Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
1. During India coronavirus lockdown, the laws that come into play.
2. IAS, IPS officers’ associations form ‘Caruna’, an initiative to fight Coronavirus.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
What to study?
For Prelims: Overview, implementation and bodies established under the act.
For Mains: Significance of the law, performance analysis and ways to improve.
Context: A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court demanding full wages for over 7.6 crore active job card holders under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) during the 21-day nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
What the PIL demands?
- PIL urged the top court to “issue uniform guidelines to all states, UTs that for the entire duration of the lockdown at least all active and registered job card holders under the MGNREGA Act will be deemed to be at work and accordingly make full payment of their wages at the earliest.”
- It also want the apex court to increase the entitlement from 100 days of work to 200 days per household to support rural livelihoods during the emerging economic crisis.
- It also requested the top court to direct the Centre and states to issue individual temporary job cards within 15 days to all migrants who have returned from the cities to their native villages.
Why this is necessary?
MGNREGA is a programme meant to be a lifeline to rural workers during this kind of distress circumstances. Therefore, it would be completely unfair to not enable MGNREGA to provide the support that it is designed to give when rural workers are facing the country’s worst challenge of unemployment and limited access to money and foodgrains. Over 12.2 crore labourers work in MGNREGA every year.
The scheme was introduced as a social measure that guarantees “the right to work”. The key tenet of this social measure and labour law is that the local government will have to legally provide at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India to enhance their quality of life.
- Generation of paid rural employment of not less than 100 days for each worker who volunteers for unskilled labour.
- Proactively ensuring social inclusion by strengthening livelihood base of rural poor.
- Creation of durable assets in rural areas such as wells, ponds, roads and canals.
- Reduce urban migration from rural areas.
- Create rural infrastructure by using untapped rural labour.
The following are the eligibility criteria for receiving the benefits under MGNREGA scheme:
- Must be Citizen of India to seek NREGA benefits.
- Job seeker has completed 18 years of age at the time of application.
- The applicant must be part of a local household (i.e. application must be made with local Gram Panchayat).
- Applicant must volunteer for unskilled labour.
Key facts related to the scheme:
- The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments.
- Individual beneficiary oriented works can be taken up on the cards of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, small or marginal farmers or beneficiaries of land reforms or beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.
- Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
- Right to get unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
- Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory, which lends to accountability and transparency.
- The Gram Sabha is the principal forum for wage seekers to raise their voices and make demands.
- It is the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat which approves the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.
Role of Gram Sabha:
- It determines the order of priority of works in the meetings of the Gram Sabha keeping in view potential of the local area, its needs, local resources.
- Monitor the execution of works within the GP.
Roles of Gram Panchayat:
- Receiving applications for registration
- Verifying registration applications
- Registering households
- Issuing Job Cards (JCs)
- Receiving applications for work
- Issuing dated receipts for these applications for work
- Allotting work within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought in the case of an advance application.
- Identification and planning of works, developing shelf of projects including determination of the order of their priority.
Responsibilities of State Government in MGNREGA:
- Frame Rules on matters pertaining to State responsibilities under Section 32 of the Act ii) Develop and notify the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for the State.
- Set up the State Employment Guarantee Council (SEGC).
- Set up a State level MGNREGA implementation agency/ mission with adequate number of high calibre professionals.
- Set up a State level MGNREGA social audit agency/directorate with adequate number of people with knowledge on MGNREGA processes and demonstrated commitment to social audit.
- Establish and operate a State Employment Guarantee Fund (SEGF).
- Under MGNREGA, what are the roles of Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, States, State Food Commission, Centre?
- What are jobs cards, who issues them?
- Who sets up SEGF?
- What is Wage employement?
- Who conducts social audit?
Discuss the key features and significance of MGNREGA.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Issues related to health.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: What is Cytokine Storm? What is immune system? How it works?
Context: Of all the possible compounding effects of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the cytokine storm is one of the most feared.
How does our immune systems generally work?
- The immune systems in our bodies protect us from bacteria, viruses, and parasites by removing them from our systems.
- The immune system gets activated by things that the body does not recognise as its own. These things are called antigens, and include bacteria, fungi and viruses.
- An effective immune system response involves inflammation, an important and indispensable part of the process.
- Inflammation has an important protective function. The release of inflammatory mediators increases the blood flow to the area, which allows larger numbers of immune system cells to be carried to the injured tissue, thereby aiding the repairing process.
If this inflammatory response is not regulated, a ‘cytokine storm’ can be triggered.
So, what is cytokine storm?
