Big issues, GS-1, Social Empowerment, Uncategorized

Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2016 by the Minister for Labour and Employment, Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya.  The Bill amends the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. The Bill has been passed by Rajya Sabha.

The Act regulates the employment of women during the period of child-birth, and provides maternity benefits.  The Act applies to factory, mines, plantations, shops and other establishments.  The Bill amends provisions related to the duration and applicability of maternity leave, and other facilities

Provisions of the Bill:

Four major changes have been made to the law relating to maternity benefits. These are

  • Firstly, it extends the period of maternity benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks of which not more than eight weeks can precede the date of the expected delivery. This exceeds the International Labour Organisation’s minimum standard of 14 weeks and is a positive development. However, a woman who has two or more surviving children will be entitled to 12 weeks of which not more than six weeks can precede the date of the expected delivery.
  • Secondly, women who legally adopt a child below the age of three months or a “commissioning mother” will be entitled to maternity benefit for 12 weeks from the date on which the child is handed over to her.  A commissioning mother is defined as a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in another woman.
  • Thirdly, it gives discretion to employers to allow women to work from home after the period of maternity benefit on mutually agreeable conditions. This would apply if the nature of work assigned to the woman permits her to work from home
  • Fourthly, it requires establishments having 50 or more employees to have a crèche facility, either separately or along with common facilities. Further, employers should allow the woman to visit the crèche four times a day, which “shall also include the interval for rest allowed to her.”
  • The Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment to intimate a woman at the time of her appointment of the maternity benefits available to her.  Such communication must be in writing and electronically.

 

Assessment of the Bill:

Criticism:

  • The Bill is steeped in an androcentric notion of family and the workplace. It assumes that only a mother is a parent or primary caregiver, while a father is the provider and an employee bereft of an active responsibility in childcare.
  • Restricting the option of working from home to only women also reinforces gender-based roles within the family. Provisions like these will inevitably cause employers to view these measures as an undue burden.
  • While it may marginally improve the working conditions in the short term, the amendment will undoubtedly perpetuate and sustain the gender gap in employment and in pay scales.
  • The Bill weakens the argument of “equal pay for equal work” as it can be argued rationally that work conditions for males and females differ and hence their pay scales should also differ. Thus the directive provided to the state under Article 39(a) is not being fulfilled.
  • Adoptive parents are discriminated. It also discriminates against adoptive fathers and transgendered persons who may adopt, as it does not even recognise their right to parental benefits. The state appears to be incentivizing the adoption of younger babies and discouraging the adoption of older babies and children.

Positives

  • It would benefit about 1.8 million women in the organised sector.  The new law will be applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more people.
  • At a time when female participation in Labour Force is way below the parity levels, as highlighted by McKinsey’s “The Power of Parity” report, this bill would go a long way in facilitating female entry in LFPR. Parity in LFPR would lead to boosting India’s GDP by 27% as highlighted by Christine Lagarde. It would reduce poverty and income inequality. She highlighted that Legal restriction exists in 90% of countries which limits women participation. This step is one of the ways to remove those legal and perception barriers for female participation in Labour Force.
  • The Bill provides a maternity leave of 26 weeks which exceeds ILO’s minimum standard of 14 weeks and is a positive development. India will jump to third position in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave after Norway (44) and Canada (50), said Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya while replying to a debate on the legislation
  • Roughly one third of India’s children are malnourished. The increase in maternity leave as mandated by law from 12 weeks to 26 would help new mothers bond with their babies and also to enable them to breastfeed leading to enhanced nutrition and immunity for the child. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is widely believed to be the easiest and most cost-effective way to fight child malnutrition. Last year, the Rapid Survey of Children conducted by the WCD Ministry showed 29.4% of children were underweight, 15% were wasted (low weight for their height), and 38.7% were stunted (low height for their age).
  • Such a step was long overdue as the family structure in India, especially in urban areas has changed from joint family to nuclear family, necessitating the presence of parents at home in the initial time post a child’s birth
Editorials, Uncategorized

Is India Ready For A Universal Basic Income Scheme?

Even after three decades of sustained economic growth and a proliferation of welfare schemes, roughly one in three Indians still live below the poverty line, according to the last report on poverty estimates submitted by the Rangarajan committee in 2014. While those estimates have been questioned, the fact remains that there is little dispute over the fact that too many Indians remain trapped in poverty.

  • There are hundreds of poverty alleviation programmes in India, from housing to food, from maternity benefits and child-welfare to old-age support. However, these schemes are beset with problems that limit their effectiveness.

