MGNREGS running out of funds
Why in News:
Government data shows that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme has used up almost half its allocated funds, one-third of the way through the financial year.
- Azim Premji Foundation (APF) conducted the survey in 13 states on the functioning of the Scheme.
- The scheme has used up more than ₹48,500 crore out of the expanded ₹1 lakh crore allocation announced following the COVID-19 outbreak.
- With this, on the ground:
- A number of gram panchayats in vulnerable areas have already exhausted their funds for the scheme.
- Employment rates are dropping as the monsoon stops work in several States.
- There are fewer livelihood options for more than four lakh families across the country which have completed their allotted 100 days of work.
- Ground observations suggest the payments are more or less in time where banking correspondents are in place.
- Payments through banks continue to be inefficient as rural branches of banks have limited capacity and infrastructure, and are often overwhelmed by overcrowding.
- Wages in the scheme are 25-30% lower than the minimum wages for agricultural workers in most States.
- APF has recommended that the Centre allocate another ₹1 lakh crore to the scheme, and double the permitted work limit to 200 days per household.
- In several Gram Panchayats, the approved projects have already been exhausted. There is an urgent need for a quick process of creating further sets of projects.
- The entire process cycle of implementation and making payments needs to be eased to respond to the current needs for work and payment.
There is a need to put money into the hands of rural consumers via MGNREGA as it is key to kickstarting the economy.
SpaceX with NASA crew is back home
Why in news:
The first commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has returned to Earth.
- The Dragon capsule launched to the space station on a Falcon 9 rocket, was supplied by SpaceX.
- Elon Musk’s SpaceX became the first private company to send humans to orbit.
- The SpaceX Dragon Capsule carrying two astronauts came down in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Pensacola on Florida’s Gulf coast.
- The spacecraft was commercially built and operated to carry people to and from orbit.
- The touchdown marks the first crewed US water landing in 45 years.
- The last time NASA astronauts returned from space to water was in 1975, in the Pacific to end a joint U.S.-Soviet mission known as Apollo-Soyuz.
- SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft with two NASA astronauts has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS).
- Elon Musk’s SpaceX is a California-headquartered company.
- The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
- With the liftoff, SpaceX became the first private company to launch people into the orbit, a feat achieved previously by only three governments: the U.S., Russia and China.
- This marks the dawn of a new age in commercial space travel.
Govt. issues draft policy to ramp up defence exports
Why in news:
Ministry of Defence (MoD) has put out a draft ‘Defence Production & Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) 2020’ for public feedback.
DPEPP has been drafted with the vision to make India amongst the leading countries of the world in the defence sector, including aerospace and naval shipbuilding sectors, from design to production, with the active participation of public and private sector and thus fulfilling the twin objectives of self-reliance and exports.
Goals and objectives:
- To achieve a turnover of Rs 1,75,000 Crores (US$ 25Bn) including export of Rs 35,000 Crore (US$ 5 Billion) in Aerospace and Defence goods and services by 2025.
- To develop a dynamic, robust and competitive Defence industry, including Aerospace and Naval Shipbuilding industry to cater to the needs of Armed forces with quality products.
- To reduce dependence on imports and take forward “Make in India” initiatives through domestic design and development.
- To promote the export of defence products and become part of the global defence value chains.
- To create an environment that encourages R&D, rewards innovation, creates Indian IP ownership and promotes a robust and self-reliant defence industry.
What are the focus areas?
The Policy brings out multiple strategies under the following focus areas:
- Procurement Reforms
- Indigenization & Support to MSMEs/Startups
- Optimize Resource Allocation
- Investment Promotion, FDI & Ease of Doing Business
- Innovation and R&D
- Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)
- Quality Assurance & Testing Infrastructure
- Export Promotion
Report on leopard sightings soon
What’s in News?
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is set to release a dedicated report on leopard sightings as part of its global tiger census.
Wildlife Institute of India (WII)
- WII is an autonomous institution under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- It is based in Chandrabani, Dehradun.
- Its functions include conducting specialised research in areas of study like Endangered Species, Biodiversity, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Forensics, Habitat Ecology, Spatial Modelling, Eco-development, and Climate Change.
