RBI Notifications

RBI to launch Mobile App for Retail Direct scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Retail Direct Scheme

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The RBI has decided to introduce a Mobile App of its RBI Retail Direct scheme aimed at facilitating seamless investment in government securities by retail investors.

What is Retail Direct Scheme?

  • Retail Direct Scheme was rolled out in November 2021, giving access to individual investors to maintain gilt accounts with RBI and invest in government securities.
  • Using this app, investors can buy central and state government bonds as well as Treasury bills.
  • It enables investors to buy securities in primary auctions as well as buy/sell securities through the Negotiated Dealing System-Order Matching system (NDS-OM) platform.
  • A Gilt Account can be compared with a bank account, except that the account is debited or credited with treasury bills or government securities instead of money.

Treasury Bills:

  • They are promissory notes issued by the RBI on behalf of the government as a short term liability and sold to banks and to the public.
  • The maturity period ranges from 14 to 364 days.
  • They are the negotiable instruments, i.e. they are freely transferable.
  • No interest is paid on such bills but they are issued at a discount on their face value.

 How does it work?

  • Under the scheme, small investors can buy or sell government securities (G-Secs), or bonds, directly without an intermediary like a mutual fund.
  • However, the same tax rules apply to income from G-Secs.
  • The minimum amount for a bid is ₹10,000 and in multiples of ₹10,000 thereafter.
  • Payments may be made through Net banking or the UPI

Benefits of RDS

  • With the government being the borrower, there is a sovereign guarantee for the funds and hence zero risk of default.
  • Also, government securities may offer better interest rates than bank fixed deposits, depending on prevailing interest rate trends.

How can individuals access G-Sec offerings?

  • Investors wishing to open a Retail Direct Gilt account directly with the RBI can do so through an online portal set up for the purpose of the scheme.
  • Once the account is activated with the aid of a password sent to the user’s mobile phone, investors will be permitted to buy securities either in the primary market or in the secondary market.

PYQ:

[2018] Consider the following statements:

1. The Reserve Bank of India manages and services Government of India Securities but not any State Government Securities.

2. Treasury bills are issued by the Government of India and there are no treasury bills issued by the State Governments.

3. Treasury bills offer are issued at a discount from the par value.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

The long, bumpy road from ‘drone didis’ to ‘lakhpati didis’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lakhpati Didi Scheme

Mains level: Modernization of Agriculture and Role of Women

Why in the news? 

Efforts of fertilizer companies in supporting a Central government program aimed at training women to operate drones for spraying pesticides.

Context-

  • This initiative represents a broader trend of encouraging women’s entrepreneurship in India and empowering them to participate in traditionally male-dominated sectors such as agriculture and technology.
  • The involvement of fertilizer companies in funding and facilitating this program underscores the importance of public-private partnerships in driving social and economic development initiatives

Scheme Details-

Under the Namo Drone Didi scheme, 15,000 women-led Self-Help Groups (SHGs) will receive agricultural drones to assist in crucial tasks such as crop monitoring, fertiliser spraying, and seed sowing.

Costs to companies-

  • Financial Commitment by Fertilizer Companies: Fertilizer companies such as Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) and Coromandel International Limited (CIL) are shouldering significant costs for the “drone didi” program.
  • IFFCO is investing ₹42 crore to support the training and equipment for 300 drone didis, while CIL is backing another 200.
  • Expense Breakdown: The approximate cost per woman participating in the program is ₹14 lakh. This covers expenses like the drone, four battery sets, a generator, and an electric autorickshaw for transportation.
  • IFFCO has categorized this expenditure as “benefits to farmers” in its financial records.
  • Contribution of Other Companies: Several additional fertilizer companies, including Krishak Bharati Cooperative (KRIBHCO), Indian Potash Limited (IPL), Matix, Indorama India Private Limited, Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Limited, and National Fertilizers Limited, are collectively providing an extra 500 drones.
  • Funding Arrangement: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has agreed to provide financial assistance of up to ₹8 lakh for each set of equipment. The remaining ₹2 lakh is to be sourced by the participating Self-Help Groups (SHGs).

Farmer trials-

  • Online Portal Enrollment: Haryana’s Agriculture Department, along with fertilizer companies, introduced online enrollment via the Meri Fasal Mera Byora portal to encourage farmers to apply for crop spraying through drones.
  • Subsidized Nano Urea Bottle: Farmers are offered a 1-litre nano urea bottle at ₹100, discounted from the market price of ₹225. This nano urea, when mixed with water, serves one acre.
  • Manual vs. Drone Spraying: Farmers weigh the costs of the manual application, which include subsidized granular urea and labor costs, against the higher charges of drone didis.
  • Viability for Small Landholders: Small landholders express concerns about the affordability and practicality of drone services due to limited financial resources and smaller land holdings.
  • Usefulness of Drones: Drones are seen as more cost-effective for larger plantations like coffee, tea, or sugarcane, rather than smaller-scale agricultural operations.
  • Financial Constraints: Farmers highlight financial constraints, including the inability to afford necessities like housing, education, and farm equipment, which diminishes the feasibility of investing in drone technology.

The women’s challenges-

  • Fuel Costs:  significant daily expenses (₹500 to ₹600) on fuel to run the generator required to charge the battery sets for the drone, raising concerns about the economic feasibility of the job in the long run.
  • Battery Set Limitations: Each day, exhausts one charged battery set after covering three acres with the drone. This necessitates simultaneous charging of another set in her electric vehicle (EV) to continue her work, resulting in additional time and fuel costs.
  • Economic Viability: Despite the potential earnings mentioned on paper, there are doubts about the economic viability of the job due to high fuel costs, the need for additional assistance, and uncertainties regarding the longevity of the scheme’s benefits
  • Safety Concerns and Need for Assistance: There is safety concerns while operating the drone and the necessity of having an assistant to drive the electric autorickshaw and assist with unloading and handling the heavy drone equipment.
  • Lack of Provision for Helpers: There is no provision for hiring assistants or helpers in the scheme, leading to additional expenses

Limitation of this scheme- 

  • Current Urea Usage and Subsidy: India uses 3.5 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of granular urea annually, with a significant portion subsidized by the government to make it affordable for farmers. Liquid nano urea, an alternative, is produced in limited quantities.
  • Government’s Vision for Nano Urea Production: The government aims to increase the production capacity of liquid nano urea to reduce dependence on expensive imported granular urea. The goal is to produce 48.5 crore bottles annually by 2026-27.
  • Limitations of Nano Urea: While liquid nano urea can supplement traditional granular urea, it cannot entirely replace it due to specific requirements in different stages of crop growth.
  • Ownership and Earnings Concerns: There are uncertainties regarding the ownership of drones and the distribution of earnings from drone operations among individuals, Self-Help Groups (SHGs), village organizations (VOs), or cluster-level federations (CLFs).
  • Need for Clarity and Coordination: Questions are raised about the lack of clarity on ownership, earnings distribution, and coordination among stakeholders involved in drone operations.
  • Challenges with Previous Proposals: Issues regarding the implementation of previous drone-related schemes, such as the procurement of drones under Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), and concerns about competition from individual farmers purchasing their drones are highlighted.