A cytokine storm is an overproduction of immune cells and their activating compounds (cytokines), which, in a flu infection, is often associated with a surge of activated immune cells into the lungs. The resulting lung inflammation and fluid buildup can lead to respiratory distress and can be contaminated by a secondary bacterial pneumonia — often enhancing the mortality in patients.
A cytokine storm can occur due to an infection, auto-immune condition, or other diseases. Signs and symptoms include high fever, inflammation (redness and swelling), severe fatigue, and nausea. Cytokine storms are not exclusive to coronavirus patients. It is an immune reaction that can occur during other infectious and non-infectious diseases as well.
What then, is the role of cytokines in the immune system?
Cytokines are signalling proteins that are released by cells at local high concentrations — a cytokine storm or CSS is characterised by the overproduction of immune cells and the cytokines themselves because of a dysregulation in the process. A severe immune reaction, leading to the secretion of too many cytokines in the bloodstream, can be harmful since an excess of immune cells can attack healthy tissue as well.
How does CSS impact a COVID-19 patient?
In the case of any flu infection, a cytokine storm is associated with a surge of activated immune cells into the lungs, which, instead of fighting off the antigen, leads to lung inflammation and fluid build-up, and respiratory distress.
It is seen as a likely major cause of mortality in the 1918-20 “Spanish flu” — which killed more than 50 million people worldwide — and the H1N1 “swine flu” and H5N1 “bird flu” of recent years. In these epidemics, the patients most likely to die were relatively young adults with apparently strong immune reactions to the infection — whereas ordinary seasonal flu epidemics disproportionately affect the very young and the elderly.
- Antibody vs antigen.
- Virus vs bacteria vs fungi – basic difference.
- How immunity works?
- How and why inflammation occurs?
What is cytokine storm? How it is linked to increasing number of deaths in COVID 19 cases? Discuss.
Sources: Indian Express.
Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
What to study?
For Prelims: Great Depression- occurrence, reasons and impact.
For Mains: Lessons learnt and it’s impact on world economy and on India’s freedom struggle.
Context: With the novel coronavirus pandemic severely affecting the global economy, some experts have begun comparing the current crisis with the Great Depression — the devastating economic decline of the 1930s that went on to shape countless world events.
What was the Great Depression?
The Great Depression was a major economic crisis that began in the United States in 1929, and went to have a worldwide impact until 1939. It began on October 24, 1929, a day that is referred to as “Black Thursday”, when a monumental crash occurred at the New York Stock Exchange as stock prices fell by 25 per cent.
How it began?
While the Wall Street crash was triggered by minor events, the extent of the decline was due to more deep-rooted factors such as a fall in aggregate demand, misplaced monetary policies, and an unintended rise in inventory levels.
- In the United States, prices and real output fell dramatically. Industrial production fell by 47 per cent, the wholesale price index by 33 per cent, and real GDP by 30 per cent.
- The havoc caused in the US spread to other countries mainly due to the gold standard, which linked most of the world’s currencies by fixed exchange rates.
- In almost every country of the world, there were massive job losses, deflation, and a drastic contraction in output.
- Unemployment in the US increased from 3.2 per cent to 24.9 per cent between 1929 and 1933. In the UK, it rose from 7.2 per cent to 15.4 per cent between 1929 and 1932.
- The Depression caused extreme human suffering, and many political upheavals took place around the world.
- In Europe, economic stagnation that the Depression caused is believed to be the principal reason behind the rise of fascism, and consequently the Second World War.
- It had a profound impact on institutions and policymaking globally, and led to the gold standard being abandoned.
How did Great Depression impact India?
- Due to the global crisis, there was a drastic fall in agricultural prices, the mainstay of India’s economy, and a severe credit contraction occurred as colonial policymakers refused to devalue the rupee.
- The decline of agricultural prices, which was aggravated by British financial policy in India, made substantial sections of the peasantry rise in protest and this protest was articulated by members of the National Congress.
- The effects of the Depression became visible around the harvest season in 1930, soon after Mahatma Gandhi had launched the Civil Disobedience movement in April the same year.
- There were “No Rent” campaigns in many parts of the country, and radical Kisan Sabhas were started in Bihar and eastern UP.
- Agrarian unrest provided a groundswell of support to the Congress, whose reach was yet to extend into rural India.
- The endorsement by farming classes is believed to be among the reasons that enabled the party to achieve its landslide victory in the 1936-37 provincial elections held under the Government of India Act, 1935– which significantly increased the party’s political might for years to come.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology, indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: NIF- objectives, awards and achievements.
Context: NIF invite innovative citizens to participate in Challenge COVID-19 Competition (C3).
The initiative will not only create awareness, but will intimately engage a wide cross-section of society with diverse backgrounds in providing and implementing solutions.