 

Some of the problems faced by these schemes include:

  • Problem of eligibility: There are always inclusion and exclusion errors. Often, those who should not be getting a benefit, get it (inclusion errors), while those who should be getting it, don’t get it (exclusion errors).
  • Leakage problem: Problem of leakage, wastage, and corruption in the delivery process also affect many welfare schemes.
  • Implementation problem: There is no uniformity in implementation across states. This eats up considerable manpower and resources.
  • Subsidies problem: Some of these schemes involve subsidies that benefit the non-poor relatively more, since they consume more of the relevant good or the service. Power subsidy is the best example for this.

 

The persistence of poverty and significant leakages in welfare schemes that aim to alleviate it has prompted many academics and policymakers to explore more efficient alternatives to India’s creaky and leaky welfare architecture. One of the suggestions has been to move towards a “universal basic income”.

 

Universal Basic Income:

The idea is already gaining currency in the developed world, as fears of automation and consequent job losses have spurred thinkers in the West to devise ways wherein all individuals would be guaranteed some income.

 

What is Basic Income?

A basic income is an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. It is a form of minimum income guarantee that differs from those that now exist in various European countries in three important ways:

  1. It is being paid to individuals rather than households;
  2. It is paid irrespective of any income from other sources;
  3. It is paid without requiring the performance of any work or the willingness to accept a job if offered.

 

Background:

Although it has gained popularity in recent years, the idea itself is several centuries old. One of the earliest proponents of some form of basic income was Spanish philosopher Johannes Ludovicus Vives, who proposed that the government should ensure the minimum level of subsistence for all, but only to those who showed willingness to work. Thus, Vives’s idea of a basic income was not unconditional.

  • Subsequently, many other philosophers explored variants of the idea of basic income, not necessarily always drawing inspiration from or building upon previous work.
  • Thomas Paine, one of the US’s founding fathers, argued that every person was entitled to an equal basic endowment because “the earth, in its natural, uncultivated state was the common property of the human race”.
  • However, this concept of equal endowment was, in his view, somewhat violated by the system of landed property. Therefore, property owners ought to contribute to a fund that could be redistributed to everybody, including the rich and the poor, Paine wrote.
  • Years later, British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, in his 1918 book Roads to Freedom. Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism, argued that “a certain small income, sufficient for necessaries” should be unconditionally provided to all.

 

The universal basic income, as it is understood today, has three distinguishing characteristics:

  • First, it is universal and not targeted. In the Indian context, this makes sense because of the less-than-satisfactory experience with targeting welfare services. Apart from the standard arguments against targeting—that it often excludes a lot of the deserving households from receiving subsidies, people often fall in and out of poverty and therefore it becomes difficult to ascertain who are rightfully entitled to receive such benefits. Thus, a “universal” programme would not only be more appropriate, it will also reduce the burden of the bureaucracy in so far as it is engaged in identifying the deserving beneficiaries of any targeted programme.
  • The second feature of any proposed universal basic income scheme is cash transfer in lieu of in-kind transfer. There are standard arguments in favour of cash transfers over in-kind transfers (food stamps or grains provided through the Public Distribution System) as they are supposed to be much less market-distorting than in-kind transfers.
  • The third distinguishing feature is that it is unconditional. Cash transfers are not tied to exhibiting certain behaviour, and the people are free to spend the cash as they want. An example of conditional in-kind transfer in India would be the mid-day meal scheme, where the meal—an in-kind transfer—is conditional upon attending school.

 

Thus, the universal basic income seeks to provide unconditional cash to every individual, or household, and the individuals would be free to use the cash as per their discretion and spend according to their own preferences. Thus, the movement for a universal basic income has attracted support from both the left and right ends of the political spectrum.

 

What are the main arguments against a universal basic income?

  • It would reduce the motivation for work and might encourage people to live off assured cash transfers.
  • It is simply unaffordable. As it is estimated paying a basic income equivalent to the poverty line, to each and every adult in India, would entail a cost of 11% of GDP, which is way above the 4.2% of GDP that the government currently spends on explicit subsidies. (Explicit subsidies mean the subsidy cost under the Public Distribution System, fertilizers, railways, electricity, sugar, LPG, kerosene and water).
  • It is also argued that unconditional cash transfers might raise wages due to the decline in the supply of casual labourers.
  • There is also question of whether a shift towards it should be a substitute for all existing subsidies or whether it should complement the existing ones.

 

In discussing the merits and demerits of the UBI or any other development policy, it is important to avoid some standard pitfalls.