To overcome the challenges outlined regarding drone operations and nano urea production, several measures can be considered:

  • Clarity in Ownership and Earnings Distribution: Establish clear guidelines and agreements on drone ownership and revenue sharing among individuals, SHGs, VOs, and CLFs. Ensure transparency in decision-making processes and consult all stakeholders involved.
  • Enhanced Coordination: Facilitate better coordination among government agencies, agricultural organizations, and drone operators to streamline operations, address concerns, and ensure effective implementation of schemes. Regular meetings, feedback mechanisms, and communication channels can aid in coordination efforts.
  • Capacity Building: Provide training and capacity-building programs for drone operators, farmers, and other stakeholders to enhance their skills in drone operation, maintenance, and data interpretation. This can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of drone-based agricultural activities.
  • Promotion of Nano Urea: Invest in research and development to improve the efficacy and availability of liquid nano urea. Conduct awareness campaigns to educate farmers about the benefits and proper usage of nano urea, emphasizing its role as a supplement to traditional fertilizers.
  • Policy Reforms: Review existing policies related to drone operations, urea subsidy, and agricultural initiatives to address loopholes and inconsistencies. Introduce new policies or amendments to support the expansion of nano urea production and drone technology adoption in agriculture.
  • Collaborative Partnerships: Foster partnerships between government agencies, private companies, research institutions, and farmer groups to leverage expertise, resources, and innovation in addressing challenges related to drone operations and urea production.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Implement robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assess the impact of drone-based agricultural initiatives and nano urea production efforts. Collect data on key performance indicators and stakeholders’ feedback to identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions.

Conclusion-

The initiative to train women as “drone didis” for agricultural tasks faces challenges of economic viability, ownership clarity, and coordination. Solutions include clear guidelines, capacity building, policy reforms, and collaborative partnerships to ensure sustainable implementation and overcome limitations in nano urea production.

Mains PYQ-

Q- The Self Help Group (SHG) Bank Linkage Program (SBLP), which is India’s own innovation , has proved to be one of the most effective poverty alleviation and women empowerment programme. Elucidate.(UPSC IAS/2015)

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Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

Mission Palm Oil: Achieving Self-sufficiency in Edible Oil Production

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mission Palm Oil, Key stats on India's Edible Oil Imports

Mains level: NA

Why in the news-

  • The Prime Minister highlighted the National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) during his visit to Arunachal Pradesh, inaugurating the first oil mill under this mission.

Why discuss this?

  • This results in a substantial outflow of $20.56 billion in foreign exchange, the need for self-reliance in edible oil production has become paramount.

Edible Oil Consumption in India: Key Facts

  • India, the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils, is likely to buy 15.6 million metric tons of cooking oils in the 2023-24 oil year, down from 16.6 million in the current year to Oct.
  • With India imports 57% of its vegetable oil demand.
  • These imports have shown a declining trend in recent months.
  • This decline is attributed to various factors such as reduced availability of palm oil for edible oil requirements due to producers diverting it for biodiesel production.
  • Additionally, the import of soyabean oil from Argentina increased sharply in February 2024, while imports from Brazil declined.
  • The top three vegetable oil importspalm, soybean, and sunflower seed oil.
  • India’s vegetable oil sector accounts for 13% of the Gross Cropped Area, 3% of the Gross National Product, and 10% of the value of all agricultural commodities.
  • A substantial portion of India’s edible oil requirement is fulfilled through palm oil imports from Indonesia and Malaysia.

Mission Palm Oil: A Catalyst for Self-Reliance

  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in 2021 targeting a substantial increase in oil palm cultivation and crude palm oil production.
  • It has been introduced with a particular emphasis on the Northeast region and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Objectives:

  1. Expand oil palm acreage by an additional 6.5 lakh hectares by 2025-26
  2. Increase crude palm oil production to 11.2 lakh tonnes by 2025-26, reaching up to 28 lakh tonnes by 2029-30.
  3. Increase consumer awareness to maintain a consumption level of 19.00 kg/person/annum till 2025-26.

Focus Areas

(1)  Fixing of Viability Price

  • Oil palm farmers currently produce Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFBs), from which the industry extracts oil.
  • Presently, FFB prices fluctuate with international Crude Palm Oil (CPO) prices.
  • The Government of India will now assure price stability for FFBs, known as Viability Price (VP), shielding farmers from international CPO price fluctuations.
  • A Formula Price (FP), set at 14.3% of CPO and adjusted monthly, will be established. Viability gap funding will be the difference between VP and FP, directly disbursed to farmers’ accounts via Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) when necessary.

(2) Input Assistance

  • The scheme’s second major focus is to significantly enhance input assistance/interventions, including:
    1. Increasing assistance for oil palm planting material from Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 29,000 per hectare.
    2. Boosting support for maintenance and intercropping interventions.
    3. Providing special assistance of Rs. 250 per plant for replanting old gardens to rejuvenate them.
    4. Offering special assistance tailored for the North-East and Andaman regions, including provisions for half-moon terrace cultivation, bio-fencing, land clearance, and integrated farming.

Try this PYQ from CSE Prelims 2019:

Among the following, which one is the largest exporter of rice in the world in the last five years?

(a) China

(b) India

(c) Myanmar

(d) Vietnam

 

Practice MCQ:

Consider the following statements:

  1. India is the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils.
  2. The top three vegetable oil imports include – soybean, palm and groundnut oil.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

(a) Only 1

(b) Only 2

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

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

[pib] Integration of Kisan Credit Card (KCC) Fisheries Scheme and JanSamarth Portal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) Scheme, JanSamarth Portal

Mains level: NA

Why in the news-

  • The Department of Fisheries inaugurated the integration of the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) Fisheries scheme onto the JanSamarth Portal, marking a revolutionary step in providing credit facilities to fishers and fish farmers nationwide.

