Housing for all – PMAY, etc.

Govt. extends PMAY-Urban scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PMAY-U

Mains level : Urban housing

The Union Cabinet approved an extension to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban up to December 31, 2024 so that the houses sanctioned under the scheme can be completed.

PMAY-Urban scheme

  • The PMAY-U, a flagship Mission of GoI being implemented by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), was launched on 25th June 2015.
  • The Mission addresses urban housing shortage among the EWS/LIG and MIG categories including the slum dwellers by ensuring a pucca house to all eligible urban households by the year 2022.
  • It adopts a demand-driven approach wherein the Housing shortage is decided based on demand assessment by States/Union Territories.
  • State Level Nodal Agencies (SLNAs), Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)/ Implementing Agencies (IAs), Central Nodal Agencies (CNAs) and Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) are main stakeholders.

Coverage area

The Mission covers the entire urban area consisting of:

  • Statutory Towns
  • Notified Planning Areas
  • Development Authorities
  • Special Area Development Authorities
  • Industrial Development Authorities or
  • Any such authority under State legislation which is entrusted with the functions of urban planning & regulations

Key features of PMAY (U)

  • All houses under PMAY (U) have basic amenities like toilet, water supply, electricity and kitchen.
  • The Mission promotes women empowerment by providing the ownership in name of female member or in joint name.
  • Here, preference is given to differently abled persons, senior citizens, SCs, STs, OBCs, Minority, single women, transgender and other weaker & vulnerable sections of the society.

Categorization within the scheme

  • PMAY (U) adopts a cafeteria approach to suit the needs of individuals based on the geographical conditions, topography, economic conditions, availability of land, infrastructure etc.
  • The scheme has hence been divided into four verticals as given:

  1. In-situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR): Central Assistance of Rs. 1 lakh per house is admissible for all houses built for eligible slum dwellers under the component of ISSR using land as Resource with participation of private developers.
  2. Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS): Beneficiaries of Economically Weaker Section (EWS)/Low Income Group (LIG), Middle Income Group (MIG)-I and Middle Income Group (MIG)-II seeking housing loans from Banks, Housing Finance Companies and other such institutions for acquiring, new construction or enhancement* of houses are eligible for an interest subsidy of 6.5%, 4% and 3% on loan amount upto Rs. 6 Lakh, Rs. 9 Lakh and Rs. 12 Lakh respectively.
  3. Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP): Under AHP, Central Assistance of Rs. 1.5 Lakh per EWS house is provided by the Government of India. An affordable housing project can be a mix of houses for different categories but it will be eligible for Central Assistance, if at least 35% of the houses in the project are for EWS category.
  4. Beneficiary-led Individual House Construction/ Enhancement (BLC-N/ BLC-E): Central Assistance upto Rs. 1.5 lakh per EWS house is provided to eligible families belonging to EWS categories for individual house construction/ enhancement. The Urban Local Bodies validate the information and building plan submitted by the beneficiary.

 

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

[pib] NAMASTE scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NAMASTE Scheme

Mains level : Sanitation workers and their upliftment

The Government has formulated a National Action Plan for Mechanized Sanitation Ecosystem- NAMASTE scheme for cleaning of sewers and septic tank.

NAMASTE Scheme

  • The scheme is a joint venture of Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • It aims to achieve outcomes like:
  1. Zero fatalities in sanitation work in India
  2. No sanitation workers come in direct contact with human faecal matter
  3. All Sewer and Septic tank sanitation workers have access to alternative livelihoods
  • The Ministry has shortlisted type of machineries and core equipments required for maintenance works, safety gear for Safai Mitras.

Why such move?

Ans. Prevalence of manual scavenging in India

What is Manual Scavenging?

  • Manual scavenging is the practice of removing human excreta by hand from sewers or septic tanks.
  • India banned the practice under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (PEMSR).
  • The Act bans the use of any individual for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta till its disposal.
  • In 2013, the definition of manual scavengers was also broadened to include people employed to clean septic tanks, ditches, or railway tracks.
  • The Act recognizes manual scavenging as a “dehumanizing practice,” and cites a need to “correct the historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers.”

Why is it still prevalent in India?

  • Low awareness: Manual scavenging is mostly done by the marginalized section of the society and they are generally not aware about their rights.
  • Enforcement issues: The lack of enforcement of the Act and exploitation of unskilled labourers are the reasons why the practice is still prevalent in India.
  • High cost of automated: The Mumbai civic body charges anywhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 to clean septic tanks.
  • Cheaper availability: The unskilled labourers, meanwhile, are much cheaper to hire and contractors illegally employ them at a daily wage of Rs 300-500.
  • Caste dynamics: Caste hierarchy still exists and it reinforces the caste’s relation with occupation. Almost all the manual scavengers belong to lower castes.

Various policy initiatives

  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020: It proposes to completely mechanise sewer cleaning, introduce ways for ‘on-site’ protection and provide compensation to manual scavengers in case of sewer deaths.
  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013: Superseding the 1993 Act, the 2013 Act goes beyond prohibitions on dry latrines, and outlaws all manual excrement cleaning of insanitary latrines, open drains, or pits.
  • Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan: It started national wide march “Maila Mukti Yatra” for total eradication of manual scavenging from 30th November 2012 from Bhopal.
  • Prevention of Atrocities Act: In 1989, the Prevention of Atrocities Act became an integrated guard for sanitation workers since majority of the manual scavengers belonged to the Scheduled Caste.
  • Compensation: As per the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PEMSR) Act, 2013 and the Supreme Court’s decision in the Safai Karamchari Andolan vs Union of India case, a compensation of Rs 10 lakh is awarded to the victims family.

Way forward

  • Regular surveys and social audits must be conducted against the involvement of manual scavengers by public and local authorities.
  • There must be proper identification and capacity building of manual scavengers for alternate sources of livelihood.
  • Creating awareness about the legal protection of manual scavengers is necessary.