  • First, all policies have some pros and cons, and so just picking a problem with or highlighting a nice feature of a particular policy is not good enough. That traps us in an elusive search for “win-win” policies. The focus should be on relative costs and benefits of different policies.
  • Second, one size does not fit all. We should be open to the possibility that different policies could work well in different contexts. Cash transfers only make sense if you have ready access to markets, which is not true if you live in remote rural areas in which we have to rely on in-kind transfers.
  • Third, there is no magic pill that will cure all problems. Different policies are needed to address different problems. So yes, a UBI or a cash transfer as envisaged by JAM or the MGNREGA will provide some relief to the poor, but will not provide a long-term solution to the problem of poverty. For that one needs investment in health, education, and skill-formation to enable the poor to take advantage of growth opportunities, and investing in infrastructure and regulatory conditions to facilitate private investment for employment generation.

 

Way ahead:

While some of the challenges of implementing a basic income can be met with the better use of technology and an expansion in banking services, the challenge of affordability remains. How far existing welfare schemes can be trimmed without hurting the poor, and how much public resources can be saved to implement the scheme remains an open question.

  • The required budgetary resources could be raised by trimming the implicit and explicit subsidies to the rich (often in the form of tax breaks or subsidies given to goods largely consumed by the relatively well-off), or by raising additional taxes by improving property tax collections (currently extremely low).

 

Conclusion:

Few regard UBI as a simple and potentially comprehensive antidote to poverty. It is also viewed as a means to demolish complex welfare bureaucracies while recognizing the need for some social transfer obligations in a way that doesn’t weaken incentives significantly

GS-2, Uncategorized

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY)

Introduction

Prime minister laid the foundation stone for All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) inGorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The state where medical care is very poor. AIIMS will provide tertiary care for the people. Gorakhpur is a significant area, but always in news for one bad reason that is the Japanese encephalitis which takes many lives.

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) was announced in 2003 with objectives of correctingregional imbalances in the availability of affordable/ reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the country.
  • Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana was approved in March 2006. The first phase in the PMSSY has two components – setting up of six institutions in the line of AIIMS; and up gradation of 13 existing Government medical college institutions.

Importance of AIIMS

  • Health care is a very important dimension of Good Governance. Quality health care has been lacking in Gorakhpur region. Having AIIMS in those area is to take the AIIMS level of quality to those places where previously people from all parts of the country use to come to AIIMS in Delhi.
  • AIIMS was considered the best in terms of what government can provide in terms of public health care. Todaymedical sciences have made lot of improvements and advancements. When it comes to availability to the people, it is the urban people who benefit invariably.
  • So the new project is very important in terms of providing high quality medical facilities to those places where there is no medical attention.
  • We have schemes for Ambulance services, primary health care etc. Having AIIMS in Gorakhpur is important for access to specialist services.
  • Sometimes there are complicated health cases. Providing specialist care along with basic health care facilities is very important. For specialists and diagnostics, people are forced to come to cities for treatment.
  • It is very difficult for poor villagers to come to city and stay for the purpose of availing medical treatment. So having a super speciality hospital with areas of excellence will benefit the people of Gorakhpur.
  • The basic idea of setting up AIIMS at various places was to provide quality and affordable care. Along with this quality medical education is also created.

State of Health care in India

  • In India 10 lakh people die every year due to lack of medical care facilities and 70 crore have no access to medical specialists. 80% specialists are in urban areas.
  • The world average is 3.96 hospitals per 1000 population. In India it is 0.7 hospital beds. 70% of state’s budget goes in paying salaries and wages. This is very dismal situation.
  • Life expectancy has gone up to 66 years as compared to 32 years when India got independence. Health care is going to be more significant aspect. In a country where social welfare and social development indicesare yet to grow, the new project shows some kind of commitment by the government for the welfare of the people.
  • The public funding for health care is 22%, while 78% is going to private hospitals. The share of the richest 20% of the population gets 31% of the total public subsidies. The real intended portion of benefits is not reaching the lower end of the ladder of population. This is a very grim picture.
  • The available medical facilities are not reaching the people who badly need them. In government hospitals there is apathy in terms of attending to patients, availability of facilities and availability of modern technology.
  • India has 0.7 doctors per 1000 population. In the present scenario even 7 doctors per 1000 population may not be sufficient, by looking at the lifestyle diseases (Non Communicable Diseases). The diseases we normally thought would affect only a particular section of the population like obesity is prevalent among low income people. The diseases are striking at every strata of the society. How people cope up with it is a big question.
  • According to Lancent report of 2015, in India 25,300 public health centres have no doctors, 80% of the community health centres do not have a specialist/ surgeon, 76% don’t have access to gynaecologist and 82% don’t have a paediatrician. At one hand we are expanding medical services, while the real staff to treat or diagnose and support staff, we have a long way to go.

