1.4 lakh families reach MGNREGA’s annual work limit
Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.
Why in News:
- At least 1.4 lakh poor rural households have already completed their quota of 100 days of work under MGNREGA in the first three months of the year, and will not be eligible for further benefits under the rural employment guarantee scheme for the rest of the year.
- Another seven lakh households have completed 80 days and are on the verge of running out of work as well, according to the scheme’s database.
- With COVID-19 pandemicand the lockdown resulting in thousands of unemployed migrant workers returning to their villages and now dependent on MGNREGA wages, activists are urging the government to increase the limit to at least 200 days per household.
- With the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown resulting in thousands of unemployed migrant workers returning to their villages, many are now dependent on MGNREGA wages.
- Having completed the quota of 100 days of work, in the first three months of the year, they will not be eligible for further benefits under the scheme for the rest of the year.
- With work running out, the families are in a huge crisis.
- While the construction sector, which usually absorbs a large number of workers, has also collapsed, the demand for MGNREGA work has been increasing.
- Activists are urging the government to increase the limit to at least 200 days per household.
- The scheme contains a provision for districts affected by natural disasters to request an expansion of the scheme to allow for 150 days of work per household.
- Given that COVID-19 was declared a national disaster, activists have demanded that this provision be implemented immediately.
- Activists have argued that the limit should be imposed per adult individual rather than per household.
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, earlier known as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was passed on 7th September 2005 to augment employment generation and social security in India.
- It covers all districts of India except the ones with 100% urban population.
- It was also announced that three crore senior citizens, persons with disabilities and widows will get one-time additional amount of Rs 1,000 in two installments which will be provided through DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) over a period of three months.
- This announcement was made as an initiative towards the loss caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. The 21 days lock down is expected to cost the Indian Economy a cost of around 9 lakh crores.
- Funds worth Rs 31,000 crore are also to be provided to augment medical testing, screening and providing better healthcare facilities to those who have been affected financially due to the Covid-19 outbreak
U.K. imposes new human rights sanctions
Why in News:
- Britain on Monday announced economic sanctions against individuals and organisations from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and North Korea under new U.K. powers to punish human-rights offenders.
- Under its new powers to punish human rights offenders, Britain has announced economic sanctions against individuals and organisations from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and North Korea.
- Britain had previously imposed sanctions as part of the European Union or under the auspices of the United Nations.
- Since leaving the EU in January 2020, it has implemented its own version of the U.S.’s Magnitsky Act.
- This allows authorities to ban or seize assets of individuals guilty of human rights abuses.
- The U.K. law authorises the British government to prevent sanctioned individuals from entering the country, channeling money through British banks, or profiting from the U.K. economy.
- The sanctions include 49 individuals and organizations:
- Saudi intelligence officials accused of involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
- Russian authorities implicated in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in a Moscow prison after exposing a tax fraud scheme involving Russian officials.
- Commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces, and Myanmar army commander – accused of orchestrating systematic violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority.
- North Korean organisations: The Ministry of State Security Bureau and the Ministry of People’s Security Correctional Bureau, sanctioned for running prison camps in the authoritarian state.
PLA pulls back from Galwan clash site
Why in News:
Three weeks after the worst military clashes in decades, India and China have begun the process of disengagement at contentious locations along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- The disengagement between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) comes after a long and detailed conversation between National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi.
- Both are the Special Representatives on the boundary talks, and had last met in December 2019.
- The two military commanders indicated that at first, the de-escalation would take place at all the friction points — Galwan, Pangong Tso, Hot Springs — and then depth areas such as Depsang plains in the north, where China had amassed troops, would be looked into.
- In the first signs of de-escalation, Chinese troops moved back some distance and dismantled tents at some locations along the LAC.
- Pangong Tso is one of the most contentious areas of the current stand-offs, with the PLA moving about 8 km inside up to Finger 4.
- India’s claim is till Finger 8 as per the alignment of the LAC.