 

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Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Centre releases guidelines for Mission Vatsalya

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mission Vatsalya

Mains level : Read the attached story

In order to access Central funds and benefits under Mission Vatsalya (an umbrella scheme for child protection services in the country), the centre has issued certain guidelines.

What is Mission Vatsalya?

  • Mission Vatsalya promotes family-based non-institutional care of children in difficult circumstances based on the principle of institutionalization of children as a measure of last resort.
  • It is one of the new triad of schemes along with Mission Shakti, and Poshan 2.0, that aims at securing a healthy and happy childhood for every child.

Components under the mission include:

  1. Improve the functioning of statutory bodies;
  2. Strengthen service delivery structures;
  3. Upscale institutional care/services;
  4. Encourage non-institutional community-based care;
  5. Emergency outreach services;
  6. Training and capacity building.

Implementation

  • It will be implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in partnership with state governments and UT administrations, with a fund-sharing pattern in a 60:40 ratio.
  • However, for the eight states in the Northeast — as well as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the UT of J&K — the Centre and state/UT’s share will be 90:10.
  • The Centre will cover the whole cost in UTs without a legislature.

What are the new guidelines?

(1) Official changes

  • States will have to retain the official name, as given by the Centre. Only a correct translation to local language is permissible.
  • The centre detailed the process by which funds will be disbursed to states under various heads by defining institutionalised arrangements.
  • Funds to states will be approved through the Mission Vatsalya Project Approval Board (PAB), which will be chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry of WCD.
  • The Secretary will scrutinise and approve annual plans and financial proposals received from states and UTs for release of grants.

(2) Special arrangements

  • States/UTs have also been directed to focus on special needs children with physical or mental disabilities.
  • Institutions now have to provide special educators, therapists and nurses to impart occupational therapy, speech therapy, verbal therapy and other remedial classes.
  • The staff in these special units will have to know sign language, Braille, etc, according to the new guidelines.

(3) Newly shouldered tasks

  • The guidelines state that Mission Vatsalya will support State Adoption Resource Agencies (SARA), which will support the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
  • This move aims at promoting in-country adoption and regulating inter-country adoption.
  • Mission Vatsalya, in partnership with states and districts, will execute a 24×7 helpline service for children, as defined under JJ Act, 2015.

Name change saga: Child Protection Services Scheme

  • Before 2009, three schemes were being implemented under the WCD Ministry for children in need of protection:
  1. Programme for juvenile justice for children in need of care and protection, and children in conflict with law;
  2. Integrated programme for street children and
  3. Scheme for assistance to homes for children
  • These were clubbed in 2010 into a single scheme called the Integrated Child Protection Scheme.
  • It was then renamed “Child Protection Services” Scheme in 2017, and again as Mission Vatsalya in 2021-22.

Financial Inclusion in India and Its Challenges

What is Small Savings Scheme?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Small saving schemes

Mains level : Read the attached story

Economists expect the Centre to raise the interest rates paid on small savings schemes for the July to September 2022 quarter.

Small Savings Scheme

  • Small Savings Schemes are a set of savings instruments managed by the central government with an aim to encourage citizens to save regularly irrespective of their age.
  • They are popular as they provide returns higher than bank fixed deposits, sovereign guarantee and tax benefits.

How is it managed?

  • Since 2016, the Finance Ministry has been reviewing the interest rates on small savings schemes on a quarterly basis.
  • All deposits received under various schemes are pooled in the National Small Savings Fund.
  • The money in the fund is used by the Centre to finance its fiscal deficit.

What are the different saving schemes?

The schemes can be grouped under three heads –

  1. Post office deposits
  2. Savings certificates and
  3. Social security schemes

(1) Post Office Deposits

  • Under this we have the savings deposit, recurring deposit and time deposits with 1, 2, 3 and 5 year maturities and the monthly income account.
  • The savings account currently pays an interest of 4% per annum and can be opened individually or jointly with an initial investment of Rs 500.
  • The recurring deposit that pays 5.8% a year compounded quarterly matures after 60 months from the date of opening.
  • It allows investors to save on a monthly basis with a minimum deposit of Rs 100 per month.
  • Investments under the 5-year time deposit up to Rs 1.5 lakh further qualifies for benefit under section 80C of Income Tax Act.

(2) Savings Certificates

  • Under this, we have the National Savings Certificate and the Kisan Vikas Patra.
  • The National Savings Certificate pays interest at a rate of 6.8% per annum upon maturity after 5 years. The interest that is earned is reinvested into the scheme every year automatically.
  • The NSC also qualifies for tax saving under Section 80C of the income tax act.
  • The Kisan Vikas Patra, which is open to everyone, doubles your one-time investment at the end of 124 months signifying a return of 6.9% compounded annually.
  • The minimum investment amount is Rs 1000 while there is no upper limit.

(3) Social security schemes

  • In the third head of social security schemes, there is Public Provident Fund, Sukanya Samriddhi Account and Senior Citizens Savings Scheme.

a. Public Provident Fund

  • The Public Provident Fund is a popular saving option for long term goals like retirement.
  • It pays 7.1% a year and qualifies for tax benefit under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.
  • Upon maturity of the account after 15 years, it can be extended indefinitely in blocks of 5 years.
  • The accumulated amount and interest earned are exempt from tax at the time of withdrawal.

b. Sukanya Samriddhi Account

  • The Sukanya Samriddhi Account was launched in 2015 under the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign exclusively for a girl child.
  • The account can be opened in the name of a girl child below the age of 10 years.
  • The scheme guarantees a return of 7.6% per annum and is eligible for tax benefit under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.
  • The tenure of the deposit is 21 years from the date of opening of the account and a maximum of Rs 1.5 lakh can be invested in a year.

c. Senior Citizen Savings Account

  • And finally, the 5-year ​​Senior Citizen Savings Account can be opened by anyone who is over 60 years to age.
  • It carries an interest of 7.4% per annum payable quarterly and qualifies for Section 80C tax benefit.
  • These time-tested and safe modes of investments don’t offer quick returns, but are safer when compared to market-linked schemes.