JanSamarth Portal

  • It is a first-of-its-kind online platform for directly connecting lenders with beneficiaries. Citizens can avail loans under 13 Central government schemes under 4 loan categories.
  • The one-stop portal allows citizens to check eligibility, apply online and get digital approval.

About KCC Fisheries Scheme

  • The GoI, in the year 2018-19, extended KCC facility to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to help them to meet their working capital requirements.
  • Bank authorities have been instructed to issue KCC within 14 days of receipt of the completed application from the fish farmers.
  • Benefits Include:
  1. For the existing KCC holders the benefits of interest subvention and prompt repayment incentive will be admissible up to the credit limit of Rs. 3 lakhs including fisheries activities.
  2. In the case of new card holders, the credit limit is Rs. 2 lakhs to meet their working capital requirements for fisheries activities.
  3. In the KCC scheme @7% is the lending rate to farmers including @2% interest subvention per annum by GoI. Also, another @3% per annum is provided in case of prompt repayment as an additional incentive as per the existing guidelines.
  4. This implies that the farmers repaying promptly as above would get a loan @ 4% per annum effectively for loan amount upto Rs 2 lakhs.

Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) Scheme

  • The KCC scheme was introduced on the recommendation of R.V. Gupta of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.
  • The scheme was launched in 1998 to provide adequate and timely credit support from the banking system to the farmers.
  • It provides a single window with flexible and simplified procedures to the farmers for their cultivation and other needs like purchasing agriculture inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides etc. and drawing cash for their production needs.
  • The scheme was further extended for the investment credit requirement of farmers viz. allied and non-farm activities in the year 2004.
  • In 2018-19, it was extended to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers.

Objectives include:

  1. To meet the short-term credit requirement for cultivation
  2. To manage post-harvest expenses
  3. To meet the consumption requirement of farmer’s household
  4. Working capital for maintaining the farm assets and activities allied to agriculture
  5. Investment credit requirement for agriculture-allied activities

KCC scheme is implemented by:

  1. Commercial banks
  2. Regional Rural Banks (RRBs)
  3. Small Financial Banks, and
  4. Cooperative banks

Try this PYQ from CSE Prelims 2020:

Under the Kisan Credit Card scheme, short-term credit support is given to farmers for which of the following purposes?

  1. Working capital for maintenance of farm assets
  2. Purchase of combine harvesters, tractors and mini trucks
  3. Consumption requirements of farm households
  4. Post-harvest expenses
  5. Construction of family house and setting up of village cold storage facility

Select the correct answer:

(a) 1, 2 and 5 only

(b) 1, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2, 3, 4 and 5 only

(d) 1, 2, 4 and 5

 

Practice MCQ:

The JanSamarth Portal often seen in the news is related to:

(a) Lending Facility

(b) E-KYC

(c) Consumer Grievances

(d) Right to Information

 

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Make in India: Challenges & Prospects

[pib] ‘Vocal for Local’ Initiative

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vocal for Local Initiative, Aspirational Blockd/Dist Program

Mains level: NA

Why in the news-

About Vocal for Local Initiative

  • Under this program, indigenous local products from 500 Aspirational Blocks have been mapped and consolidated for sale.
  • District collectors and block-level officials will collaborate with partners such as Government e-Marketplace (GeM) and Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to facilitate sustainable growth of microenterprises in Aspirational Blocks.
  • To facilitate this, a dedicated window for Aspirational Blocks Programme under the brand name ‘Aakanksha’ on GeM portal has been established.

What is Aspirational Blocks Programme (ABP)?

  • The ABP is set on the lines of the Aspirational District Programme that was launched in 2018 and covers 112 districts across the country.
  • The Centre had announced its intention to launch this initiative in the Union Budget 2022-23.
  • The programme will cover 500 districts across 31 states and Union Territories initially.
  • Over half of these blocks are in 6 states—Uttar Pradesh (68 blocks), Bihar (61), Madhya Pradesh (42), Jharkhand (34), Odisha (29) and West Bengal (29).
  • However, states can add more blocks to the programme later.

Back2Basics:  Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP)

Details
Launch Date January 2018
Objective To transform identified aspirational districts quickly and effectively through a mass movement.
Program Contours
  • Convergence of Central & State Schemes
  • Collaboration among Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors
  • Competition among districts driven by mass Movement.
Selection of Districts
  • 117 Aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog based on composite indicators.
  • Real-time progress monitored based on 49 indicators from 5 thematic areas.
Weightage of Indicators
  1. Health & Nutrition (30%)
  2. Education (30%)
  3. Agriculture & Water Resources (20%)
  4. Financial Inclusion & Skill Development (10%)
  5. Basic Infrastructure (10%)
Core Strategy
  • Development as a mass movement
  • Identify strengths and low-hanging fruits in each district
  • Measure progress and rank districts
  • Foster competition.
Features
  • Transform into a Jan Andolan
  • Real-time data tracking for monitoring improvement
  • Convergence between central and state government programmes.
  • District performance made public
  • Experience building of district bureaucracy
  • Targeted towards the entire district population.

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North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[pib] Cabinet approves UNNATI Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNNATI Scheme

Mains level: NER Development

unnati

In the news

  • The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for Uttar Poorva Transformative Industrialization (UNNATI) Scheme, 2024.

What is the UNNATI Scheme?

  • The UNNATI is a significant initiative aimed at fostering industrial development and generating employment opportunities in the North East Region of India.
  • With a focus on promoting manufacturing and services sectors, the scheme aims to stimulate economic growth and uplift the socio-economic landscape of the region.

Objectives

  • Employment Generation: UNNATI aims to create productive economic activities that generate gainful employment opportunities, thereby contributing to the overall socio-economic development of the North East Region.
  • Industrial Development: The scheme seeks to encourage the establishment of industries and the expansion of existing ones, fostering growth and development across various sectors.

Expenditure Allocation

  • UNNATI will operate as a Central Sector Scheme, with funds allocated for both incentives to eligible units (Part A) and implementation and institutional arrangements (Part B).
  • Part A of the scheme will receive Rs. 9,737 crores, while Rs. 300 crores will be allocated for Part B.

