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Insights Daily Current Events, 04 April 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 04 April 2015

Rain-hit areas to get NREGS boost

The Union government is planning to increase the number of work days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme from 100 to 150 in places where the recent unseasonal rain and hailstorms have affected crops. The relief package will include cash compensation.

  • The Finance Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry are readying a relief package that will include cash compensation for damaged crops to farmers hit by the unseasonal rain and hailstorms.

MGNREGA:

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005, also known as the “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act” is an Indian labour law and social security measure.

Aims:

  • To guarantee the ‘right to work’ and ensure livelihood security in rural areas.
  • To create durable assets that would augment the basic resources available to the poor.
  • To follow the Directive Principles of State Policy enunciated in Part IV of the Constitution of India and conforms to the Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that defines the right to work as a basic human right.

How? 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.

More Details:

  • The provisions of the law also adhere to the principles enunciated in the Constitution of India under Article 21 of the Constitution of India that guarantees the right to life with dignity to every citizen of India.
  • This law guarantees the right to work to the people of India and hence is termed as a “People’s Act”.
  • It is believed that targeting poverty through employment generation is the effective way to alleviate poverty.
  • Employment under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA is a guaranteed legal right.
  • The major responsibility of the implementation rests with Panchayati Raj institutions.
  • Previous employment guarantee schemes (EGS) like ‘Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana’ (SGRY) Programme and National Food For Work Programme (NFFWP) were merged with MGNREGA to make it more effective.
  • The Act sets a minimum limit to the wages, to be paid with gender equality. The states are required to evolve a set of norms for the measurement of works and schedule of rates. The unemployment allowance must be paid if the work is not provided within the statutory limit of 15 days.

Criticism:

  • Activists say that the outlay for the scheme has remained nearly constant for the past three years, which, adjusting for inflation, amounts to a decrease.
  • The release of funds to the States is being delayed and the amounts have been capped. As a result, there has been a 16 per cent decline in employment from the 2013-14 figure.
  • Compared with 147 lakh person days generated in December 2013, only 123 lakh person days were generated in December 2014, with the decline sharper in poor States such as Bihar and Chhattisgarh.
  • Till December 2014 in the financial year 2014-15, 72 per cent of the total wages disbursed were delayed. And delays in wage payments have actually increased over time.

However, Evidence from independent research studies have shown that the MGNREGA has successfully curbed distress migration, had large effects on consumption and poverty of Dalit and Adivasi households, increased nutritional standards of households, provided risk resilience to small and marginal farmers and vastly expanded the financial inclusion net in the country.

Sources: The Hindu, NREGA, Wiki.

 

Centre extends food law deadline again by 6 months

The Centre has given another six months to the States for rolling out the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The deadline has already been extended twice.

  • Only 11 States and Union Territories have so far implemented the Act which was passed by Parliament in September 2013.
  • Despite the extension of the deadline twice, only Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi and Chandigarh have so far implemented the Act, some fully and others partially.

About National Food Security Act, 2013:

Also called as the Right to Food act, this act aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people.

  • It extends to the whole of India.

Under the provisions of this act, beneficiaries are able to purchase 5 kilograms per eligible person per month of cereals at the following prices:

  • Rice at 3 Rupees per kg
  • Wheat at 2 Rupees per kg
  • Coarse grains (millet) at 1 rupee per kg.

Salient features:

  • 75% rural and 50% of the urban population are entitled for three years from enactment to five kg food grains per month at 3 Rupees , 2 Rupees, 1 Rupee per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains (millet), respectively.
  • The states are responsible for determining eligibility.
  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to a nutritious “take home ration” of 600 Calories and a maternity benefit of at least Rs 6,000 for six months.
  • Children 6 to 14 years of age are to receive free hot meals or “take home rations”.
  • The central government will provide funds to states in case of short supplies of food grains.
  • The state government will provide a food security allowance to the beneficiaries in case of non-supply of food grains.
  • The Public Distribution System is to be reformed.
  • The eldest woman in the household, 18 years or above, is the head of the household for the issuance of the ration card.
  • There will be state- and district-level redress mechanisms and State Food Commissions will be formed for implementation and monitoring of the provisions of the Act.
  • The poorest who are covered under the Antodaya yojana will remain entitled to the 35 kg of grains allotted to them under the mentioned scheme.

The cost of the implementation is estimated to be $22 billion(1.25 lac crore), approximately 1.5% of GDP.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, NFSA, PIB.

 

Meet revisits judicial values, to review selection process

A conference of chief justices of all the high courts has begun. It will discuss ways and means to speedily dispose of cases involving crimes against women and marginalised sections of society. Further the higher judiciary wants to devise a mechanism to fast-track corruption cases.

  • The conference will be led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.

Details:

  • The judges will lay special emphasis on fast-tracking cases of crime against women, children, senior citizens, differently abled and all the marginalised sections of the society.
  • The Chief Justices will discuss how to cut down delay caused in cases involving juveniles. A mechanism to ensure expeditious disposal of cases registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act is also on the conference agenda.
  • Another significant issue which will be discussed is that of ‘e-Courts’. The e-Courts project was conceptualised on the basis of the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of information and communication technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary – 2005” submitted by e-Committee (Supreme Court of India). Essentially e-Court involves widespread use of video-conference, including recording of evidence and pronouncing judgements.
  • Apart from these, chief justices will present papers on “financial autonomy for high courts, computerisation of courts” and “post-retiral benefits for judges”. A national vision and mission for the next year will also be finalised.
  • On the problem of case backlog, the Chief Justices would consider the establishment of an arrears committee at the High Court level and create uniformity in giving the pendency figures. There are 2.64 crore undecided cases in the subordinate courts and 42 lakh pending in the High Courts.
  • The conclave is proposing to make the High Courts financially independent and further increase the salaries, emoluments and post-retirement benefits for High Court Chief Justices and judges.

The judiciary’s code of conduct:

  • The judiciary’s code of conduct was adopted 18 years ago, in May 1997 in a Full Court Meeting of the Supreme Court. This document, the ‘Restatement of Values of Judicial Life,’ serves as a guide to be observed by judges in the impartial administration of justice.
  • This code was the outcome of a resolution passed in Chief Justices’ Conference held in September 1992. The cardinal rule of the 1997 document is that “justice must not merely be done but it must also be seen as done.” Its first tenet being that the “behaviour and conduct of members of the higher judiciary must reaffirm the people’s faith in the impartiality of the judiciary.”

Sources: The Hindu, ET.

 

Iran nuclear deal

Iran and six world powers reached a preliminary nuclear agreement recently outlining commitments by both sides as they work for a comprehensive deal aiming at curbing nuclear activities Tehran could use to make weapons and providing sanctions relief for Iran. The six world powers are— U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany.

According to the New Agreement:

  • All the excess stockpile and nuclear parts will be kept at an IAEA-monitored location, while the U.N., the U.S. and the EU will withdraw all sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy for years.
  • Iran has committed to enriching uranium substantially below weapons-grade and to reduce its enriched uranium stockpile from about five tons to 300 kilograms (less than 700 pounds) for 15 years.
  • Iran will reduce the number of installed centrifuges by two-thirds and turn its nuclear facility in Fordow into an R&D facility.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

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