Insights Daily Current Affairs, 22 December 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Indian Enterprise Development Services
The Government has approved cadre review and formation of the Indian Enterprise Development Service (IEDS) in the Office of the Development Commissioner, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
- The creation of the new cadre and change in structure is aimed at strengthening the organisation. It will also help achieve the vision of Startup India, Stand-up India and Make in India.
- The measure will also enhance the capacity and efficiency of the organisation and also help in achieving growth in the MSME sector through a focussed and dedicated cadre of technical officers.
The Service has been created by absorbing 11 trades, recruitment to which had been done differently, following different rules. All these trades were created in the 1950s and 1960s when industries got developed under the regulation regime. The work of the officers of the department has changed over the years and there is need to have a cadre which works for the development of enterprise and thinks holistically.
The Indian Enterprise Development Service, to start with, will have a cadre strength of 617 officers, 6 of which will be at the level of joint secretaries. These officers will man 72 field offices of the Development Commissioner and the headquarters in Delhi. Out of the 72 field offices, 30 are MSME development institutes and 28 branch institutes.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Uttar Pradesh sends first proposal for construction of houses for urban poor under PMAY (Urban)
Uttar Pradesh has become the 29th State to send proposals for construction of affordable houses for urban poor to the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation.
- The first such proposal for construction of 11,286 houses for urban poor in 34 towns of Uttar Pradesh was approved by the Ministry of HUPA recently.
- Total investment involved in construction of these houses is Rs.384 cr. The Ministry has approved central assistance of Rs. 160 cr in this regard.
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.
The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:
- Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource.
- Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy.
- Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors.
- Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.
- The beneficiaries are poor and people living under EWS and LIG categories in the country.
- The scheme is divided into three phases. In the first phase, a total of 100 cities will be covered from April 2015 to March 2017. In phase two, 200 cities will be covered from April 2017 to March 2019. In the third phase, the leftover cities will be covered from April 2019 to March 2022.
- The government is providing an interest subsidy of 6.5% on housing loans which can be availed by beneficiaries for 15 years from start of loan date.
- The government will grant Rs 1 lakh to all the beneficiaries of the scheme. In addition, Rs 1.5 lakh will be given to all eligible urban poor who want to construct their houses in urban areas or plan to go for renovation in their existing houses. One can also avail loans under this scheme to build toilets in existing houses.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
SC criticises poor implementation of SC/ST Act
Criticising the government for its “indifferent attitude” towards the implementation of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court has directed the National Legal Services Authority to frame schemes for spreading legal awareness and free consultations to members of the SC/ST communities nationwide.
- The court has asked the authorities to discharge their duties to protect the SCs/STs to attain the constitutional goal of equality for all citizens.
The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
- The Chief Justice of India is patron-in-chief of NALSA while second seniormost judge of Supreme Court of India is the Executive-Chairman.
There is a provision for similar mechanism at state and district level also headed by Chief Justice of High Courts and Chief Judges of District courts respectively:
- In every State, State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. The State Legal Services Authority is headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority.
- In every District, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District. The District Legal Services Authority is situated in the District Courts Complex in every District and chaired by the District Judge of the respective district.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 1 Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Pardon, the gender wage gap is showing
Global Wage Report 2016-17 was recently released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Highlights of the report:
Performance of India:
- India has among the worst levels of gender wage disparity — men earning more than women in similar jobs — with the gap exceeding 30%.
- In India, women formed 60% of the lowest paid wage labour, but only 15% of the highest wage-earners. This means not only are women poorly represented in the top bracket of wage-earners, the gender pay gap at the bottom is also very wide in India.
- In India, the top one per cent earned 33 times what the bottom 10% did. The top 10% also earned 43% of all wages. Since 2006, average wages rose by 60% in India, while they more than doubled in China.
- Singapore has the lowest wage disparity, at 3%. Among major economies, only South Korea fared worse than India, with a gap of 37%.
- The share of women among wage earners was among the lowest in South Asia. Compared to a global average of 40%, and an Asia-Pacific average of 38%, in South Asia (whose dominant economy is India), only 20% of wage earners were women.
- The gender pay gap is smallest (8%) in the group of countries where the collective bargaining rate is at least 80%, and widest in countries with weak collective bargaining and no or very low minimum wages.
Reasons for the wage gap:
- The report noted that typically, women’s educational choices produced occupational segregation. For instance, since the majority of those who studied nursing were women, “this profession is over-represented among women”.
- At the same time, care work is undervalued because it may be seen as a natural female attribute rather than a skill to be acquired. Thus, a higher representation of women in sectors where their work is undervalued results in a gender pay gap.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Too hot to handle — alarming rise in forest fires this year
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology has submitted its report on forest fires. The report primarily focuses on the prevention and containing of fires in the Himalayan forests spread across Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir. In Himachal and Uttarakhand, over 17,502 acres have been ravaged this year due to forest fires — a rise of over 171%.
The committee was formed after a series of devastating forest fires earlier this year, including the prolonged one that charred 4,000 hectares of forest land across 13 districts of Uttarakhand.
Highlights of the report:
- The frequency of forest fires in India has risen by a drastic 55% in the past year. The number has touched 24,817 in 2016 from around 15,937 fires in 2015.
- The increase is seen even though 2015, considered a drought year, had seen a decline in frequency of forest fires of around 16%.
- The three central States of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh contribute a third of the forest fires. Madhya Pradesh has seen a nearly ten-fold increase, from just 294 in 2015 to more than 2,600 in 2016.
Important suggestions made by the committee:
According to the report, accumulated Chir pine needles — which are inflammable due to their high-resin content — are believed to be a “prominent factor in occurring and spreading of forest fires”. Hence, the committee has recommended the procurement of sweeping machines to clear roadsides of Chir pine needles, while advocating large-scale incentives and programmes (including under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) to collect pines for use as fuel, and other incineration.
The committee has also suggested a national policy on managing forest fires.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS):
- Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently launched National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) at Kanpur.
- The scheme has an outlay of Rs 10000 crore and it involves incentivizing employers in sharing 25% of total cost of stipend paid to the apprentices.
- It is for the first time Govt. of India has come forward to incentivize the employers to participate pro-actively in apprenticeship training.
- It is a Web portal for flexibility in Utilization of Domestic Coal. It was recently launched by the government.
- It has been designed to bring about flexibility in Utilization of Domestic Coal by transferring the reserves to more cost efficient State/Centre owned or Private sector generating stations, leading to lower generation costs and ultimately lesser cost of electricity for the consumers.
- The web portal would be used by the State/Central Gencos to display information about normative fixed and variable charges of electricity for the previous month as well as margin available for additional generation so as to enable the utilities identify stations for transfer of coal.
- It would host data on Operational and Financial parameters of each coal based station; Quantity and source of supply coal to the power plant; and Distance of Power plant form the Coal mine.