Salient Features

  • Scheme Period: Effective from the date of Notification until March 31, 2034, along with 8 years of committed liabilities.
  • Commencement of Production: Eligible industrial units must commence production or operation within 4 years from the grant of registration.
  • Categorization of Districts: Districts are categorized into Zone A (Industrially Advanced Districts) and Zone B (Industrially Backward Districts) to ensure targeted development.
  • Funds Allocation: 60% of Part A outlay is earmarked for the 8 North Eastern states, while the remaining 40% follows a First-In-First-Out (FIFO) basis.
  • Eligibility: New and expanding industrial units are eligible for incentives under the scheme.

Implementation and Oversight

  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, will oversee the implementation of UNNATI.
  • National and state-level committees, including the Steering Committee and State Level Committee, will monitor implementation, ensure transparency, and facilitate the registration and claims process for incentives.

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Direct Benefits Transfers

Centre extends Ujjwala Subsidy by another Year

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ujjwala Scheme

Mains level: NA

In the news

  • In pretext of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Union Cabinet approved the extension of the subsidy under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) for LPG cylinders, offering a subsidy of ₹300 (earlier ₹200) per cylinder for up to 12 refills per year.

About Ujjwala Scheme

Details
Launch 1 May 2016
Introduced By Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
Aim Provide clean cooking fuel (LPG) to rural and disadvantaged households, reducing reliance on traditional fuels like firewood, coal, and cow dung cakes.
Phases
  1. Phase I: Launched on May 1, 2016, aimed to release 8 Crore LPG connections by March 2020.
  2. Ujjwala 2.0: Aimed to release an additional 1 crore LPG connections, achieved in January 2022, subsequently expanded to release an additional 60 lakh LPG connections.
Financial Support ₹1600 financial assistance provided for each LPG connection to Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.
Deposit-Free Connections Beneficiaries receive deposit-free LPG connections, including the first refill and a free hotplate.
Benefits
  • Eligible beneficiaries receive a free LPG connection.
  • Subsidy on the first six refills of 14.2 kg cylinders or eight refills of 5 kg cylinders.
  • Option to use EMI facility for stove and first refill costs.
  • Opportunity to join the PAHAL (Pratyaksh Hanstantrit Labh) scheme for direct subsidy transfers to bank accounts.

Try a similar PYQ from CSE Prelims 2018:

With reference to Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, consider the following statements:

  1. It is the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
  2. It, among other things, will also impart training in soft skills, entrepreneurship, financial and digital literacy.
  3. It aims to align the competencies of the unregulated workforce of the country to the National Skill Qualification Framework.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

Kerala to launch affordable ‘Sabari K-Rice ‘

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sabari K-Rice, Bharat Rice, Atta

Mains level: Food security, affordability

In the news

  • The Kerala government’s decision to introduce ‘Sabari K-Rice’ is seen as a response to the Union government’s distribution of ‘Bharat Rice.’

Bharat Rice and Other Commodities

 

  • ‘Bharat’ Rice refers to the retail sale of rice by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to the general public at a subsidized price.
  • Its primary objective is to stabilize markets and ensure affordability for consumers.
  • This rice is available in 5kg and 10kg packs priced at ₹29/kg.
  •  It is distributed through cooperatives such as Kendriya Bhandar, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India (NCCF).
  • Additionally, it can be purchased from mobile vans and physical outlets of these cooperative agencies.
  • Moreover, these agencies also offer ‘Bharat Atta’ (wheat flour) at Rs. 27.50 per kg in 5kg and 10kg packs.
  • Similarly, ‘Bharat Dal’ (chana dal / Chickpea) is available at Rs. 60 per kg for a 1kg pack and Rs. 55 per kg for a 30kg pack, along with onions priced at Rs. 25 per kg.

Sabari K-Rice

  • Objective: It aims to provide good quality rice at affordable rates, presenting an alternative to the existing subsidized rice scheme.
  • Distribution: K-Rice will be made available through Supplyco outlets, alongside the existing subsidized rice supply of 10 kg per card.
  • Quality and Pricing: K-Rice offers high-quality varieties at subsidized rates, contrasting with Bharat Rice sold by NAFED and NCCF at different prices.
  • Price Discrepancy: While Bharat Rice sells at ₹29 per kg, K-Rice aims to provide affordable rates, with the state government incurring additional costs to distribute it.

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Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Launch of PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PM Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojana, 300 Units Cap

Mains level: Solar Energy Transition

Introduction

  • Prime Minister has launched PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana to provide free electricity to its beneficiaries.

About PM Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojana

Description
Purpose To provide 300 units of free electricity per month to beneficiaries through an investment of ₹75,000 crores.
Announcement Initially announced in an interim budget speech by the Finance Minister.
Target Aimed to light up 1 crore households.
Incentive for Renewable Energy Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats incentivized to promote rooftop solar systems.
Financial Support Central Government guarantees no financial burden on people through subsidies directly to bank accounts and highly concessional bank loans.
Expected Benefits – Annual savings of ₹15,000 to ₹18,000 for households

– Charging of electric vehicles

– Entrepreneurship opportunities

– Employment opportunities for youth with technical skills.

 

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Aadhaar Card Issues

APAAR: One Nation, One Student ID Initiative  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: APAAR, One Nation, One Student ID

Mains level: Read the attached storyapaar

apaar

Central Idea

  • About 25 crore Automated Permanent Academic Account Registry (APAAR) have been created, Union Education Minister informed at a national conference on ‘APAAR: One Nation One Student ID Card.’

What is APAAR?

  • What is it? : APAAR serves as a unique identification system for all students across India, commencing from early childhood.
  • Lifelong Student ID: Every student is assigned a lifelong 12-digit ID, simplifying the tracking of academic progress from pre-primary education through higher education.
  • Gateway to Digilocker: APAAR functions as a gateway to Digilocker, a digital repository where students can securely store crucial documents, including exam results and report cards, for convenient access during future endeavours such as higher education or job applications.

How does APAAR ID function?

  • Unique Identification: Each individual receives a unique APAAR ID, linked to the Academic Bank Credit (ABC), a digital repository housing a student’s earned credits throughout their academic journey.
  • Seamless Data Transfer: When students change schools, whether within the state or to another state, their data in the ABC is seamlessly transferred to the new school by sharing the APAAR ID, eliminating the need for physical document submission.
  • All-Inclusive Repository: APAAR allows students to store certificates and credits from both formal and informal learning experiences, with digital certification from authorized institutions.