- Quadrennial tiger survey is the highlight of the WII, conducted in coordination with the Environment Ministry.
- The population of other animals is also estimated by relying on camera trap images.
- In 2014, the last formal census on India’s leopards was conducted.
- The census estimated the leopard’s population at between 12,000 and 14,000.
- 8,000 leopards were estimated in the vicinity of tiger habitats.
- In the latest Tiger Survey, cameras installed across 72,000 sq km of tiger habitat yielded 76,651 and 51,777 images of tigers and leopards respectively.
- Critics have pointed out that conducting a leopard survey, along with the tiger survey is problematic because leopards are adapted to living on the edge of forests and human habitats, unlike the tiger which is an elusive creature.
- This had led to gross errors in estimating the true numbers of leopards.
- Leopard (Panthera pardus) is the smallest of the big cats and is nocturnal.
- In India, the leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)is found in all forest types, from tropical rainforests to temperate deciduous and alpine coniferous forests.
- It is also found in dry scrubs and grasslands, the only exception being desert and the mangroves of Sundarbans.
- It shares its territory with the tiger in 17 states.
- It is classified under the ‘vulnerable’ category in the IUCN Red List.
- It is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- It is included in Appendix I of CITES.
Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN)
- The Health Ministry has announced the use of the Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN).
- eVIN is an innovative technological solution aimed at strengthening immunisation supply chain systems across the country.
- This is being implemented under the National Health Mission (NHM), to get real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in the country.
- eVIN is an indigenously developed technology system in India that digitizes vaccine stocks and monitors the temperature of the cold chain through a smartphone application.
- eVIN aims to support GOI’s Universal Immunization Programme by providing real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in these states.
- The initiative aims to strengthen the evidence base for improved policy-making in vaccine delivery, procurement and planning for new antigens in India.
- eVIN provides an integrated solution to address widespread inequities in vaccine coverage by supporting state governments in overcoming constraints of infrastructure, monitoring and management information systems and human resources, often resulting in overstocking and stock-outs of vaccines in storage centres.
- The technological innovation is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Government of India.
- All cold chain handlers are provided smartphones with the eVIN application which allows for the digitization of vaccine inventories.
- eVIN is a combination of software and SIM-enabled temperature loggers specially designed to improve vaccine stock keeping practices and temperature monitoring across states where this is implemented.
Imparting education to tribals in their languages won’t be hard
What’s in News?
The Draft National Education Policy 2020 lays emphasis on mother tongue-based instructions up to Class 5.
Multilingual Education in Odisha:
- Odisha has been working on multilingual education (MLE) for more than the past two decades.
- The state has the most diverse tribal communities. It is home to 62 different tribal communities including 13 particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs).
- The tribes in Odisha speak 21 languages and 74 dialects. Of the 21 tribal languages, seven have their own scripts.
- There is a total of 3,500 tribal language teachers under the MLE programme in the State.
- Santhali, a widely spoken tribal language in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts, included in Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, is the medium of instruction in more than 500 primary schools.
What is the National Policy on Education?
The National Policy on Education covers elementary and university education in urban as well as rural India.
- The very first policy for education was promulgated in 1968 with the second one following in 1986.
- The first NPE was based on the recommendations of the Education Commission (1964-66). This policy sought to have a ‘radical restructuring’ of India’s educational system and equalizing opportunities for education for all, to accomplish national integration and better economic and cultural development.
- The NPE also called for realising compulsory education for every child until the age of fourteen, as mentioned in the Indian Constitution.
- It also aimed at providing enhanced training and improving teachers’ qualifications.
National Education Policy 2020
The National Education Policy as submitted by the Kasturirangan Committee submitted an education policy which seeks to address the following challenges facing the existing education system:
- The policy provides for reforms at all levels of education from school to higher education.
- NEP aims to increase the focus on strengthening teacher training, reforming the existing exam system, early childhood care and restructuring the regulatory framework of education.
- Other intentions of the NEP include:
- Increasing public investment in education,
- Setting up NEC (National Education Commission),
- Increasing focus on vocational and adult education,
- Strengthening the use of technology, etc.