Need of the Hour

  • The private health care can fill up that space. In recent times there are issues about quality health care provided by private sector. So government cannot leave healthcare completely to private sector.
  • Private healthcare is equally important because government alone cannot provide health services to the citizens. The government must supplement the services available by creating the centres of excellence.
  • 80% of the medical doctors work in urban centres. Government has tried to correct it by making rural service as compulsory. But things haven’t improved. The other side is doctors find it difficult to stay or have a hospitable living in area where they can move and stay with their family. The facilities for the doctors to stay in rural areas have to be created by the government.
  • In terms of developed countries, the quality medical facility we get in any part of that country is equal to what they get in the bigger cities. India should also aim for the similar system where the super speciality services are available at least at the district level.
  • India has 0.7 doctors per 1000 population, china has 1.5 and Pakistan has 0.8. Recently health minister said India need 7.5 lakh doctors where as the intake of medical colleges are 50,000 students. There is a huge gap in terms of availability of doctors and the need to provide quality medical care. This is to be addressed.

Conclusion

We need to have quality medical facilities at all places. They have to be at affordable prices. Only the government can make the high quality medical care affordable to the people.

38,000 to 45,000 doctors pass out every year. But in terms of post MBBS super specialisation there are not more than 17,000 seats. There is a need to fill this gap. The Medical Council of India and the Government of India have been looking at the issue. The foundation stone of AIIMS at Gorakhpur is a step in the right direction.

GS-1, Social Empowerment, Uncategorized

Debate on Dalit issue in Lok Sabha

Issue

There was a special discussion in lok sabha on the atrocities against Dalits that have arisen in various parts of the country. Leaders spoke about injustice and oppression the dalits have had to face for centuries. There have been greater incidences being reported, in una where dalits were publically flogged by the Gau Rakshaks

We have enough laws to deal with, the atrocities against dalits. But it has not made any effect on these issues. There should be a social movement by political parties on the ground that could make an impact. We need reformers of the old like B.R Ambedkar, Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, andAbraham Lincoln who fought for the rights of the blacks and some more of the similar kind.

The Dalits atrocities have taken the country by storm. The issues like the suicide of Rohit vemula, Dalits who were found to be skinning a dead cow were flogged in una, and the case in Andhra Pradesh. These incidents seem to be increasing or they are coming to light much more.

Somehow these incidents take the fight forward, particularly in a democracy where a dalit has a vote.

Highlights of the Debate

  • There were only few members in the lok sabha, considering the kind of agitation these incidents have created and the kind of demand made by all parties.
  • This is very tragic, considering the seriousness of the issue, and the electoral impact this issue is going to have on the future elections in the states of Punjab which has a large section of dalit population around 30%, 22% in Uttar Pradesh, 7% in Gujarat
  • Most of them who spoke were dalits themselves. In women issues, we see women MPs speaking. Whether it is gender inequality issue or dalit issue, we see the concern only from the people of that community. These issues are of equal concern for all of us, and the society at large.

Governments approach towards Dalits

  • Dalits should not be job seekers, but the job givers and should lead the professions. If this happens, we can see a fundamental change in the society. The process of awakening and constant growing amongst the community will have its own dynamics
  • There is little minuscule percentage of dalit entrepreneurs, who are doing very well for themselves. Government is working towards encouraging more entrepreneurship. Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) has been able to give Rs 50,000 crore worth of loans to 80,000 small entrepreneurs so far, most of them from backward castes.
  • Government has taken significant steps, but we still have a long way to go. The time has come, where we need to look forward to dalits. Dalits are emerging as new leaders.
  • Steps taken by the government like Jan Dhan yojna and pension and insurance schemes. “The PM has inculcated courage among those who did not have courage to face the gates of a bank,”
  • Prime ministers strong words against gau rakshaks and that these attacks won’t be allowed and they should not take law into their hands.

 

 

Some facts

  • 1 dalit is killed every 18 minutes. 40% of the dalit girls are uneducated. Dalit girls are the largest group in the world who are illiterate. In recent times we see some improvement, but it is not enough and 40% is a very large number.
  • The conviction rate is very low. Its only 2 to 3 %. Even under Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
  • They are not getting the basic elementary education. Along with education, the economic wellbeing and social discrimination makes the dalit women a triply exploited entity in our society today and because of caste, class and gender.