Rationale behind APAAR

  • Streamlined Education: APAAR’s introduction aims to streamline education processes, reducing the burden on students to carry physical documents.
  • NEP 2020 Initiative: This initiative was launched as part of the National Education Policy 2020 by the Ministry of Education.
  • Empowering State Governments: APAAR empowers state governments to monitor literacy rates, dropout rates, and educational improvements effectively.
  • Combatting Fraud: It seeks to combat fraud and the proliferation of duplicate educational certificates by providing a single, reliable reference for educational institutions, ensuring authenticity through first-party verification.

How to get an APAAR ID?

  • Registration Process: To enrol for APAAR, students provide basic details such as name, age, date of birth, gender, and a photograph, all of which are verified using their Aadhar number.
  • Aadhar Authentication: The Aadhaar number is used solely for verification purposes to match the name and date of birth, with no sharing of this data during registration.
  • Parental Consent for Minors: For minors, parental consent is mandatory for using the student’s Aadhar number for authentication with UIDAI.
  • Voluntary Registration: Registration for creating an APAAR ID is voluntary, not mandatory.

Concerns surrounding APAAR

  • Data Security Concerns: Parents and students express concerns about sharing their Aadhar details, fearing potential leaks of personal information to external parties.
  • Government Assurance: The government assures that shared information will remain confidential and will only be disclosed to entities engaged in educational activities, including UDISE+ (Unified District Information System for Education Plus), scholarships, academic record maintenance, educational institutions, and recruitment agencies.
  • Data Control: Students retain the option to cease sharing their information with these entities at any time, with a halt in data processing. However, previously processed data remains unaffected if consent is withdrawn.

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Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

ASHA and Anganwadi Workers/Helpers in Ayushman Bharat Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ayushman Bharat Scheme, ASHA and Anganwadi Workers

Mains level: ASHA and Anganwadi Workers

asha

Introduction

  • Following the Centre’s decision to extend health coverage under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Anganwadi workers and helpers, the Health Ministry has initiated the process of enrollment.
  • The Health Ministry has received Aadhaar details of 23 lakh Anganwadi workers and helpers and over three lakh ASHA workers from various states.

About Ayushman Bharat Scheme

Details
Launch 2018, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW)
Aim Achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by providing promotive, preventive, curative, palliative, and rehabilitative care.
Funding Centrally Sponsored Scheme (expenditure shared between Central and State governments)
Coverage Targets over 10 crore families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) based on SECC (Socio-Economic Caste Census)
Implementing Agency National Health Authority (NHA)
Components
  1. Health and Wellness Centres (HWC) providing primary care services.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) offering health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year.
Coverage Details
  • Covers secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
  • Includes pre-hospitalization and post-hospitalization expenses.
  • No restrictions on family size, age, or gender.
Portability of Benefits Benefits are portable across the country, allowing cashless treatment at any empanelled public or private hospital in India.
Digital Overture Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM): Launched in 2021 to provide Unique Digital Health IDs (UHID) for all Indian citizens, facilitating electronic access to health records.

Significance of ASHA Program

  • Workforce: As of December 31, 2023, there were over 13 lakh Anganwadi workers and over 10 lakh Anganwadi helpers in the country, along with 9.83 lakh ASHAs in position.
  • Program Scale: India’s ASHA program is recognized as the world’s largest community volunteer program, operating across 35 states and union territories.
  • Role of ASHAs: The ASHA program serves as a vital component of community healthcare, facilitating access to care and playing a crucial role in the prevention and management of COVID-19.
  • Contribution Acknowledged: ASHAs have been recognized for their substantial contribution to improving access to care for communities and are integral to various community platforms under the National Health Mission.

Ayushman Bharat Scheme Impact

  • Beneficiary Coverage: Currently, 55 crore individuals corresponding to 12 crore families are covered under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, with some states/UTs expanding the beneficiary base at their own cost.
  • Enrollment and Hospital Admissions: The government has issued approximately 28.45 crore Ayushman cards, authorizing over 6.11 crore hospital admissions amounting to ₹78,188 crores.
  • Hospital Empanelment: A total of 26,901 hospitals, including 11,813 private hospitals, have been empanelled under AB-PMJAY to provide healthcare services to scheme beneficiaries.
  • Gender Equity: The scheme ensures gender equity in access to healthcare services, with women accounting for approximately 49% of Ayushman cards created and 48% of total authorized hospital admissions.

Back2Basics:

[1] Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA)

Details
Launch Year 2005-06 as part of the National Rural Health Mission.

Later extended to urban areas with the National Urban Health Mission in 2013.

Program Scope Largest community health worker program globally, serving as health care facilitators, service providers, and health awareness generators.
Number of ASHAs Over 10.52 Lakh ASHAs across all states/UTs (except Goa) as of June 2022.
Role Provide maternal and child health services, family planning, and services under National Disease Control Programme.
Service Population Serve populations of approximately 1,000 in rural areas and 2,000 in urban areas, with local adjustments based on workload.
Selection Criteria
  • Primarily women residents of the village, preferably aged 25 to 45.
  • Literacy preferred and relaxed standards for tribal, hilly, or desert areas.
Employment Classification Considered honorary/volunteer positions rather than government workers.

 

[2] Anganwadi Programme

Details
Initiation
  • Started by the Government of India in 1975
  • Part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
Objective To combat child hunger and malnutrition
Implementation Centrally sponsored scheme implemented by States/UTs
Services Provided
  1. Supplementary nutrition
  2. Pre-school non-formal education
  3. Immunization
  4. Health check-up
  5. Nutrition and health education
  6. Referral services
Beneficiaries Identified based on Aadhaar

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Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

PM Matsya Kisan Samridhi Sah-Yojana (PM-MKSSY) launched

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PM-MKSSY details

Mains level: NA

Introduction

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Kisan Samridhi Sah-Yojana (PM-MKSSY), a sub scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, for the micro and small enterprises operating in the fisheries sector.

