme

Mains level : Soil health and its significance for farm productivity


 

The Soil Health Card Scheme has completed 5 years since its launch.

Soil Health Card Scheme

  • Soil Health Card (SHC) is a Government of India’s scheme promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
  • It is being implemented through the Department of Agriculture of all the State and Union Territory Governments.
  • A SHC is meant to give each farmer soil nutrient status of his/her holding and advice him/her on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed soil amendments, that s/he should apply to maintain soil health in the long run.
  • The scheme was launched by PM on 19.02.2015 at Suratgarh, Rajasthan.

Details on the SHC

  • SHC is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings.
  • It contains the status of his soil with respect to 12 parameters, namely N,P,K (Macro-nutrients) ; S (Secondary- nutrient) ; Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Bo (Micro – nutrients) ; and pH, EC, OC (Physical parameters).
  • Based on this, the SHC also indicate fertilizer recommendations and soil amendment required for the farm.
  • It provides two sets of fertilizer recommendations for six crops including recommendations of organic manures. Farmers can also get recommendations for additional crops on demand.

Other details

  • The State Government will collect samples through the staff of their Department of Agriculture or through the staff of an outsourced agency.
  • The State Government may also involve the students of local Agriculture / Science Colleges.
  • It will be made available once in a cycle of 3 years, which will indicate the status of soil health of a farmer’s holding for that particular period.
  • The SHC given in the next cycle of 3 years will be able to record the changes in the soil health for that subsequent period.
  • Soil samples will be drawn in a grid of 2.5 ha in irrigated area and 10 ha in rain- fed area with the help of GPS tools and revenue maps.

 Why needed such scheme?

  • Soil testing is developed to promote soil test based on nutrient management.
  • Soil testing reduces cultivation cost by application of right quantity of fertilizer.
  • It ensures additional income to farmers by increase in yields and it also promotes sustainable farming.
Tax Reforms

“Vivad se Vishwas” SchemeGovt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : “Vivad se Vishwas” Scheme

Mains level : Various tax amnesty schemes


The government has introduced The Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020.

Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill

  • In essence, the Bill is aimed at resolving direct tax-related disputes in a speedy manner.
  • In the last budget, Sabka Vishwas Scheme was brought in to reduce litigation in indirect taxes. It resulted in settling over 1,89,000 cases.
  • The Vivad se Vishwas Scheme is to do for direct tax-related disputes exactly what Sabka Vishwas did for indirect tax-related disputes.

Why need such a scheme?

  • At present, there are as many as 4,83,000 direct tax cases pending in various appellate forums i.e. Commissioner (Appeals), ITAT, High Court and Supreme Court.
  • The idea behind the scheme is to reduce litigation in the direct tax arena.

What are the specifics of the scheme?

  • A taxpayer would be required to pay only the amount of the disputed taxes and will get a complete waiver of interest and penalty provided he pays by 31st March 2020.
  • Those who avail this scheme after 31st March 2020 will have to pay some additional amount.
  • However, the scheme will remain open only till June 30, 2020. The scheme also applies to all case appeals that are pending at any level.

How much money is at stake?

  • According to reports, over Rs 9 lakh crore worth of direct tax disputes are pending in the courts.
  • The government hopes to recover a big chunk of this in a swift and simple way, while offering the taxpayers the relief of not having to fight the case endlessly.
  • For a government that is staring at a big shortfall in revenues, especially tax revenues, the scheme makes a lot of sense.

What was the response to the Sabka Vishwas scheme?

  • At last count, the government expected to have raised Rs 39,500 crore from the Sabka Vishwas scheme, which was only about indirect tax disputes.
  • The amnesty window for Sabka Vishwas closed on January 15 and close to 1.90 lakh crore applications, in relation to taxes worth Rs 90,000 crore was received.
  • One of the standout successes of this scheme was Mondelez India Foods Pvt Ltd (which was earlier known as Cadbury India) settled one of its most controversial tax disputes.
  • The firm was accused of evading taxes to the tune of Rs 580 crore (excluding taxes and penalties). In the end, Mondelez paid Rs 439 crore on January 20 under the amnesty scheme.