Need of the Hour

  • The issues remain very serious. It is only through quality education which takes the dalits to the tipping point.
  • We need a reformer now like R. Ambedkar and Babu Jagjivan Ram. The movement may not come from the political party, but it will come within the dalit society. Political parties must take note of it and act accordingly.
  • Political parties must undertake social change movements. Only then we can see the real change on the ground.
  • Attention is required in case of nutrition provided to dalit women.

Conclusion

Today dalits have political participation and can raise their voices to demand their rights. In terms of social discrimination, the things are changing in towns. But that is not the case in rural areas. Dalits have been dormant since 70 years of independence, but an awakening has come into them. We may not be able to stop them from here onwards.

GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

With 4 new vaccines, govt to revamp immunisation drive

The health ministry is planning to revamp its flagship immunisation programme ‘Mission Indradhanush‘ to include four new vaccines.

  • The mission, currently providing coverage against seven life-threatening diseases, will soon also include vaccines for rotavirus, measles rubella, inactivated polio vaccine bivalent and Japanese Encephalitis for adults.

Mission Indradhanush:

Mission Indradhanush was launched by the Health & Family Welfare Ministry. The Mission was launched on Good Governance Day to mark the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Madan Mohan Malaviya and birthday of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Aim:

The Mission Indradhanush, depicting seven colours of the rainbow, aims to cover all those children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated, or are partially vaccinated against seven vaccine preventable diseases which include diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B.

Details:

  • The Mission is being implemented in 201 high focus districts in the country in the first phase which have nearly 50% of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children (Of the 201 districts, 82 districts are in just four states of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and nearly 25% of the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children of India are in these 82 districts of 4 states).
  • These districts will be targeted by intensive efforts to improve the routine immunization coverage.
  • The campaign is part of the Universal Immunisation Programme by 2020 and is being implemented under the National Health Mission across the country.
  • Between 2009-2013 immunization coverage has increased from 61% to 65%, indicating only 1% increase in coverage every year. To accelerate the process of immunization by covering 5% and more children every year, the Mission Mode has been adopted to achieve target of full coverage by 2020.
  • The focused and systematic immunization drive will be through a “catch-up” campaign mode where the aim is to cover all the children who have been left out or missed out for immunization.
  • The learnings from the successful implementation of the polio programme will be applied in planning and implementation of the mission.
  • The Ministry will be technically supported by WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and other donor partners. Mass media, interpersonal communication, and sturdy mechanisms of monitoring and evaluating the scheme are crucial components of Mission Indradhanush.

Background:

The World Health Organization (WHO) pegs India’s vaccine coverage at less than 80%. The government is targeting to immunise 90% of infants by 2020 under its ambitious nationwide immunisation drive.

Editorials, GS-3, Indian Economy, Uncategorized

Measuring Mudra’s success

Article Link

Summary:

Prime Minister Modi, in a recent interview, indicated that his focus was to create a third sector—the personal sector—other than farms and factories wherein a person turns into a job provider through entrepreneurship rather than a job-seeker in the other two sectors. This statement assumes significance as it has many policy implications for the next few years.

  • The government has already been active in translating this vision into reality. The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) is one of the cornerstones of this policy.
  • According to estimates, the total amount of loans disbursed under the PMMY programme crossed Rs.1.25 trillion as of March 2016.

About the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) scheme:

The PMMY Scheme was launched in April, 2015. The scheme’s objective is to refinance collateral-free loans given by the lenders to small borrowers.

  • The scheme, which has a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore, can lend betweenRs 50,000 and Rs 10 lakh to small entrepreneurs.
  • Banks and MFIs can draw refinance under the MUDRA Scheme after becoming member-lending institutions of MUDRA.

Significance of this scheme:

  • It will greatly increase the confidence of young, educated or skilled workers who would now be able to aspire to become first generation entrepreneurs.
  • Existing small businesses, too, will be able to expand their activities.
  • Under the scheme, by floating MUDRA bank, the Centre has ensured credit flow to SMEs sector and has also identified NBFCs as a good fit to reach out to them.
  • People will now be able to get refinance at subsidised rate and it would be passed on to the SMEs. Moreover, it would enable SMEs to expand their activities.