About Pradhan Mantri Matsya Kisan Samridhi Sah-Yojana

Details
Total Investment Rs. 6,000 crores
Duration 4 years (FY 2023-24 to FY 2026-27)
Funding Model 50% public finance (Rs. 3,000 crore, including World Bank and AFD financing) + 50% from beneficiaries/private sector (Rs. 3,000 crore)
Implementation Scope All States and Union Territories in India
Target Beneficiaries
  • Fishers, aquaculture farmers, fish workers, vendors
  • Micro and small enterprises, SHGs, FFPOs, startups in fisheries and aquaculture
Employment Generation
  • 1.7 lakh new jobs
  • Special emphasis on employing 75,000 women
Major Components
  • Formalization of fisheries sector
  • Adoption of aquaculture insurance
  • Support for microenterprises
  • Adoption and expansion of safety and quality assurance systems
Digital Platform National Fisheries Digital Platform for 40 lakh small and micro-enterprises
Insurance Incentive One-time incentive for purchasing aquaculture insurance, covering at least 1 lakh hectare of aquaculture farms
Performance Grants
  • Microenterprise grants up to 25% of total investment or Rs.35 lakhs (whichever is lower) for general category
  • Up to 35% or Rs.45 lakhs for SC, ST, and women-owned enterprises
  • Village Level Organizations and Federations grants up to 35% of total investment or Rs.200 lakhs
Project Management Establishment of Project Management Units (PMUs)
Background Achievements
  • Fish production increased by 79.66 lakh tonnes
  • Shrimp production from 3.22 lakh tonnes to 11.84 lakh tonnes
  • Shrimp exports from Rs.19,368 crore to Rs.43,135 crore
  • Employment and livelihood opportunities for about 63 lakh fishers and fish farmers
Challenges Addressed
  • Formalization of the informal sector
  • Crop risk mitigation
  • Access to institutional credit
  • Safety & quality of fish sold by micro & small enterprises

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Women Safety Issues – Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Swadhar, Nirbhaya Fund, etc.

700 One Stop Centres to be set across India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: One Stop Centre Scheme

Mains level: Read the attached story

Introduction

  • In a significant move towards women’s safety and empowerment, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development recently announced the establishment of One Stop Centres (OSCs) in over 700 districts across the nation.

About One Stop Centre Scheme

  • Central Sponsorship: The One Stop Centre scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme developed under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD).
  • Inception: The scheme has been in operation since April 1, 2015, with a primary focus on addressing Gender-Based Violence.
  • Universal Reach: The One Stop Centre Scheme is committed to aiding all women, including girls below 18 years, who have suffered violence. Regardless of caste, class, religion, region, sexual orientation, or marital status, all women are eligible for support.
  • Protection for Minors: For girls below 18 years of age, the scheme collaborates with institutions and authorities established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012.

Objectives of the One Stop Centre Scheme

  • Holistic Support: The core objective is to provide comprehensive and integrated support to women who have endured violence, whether in private or public spaces. All assistance is conveniently accessible under one roof.
  • Immediate Access: These centres ensure immediate access to a wide array of services encompassing medical, legal, psychological, and counseling support. This collective approach stands resolute against all forms of violence targeting women.

Funding and Administration

  • Financial Backing: The Scheme receives its funding through the Nirbhaya Fund, with the Central Government providing 100% financial assistance.
  • Local Administration: Day-to-day implementation and administrative responsibilities rest with the District Collector/District Magistrate.

Services Offered by OSCs

The One Stop Centres serve as a lifeline for women in need, offering an array of essential services:

  • Emergency Response and Rescue Services
  • Medical Assistance
  • Assistance with lodging FIR/ NCR/DIR
  • Psycho-social Support and Counseling
  • Legal Aid and Counseling
  • Shelter
  • Video Conferencing Facility

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Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Science Ministry announces first recipients of VAIBHAV Fellowship

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vaibhav Fellowship Scheme

Mains level: NA

Introduction

  • In a significant move to bolster India’s scientific research ecosystem, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) recently unveiled the first batch of ‘Vaibhav’ fellows.

About Vaibhav Fellowship Scheme

  • The Vaibhav Fellowship, initiated in June 2023, is designed to attract Indian-origin scientists residing abroad for short-term collaborations with Indian institutions.
  • These collaborations aim to foster research excellence and innovation by tapping into the expertise of Indian scientists from around the world.

Benefits for Vaibhav Fellows

  • Collaboration: Fellows commit to spending a month or two annually in India for a maximum of three years, collaborating with host Indian institutions.
  • Financial Support: Each selected Vaibhav fellow receives a stipend of ₹4 lakh per month, along with accommodation during their stay in India.
  • Renowned Host Institutions: Host institutions encompass esteemed names like the IISc, IIT, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, among others.
  • Research Grant: The host institutions are provided with a research grant to support collaborative projects and technology start-ups initiated by the fellows.
  • Long-term Research Connections: Fellows are encouraged to build enduring research connections with host institutions, collaborate with faculty, and bring fresh ideas to the field, contributing to Indian university and research settings.

Vaibhav vs. Vajra: Distinct Objectives

  • Vaibhav Fellowship Scheme: Primarily targets the Indian diaspora for collaborations, with a focus on translational outcomes in critical areas of scientific research.
  • Vajra Scheme: Open to all foreign scientists, it promotes short-term visits by foreign faculty to Indian institutions, offering a broader platform for international collaboration.

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Oil and Gas Sector – HELP, Open Acreage Policy, etc.

SIGHT Program for Green Hydrogen Transition

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SIGHT Program

Mains level: Read the attached story

SIGHT Program

Introduction

  • The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has embarked Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) Programme within the National Green Hydrogen Mission.

SIGHT Programme: An Overview

  • Mission Alignment: SIGHT is an integral component of the National Green Hydrogen Mission, strategically designed to foster domestic electrolyser manufacturing and green hydrogen production.
  • Financial Commitment: A substantial investment of Rs 17,490 crore has been allocated to SIGHT until 2029-30.
  • Dual Incentive Mechanisms: SIGHT introduces two distinct financial incentive mechanisms:
    1. Incentive for Electrolyser Manufacturing: To boost the production of essential electrolysis equipment.
    2. Incentive for Green Hydrogen Production: Encouraging the generation of clean and sustainable green hydrogen.
  • Adaptive Evolution: The incentive schemes and programs will evolve in response to market dynamics and technological advancements, ensuring the Mission’s adaptability.
  • Execution Authority: The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is entrusted with executing the scheme, driving its effective implementation.

About National Green Hydrogen Mission

  • Strategic Implementation: Launched by the MNRE, the mission commits an outlay of ₹ 19,744 crore from FY 2023–24 to FY 2029–30.
  • Global Hub for Green Hydrogen: The overarching aim is to position India as a global hub for the production, utilization, and export of green hydrogen and its derivatives.
  • Vision for 2030:
    1. Production Capacity: India’s green hydrogen production capacity is projected to reach 5 million metric tons (MMT) per annum, diminishing fossil fuel imports and saving ₹1 lakh crore by 2030.
    2. Economic Impact: The mission anticipates attracting over ₹8 lakh crore in investments and generating employment for more than 6 lakh people.
    3. Carbon Emission Reduction: A targeted production and utilization of green hydrogen is expected to avert nearly 50 MMT per annum of CO2 emissions.
  • Pilot Projects: The Mission encompasses support for pilot initiatives in low-carbon steel, mobility, shipping, and ports.
  • Flexible Allocations: The Mission allocates resources for various sub-components like SIGHT, pilot projects, research and development (R&D), enabling the funding of selected projects.
  • State-Wide Impact: While the Mission has no state-wise allocation, its broad scope promises nation-wide benefits.