Criticisms of the Bill

  • The bill led to an uproar in Parliament.
  • The opposition criticised the Bill first for the use of Hindi words in its name, arguing that this was government’s way to impose Hindi on the non-Hindi speakers.
  • They also argued that the Bill treats honest and dishonest people equally.
Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme (NMMSS)Govt. SchemesPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NMMSS

Mains level : Policy measures to curb school dropouts


 

The NMMSS has helped to reduce the drop-out rate at the secondary and senior secondary classes, informed Union HRD Minister.

National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme

  • The Centrally Sponsored Scheme NMMSS was launched in May, 2008.
  • The objective of the scheme is to award scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to arrest their drop out at class VIII and encourage them to continue the study at secondary stage.
  • Under the Scheme one lakh fresh scholarships @ of Rs.12000/- per annum per student are awarded to selected students of class IX every year and their continuation/renewal  in classes X to XII for study in a State Government, Government-aided and Local body schools.
  • The selection of students for award of scholarships under the scheme is made through an examination conducted by the States/UTs Governments.

Progress of the scheme

  • As on date approx 16.93 lakh scholarships have been sanctioned to the Students across the country.
  • Heads of all the institutions disclosed that the NMMS Scheme has reduced the drop-out rate at the secondary and senior secondary classes, particularly from Classes VIII to XII.
Forest Fires

Forest Fire: Its Prevention and ManagementGovt. SchemesPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Forest Fire Prevention and Management scheme

Mains level : Forest fires in India


The Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has informed that area covering 93,273 hectares was affected by forest fires in 2019. Most of the fires have been “ground fires” burning ground vegetation.

Measures to curb Forest fires:

1) National Action Plan on Forest Fires

  • The MoEFCC has prepared a National Action Plan on Forest Fires in 2018 after several rounds of consultation with all states and UTs.
  • The objective of this plan is to minimize forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivizing them to work in tandem with the State Forest Departments.
  • The plan also intends to substantially reduce the vulnerability of forests across diverse forest ecosystems in the country against fire hazards, enhance capabilities of forest personnel and institutions in fighting fires and swift recovery subsequent to fire incidents.

2) Forest Fire Prevention and Management scheme

  • The MoEFCC provides forest fire prevention and management measures under the Centrally Sponsored Forest Fire Prevention and Management (FPM) scheme.
  • The FPM is the only centrally funded program specifically dedicated to assist the states in dealing with forest fires.
  • The FPM replaced the Intensification of Forest Management Scheme (IFMS) in 2017. By revamping the IFMS, the FPM has increased the amount dedicated for forest fire work.
  • Funds allocated under the FPM are according to the 90:10 ratio of central to state funding in the Northeast and Western Himalayan regions and 60:40 ratio for all other states.
  • Nodal officers for forest fire prevention and control have been appointed in each state.
Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] Sophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institutes (SATHI) SchemeGovt. SchemesPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SATHI Scheme

Mains level : Read the attached story


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

SATHI 

  • SATHI aims to address the need for building shared, professionally managed and strong S&T infrastructure in the country which is readily accessible to academia, start-ups, manufacturing, industry and R&D labs etc.
  • These Centres are expected to house major analytical instruments to provide common services of high-end analytical testing, thus avoiding duplication and reduced dependency on foreign sources.
  • These would be operated with a transparent, open access policy.
  • DST has already set up three such centres in the country, one each at IIT Kharagpur, IIT Delhi and BHU.