- Both presented differing perspectives of the broader strategic relationship.
- However, the Special Representatives agreed that “both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas was essential for the further development of our bilateral relations and that two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.” “Therefore, they agreed that it was necessary to ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity.”
- According to experts, the government must not agree to de-escalate the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh without an agreement on returning to “status quo ante” or the situation before the stand-off began.
- This is because, the experts point that, while the disengagement brought an end to hostilities between India and China over China’s attempt to build a road near the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction area, transgressing into Bhutanese territory, it did not stop the PLA’s construction work right across the Doklam plateau.
- Ashok Kantha, former Ambassador to China and the Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies said, “If the military only agrees on disengagement and de-escalation, it could end up at a disadvantage. As the PLA has constructed major infrastructure and consolidated its position in Doklam.”
Chinese region reports bubonic plague case
Why in News:
A herdsman in China’s northern Inner Mongolia region has been confirmed to have the bubonic plague.
- According to China’s National Health Commission, at least five people have died from it since 2014.
- The highly-contagious plague is rare in China and can be treated.
- Bubonic Plague first appeared in the 14th century and surfaced for a second time in London in 1665 and killed about 20% of its population.
- The outbreak tapered off in 1666.
- The bubonic plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. It can spread through contact with infected fleas.
‘Negligence to blame for styrene leak’
Why in news:
- The high-power committee (HPC) formed by the government to investigate the styrene vapour leak at LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam submitted its 4000-page report to the Chief Minister.
- It stated that human negligence and serious lapses in safety and security led to the accident.
A gas leak in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh had claimed at least 11 lives and affected thousands of residents in five villages. The source of the leak was a styrene plant owned by South Korean electronics giant LG.
Key findings of the report:
- The panel found fault with the management for the lack of proper safety response preparedness at the plant.
- Poor design of the storage tank, inadequate refrigeration and faulty cooling system, absence of circulation and mixing systems, inadequate measures and parameters, poor safety protocol and inadequate safety awareness were found to be the reasons that led to the accident.
- Inadequate risk assessment response, poor process safety management system and insufficient knowledge among staff about the chemical properties of styrene during storage conditions were also highlighted.
- The company had failed in activating the emergency siren system and did not keep sufficient stock of inhibitors, other terminating chemicals to control the runaway
- The report also noted that the protocols pertaining to emergency response and safety were not followed by the authorities during the lockdown period.
Opium seizures: India in top five list
Why in News:
Findings of the World Drug Report 2020.
- The global area under opium poppy cultivation declined for the second year in a row in 2019.
- Despite the decline in cultivation, opium production remained stable in 2019, with higher yields reported in the main opium production areas.
- Globally, 47 countries reported opium seizures, 30 countries reported morphine seizures and 103 countries reported heroin seizures in 2018.
- It suggests that trafficking in heroin continues to be more widespread in geographical terms than trafficking in opium or morphine.
- Quantities of seized opiates remained concentrated in Asia, notably in south-west Asia (70%).
- Most opiates seized were reported in or close to the main opium production areas.
- Asia, which is host to more than 90% of global illicit opium production and the world’s largest consumption market for opiates, accounted for almost 80% of all opiates seized worldwide in 2018.
- Outside Asia, the largest total quantity of heroin and morphine was seized in Europe.
- Opium is illicitly produced in about 50 countries.
- The fourth highest seizure of opium in 2018 was reported from India, after Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- Close to 97% of the total global production of opium in the past five years came from only three countries.
- About 84% of the total opium was produced in Afghanistan, from where it is supplied to neighbouring countries, Europe, West Asia, South Asia and Africa. A small percentage also reaches North America and the Oceania region.
- In terms of heroin seizure (1.3 tonnes), India was at the 12th position in the world.
- Iran reported the highest seizure of heroin (25 tonnes), followed by Turkey, the United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
- Heroin is manufactured from the morphine extracted from the seed pod of opium poppy plants.