Significance of Green Hydrogen

  • Eco-Friendly Production: Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy sources like solar, wind, or hydropower.
  • A Sustainable Fuel: This process yields a clean, emission-free fuel with immense potential to supplant fossil fuels and mitigate carbon emissions.

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Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana: India’s Solar Revolution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana

Mains level: Read the attached story

solar

Introduction

  • PM Modi announced the launch of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana,’ a government initiative aimed at providing rooftop solar power systems to one crore households in India.
  • This ambitious scheme builds upon previous efforts to promote rooftop solar installations in the country, addressing the growing demand for clean and sustainable energy sources.

About Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana

  • Rooftop Solar Installations: The scheme focuses on the installation of solar power systems on 1 crore residential rooftops.
  • Reduced Electricity Bills: It aims to reduce electricity bills for households, especially benefitting the “poor and middle class.”
  • Energy Self-Reliance: The scheme aligns with India’s goal of achieving self-reliance in the energy sector.

India’s Current Solar Capacity

  • Total Solar Capacity: As of December 2023, India boasts a total solar power installed capacity of approximately 73.31 GW.
  • Rooftop Solar Capacity: The rooftop solar capacity stands at around 11.08 GW, emphasizing the need for expansion.
  • Leading States: Rajasthan leads in total solar capacity with 18.7 GW, while Gujarat tops the list in rooftop solar capacity with 2.8 GW.

Importance of Expanding Solar Energy

  • Growing Energy Demand: India is projected to experience substantial energy demand growth over the next 30 years, requiring a reliable energy source.
  • Diversifying Energy Mix: To meet this demand and reduce dependency on coal, India aims to reach 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • Solar Power Growth: India has significantly increased its solar power capacity, from less than 10 MW in 2010 to 70.10 GW in 2023.

Existing schemes: Rooftop Solar Programme

  • Launched in 2014: The programme seeks to boost rooftop solar installations in the residential sector.
  • Financial Assistance: It offers Central Financial Assistance and incentives to distribution companies (DISCOMs).
  • Capacity Target: The programme aims to achieve 40 GW of rooftop solar capacity by March 2026, having already grown from 1.8 GW in March 2019 to 10.4 GW by November 2023.
  • Consumer Benefits: Consumers can access the scheme through DISCOM tendered projects or the National Portal. They have the flexibility to select vendors and solar equipment. Subsidies are directly transferred to their bank accounts, and surplus solar power can be exported to the grid, offering monetary benefits.

Conclusion

  • The news scheme signifies India’s commitment to harnessing solar power as a clean and sustainable energy source for its growing population.
  • With a focus on residential rooftop installations, this scheme aims to reduce electricity bills for millions of households while contributing to India’s energy self-reliance goals.

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Wetland Conservation

Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme 2023

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme 2023

Mains level: Not Much

Amrit Dharohar

Introduction

  • The Indian government has launched the ‘Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme’ 2023 to convert ecologically fragile wetlands, designated as Ramsar sites, into sustainable tourist attractions.
  • This initiative seeks to create jobs and support local communities’ livelihoods in the process.

‘Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme’ 2023

  • Launched in 2023-24 Budget: This scheme was introduced as part of the budget for 2023-24.
  • Objective: It aims to promote the conservation values of Ramsar Sites while creating employment opportunities and supporting local livelihoods.
  • Enhancing Livelihoods: The scheme seeks to enhance livelihoods for local communities by tapping into the nature-tourism potential of Ramsar Sites nationwide.
  • Collaborative Effort: It is being implemented through collaboration with various Central Government ministries, State wetland authorities, and a network of formal and informal institutions and individuals working together for conservation.

About Ramsar Sites: International Significance

  • Definition: Ramsar sites are wetlands designated as internationally important under an environmental treaty established in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, under UNESCO’s auspices.
  • Waterfowl Habitat: They are identified for their role as critical waterfowl habitats.
  • Conservation and Sustainable Use: Ramsar encourages national and international efforts for wetland conservation and sustainable resource utilization.
  • India’s Ramsar Sites: India boasts 75 Ramsar sites, showcasing its commitment to wetland conservation.

Pilot Projects and Skill Development

  • Identified Sites: Among India’s Ramsar sites, 16 have been identified for the mission.
  • Pilot Projects: Five wetlands, including Sultanpur National Park (Haryana), Bhitarkanika Mangroves (Odisha), Chilika Lake (Odisha), Sirpur (Madhya Pradesh), and Yashwant Sagar (Madhya Pradesh), have been selected for the initial pilot phase.
  • Alternative Livelihood Programme (ALP): Participants receive training under ALP to explore alternative livelihood opportunities.
  • Paryatan Navik Certificate: Additionally, a boatman certification program is offered to tourism service providers, ensuring a skilled workforce.

Ecological Significance of Wetlands

  • “Earth’s Kidneys”: Natural wetlands are often referred to as “earth’s kidneys” due to their ability to filter pollutants from flowing water.
  • Critical Ecosystem Services: Wetlands play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity, regulating water flow, and providing habitat for numerous species.

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ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Cabinet approves Prithvi Vigyan Scheme for Earth Sciences

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Prithvi Vigyan Scheme

Mains level: Read the attached story

prithvi

Introduction

  • The Union Cabinet, led by Prime Minister, has sanctioned the “Prithvi Vigyan (Prithvi)” scheme, a significant project of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • With a budget of Rs 4,797 crore, the scheme is planned for the period from 2021 to 2026.

About Prithvi Vigyan Scheme

  • Consolidation of Programs: The Prithvi scheme unifies five existing sub-schemes:
  1. Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS),
  2. Ocean Services, Modelling Application, Resources and Technology (O-SMART),
  3. Polar Science and Cryosphere Research (PACER),
  4. Seismology and Geosciences (SAGE),
  5. Research, Education, Training and Outreach (REACHOUT).
  • Aim: This integration is designed to enhance our understanding of Earth’s systems and apply scientific knowledge for societal, environmental, and economic benefits.