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.
Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

ICDS ProgrammeGovt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ICDS and its components

Mains level : Forms of malnutrition in urban areas and their preventive measures


 

Centre seeks to revamp the ICDS scheme in urban areas. For this NITI Aayog will develop draft policy, which will be circulated to the Ministries for consultations.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

  • The ICDS is a government programme in India which provides food, preschool education, primary healthcare, immunization, health check-up and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.
  • The scheme was launched in 1975, discontinued in 1978 by the government of Morarji Desai, and then relaunched by the Tenth Five Year Plan.
  • Tenth FYP also linked ICDS to Anganwadi centres established mainly in rural areas and staffed with frontline workers.
  • The ICDS provide for anganwadis or day-care centres which deliver a package of six services including:
  1. Immunization
  2. Supplementary nutrition
  3. Health checkup
  4. Referral services
  5. Pre-school education(Non-Formal)
  6. Nutrition and Health information

Implementation

  • For nutritional purposes ICDS provides 500 kilocalories (with 12-15 grams of protein) every day to every child below 6 years of age.
  • For adolescent girls it is up to 500 kilo calories with up to 25 grams of protein every day.
  • The services of Immunisation, Health Check-up and Referral Services delivered through Public Health Infrastructure under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Revamp for Urban Areas

  • Health and ICDS models that work in rural areas may not work in urban areas because of higher population density, transportation challenges and migration.
  • Children in urban areas were overweight and obese as indicated by subscapular skinfold thickness (SSFT) for their age.
  • The first-ever pan-India survey on the nutrition status of children, highlighted that malnutrition among children in urban India.
  • It found a higher prevalence of obesity because of relative prosperity and lifestyle patterns, along with iron and Vitamin D deficiency.
  • According to government data from 2018, of the 14 lakh anganwadis across the country there are only 1.38 lakh anganwadis in urban areas.
Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

National E-Mobility Mission Plan 2020Govt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National E-Mobility Mission Plan, 2020

Mains level : FAME Scheme and its progress


 

The Supreme Court has sought the response of the government on a petition that alleges the non-implementation of the National E-Mobility Mission Plan, 2020 (NEMMP), which came out in 2012.

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020

  • The plan was launched by the Government of India in 2013 with the objective of achieving national fuel security by promoting electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • It had set a target of achieving a sale of seven million EVs by 2020 and thereby aimed to cut total carbon dioxide emissions by three per cent from the ‘do nothing’ scenario.
  • The government would provide fiscal and monetary incentives for this industry.
  • The plan had made several recommendations for the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), including electric-powered government fleets and public transportation and subsidies for those who opt for EVs.

What was the petition about?

  • The petition contended that the governmental apathy has violated the fundamental rights of citizens to health and clean environment guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
  • The government had failed in its obligation to mitigate the impact of climate change and air pollution partly attributable to emissions from vehicles that burn fossil fuels.
  • Government’s failure to suitably implement these recommendations is the direct cause of air pollution levels that have turned our cities into virtual ‘gas chambers’.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

National Policy for the treatment of 450 ‘Rare Diseases’Govt. SchemesPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rare Diseases

Mains level : Highlights of the saif policy for ‘Rare Diseases’


The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has published a national policy for the treatment of 450 ‘rare diseases’.

About the Policy

  • The Centre first prepared such a policy in 2017 and appointed a committee in 2018 to review it.
  • It was created on the direction of the Delhi High Court to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • This was in response to writ petitions for free treatment of such diseases, due to their “prohibitively” high cost of treatment.
  • Hence, a policy was deemed necessary to devise a “multipronged” and “multisectoral” approach to build India’s capacity for tackling such ailments.

Why need such a policy?

  • As per the policy, out of all rare diseases in the world, less than five per cent have therapies available to treat them.
  • In India, roughly 450 rare diseases have been recorded from tertiary hospitals, of which the most common are Haemophilia, Thalassemia, Sickle-cell anemia, auto-immune diseases, Gaucher’s disease, and cystic fibrosis.