 

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MGNREGA Scheme

Group wants new order on MGNREGA workers revoked

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MGNREGA

Mains level : Read the attached story

Certain groups has asked to discontinue manual attendance for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) work sites with more than 20 workers and use a mobile phone-based application.

What is MGNREGA?

  • The MGNREGA stands for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005.
  • This is labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the Right to Work’.
  • The act was first proposed in 1991 by P.V. Narasimha Rao.

Features of the scheme

  • MGNREGA is unique in not only ensuring at least 100 days of employment to the willing unskilled workers, but also in ensuring an enforceable commitment on the implementing machinery i.e., the State Governments, and providing a bargaining power to the labourers.
  • The failure of provision for employment within 15 days of the receipt of job application from a prospective household will result in the payment of unemployment allowance to the job seekers.
  • Employment is to be provided within 5 km of an applicant’s residence, and minimum wages are to be paid.
  • Thus, employment under MGNREGA is a legal entitlement.

What is so unique about it?

  • MGNREGA is unique in not only ensuring at least 100 days of employment to the willing unskilled workers, but also in ensuring an enforceable commitment on the implementing machinery i.e., the State Governments, and providing a bargaining power to the labourers.
  • The failure of provision for employment within 15 days of the receipt of job application from a prospective household will result in the payment of unemployment allowance to the job seekers.
  • Any Indian citizen above the age of 18 years who resides in rural India can apply for the NREGA scheme. The applicant should have volunteered to do unskilled work.
  • Employment is to be provided within 5 km of an applicant’s residence, and minimum wages are to be paid.
  • Thus, employment under MGNREGA is a legal entitlement.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Among the following who are eligible to benefit from the “Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee act”?

(a) Adult members of only the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households.

(b) Adult members of below poverty line (BPL) households.

(c) Adult members of households of all backward communities.

(d) Adult members of any household.

 

 

Post your answers here.

 

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Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

Extending the Aspirational District Programme (ADP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP)

Mains level : Not Much

The PM has hoped to extend the Aspirational District Programme (ADP) to block and city levels.

Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP)

  • Launched in January 2018, the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ initiative aims to remove this heterogeneity through a mass movement to quickly and effectively transform these districts.
  • The broad contours of the program are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a spirit of mass Movement.
  • With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.

Behind the name

  • PM then negated the idea of naming any scheme based on their backwardness.
  • Rather the name ‘Aspirational’ presents a more affirmative action-based execution of the scheme.

Selection of districts

  • A total of 117 Aspirational districts have been identified by NITI Aayog based upon composite indicators.
  • The objective of the program is to monitor the real-time progress of aspirational districts based on 49 indicators (81 data points) from the 5 identified thematic areas.

Weightage has been accorded to these districts as below:

  • Health & Nutrition (30%)
  • Education (30%)
  • Agriculture & Water Resources (20%)
  • Financial Inclusion & Skill Development (10%)
  • Basic Infrastructure (10%)

Strategy of the ADP

The core Strategy of the program may be summarized as follows.

  • Making development a mass movement in these districts
  • Identify low hanging fruits and the strength of each district, to act as a catalyst
  • for development.
  • Measure progress and rank districts to spur a sense of competition.
  • Districts shall aspire to become State’s best to Nation’s best.

Features of the ADP

  • It has transformed into a Jan Andolan.
  • The ADP is different in trying to monitor the improvement of these districts through real-time data tracking.
  • The programme seeks to develop convergence between selected existing central and state government programmes.
  • District performance in the public domain and experience building of the district bureaucracy is another notable feature.
  • The programme is targeted, not towards any single group of beneficiaries, but rather towards the population of the district as a whole.

What makes this program special?

The program reflects what has become of the development project in India under neoliberalism, especially after the end of planning.

  • Long overdue sectors have been given more emphasis.
  • It is not a tailor-made program with one-size-fit strategy. More onus has been laid on the districts. It has a district-intervention strategy.
  • It works on the principle of SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threats) model and comparison with national best parameters for effective resource management.
  • It is the most reviewed programme by the Prime Minister.
  • A general idea behind the idea is that a good work never goes un-noticed. It is duly appreciated on social media as well as by the officials.

Programmatic Strengths

  • A key strength of the ADP is the collection of baseline data and follow-ups at regular intervals.
  • Sustaining this effort would create a robust compilation of statistics for use by both researchers and policy-makers.
  • In doing this, the government also brings much-needed attention to human development and a willingness to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Incremental progress being made in the chosen districts as reflected in the rankings.
  • The programme also claims to be “non-partisan and unbiased” and geared towards all-India growth.
  • The selection of districts indeed suggests that the programme has not favored any bias either regional, political or any other.
  • The programme seeks convergence of central and state schemes anchored around specific activities.

Issues with the programme

  • Using the case of Bihar, they argue that the programmes selection of districts itself is problematic.
  • In fact, it actually excludes the most backward districts because per capita income, the most basic measure of development, has not been considered.
  • There seems to be some ambiguity around the issue of whether the programme is concerned only with improved access or also with the quality of service provided.
  • The indicators used are not defined relationally, rather they are static human development indicators that do not see people mired in dynamic social relations.
  • It is also accused that the state is not making any new or focused public investment (except for possible use of Flexi-funds) into these districts, on the other hand, it is moralizing about their inability to improve (through rankings).
  • The programme is carrying the burden of proving the government’s “developmental” work without addressing any of the fundamental issues around achieving equitable development.
  • Yet, the NITI Aayog justifies the overall approach as capitalizing on “low-hanging fruit.”