About National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India:
It is an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. Set up in February 2000 at Ahmedabad, Gujarat to provide institutional support for scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up the grassroots innovations across the country. It is India’s national initiative to strengthen the grassroots technological innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge. Its mission is to help India become a creative and knowledge-based society by expanding policy and institutional space for grassroots technological innovators.
Related key facts:
- The INSPIRE Award – MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge) is being revamped and executed by Department of Science & Technology and National Innovation Foundation-India to align it with the action plan for “Start-up India” initiative.
- Micro Venture Innovation Fund (MVIF) at NIF, with support from Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), has provided risk capital to 230 innovation based enterprise projects, some of which are at different stages of incubation.
- Being organised since 2008, IGNITE is an annual competition for student’s ideas and innovations conducted by NIF in partnership with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
- NIF has set up a Technology Business Incubator (NIF) – NIF Incubation and Entrepreneurship Council (NIFientreC).
Topics Covered: Awareness in space.
What to study?
For Prelims: Key features and objectives of Artemis.
For Mains: Significance and relevance of the mission for future space programmes.
Context: NASA unveils plan for Artemis ‘base camp’ on the moon beyond 2024.
Artemis Base camp:
- Artemis Base Camp is meant to be a long-term foothold for lunar exploration, perhaps in Shackleton Crater at the moon’s south pole.
- The Camp itself would be a lunar foundation surface habitat that could host four astronauts at the south pole for visits of perhaps a week.
- In the long term, the facility would also require infrastructure for power, waste disposal and communications, as well as radiation shielding and a landing pad.
- The base could also be a site for testing new techniques for dealing with pesky lunar dust and the long, cold lunar nights, turning local materials into resources like water, and developing new power and construction technologies.
What is Artemis?
Artemis– Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun. It is NASA’s next mission to the Moon. Objective: To measure what happens when the Sun’s radiation hits our rocky moon, where there is no magnetic field to protect it. Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.
Significance of the mission:
With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.
- NASA’s powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft nearly a quarter million miles from Earth to lunar orbit.
- Astronauts will dock Orion at the Gateway and transfer to a human landing system for expeditions to the surface of the Moon.
- They will return to the orbital outpost to board Orion again before returning safely to Earth.
Background- Artemis 1, 2:
The agency will fly two missions around the Moon to test its deep space exploration systems. NASA is working toward launching Artemis I, an uncrewed flight to test the SLS and Orion spacecraft together, followed by the Artemis II mission, the first SLS and Orion test flight with crew. NASA will land astronauts on the Moon by 2024 on the Artemis III mission and about once a year thereafter.
- Find and use water and other critical resources needed for long-term exploration.
- Investigate the Moon’s mysteries and learn more about our home planet and the universe.
- Learn how to live and operate on the surface of another celestial body where astronauts are just three days from home.
- Prove the technologies we need before sending astronauts on missions to Mars, which can take up to three years roundtrip.
- Names of various craters and their locations on moon.
- Manned missions to Moon so far.
- India’s missions to moon.
Write a note on NASA’s Artemis program.
Facts for Prelims
During India coronavirus lockdown, the laws that come into play (Relevant for both Prelims and Mains):
- Section 188 IPC deals with those disobeying an order passed by a public servant, and provides for imprisonment ranging from one to six months. For those violating orders passed under the Epidemic Diseases Act, Section 188 IPC is the provision under which punishment is awarded.
- Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 provides for punishment for two kinds of offences: obstructing any officer or employee of the government or person authorised by any disaster management authority for discharge of a function; and refusing to comply with any direction given by the authorities under the Act. Punishment can extend to one year on conviction, or two years if the refusal leads to loss of lives or any imminent danger.
- Section 505 IPC provides for imprisonment of three years or fine, or both, for those who publish or circulate anything which is likely to cause fear or alarm. Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act provides for imprisonment, extending to one year, of those who make or circulate a false alarm or warning regarding a disaster or its severity or magnitude.
- Under Section 52, Disaster Management Act, whoever makes a false claim for obtaining “any relief, assistance, repair, reconstruction or other benefits” from any official authority can be sentenced to a maximum of two years imprisonment and a fine will be imposed on the person.
IAS, IPS officers’ associations form ‘Caruna’, an initiative to fight Coronavirus:
Associations representing officers of Central Civil Services, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS), have formed an initiative called ‘Caruna’ to support and supplement the government’s efforts in fighting coronavirus.
The acronym ‘Caruna’ stands for Civil Services Associations Reach to Support in Natural Disasters and represents a collaborative platform, on which civil servants, industry leaders, NGO professionals and IT professionals among others have come together to contribute their time and abilities.
Insights Current Affairs Analysis (I–CAN) by IAS Topper