Features of the policy

  • While the policy has not yet put down a detailed roadmap of how rare diseases will be treated.
  • It has mentioned some measures, which include creating a patient registry for rare diseases, arriving at a definition for rare diseases that is suited to India, taking legal and other measures to control the prices of their drugs etc.
  • It intends to kickstart a registry of rare diseases, which will be maintained by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
  • Under the policy, there are three categories of rare diseases — requiring one-time curative treatment, diseases that require long-term treatment but where the cost is low, and those needing long-term treatments with high cost.
  • Some of the diseases in the first category include osteopetrosis and immune deficiency disorders, among others.
  • As per the policy, the assistance of Rs 15 lakh will be provided to patients suffering from rare diseases that require a one-time curative treatment under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi scheme.
  • The treatment will be limited to the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.

What are rare diseases?

  • Broadly, a ‘rare disease’ is defined as a health condition of low prevalence that affects a small number of people when compared with other prevalent diseases in the general population. Many cases of rare diseases may be serious, chronic and life-threatening.
  • While a majority of rare diseases are believed to be genetic, many — such as some rare cancers and some autoimmune diseases — are not inherited, as per the NIH.
  • According to the policy, rare diseases include genetic diseases, rare cancers, infectious tropical diseases, and degenerative diseases.

Definition

  • India does not have a definition of rare diseases because there is a lack of epidemiological data on its incidence and prevalence.
  • While there is no universally accepted definition of rare diseases, countries typically arrive at their own descriptions, taking into consideration disease prevalence, its severity and the existence of alternative therapeutic options.
  • In the US, for instance, a rare disease is defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people.
  • The same definition is used by the National Organisation for Rare Disorders (NORD) in India.
Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Green Credit SchemeGovt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Green Credit Scheme, CAMPA

Mains level : CAMPA


The Forest Advisory Committee has approved a scheme that could allow “forests” to be traded as a commodity.  FAC is an apex body tasked with adjudicating requests by the industry to raze forest land for commercial ends.

Green Credit Scheme

  • The proposed ‘Green Credit Scheme’, as it is called, allows agencies — they could be private companies, village forest communities — to identify land and begin growing plantations.
  • After three years, they would be eligible to be considered as compensatory forest land if they met the Forest Department’s criteria.
  • An industry needing forest land could then approach the agency and pay it for parcels of such forested land, and this would then be transferred to the Forest Department and be recorded as forest land.
  • The participating agency will be free to trade its asset, that is plantation, in parcels, with project proponents who need forest land.
  • This is not the first time that such a scheme has been mooted.
  • In 2015, a ‘Green Credit Scheme’ for degraded forest land with public-private participation was recommended, but it was not approved by the Union Environment Minister, the final authority.

Impact

  • In the current system, industry needs to make good the loss of forest by finding appropriate non-forest land — equal to that which would be razed.
  • It also must pay the State Forest Department the current economic equivalent — called Net Present Value — of the forest land.
  • It’s then the Forest Department’s responsibility to grow appropriate vegetation that, over time, would grow into forests.
  • Industries have often complained that they find it hard to acquire appropriate non-forest land, which has to be contiguous to existing forest.
  • If implemented it allows the Forest Department to outsource one of its responsibilities of reforesting to non-government agencies.

 Individuals outside

  • One of India’s prongs to combat climate change is the Green India Mission that aims to sequester 2.523 billion tonnes of carbon by 2020-30, and this involves adding 30 million hectares in addition to existing forest.
  • Critics held that it does not solve the core problems of compensatory afforestation.
  • It creates problems of privatizing multi-use forest areas as monoculture plantation plots. Forests are treated as a mere commodity without any social or ecological character.
Digital India Initiatives

National Broadband MissionGovt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Features of the mission

Mains level : Various initiatives for digital empowerment of rural India


The union government has launched the National Broadband Mission (NBM).

National Broadband Mission (NBM)

  • It is aimed at providing broadband access in all villages in the country by 2022, entailing investments of around ₹7 lakh crore from various stakeholders.
  • The vision of the NBM is to fast track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide, facilitate digital empowerment and inclusion and provide affordable and universal access of broadband for all.