There are three types of loans under PMMY:

  1. Shishu (up to Rs.50,000).
  2. Kishore (from Rs.50,001 to Rs.5 lakh).
  3. Tarun (from Rs.500,001 to Rs.10,00,000).

MUDRA Yojana has to address the following challenges:

  • One of the most persistent problems that Indian economy is facing is the inequitable distribution of funds. The larger portion of the capital is available to the bigger companies whereas too little of the capital is distributed to micro, small and medium business sector.
  • At present the non-profit micro financing institutes (MFI’s) are not able to provide enough support to small businesses. The commercial banks are also hesitant to provide funds to small and medium entrepreneurs. They avoid exposure to this particular segment because they consider it highly risky in nature with no performance history.
  • Even within the organized sector in India, it is the larger units that are deploying the most capital, providing the most jobs, wages and emoluments and generating the most output. Also, only 2% of the factories covered by the ASI generate net value-added (NVA) of over Rs.50 crore. They employ a quarter of the total employed in factories, provide 40% of all emoluments; generate half the total output from factories and 71% of NVA. Small businesses hardly come into picture.
  • Another problem is that as firms age in India they fail to employ more people. Even as firms become more than three decades old, they do not employ more people. If anything, employment size, relative to the size of employment at the birth of the firm, goes down.

Way ahead:

The government should measure the success or failure of its interventions including Mudra Yojana by the extent of reduction in informal employment, the rise in formal employment and the extent of mobility of firms to medium and large sizes. Objective criteria will help in making these decisions in an apolitical fashion. For that, one of the conditions of the loans must be that entrepreneurs start to maintain books of accounts on employment, output, revenues, expenses and taxes. Government should also bring in policy measures to create incentives for firms in India to increase their size. The aim of policy must be to make them grow out of their sizes at birth.

Conclusion:

Under this scheme, Rs.1.25 trillion disbursements have been done in the space of less than a year. If such rates of growth were maintained, they would constitute a sizeable chunk of total non-farm credit in the economy. Therefore, given its importance to the future evolution of the economy, it is useful to have as precise an idea as possible, ex-ante, of the economic and social outcomes that the government is seeking with such generous credit support.

GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

Digital DBT aids rural job schemes

The Hindu

News

  • The government has electronically transferred more than Rs.61,000 crore in the last financial year through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme.

According to the data presented in Parliament

  • Rs.61,824.32 crore was transferred to 30.8 crore beneficiaries in 59 schemes.
  • Out of this, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) payments made up Rs.25,800 crore, or 42 per cent of total DBT schemes.

               Scheme                                           % Through DBT                Rupees transferred                                   

 

  1. MGNREGA payments                  85 per cent                                 Rs.25,800 crore
  2. PAHAL scheme                              35 per cent                                 Rs.21,400 crore
  3. Schemes under Department of Higher Education                  Rs.1,975 crore
  4. Schemes under Ministry of Minority Affairs                            Rs.1,134 crore
  5. Schemes under Ministry of Tribal Affairs                                  Rs.955 crore

3.34 crore duplicate, fake, or inactive consumers were blocked under the PAHAL and related schemes as of April 1, 2015.

The savings in LPG subsidy on account of this blocked customers, calculated at an average cash subsidy of Rs.150 taking the average cylinders used by a consumer at 6.5 comes to an estimated savings of Rs.3,300 crore in 2015-16.

GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao

  • Aim: To generate awareness and improve efficiency of delivery of welfare services meant for women
  • Launched on 22 January 2015 with an initial corpus of Rs. 100 crore
  • Joint initiative of Ministries of Women & Child Development, Health & Human Resource Development

Districts Identified

The three criteria for selection of districts:

  1. Districts below the national average (87 districts/23 states);
  2. Districts above national average but shown declining trend (8 districts/8 states)
  3. Districts above national average and shown increasing trend (5 districts/5 states- selected so that these CSR levels can be maintained and other districts can emulate and learn from their experiences)
  • First Phase:

100 districts have been identified on the basis of low Child Sex Ratio as per Census 2011 covering all States/UTs as a pilot With at least one district in each state

  • Second Phase

The scheme has further been expanded to 61 additional districts selected from 11 States/UT having CSR below 918


 

Strategies:

  • Implement a sustained Social Mobilization and Communication Campaign to createequal value for the girl child & promote her education
  • Focus on Gender Critical Districts and Cities low on CSR for intensive & integrated action
  • Mobilize & Train Panchayati Raj Institutions/ Urban local bodies/ Grassroot workers as catalysts for social change
  • Ensure service delivery structures/ schemes & programmes are sufficiently responsiveto issues Of gender and children’s rights
  • Enable Inter-sectoral and inter-institutional convergence at District/ Block/ Grassroot levels

Implementation:

  1. Centre: A National Task Force (NTF) headed by Secretary WCD
    State: A State Task Force (STF)
  2. District: District Task Force (DTF) headed by the District Collector/ Deputy Commissioner with representation of concerned departments
  3. Block: A Block Level Committee headed by SDM/ SDO/ BDO
  4. Gram Panchayat/ Municipality: Respective Panchayat Samiti/ Ward Samiti
  5. Village: Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committees
GS-1, Uncategorized

Housing for All by 2022

Fulfilling housing dream of every Indian family by 75th year of independence.