Way forward

  • The program has been able to make difference in the lives of citizens of India, in education, health, nutrition, financial inclusion, skill development and this has made a difference to some most backward and most geographically far-flung districts of the nation.
  • ADP is ‘aligned to the principle of “leave no one behind—the vital core of the SDGs. Political commitment at the highest level has resulted in the rapid success of the program the report said.
  • UNDP has recommended revising a few indicators that are slightly close to reaching their saturation or met by most districts like ‘electrification of households’ as an indicator of basic infrastructure.

 

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Indian Army Updates

What is Agnipath Scheme?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Agnipath Scheme

Mains level : Not Much

Defence Minister announced the ‘Agnipath’ scheme for the recruitment of youth in the armed forces for four years.

Agnipath Scheme

  • This will be the only form of recruitment of soldiers into the three defence services from now.
  • The scheme aims at strengthening national security and for providing an opportunity to the youth to serve in the armed forces.
  • Recruits under the scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.
  • After completing the four-year service, they can apply for regular employment in the armed forces.
  • They may be given priority over others for various jobs in other government departments.
  • The move is expected to decrease the average age profile of armed forces personnel from the current 32 to 24-26 years over a period of time.

Working of the scheme

  • The process of recruitment will commence in 90 days with a planned intake of 46,000 young men and women this year.
  • Enrolment to all three services will be through a centralized online system, with special rallies and campus interviews at recognized technical institutes.
  • Recruitment will be carried out on an “All India All Class” basis with the eligibility age ranging from 17.5 to 21, with medical and physical fitness standards in accordance with existing norms.

Payouts of the Agniveers

  • The ‘Agniveers’ will receive an annual package of ₹4.76 lakh in the first year to ₹6.92 lakh in the fourth year, apart from risk and hardship and other allowances as applicable.
  • Under the ‘Seva Nidhi’ package, they will receive about ₹11.71 lakh, including contribution and interest, on completion of service.
  • The recruits will have to contribute 30% of their monthly emoluments to Seva Nidhi, with a matching contribution made by the government.
  • There will be no entitlement to gratuity and pension benefits under the scheme.
  • However, the ‘Agniveers’ will be provided a non-contributory life insurance cover of ₹48 lakh during their service.

 

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Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Nanhi Pari Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nanhi Pari Programme

Mains level : Not Much

The ‘Nanhi Pari’ programme was recently launched by the Northwest Delhi district administration.

Nanhi Pari Programme

  • Nanhi Pari programme aims to provide a one-stop solution to parents, eliminating their need to visit various offices to obtain documents.
  • Under the programme, essential services such as the provision of a birth certificate, Aadhaar card registration and opening a bank account for girls are completed and delivered in government hospitals in the district before the mother and baby are discharged.
  • The programme will help in getting registration of baby girls and mothers under various schemes such as the Sukanya Samriddhi Account scheme, the Ladli scheme and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana at the hospital itself.

Significance of the Programme

  • The programme makes the processes for schemes as simple as possible for all children and mothers.
  • Parents would not have to go from here to there, trying to avail themselves of the essential schemes.
  • Apart from ensuring that schemes reach target beneficiaries and protecting the interests of girl children, the programme also aims to promote institutional deliveries.

 

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

Ujjwala LPG Scheme: 90-lakh beneficiaries don’t take refills

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM UJJWALA Scheme

Mains level : Not Much

In the financial year 2021-22, 90-lakh beneficiaries of the flagship welfare scheme, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), did not take refill gas cylinders. And over one crore beneficiaries got their refills only once.

About the PM Ujjwala Yojana

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched in 2016, with the aim to provide Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to five crore women members of below poverty line (BPL) households in the first phase.
  • he scheme was expanded in April 2018 to include women beneficiaries from seven more categories (SC/ST, PMAY, AAY, Most backward classes, tea garden, forest dwellers, Islands).
  • In the second phase the target was expanded to eight crore LPG connections.

Why was this scheme launched?

  • Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children.
  • Providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
  • This measure has empowered women and protected their health. It reduced drudgery and the time spent on cooking.
  • It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.

Ujjwala 2.0

  • Now migrant workers would only be required to submit a self-declaration of their residential address to get the gas connection.
  • Along with a deposit-free LPG connection, Ujjwala 2.0 will provide the first refill and a hotplate free of cost to the beneficiaries.

 

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Union Finance Ministry revises MPLADS Rules

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MPLAD Scheme

Mains level : Read the attached story

At a time when MPs have been asking for an increase in the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund, the Union Finance Ministry has ordered revised rules, under which the interest that the fund accrues will be deposited in the Consolidated Fund of India.

What is the MPLAD scheme?

  • The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a program first launched during the Narasimha Rao Government in 1993.
  • It was aimed towards providing funds for developmental works recommended by individual MPs.

Funds available

  • The MPs then were entitled to recommend works to the tune of Rs 1 crore annually between 1994-95 and 1997-98, after which the annual entitlement was enhanced to Rs 2 crore.
  • The UPA government in 2011-12 raised the annual entitlement to Rs 5 crore per MP.

Implementation

  • To implement their plans in an area, MPs have to recommend them to the District Authority of the respective Nodal District.
  • The District Authorities then identify Implementing Agencies that execute the projects.
  • The respective District Authority is supposed to oversee the implementation and has to submit monthly reports, audit reports, and work completion reports to the Nodal District Authority.
  • The MPLADS funds can be merged with other schemes such as MGNREGA and Khelo India.