Objectives of the mission

Some of the objectives of the Mission which is structured with strong emphasis on the three principles of universality, affordability and quality are:

  • Broadband access to all villages by 2022
  • Laying of incremental 30 lakhs route km of Optical Fiber Cable and increase in tower density from 0.42 to 1.0 tower per thousand of population by 2024
  • Develop a Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) to measure the availability of digital communications infrastructure and conducive policy ecosystem within a State/UT.
  • Creation of a digital fiber map of the Digital Communications network and infrastructure, including Optical Fiber Cables and Towers, across the country
Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

JAGA MissionGovt. SchemesStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : JAGA mission

Mains level : Problems of Slum Dwellers



World Habitat Mission has recognised the Odisha state government’s Jaga Mission that uses drones to survey slums. The Odisha government has become the first in the country to bag this award.

Jaga (Land) Mission

  • Odisha Liveable Habitat Mission “JAGA” is a society under Housing & Urban Development Department, Government of Odisha, headed by the Chief Secretary, Odisha as Chairman.
  • “JAGA” aims at transforming the slums into liveable habitat with all necessary civic infrastructure and services at par with the better off areas within the same urban local body (ULB).
  • It would work continuously to improve the standard of the infrastructure and services and access to livelihood opportunities.
  • It is the world’s largest slum land title project.
  • It involves the government surveying and awarding slum dwellers a legal land title.

Why land rights for slums matter

  • More often than not, slums are seen as encroachments and slum dwellers, even if they stay in slums for decades, are not provided with any legal rights over the land.
  • This illegality further condemns slums — which are an urban reality in Indian cities — to unsanitary conditions. Formal recognition of land rights allows for cleaner cities and better living conditions for slum dwellers.
NPA Crisis

[pib] Partial Credit Guarantee SchemeGovt. Schemes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme

Mains level : NPA issue



The Union Cabinet has approved a partial credit guarantee scheme for public sector banks (PSBs) to purchase high-rated pooled assets from financially sound NBFCs and housing finance companies.

What is the decision about?

  • PSBs can purchase high-rated pooled assets from financially sound NBFCs/Housing Finance Companies (HFCs), with the amount of overall guarantee provided by government till the first loss of up to 10 per cent of fair value of assets being purchased by banks or Rs 10,000 crore, whichever is lower.
  • The scheme would cover NBFCs / HFCs that may have slipped into SMA-0 category during the one year period prior to 1.8.2018, and asset pools rated “BBB+” or higher.

Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme

  • The Union Government had issued the PCG Scheme in the Union Budget this year to provide a one-time partial credit guarantee to PSBs for purchase of pooled assets of financially sound NBFCs.
  • It aims to address temporary asset liability mismatches of otherwise solvent NBFCs/HFCs without having to resort to distress sale of their assets for meeting their commitments.
  • It allows PSBs to purchase pooled assets enabled by Government guarantee support under the Scheme to addressing temporary liquidity / cash flow mismatch issues of otherwise solvent NBFCs / HFCs.
  • This pooling would allow NBFCs without them having to resort to distress sale of their assets for meeting their commitments.
  • This will provide liquidity to the NBFC / HFC concerned for financing the credit demand of the economy, and also protect the financial system of the country from any adverse contagion effect that may arise due to the failure of such NBFCs / HFCs.

Validity of the scheme

  • The window for one-time partial credit guarantee offered by GoI will open from the date of issuance of the Scheme by the Government for a period of six months, or till such date by which Rupees One lakh crore assets get purchased by banks, whichever is earlier.

Major Impact

  • The proposed Guarantee support and resultant pool buyouts will help address NBFCs/HFCs resolve their temporary liquidity or cash flow mismatch issues.
  • It will enable them to continue contributing to credit creation and providing last mile lending to borrowers, thereby spurring economic growth.