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The Hindu Newspaper 02 / 07/ 2020

Questions :-

NISHTHA is an initiative launched recently by which of the following ministries?

  • a.  Ministry of Corporate Affairs
  • b.  Ministry of Science and Technology
  • c.  Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  • d.  Ministry of Human Resources and Development

Answer : d

  • Union Ministry for Human Resources Development has recently launched the Integrated Teachers Training Programme, NISHTHA National Initiative for School Head’s and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement, in New Delhi.
  • This integrated programme aims to build the capacities of around 42 lakh participants covering all teachers and Heads of the school at the elementary level in all government school, faculty members of states councils of Educational Research and Training and other educational departments.
  • The integrated training will motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students, handle diverse situations and act as first-level counsellors.

2) Consider the following statements with respect to Anaemia of Inflammation

  1. It is only caused due to iron deficiency.
  2. It occurs due to shorter life span of red blood cells in body.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  • a.  1 only
  • b.  2 only
  • c.  Both 1 and 2
  • d.  Neither 1 nor 2

Answer : b

  • Anaemia is normally caused due to iron deficiency, but cancers, autoimmune diseases, infections and chronic kidney diseases may also lead to anaemia.
  • This is known as anaemia of inflammation.
  • The inflammation-induced anaemia occurs due to shorter life span of red blood cells in body and also suppression in formation of new red blood cells.
  • The currently available treatments for this type of anaemia have several side effects. So scientists have been looking for safer medications.
  • Scientists in Pune have found that a traditional herb Tinospora cardiofolia commonly known as gudduchi or giloy could be useful in treating inflammation-induced anaemia.

3) Asola Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary is located in which of the following?

  • a.  Delhi
  • b.  Dadra & Nagar Haveli
  • c.  Puducherry
  • d.  Lakshadweep

Answer : a

News:-Two more species added to India’s list of  butterflies

Lepidopterists in Arunachal Pradesh have helped add two species to India’s expanding list of butterflies.

One of them, the Striped Hairstreak, was first  recorded  by Japanese entomologists in  Hainan province of China. The other, Elusive Prince, has a Vietnamese connection and was  thought to be the more  familiar Black Prince  found in  the Eastern Himalayas.

The Rohana genus hadbeen represented in  India by two species — the Black Prince (Rohana parisatis) and the Brown Prince (Roha-na parvata). The scientific name of the Elusive Prince is Rohana ton-kiniana.

News:- SBI unit to set up SPV for aiding NBFCs on liquidity

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday said that State Bank of India’s SBICAP unit would set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to assist NBFCs and HFCs to improve their liquidity following the Centre’s approval of a Special Liquidity Scheme (SLS) for the purpose.

The RBI also issued guidelines specifying the norms that would make non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and housing finance companies (HFCs) eligible to avail funds under SLS.

The CRAR/CAR of NBFCs/HFCs must not be below the regulatory minimum, i.e., 15% and 12%.

What is a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC)?

A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance business, chit business but does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, purchase or sale of any goods (other than securities) or providing any services and sale/purchase/construction of immovable property. A non-banking institution which is a company and has principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement in one lump sum or in installments by way of contributions or in any other manner, is also a non-banking financial company (Residuary non-banking company).

What is difference between banks & NBFCs?

NBFCs lend and make investments and hence their activities are akin to that of banks; however there are a few differences as given below:

  • NBFC cannot accept demand deposits;
  • NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself;
  • deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.

News:- About IGNCA : – The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts – IGNCA was established in 1987. It is a centre established for encompassing study and experience of all the arts, each form with its own integrity, yet within the dimension of mutual interdependence.

The IGNCA seeks to underpin through its programmes of collection of resource material and fundamental research in the field of arts and humanities, the inter-relationship with the disciplines of science, physical and material metaphysics, anthropology and sociology.

Functions and Powers

IGNCA is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture. Its headquarters is at New Delhi.

News:- Ministry reconstitutes Central Zoo Authority

The Environment Ministry has reconstituted the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to include an expert from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, and a molecular biologist. The CZA is a statutory body chaired by the Environment Minister and tasked with regulating zoos across the country.

The authority lays down guidelines and prescribes rules under which animals may be transferred among zoos nationally and internationally.

Composition :- Apart from the chairman, it consists of 10 members and a member-secretary. Almost all of them are officials in the Environment Ministry and non-government experts are those who are wildlife conservationists or retired forest officers.

Zoos are regulated as per the provisions of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and are guided by the National Zoo Policy, 1992. The Wild Life Protection was amended in 1991 to establish the Central Zoo Authority.

News : EC nod to Postal ballot plan for Elderly:

CPM blamed EC that it was in a hurry to extend Postal ballot option to Elderly (Above 65 years of Age).

The Representation of the People Act, 1951 provides  for any person to be given the postal facility by the  ECI in consultation with the government, it said. 

The ECI had recommended that three categories of  electors –those 80 years and above, persons with  disabilities, and essential services workers – be  given the facility.

This was notified by the government on October 22, 2019  and the ECI rolled  it outas a pilot in seven  constituencies in the Jharkhand elections last year.

News:- Migrant foodgrain scheme reached less than 15% of 8 crore target:-

The scheme to provide free rations to eight crore migrants under the Aatmanirbhar package reached less than 15% of its target beneficiaries, according to data provided by the Food Ministry.

Goa, Telangana and A.P. did no distribution.

Another issue is that recently PM extended the Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana to those who have ration card but Aatmanirbhar food package, which was meant  to provide free foodgrains to  migrants and those  without ration cards in May and June, was not extended.

News:- PM quits Chinese social Media Site :- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official page on  Chinese social media website Weibo went blank,  with the removal of his photograph and all 115 posts  made over the past five years.