Guidelines for MPLADS implementation

  • The document ‘Guidelines on MPLADS’ was published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation in June 2016 in this regard.
  • It stated the objective of the scheme to enable MPs to recommend works of developmental nature with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt needs in their Constituencies.
  • Right from the inception of the Scheme, durable assets of national priorities viz. drinking water, primary education, public health, sanitation, and roads, etc. should be created.
  • It recommended MPs to works costing at least 15 percent of their entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 percent for areas inhabited by ST population.
  • It lays down a number of development works including construction of railway halt stations, providing financial assistance to recognized bodies, cooperative societies, installing CCTV cameras etc.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

With reference to the funds under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), which of the following statements are correct? (CSP 2020)

  1. MPLADS funds must be used to create durable assets like physical infrastructure for health, education, etc.
  2. A specified portion of each MP’s fund must benefit SC/ST populations.
  3. MPLADS funds are sanctioned on a yearly basis and the unused funds cannot be carried forward to the next year.
  4. The district authority must inspect at least 10% of all works under implementation every year.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 and 4 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 4 only

 

Post your answers here.

 

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Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

[pib] MSME Sustainable (ZED) Certification Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MSME ZED Certification Scheme

Mains level : Boost for MSMEs

The  Union Ministry for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has launched the MSME Sustainable (ZED) Certification Scheme.

MSME Sustainable (ZED) Certification Scheme

  • This Scheme is an extensive drive to enable and facilitate MSMEs adopt Zero Defect Zero Effect (ZED) practices.
  • It aims motivate and incentivize them for ZED Certification while also encouraging them to become MSME Champions.
  • Through the ZED Certification, MSMEs can reduce wastages substantially, increase productivity, enhance environmental consciousness, save energy, optimally use natural resources, expand their markets, etc.

Components of the scheme

  • Under the Scheme, MSMEs will get subsidy as per the following structure, on the cost of ZED certification:
  1. Micro Enterprises: 80%
  2. Small Enterprises: 60%
  3. Medium Enterprises: 50%
  • There will be an additional subsidy of 10% for the MSMEs owned by Women/SC/ST Entrepreneurs OR MSMEs in NER/Himalayan/LWE/Island territories/aspirational districts.
  • In addition to above, there will be an additional subsidy of 5% for MSMEs which are also a part of the SFURTI OR Micro & Small Enterprises – Cluster Development Programme (MSE-CDP) of the Ministry.
  • Further, a limited purpose joining reward of Rs. 10,000/- will be offered to each MSME once they take the ZED Pledge.

Back2Basics: Zero Defect Zero Effect Scheme

  • Launched in 2016 by the Ministry of MSME, the ZED scheme is an integrated and comprehensive certification system.
  • The scheme accounts for productivity, quality, pollution mitigation, energy efficiency, financial status, human resource and technological depth including design and IPR in both products and processes.
  • Its mission is to develop and implement the ‘ZED’ culture in India based on the principles of Zero Defect & Zero Effect.
  • ZED principles include:
  1. Zero Defect: Zero non-conformance or non-compliance
  2. Zero Effect: Zero wastage, liquid discharge, solid waste; zero pollution

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Civil Aviation Sector – CA Policy 2016, UDAN, Open Skies, etc.

[pib] UDAN Scheme awarded PM Award for Excellence in Public Administration

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UDAN Scheme

Mains level : Success of the UDAN Scheme

The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s flagship Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) has been awarded Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration this year.

What is UDAN Scheme?

  • The Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme is a low-cost flying scheme launched with the aim of taking flying to the masses.
  • The first flight under UDAN was launched by the PM in April 2017.
  • It is also known as the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) as it seeks to improve air connectivity to tier-2 and tier-3 cities through revival of unused and underused airports.

Working of the Scheme

  • Airlines are awarded routes under the programme through a bidding process and are required to offer airfares at the rate of ₹2,500 per hour of flight.
  • At least 50% of the total seats on an aircraft have to be offered at cheaper rates.
  • In order to enable airlines to offer affordable fares they are given a subsidy from the govt. for a period of three years.

Success of the scheme

  • In a short span of 5 years, today 419 UDAN routes connect 67 underserved/unserved airports, including heliports and water aerodromes, and over 92 lakh people have benefited from it.
  • More than 1 lakh 79 thousand flights have flown under this scheme.
  • UDAN scheme has immensely benefitted several sectors pan-India including Hilly States, North-Eastern region, and Islands.
  • The scheme also led to development of new Greenfield Airports such as Pakyong near Gangtok in Sikkim, Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh, and Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Krishi UDAN Scheme launched in August 2020, on international and national routes has assisted farmers in transporting agricultural products.

Issues with the working

  • Discontinuance: In reality, some of the routes launched have been discontinued as most of the routes awarded under UDAN are not active.
  • On-paper Ambitions: UDAN was expanded to provide improved connectivity to hilly regions and islands through helicopters and seaplanes. However, they mostly remain on paper.
  • The reasons include:
  1. Failure to set up airports or heliports due to lack of availability of land
  2. Airlines unable to start flights on routes awarded to them or finding the routes difficult to sustain
  3. Adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Various challenges

  • Lack of funds: Many small airlines await infusion of funds, to be able to undertake maintenance of aircraft, pay rentals to lessors, give salaries to its staff, etc.
  • Maintenance issue: Many players don’t have more than one or two planes and they are often poorly maintained. New planes are too expensive for these smaller players.
  • Availability of pilots: Often, they also have problems with the availability of pilots and are forced to hire foreign pilots which costs them a lot of money and makes the business unviable.
  • Competition: Only those routes that have been bagged by bigger domestic players such as IndiGo and SpiceJet have seen a better success rate.

Way forward

  • The govt offers subsidies for a route for a period of three years and expects the airline to develop the route during this time so that it becomes self-sufficient.
  • Airlines need an extension of the subsidy period for their operational continuity.
  • Due to the rise in COVID cases, travel restrictions and passenger safety too needs to be taken into consideration in the loss-making of such airlines.

 

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Coronavirus – Economic Issues

[pib] SVANidhi se Samriddhi Program

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SVANidhi se Samriddhi Program

Mains level : Atmanirbhar package

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has launched ‘SVANidhi se Samriddhi’ program in additional 126 cities across 14 States/ UTs.

About PM SVANidhi Scheme

  • The Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s Atmanirbhar Nidhi Scheme is aimed at benefiting over 50 lakh vendors who had their businesses operational on or before March 24 2020.
  • It is a Central Sector Scheme.
  • The scheme was announced by Finance Minister as a part of the economic package for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.
  • The loans are meant to help kick-start activity for vendors who have been left without any income since the lockdown was implemented on March 25.
  • The scheme was valid until March 2022.

What is SVANidhi se Samriddhi Program?

  • SVANidhi se Samriddhi program was started to provide social security benefits to street vendors for their holistic development and socio-economic upliftment.
  • Quality Council of India (QCI) is the implementing partner for the programme.
  • Under the program, socio-economic profiling of PMSVANidhi beneficiaries and their families is conducted to assess their eligibility for 8 Government of India’s welfare schemes and facilitate sanctions of eligible schemes.

These schemes include:

  1. Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana,
  2. PM Suraksha Bima Yojana,
  3. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana,
  4. Registration under Building and other Constructions Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act (BOCW),
  5. Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana,
  6. National Food Security Act (NFSA) portability benefit – One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC),
  7. Janani Suraksha Yojana, and
  8. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).

 

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Panchayati Raj Institutions: Issues and Challenges

Nod to extend Gram Swaraj Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gram Swaraj Scheme

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a proposal to continue the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA), a scheme for improving the governance capabilities of Panchayati Raj institutions, till 2025-26.

What is RGSA?

  • The RGSA, a centrally sponsored scheme, was first approved by the Union Cabinet in 2018 for implementation from 2018-19 to 2021-22.
  • It is a unique scheme proposed to develop and strengthen the Panchayati Raj System across India in rural areas.
  • The objective of the campaign is to promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of the government, and reach out to poor households to enroll them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programs.
  • The main central components of the scheme included incentivization of panchayats and mission mode project on e-Panchayat including other activities at central level.

Scope of the scheme

  • RGSA is extend to all States and Union Territories (UTs) of the country. It includes institutions of rural local government in non-Part IX areas.
  • Part IX provides for a 3 tier Panchayat system, which would be constituted in every state at the village level, intermediate level and district level.
  • This provision brought uniformity in the Panchayati Raj structure in India.

Areas where Part IX is not applicable:

As per Article 243M of the Constitution, provisions of Part IX of the Constitution are not applicable to:

  • Scheduled Areas and Tribal Areas referred to in Article 244.
  • The States of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
  • The hill areas in the State of Manipur for which District Councils exist. (In these areas, district councils and various types of village-level bodies are in existence)
  • Panchayats at the district level to the hill areas of the District of Darjeeling in the State of West Bengal.
  • Provision of the Article 243D with respect to reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes is not applicable to the State of Arunachal Pradesh.

Purpose of extension

The scheme would work towards:

  • Poverty-free and enhanced livelihood in villages
  • Healthy villages, child-friendly villages
  • Water-sufficient villages
  • Clean and green villages
  • Self-sufficient infrastructure in villages
  • Socially-secure villages with good governance and engendered development

 

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Electoral Reforms In India

SC to hear plea against Electoral Bonds Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Electoral Bonds

Mains level : Issues with Electoral Bonds

The CJI N will soon take up a long-pending challenge against the government’s electoral bonds scheme.

What are Electoral Bonds?

  • Electoral bonds are banking instruments that can be purchased by any citizen or company to make donations to political parties, without the donor’s identity being disclosed.
  • It is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of State Bank of India.
  • The citizen or corporate can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice.
  • An individual or party will be allowed to purchase these bonds digitally or through cheque.

About the scheme

  • A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond
  • Such bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹10 lakh, and ₹1 crore from any of the specified branches of the State Bank of India
  • The purchaser will be allowed to buy electoral bonds only on due fulfillment of all the extant KYC norms and by making payment from a bank account
  • The bonds will have a life of 15 days (15 days time has been prescribed for the bonds to ensure that they do not become a parallel currency).
  • Donors who contribute less than ₹20,000 to political parties through purchase of electoral bonds need not provide their identity details, such as Permanent Account Number (PAN).

Objective of the scheme

  • Transparency in political funding: To ensure that the funds being collected by the political parties is accounted money or clean money.

Who can redeem such bonds?

  • The Electoral Bonds shall be encashed by an eligible Political Party only through a Bank account with the Authorized Bank.
  • Only the Political Parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last General Election to the Lok Sabha or the State Legislative Assembly, shall be eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.

Restrictions that are done away

  • Earlier, no foreign company could donate to any political party under the Companies Act
  • A firm could donate a maximum of 7.5 per cent of its average three year net profit as political donations according to Section 182 of the Companies Act.
  • As per the same section of the Act, companies had to disclose details of their political donations in their annual statement of accounts.
  • The government moved an amendment in the Finance Bill to ensure that this proviso would not be applicable to companies in case of electoral bonds.
  • Thus, Indian, foreign and even shell companies can now donate to political parties without having to inform anyone of the contribution.

Issues with the Scheme

  • Opaque funding: While the identity of the donor is captured, it is not revealed to the party or public. So transparency is not enhanced for the voter.
  • No IT break: Also income tax breaks may not be available for donations through electoral bonds. This pushes the donor to choose between remaining anonymous and saving on taxes.
  • No anonymity for donors: The privacy of the donor is compromised as the bank will know their identity.
  • Differential benefits: These bonds will help any party that is in power because the government can know who donated what money and to whom.
  • Unlimited donations: The electoral bonds scheme and amendments in the Finance Act of 2017 allows for “unlimited donations from individuals and foreign companies to political parties without any record of the sources of funding”.

Way ahead

  • The worries over the electoral bond scheme, however, go beyond its patent unconstitutionality.
  • The concern about the possibility of misuse of funds is very pertinent.
  • The EC has been demanding that a law be passed to make political parties liable to get their accounts audited by an auditor from a panel suggested by the CAG or EC. This should get prominence.
  • Another feasible option is to establish a National Election Fund to which all donations could be directed.
  • This would take care of the imaginary fear of political reprisal of the donors.

 

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Financial Inclusion in India and Its Challenges

Old Pension Scheme vs New Pension Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Defined Pension Benefit Scheme, NPS

Mains level : Issues with NPS

Many states are trying to restore Old Pension Scheme and discontinue the National Pension System (NPS).

What is the Defined Pension Benefit Scheme (old)?

  • The scheme assures life-long income, post-retirement.
  • Usually the assured amount is equivalent to 50% of the last drawn salary.
  • The Government bears the expenditure incurred on the pension.
  • The scheme was discontinued in 2004.

What is the National Pension System (NPS)?

  • The Union government under PM Vajpayee took a decision in 2003 to discontinue the old pension scheme and introduced the NPS.
  • The scheme is applicable to all new recruits joining the Central Government service (except armed forces) from April 1, 2004.
  • On the introduction of NPS, the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 was amended.

Features of NPS

  • It is a scheme, where employees contribute to their pension corpus from their salaries, with matching contributions from the government.
  • The funds are invested in earmarked investment schemes through Pension Fund Managers.
  • At retirement, they can withdraw 60% of the corpus, which is tax-free and the remaining 40% is invested in annuities, which is taxed.
  • It can have two components — Tier I and II.
  • Tier-II is a voluntary savings account that offers flexibility in terms of withdrawal, and one can withdraw at any point of time, unlike Tier I account.
  • Private individuals can opt for the scheme.

What were the changes introduced in 2019?

  • In 2019, the Finance Ministry said that Central government employees have the option of selecting the Pension Funds (PFs) and Investment Pattern in their Tier-I account.
  • The default pension fund managers are the LIC Pension Fund Limited, SBI Pension Funds Pvt. Limited and UTI Retirement Solutions Limited in a predefined proportion.

Who is the regulatory authority?

  • The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is the regulator for NPS.
  • PFRDA was set up through the PFRDA Act in 2013 to promote old age income security by developing pension funds to protect the interest of subscribers to schemes of pension funds.

What is the subscriber base?

  • As on February 28, there were 22.74 lakh Central government employees and 55.44 lakh State government employees enrolled under the NPS.

Why in news now?

  • In Feb, Rajasthan CM announced restoration of the old pension scheme for the government employees, who joined the service on or after January 1, 2004.
  • The announcement meant that the National Pension System (NPS) would be discontinued in the State.
  • The center had maintained that restoration of the old system would cause an unnecessary financial burden on the government.

Cons of NPS

  • Forfeiture of pension: The NPS scheme was created by the Government of India, in order to stop all the defined pension related benefits that it gave to its employees.
  • Withdrawal restrictions: NPS restricts all kinds of withdrawals, before the subscriber reaches the age of 60 years.
  • No tax benefits: The NPS corpus, which the subscriber can use for buying annuity or for drawing pensions, is taxable, when the schemes matures.
  • Limit on investment: The subscriber cannot invest more than 50% of his or her total investment in the NPS account, towards the equities.
  • No guarantee: While NPS is a government scheme, the corpus is created according to the returns, which are generated under the corporate bonds, government securities, and equity.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Who among the following can join the National Pension System (NPS)?

(a) Resident Indian citizens only

(b) Persons of age from 21 to 55 only

(c) All-State Government employees joining the services after the date of notification by the respective State Governments

(d) All Central Governments Employees including those of Armed Forces joining the services on or after 1st April 2004

 

Post your answers here.

 

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One Rank One Pension Issue

SC backs Centre’s OROP scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : One rank one pension Scheme

Mains level : OROP Policy

The Supreme Court has upheld the Centre’s one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme for the armed forces.

What is the news?

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that there was “no constitutional infirmity” in the way the government had introduced ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) among ex-service personnel.
  • The scheme, notified by the Defence Ministry on November 7, 2015, was challenged by Indian Ex-Service Movement, an association of retired defence personnel.

What is OROP Scheme?

  • OROP means that any two military personnel retiring at the same rank, with the same years of service, must get an equal pension.
  • While this might appear almost obvious, there are several reasons why two military personnel who may have retired at the same rank with the same years of service, may get different pensions.

Need for the scheme

Military personnel across the three services fall under two categories, the officers and the other ranks.

  • Early age of retirement: The other ranks, which are soldiers, usually retire at age 35.
  • No benefits from pay commissions: Unlike government employees who retire close to 60, soldiers can thus miss out on the benefits from subsequent pay commissions.
  • Salary based pension: And since pensions are based on the last drawn salary, pensions too are impacted adversely.
  • Ranks based discrimination: The age when officers in the military retire depends upon their ranks. The lower the rank, the earlier they superannuate.
  • Liability against the sacrifice: It was argued that early retirement should not become an adverse element for what a soldier earns as pension, compared with those who retire later.

Earlier pension mechanism

  • From 1950 to 1973, there was a concept known as the Standard Rate of Pension, which was similar to OROP.
  • In 1974, when the 3rd Pay Commission came into force, certain changes were effected in terms of weightage, additional years of notion service, etc., with regard to pensions.
  • In 1986, the 4th Pay Commission’s report brought further changes.
  • What ultimately happened was that the benefits of the successive pay commissions were not passed to servicemen who had retired earlier.
  • Pensions differed for those who had retired at the same rank, with the same years of service, but years apart.

Demand for OROP

  • Ex-servicemen demanded OROP to correct the discrepancy.
  • Over the decades, several committees looked into it.
  • The Brig K P Singh Deo committee in 1983 recommended a system similar to Standard Rate of Pension, as did Parliament’s standing committees on defence.
  • The Narendra Modi government notified the current OROP scheme in November 2015, and it was made applicable from July 1, 2014.