Objectives and Focus Areas  

  • Comprehensive Observations: The scheme emphasizes long-term monitoring across the atmosphere, ocean, geosphere, cryosphere, and solid earth to track Earth System’s vital signs and changes.
  • Development of Predictive Models: It focuses on creating models for weather, ocean, and climate hazards and advancing climate change science.
  • Exploration Initiatives: Exploration of Polar Regions and high seas is a key aspect, aiming to discover new phenomena and resources.
  • Technological Advancements: The scheme also stresses the development of technology for the sustainable exploitation of oceanic resources for societal applications.

Role of the Ministry of Earth Sciences

  • Provision of Critical Services: The Ministry is responsible for delivering crucial services related to weather, climate, ocean and coastal states, hydrology, seismology, and natural hazards.
  • Support in Disaster Management: These services are essential for issuing forecasts and warnings for natural disasters, thereby aiding in disaster preparedness and risk mitigation.

Holistic Approach to Earth System Sciences

  • Broad Scope of Study: Earth System Sciences involve studying the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere, and their complex interactions.
  • Integrated Research Efforts: The Prithvi scheme aims to address these components comprehensively, enhancing understanding and providing reliable services for India.

Impact and Future Prospects

  • Addressing Major Challenges: The scheme’s integrated research and development efforts will tackle significant challenges in various fields like weather, climate, oceanography, cryospheric studies, and seismology.
  • Harnessing Resources Sustainably: It explores sustainable methods to utilize both living and non-living resources, contributing to national development and environmental conservation.

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Direct Benefits Transfers

Nrega, Nyay and PM-Kisan: Why do politicians rush to give direct benefits?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NYAY Scheme

Mains level: Read the attached story

Introduction

  • Revival of NYAY: A mainstream political party has revived its 2019 manifesto center-piece, the NYAY scheme (Nyuntam Aay Yojana or Minimum Income Scheme), ahead of the 2024 general election.
  • Promised Benefits: The party announced that if elected, the party would implement NYAY, providing women with an annual income of Rs 60,000-70,000.

Background of NYAY and PM-KISAN

  • NYAY’s 2019 Proposal: Its 2019 manifesto promised NYAY to the poorest 20% of Indian families, guaranteeing Rs 72,000 annually to each eligible family.
  • Comparison with PM-KISAN: Around the same time, the incumbent government launched PM-KISAN, providing Rs 6,000 per year to farmer families, showcasing the appeal of direct benefit transfers (DBTs).

Understanding Universal Basic Income (UBI) vs. Targeted Schemes

  • UBI Definition: UBI involves providing a basic income to every citizen, from the wealthiest to the poorest, with the simultaneous removal of all subsidies.
  • Differences with NYAY/PM-KISAN: These schemes are not UBI as they don’t remove existing subsidies, offer a smaller amount than a basic income, and are targeted rather than universal.

Challenges and Questions Surrounding UBI and DBTs

  • Affordability: No country has been able to afford UBI due to its high costs and the population size, especially in countries like India.
  • Political Backlash: Removing existing subsidies to fund UBI could lead to significant political backlash.
  • Effectiveness of DBTs: Despite criticisms of being mere doles or freebies, DBTs have been seen as effective in alleviating economic distress in various situations.

Rationale behind Direct Benefit Transfers

  • Economic Arguments: Direct cash transfers can stimulate local economies and create a virtuous cycle of development.
  • Empowerment: Providing cash can empower individuals to make their own decisions and invest in their futures.

A Radical Policy Solution: Direct Cash Transfers

  • Provocative Proposition: In their 2010 book, “Just give money to the poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South,” authors Joseph Hanlon, Armando Barrientos, and David Hulme advocate for unconditional cash transfers to the poor.
  • Historical Shifts in Welfare Thinking: The book outlines four paradigm shifts in welfare policies:
    1. 16th-century England’s collective responsibility for subsistence.
    2. Increased social spending and introduction of pensions in late-19th-century Europe.
    3. Mid-20th-century recognition of an adequate standard of living as a human right.
    4. Early 21st-century trend in the Global South of using cash transfers to combat poverty and promote development.

Case for Unconditional Cash Transfers

  • Argument for Simplicity and Effectiveness: The authors argue that providing money directly to the poor, without conditions, is a promising approach for reducing poverty and fostering long-term development.
  • Global Examples: They cite successful examples from Mexico, South Africa, Namibia, Brazil, Indonesia, and India (NREGA), where governments have implemented such policies.

Implementation Challenges and Principles

  • Effective Implementation: Successful DBT programs require fairness, assurance, practicality, sufficient payment size, and political acceptability.
  • International Examples: Developed countries have implemented various forms of cash transfers, indicating the potential benefits of such policies.

Public Perception and Political Strategy

  • Rejection of Higher Cash Transfers: The public’s rejection of 2019 NYAY offer suggests that implementation and trust are as crucial as the policy itself.
  • Political Discourse: The debate over DBTs often gets mired in political rhetoric, overshadowing the policy’s potential benefits and challenges.

Conclusion

  • Balancing Act: India must balance the immediate relief provided by DBTs with long-term strategies for poverty alleviation and economic empowerment.
  • Learning from the Past: The revival of NYAY and the ongoing debate on DBTs provide an opportunity to learn from past experiences and design more effective and inclusive policies.
  • Future of Welfare Policies: As India approaches the 2024 general election, the discourse on NYAY, PM-KISAN, and similar schemes will play a crucial role in shaping the country’s welfare policies.

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Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[pib] PM-AJAY Scheme for Upliftment of SC Community

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PM-AJAY Scheme

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment recently informed about the Pradhan Mantri Anusuchit Jaati Abhyuday Yojana (PM-AJAY) Scheme during 2023 year-end review.

About PM-AJAY Scheme

Details
Launch Implemented since 2021-22
Aim To reduce poverty of SC communities through employment generation, skill development, income generation, and infrastructure development.
Nature 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme
Components Development of SC dominated villages into ‘Adarsh Gram’

Grants-in-aid for District/State-level Projects for socio-economic betterment of SCs

Construction of Hostels in Higher Educational Institutions

Merged Schemes Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY)

Special Central Assistance to Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCA to SCSP)

Babu Jagjivan Ram Chatrawas Yojana (BJRCY)

Developments in Grants-in-Aid Component Financial assistance enhanced from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000 or 50% of the asset cost, whichever is lesser, for beneficiary/household.

Web-based portal developed for submission, appraisal, approval, and monitoring of Annual Action Plan.

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