Editorials of the Day :-

Lockdown Impact on MGNREGA and Way ahead

Source: Livemint

Syllabus: GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

Context: The government has launched PM Garib Kalyan Rozgar yojana which seems to overlap with MGNREGA.

About Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

  • It is an employment guarantee act, introduced in 2005 through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.
  • The Act aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  • It is demand drivene. Worker to be hired when he demands and not when the Government wants it. Gram Panchayat is mandated to provide employment within 15 days of work application failing which worker is entitled to unemployment allowance
  • Payment of wages is provided within 15 days of competition of work failing which worker is entitled to delay compensation of 0.05%/ day of wages earned.
  • Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Government of India in association with state governments monitors the implementation of the scheme.
How is the govt’s GKRA Yojana different from MGNREGA?It seeks to provide 125 days of guaranteed employment and focuses on 116 districts across six states, which received the highest number of returnees. Unlike MGNREGA, it is a one-time scheme and is not available pan-India.

Impact of covid-19 lockdown on MGNREGA

  • The demand for MGNREGS work jumped by 55% from 21.2 million workers in May 2019 to 32.9 million in May 2020.
  • Since April, 3.5 million new workers have registered under the scheme reflecting the job losses in cities.
  • 116 districts, with the highest number of returnees, have witnessed 86% increase in demand under MGNREGS in May from 2019.

Concerns regarding MGNREGA

  • Insufficient budget allocation: MGNREGA’s success at the ground level is subject to proper and uninterrupted fund flow to the states. However, almost every year, more than 80% of funds get exhausted within the first six months
  • Supply driven scheme: Most states have implemented the scheme; till the time the funds were granted to them by Centre. Over time, this led to MGNREGS running in a supply-driven way instead of a demand-based model.
  • Low wage rate: MGNREGA wage of ₹202 per day is 30-40% lower than average wage offered to unskilled workers
  • Delay in wage payments:Wages remain uncleared even after 15 days, and many get denied work.

Measures to be taken:

  • Proper and timely allocation of funds
  • Ensuring minimum wages for workers
  • Effective monitoring of projects
  • Ensuring employment to rural households as per demand for work.
  • Guaranteed Unemployment allowance for all those denied work.

Conclusion: MGNREGA should not be diluted in the name of the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan. The potential for MGNREGA to provide relief to the suffering of rural India should be utilised to its fullest capacity especially in times of Corona when unemployment is at its highest.

Reforming India’s digital policy

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context: Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, investments in digital services continue to flow at record levels globally, outpacing investment in nearly every other sector.

Need for a robust Digital Policy in India

  • FDI potential: India is an ideal destination for increased FDI flows in the digital services sector.
  • Increasing digitised population: In 2018, India had over 480 million internet users across the country. This figure is projected to grow to over 660 million users by 2023.
  • Start-ups: India has huge potential for innovative homegrown start-ups.
  • Emerging importance of digital services:The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital services. Digital services enable access to and delivery of a wide array of products across multiple sectors, from healthcare to retail distribution to financial services.

Pending Reform Measures:

At present, there are three pending reform measures under consideration that are likely to affect India’s growth trajectory in digital services:

  1. Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB): The bill has been prepared by a high-level expert committee headed by former Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna. The bill seeks to provide for protection of personal data of individuals, create a framework for processing such personal data, and establishes a Data Protection Authority for the purpose.
  2. Draft e-commerce policy: It has been put forward by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). The prime objective of the policy is to prepare and enable stakeholders to fully benefit from the opportunities that would arise from progressive digitalization of the domestic digital economy.
  3. Information Technology Act Amendmentswhich aim at making social media companies more responsible for potentially harmful content.

Challenges ahead:

  1. India’s policy changes need to reconcile with India’s strong interest in promoting data privacy, protecting its democratic institutions, and encouraging FDI and India’s position as a global leader in information technology.
  2. India is yet to conclude negotiation on a bilateral trade agreement with USA that could address some digital services issues.
  3. The U.S. has recently just initiated a “Section 301” review of whether digital services taxes in 10 countries constitute “unfair” trade measures, including India’s equalisation levy.

Conclusion: Post-COVID-19 international cooperation and approaches to good governance in the digital sphere should be top-priority initiatives to foster digital services in India.

Banning Applications – Goes against democratic norms

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Context – In a virtual strike, India bans Tik-Tok and 58 other apps with Chinese links which has raised questions on legality of strike.

Banning applications by passing an executive order has following legal implications:

1. Lack of transparency – The legal order banning the apps, by itself has not yet been published or been made publicly available. Disclosure of this order is necessary because the nature of the action of blocking impacts the right not only of the owners of these smart-phone applications, but the public’s fundamental right to receive information.

2. Absence of parliamentary debate and consensus – The Ministry’s assessment may not have been technically examined or debated on the floor of the house. For instance, August 2012’ s decision of blocking around 245 web pages to prevent disinformation that purportedly was causing the exodus from Bengaluru of Indians belonging to the north-eastern part of the country was debated on floor of the house.

3. Aggrieved parties cannot approach court –In Shreya Singhal case, while upholding the blocking powers of the government, court reasoned that the writ remedies would always be available to an aggrieved person. Hence, to approach a High Court in a writ, the petitioner would require the availability of the legal order which needs it public disclosure by government.

Suggested Solutions

1. Data Protection Act – Passing the bill will ensure privacy and data protection for national citizens, especially those using apps of hostile neighbor.

2. Examining relation between technological advancement and strategic concerns –This involves commencing an exploration into whether investments and operational control pose cyber security concerns. This may be done through legislation and creation of an institutional process that may draw inspiration from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Way Forward – The principle of legality is inherent to a republic that is governed by laws and not the whims of powerful individuals in high office. It is the hallmark of a democracy that laws are validly enacted and do not violate fundamental rights.

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