Issues with OROP

  • During the OROP protests of 2013-15, it was argued repeatedly that meeting the demand would be financially unsustainable.
  • Because soldiers retire early and remain eligible for pension for much longer than other employees, the Defence Ministry’s pension budget is very large, impacting capital expenditure.
  • The total defence pensioners are 32.9 lakh, but that includes 6.14 lakh defence civilian pensioners.
  • The actual expenditure of the Defence Ministry on pensions was Rs 1.18 lakh crore in 2019-2020.
  • The Defence Ministry’s pension-to-budget ratio is the highest among all ministries, and pensions are more than one-fifth of the total defence budget.
  • When the late Manohar Parrikar was Defence Minister, it was estimated that a one-time payout of Rs 83,000 crore would be needed to clear all past issues.

Challenge to OROP

  • The petitioners contended that the principle of OROP had been replaced by ‘one rank multiple pensions’ for persons with the same length of service.
  • They submitted that the government had altered the initial definition of OROP and, instead of an automatic revision of the rates of pension.
  • Under this, any future raising of pension rates would be passed on to past pensioners — the revision would now take place at periodic intervals.
  • According to the petitioners, this was arbitrary and unconstitutional under Articles 14 and 21.

What has the SC ruled now?

  • The court did not agree with the argument that the government’s 2015 policy communication contradicted the original decision to implement OROP.
  • It said that “while a decision to implement OROP was taken in principle, the modalities for implementation were yet to be chalked out.
  • The court also said that while the Koshyari Committee report furnishes the historical background of the demand, and its own view on it, it cannot be construed as embodying a statement of governmental policy.
  • It held that the OROP policy “may only be challenged on the ground that it is manifestly arbitrary or capricious”.

 

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Air Pollution

13% reduction in air pollution deaths due to UJJAWALA Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM UJJWALA Scheme

Mains level : Outcomes of the Scheme

Greater penetration and usage of LPG as a cooking fuel is estimated to have prevented at least 1.5 lakh pollution-related premature deaths in the year 2019 alone, according to the first independent impact assessment of the government’s flagship Ujjwala program.

About the PM Ujjwala Yojana

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched in 2016, with the aim to provide Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to five crore women members of below poverty line (BPL) households in the first phase.
  • he scheme was expanded in April 2018 to include women beneficiaries from seven more categories (SC/ST, PMAY, AAY, Most backward classes, tea garden, forest dwellers, Islands).
  • In the second phase the target was expanded to eight crore LPG connections.

Why was this scheme launched?

  • Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children.
  • Providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
  • This measure has empowered women and protected their health. It reduced drudgery and the time spent on cooking.
  • It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.

Ujjwala 2.0

  • Under Ujjwala 2.0 migrant workers would no longer have to struggle to get address proof documents to get the gas connections.
  • Now migrant workers would only be required to submit a self-declaration of their residential address to get the gas connection.
  • Along with a deposit-free LPG connection, Ujjwala 2.0 will provide the first refill and a hotplate free of cost to the beneficiaries.

Significance of Ujjwala 2.0

  • LPG infrastructure has expanded manifold in the country due to the Ujjwala scheme.
  • In the last six years, more than 11,000 new LPG distribution centres have opened across the country.
  • The LPG coverage in India is now very close to becoming 100 per cent.

 

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MGNREGA Scheme

Caste-based NREGS Wages Payment System

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MGNREGS

Mains level : Wage payment issues in MGNREGS

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj has asked the government to roll back the system of caste-based wages, under which NREGS workers are paid based on whether they belong to a Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, or Others.

Back in news: MGNREGA

What is the caste-based payment system?

  • Last year, the Rural Development Ministry sent an advisory to states asking them to take necessary action for payment of wages to NREGS workers according to their categories — SC, ST, and Others.
  • Under the new system, if 20 individuals (say, six SCs, four STs and 10 others) work together at a site under MG-NREGA, a single muster roll would be issued.
  • But payment would be done by issuing three separate Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs), one for each of the three categories.
  • Due to this, some beneficiaries started complaining that despite working at the same site and registering on the same muster roll, they were getting their wages at different times depending on their categories.
  • Beneficiaries in the ‘Others’ category, which includes the ‘General’ and Other Backward Classes (OBC) categories, especially complained of delays.

What was the earlier system of payment?

  • The Rural Development Ministry notifies wage rates for states and Union Territories under Section 6(1) of The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.
  • Until 2020-21, the wages were being paid to NREGS beneficiaries through a single funds transfer order.
  • In other words, if 20 beneficiaries, including SCs, STs and Others work at a site under MGNREGA, all received their wages at the same time, through a single muster roll and a single funds transfer order.

Why was the system of caste-based wage payment introduced?

  • According to the Ministry, the system of category-wise payment of wages was introduced to “accurately reflect on the ground flow of funds to various population groups”.
  • Last year, a process of “streamlining” of the new system was taken up.

 

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North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

What is Vibrant Village Programme?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vibrant Village Programme

Mains level : Critical border infrastructures

The Union government plans to open the villages along the Chinese border for tourists under the Vibrant Village programme announced in the Union Budget 2022-23.

Vibrant Village Programme

  • The program aims to improve infrastructure in villages along India’s border with China.
  • Infrastructure will be improved in states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Under the programme, residential and tourist centres will be constructed.
  • It will also provide for improvement in road connectivity and development of decentralized renewable energy sources.
  • Apart from that, direct access of Doordarshan and education related channels will be provided. Support will be provided for livelihood.

Key focus areas

  • It focuses livelihood generation, road connectivity, housing, rural infrastructure, renewable energy, television and broadband connections.
  • This objective will be met by strengthening infrastructure across villages located near the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Why need such scheme?

  • The programme is a counter to China’s model villages but the name has been carefully chosen so as to not cause any consternation in the neighbouring country.
  • China has established new villages along the LAC in the past few years particularly across the Arunachal Pradesh border.
  • While China has been settling new residents in border areas, villages on the Indian side of the frontier have seen unprecedented out-migration.

 

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