 


 

  • PM Modi- ‘By the time the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence, every family will have a pucca house with water connection, toilet facilities, 24×7 electricity supply and access’
  • To achieve this objective, Govt has launched a comprehensive mission ‘Housing for All by 2022’
  • The programme is launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) <not ministry of urban development>

Features

  • It will be implemented during 2015-2022
  • Will provide central assistance to implementing agencies through States and UTs for providing houses to all eligible families/beneficiaries by 2022
  • Will be implemented as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) except for the component of credit linked subsidy which will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme <what’s the difference b/w centrally sponsored and central sector schemes? Answer in comments>
  • Mission with all its component has become effective from 17 June, 2015 and will be implemented upto 31 March, 2022
  • All 4041 statutory towns as per Census 2011 with focus on 500 Class I cities would be covered in three phases: <what is a statutory town? Answer in comments>
  1. Phase I (April 2015 – March 2017) to cover 100 Cities selected from States/ UTs as per their willingness
  2. Phase II (April 2017 – March 2019) to cover additional 200 Cities
  3. Phase III (April 2019 – March 2022) to cover all other remaining Cities

Ministry, however, will have flexibility regarding inclusion of additional cities in earlier phases in case there is a resource backed demand from States/ UTs

  • The mission will support construction of houses upto 30 square meter carpet area with basic civic infrastructure
  • The minimum size of houses constructed under the mission under each component should conform to the standards provided in National Building Code (NBC)
  • The houses should be designed and constructed to meet the requirements of structural safety against earthquake, flood, cyclone, landslides etc. conforming to the National Building Code and other relevant Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) codes
  • The houses should be in the name of the female head of the household or in the joint name of the male head of the household and his wife, and only in cases when there is no adult female member in the family, the house can be in the name of male member of the household
  • Implementing Agencies should encourage formation of associations of beneficiaries under the scheme like Resident Welfare Association etc. to take care of maintenance of houses being built under the mission

Components

The Mission will be implemented through four verticals giving option to beneficiaries, ULBs and State Governments

housing-for-all


 

Beneficiaries

  • The mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers

What is a slum? It is defined as a compact area of at least 300 people or about 60-70 households of poorly built congested tenements in unhygienic environment usually with inadequate infrastructure and lacking in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities

  • Beneficiaries include Economically weaker section (EWS) and low-income groups (LIGs)

The annual income cap is up to Rs 3 lakh for EWS and Rs 3-6 lakh for LIG. EWS category of beneficiaries is eligible for assistance in all four verticals of the Missions whereas LIG category is eligible under only Credit linked subsidy scheme (CLSS) component of the Mission

  • A beneficiary family will comprise husband, wife, unmarried sons and/ or unmarried daughters
  • The beneficiary family should not own a pucca house either in his/ her name or in the name of any member of his/ her family in any part of India to be eligible to receive central assistance under the mission
  • The total housing shortage envisaged to be addressed through the new mission is 20 million<what is the actual housing shortage in the country? What %age of it is in LIG and EWS category? Answer in comments>

 

Follow this story for updates on housing scheme- India’s urbanisation agenda

GS-3, Indian Economy, Uncategorized

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Shramev Jayate Karyakram

The labour reforms to ensure- Minimum Government, Maximum Governance.


 

Why labour reforms?

  • Multiplicity of labour laws and the difficulty in their compliance has always been cited as an impediment to the industrial development <it is said that it’s not possible to comply with all the labour regulations without violating a few>
  • The World Bank annual report for year 2014 on Indian Labour Laws- The Indian states with flexible labour laws and easier compliance mechanism have fared better in terms of Industrial development than those where labour laws are rigid and the compliance is difficult as well
  • Ease of compliance has also been found to be important for the growth of organized sector
  • It is needed to amend the labour laws and make them flexible for the present circumstances
  • It is also important to ensure that the compliance is made easy as this will encourage the development of manufacturing industry particularly MSME sector in the country

#1. Shram Suvidha Portal

Aim: To create a conducive environment for industrial development Features:

  • Unique labour identification number (LIN) will be allotted to Units to facilitate online registration
  • Filing of self-certified and simplified Single Online Return by the industry Mandatory uploading of inspection Reports within 72 hours by the Labour inspectors
  • Timely redressal of grievances will be ensured with the help of the portal

Advantage:

  • Ease in compliance of provisions related to labour
  • A step forward in promoting the ease of doing business
  • The complete database will add to the informed policy process

#2. Labour Inspection

Aim: To bring in transparency in labour inspection So far, the units for inspection were selected locally without any objective criteria Features:

  • Serious matters are to be covered under the mandatory inspection list
  • A computerized list of inspections will be generated randomly based on pre-determined objective criteria
  • Complaints based inspections will also be determined centrally after examination based on data and evidence
  • There will be provision of Emergency List for inspection of serious cases in specific circumstances

Advantage: A transparent Inspection Scheme will provide a check on the arbitrariness in compliance mechanism

#3. Universal Account Number (UAN)

  • Under the scheme, complete information for approximately 4 crore subscribers of EPF has been centrally compiled and digitized & a UAN has been allotted to all
  • The UAN is being seeded with Bank account and Aadhar Card and other KYC details for financial inclusion of vulnerable section of society
  • Camps are being organized to facilitate opening of bank account and Aadhar card for those subscribers who have no bank account or Aadhar card

Advantage: This will ensure portability of the Social Security Benefits to the labour of organised sector across the jobs and geographic areas

#4. Recognition of Brand Ambassadors of ITIs

Need:

  • The Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the country are the backbone of the vocational training system, only source of supply of skilled manpower to manufacturing industry
  • There are 11,500 ITIs having about 16 lakh seats. But this is grossly inadequate for supplying skilled manpower to Indian industry
  • Only 10% of the workforce has got formal or informal technical training. Only one fourth of this is formally trained
  • Whereas in South Korea, Japan, Germany, the percentage of workforce having received skills training is 96, 80 and 75 respectively
  • Therefore we need to rapidly expand certificate level vocational training if we have to succeed in our mission of ‘Make in India’
  • Also, blue collar work is not respected and regarded in the society

Features:

  • Over 60 years of existence ITIs have given excellent technician, mechanics, entrepreneurs and professional leaders & manufacturing sector is reservoir of this success
  • They have brought name and fame in the country and abroad It is proposed to compile these success stories and publish in print and electronic form
  • These success stories shall be used for motivating youngsters and their parents
  • Such successful ITI graduates will be showcased as National Brand Ambassadors of Vocational Training

Advantages:

  • It will serve as communicator and catalyst, taking the message of ITI vocational training to every section of society
  • Improve the brand image as well as social acceptance of the vocational training

#5. All India Skill Competition

Aim: To foster the healthy spirit of competitiveness among the trainee Craftsmen/ ApprenticesCompetitions:

  • All India Skill Competition for Craftsmen among trainees admitted under Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS)
  • All India Competition for Apprentices among trainees admitted under Apprenticeship Training Scheme (ATS)

#6. Apprenticeship Protsahan Yojna

The Apprentices Act 1961 was enacted for regulating the Apprenticeship Training Scheme in the industry for imparting on-the-job training to apprentices Need:

  • Presently, there are only 2.82 lakh apprentices undergoing training against 4.9 lakh seats
  • Present framework tightly regulates the number of apprentices trade-wise, and is not attractive to youth because of low rate of stipend
  • Also, the industry is averse to participate because the scheme is not viable for the small industries
  • There are a large number of establishments including MSMEs where training facilities are available but could not be utilized so far

Aim: To revamp the apprenticeship Scheme in India with the vision of increasing apprenticeship seats to more than 20 lakhs in next few years Components:

  • Making the legal framework friendly to both, industry and youth
  • Enhancing the rate of stipend and indexing it to minimum wages of semi-skilled workers
  • Support manufacturing units mainly and other establishments by reimbursing 50% of the stipend paid to apprentices during first two years of their training
  • Basic training component (mainly class room training part) of the curricula is being restructured on scientific principles to make it more effective, and MSMEs will be supported financially by govt

Advantage:

  • Apprenticeship Scheme has huge potential for training the large number of young person’s to make them employable
  • Similar schemes have been highly successful in countries like Germany, China and Japan where the number of apprentices are stated to be 30, 20 & 10 million respectively
  • If properly revamped, it could also significantly contribute to ‘Make in India’ Mission

Let’s end this article with a nice summary from The Hindu

labour-reform


Follow this story for updates on labour reforms- Labour reforms in India Suggested readings: