Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 1st October -2021

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 1st October -2021

Daily Current Affairs 1st October -2021

                                                                                                  

Topics                                                                                                                                                

  • PM Poshan Scheme

  • Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC)

  • Production Linked Scheme for Textile Sector

  • Ordnance Factory Board

  • Antimalarial Drug Resistance

 

1) PM Poshan Scheme

 #GS2 #Government policies and interventions #Issues related to Children and health #Food security

 

Context: Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the Prime Minister POSHAN scheme.

  • The existing Mid-Day Meal scheme, which provides hot meals to school students, will be renamed as National Scheme for PM Poshan Shakti Nirman.
  • A total budget of over Rs 1.3 lakh crore has been allocated for the continuation of the scheme for five years, from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
Highlights of the proposed scheme:

Coverage:

  • Under the mid-day meal scheme, hot cooked food is provided currently to students from Classes 1 to 8 — around 11.80 crore children in all, in 11.20 lakh government and government-aided schools.
  • Under PM Poshan Shakti Nirman or PM POSHAN scheme, 24 lakh more children in pre-primary classes, currently covered under the ICDS, will also be brought in.
  • Last year, the government had opened pre-schools called Balvatikas attached to angandwadis.
    • Balvatika is the pre-school that was started in government schools last year to include children aged younger than six years in the formal education system.
    • Primary (1-5) and upper primary (6-8) schoolchildren are currently entitled to 100 grams and 150 grams of food grains per working day each, to ensure a minimum of 700 calories.
School Nutritional Gardens:
  • Government is promoting development of School Nutrition Gardens in schools to give children first-hand experience with nature and gardening.
  • The harvest of these gardens is used in the scheme providing additional micro nutrients. School Nutrition Gardens have already been developed in more than 3 lakh schools.
 Supplementary Nutrition:
  • Special provision is made for providing supplementary nutrition items to children in aspirational districts and districts with high prevalence of Anaemia.
    • It does away with the restriction on the part of the Centre to provide funds only for wheat, rice, pulses and vegetables.
    • Currently, if a state decides to add any component like milk or eggs to the menu, the Centre does not bear the additional cost. Now that restriction has been lifted.
    • Primary (1-5) and upper primary (6-8) schoolchildren are currently entitled to 100 grams and 150 grams of food grains per working day each, to ensure a minimum of 700 calories.
Tithi Bhojan Concept:
  • The concept of TithiBhojan will be encouraged extensively.
    • TithiBhojan is a community participation programme in which people provide special food to children on special occasions/festivals.
    • Children coming from affluent families will be urged to bring two lunch boxes so that nutritious food can be provided to needy kids on a voluntary basis.
Vocal for Local for Aatmanirbhar Bharat:
  • Involvement of Farmers Producer Organizations (FPO) and Women Self Help Groups in implementation of the scheme will be encouraged.
  • Use of locally grown traditional food items for a fillip to local economic growth will be encouraged.
 Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT):
  • The central government will ensure Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) from states to schools, which will use it to cover cooking costs.
    • Earlier money was allocated to the states, which then included their share of the money before sending it to a nodal midday meal scheme authority at district and tehsil levels.
  • This is to ensure no leakages at the level of district administration and other authorities.
  • While the union government bears the entire cost of food grains and their transportation, as well as looks after the management, monitoring and evaluation under the scheme, components such as cooking costs, payments to cooks and workers are split in a 60:40 ratio with states.
Nutrition Expert:
  • A nutrition expert is to be appointed in each school whose responsibility is to ensure that health aspects such as Body Mass Index (BMI), weight and haemoglobin levels are addressed.
Field visits and Social Audit of the Scheme:
  • A social audit of the scheme has also been mandated for each school in each state to study the implementation of the scheme, which was so far not being done by all states.
  • Field visits for progress monitoring and inspections will be facilitated for students of eminent Universities / Institutions and also trainee teachers of Regional Institutes of Educations (RIE) and District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET).
Challenges:
  • Malnutrition: Despite such integrated child development schemes, India faces severe issues like child stunting, child mortality, child wasting and undernourishment.
    • The same is reflected with India’s rank of 94 in Global Hunger Index 2020.
    • The National Family Health Survey 2015-16 reported 39 percent of children to be chronically undernourished.
  • Corruption:There have been instances of plain chapatis being served with salt, mixing of water in milk, food poisoning etc.
  • Caste Biasness: Food is central to the caste system, so in many schools, children are made to sit separately according to their caste status.

 

2) Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC)

 #GS3 #Growth Development #Mobilisation of Resources #GS2 #Government policies and Intervention

 

Context: Recently, Union Cabinet clearsExport Credit Guarantee Corporation(ECGC) listing through an initial public offering and Rs 4,400-crore capital infusion over 5 years beginning 2021-22.

  • The Cabinet also approved continuation of the National Export Insurance Account (NEIA) scheme and infusion of Rs 1,650 crore Grant-in-Aid over five years.
Key Details:
  • In a bid to boost exports, the Union Cabinet approved a capital infusion of Rs 4,400 crore in state-owned Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) over five years as well as plans to list the export insurer via an initial public offering (IPO).
  • The infusion of Rs 4,400 crore will enable ECGC to write insurance policies covering exports of an additional Rs 88,000 crore.
  • Nearly two thirds of ECGC’s business are from export credit by the banks and the balance from other exporters.
  • Significance of Capital infusion: It will enable it to expand its coverage to export-oriented industries, particularly labour-intensive sectors.
    • ECGC is a market leader with around 85% market share in the export credit insurance market in India and provided support to exports worth Rs 6.02 lakh, or 28% of merchandise exports, in FY21.
    • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) form 97% of the client base of ECGC.
    • The process of listing ECGC on the stock market is also being initiated so that it can raise more funds.
About the ECGC:
  • The ECGC Limited is a government owned export credit provider.
  • It is under the ownership of Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India based in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • It provides export credit insurance support to Indian exporters.
  • Its topmost official is designated as Chairman and Managing Director who is a union government civil servant under ITS cadre.
  • Government of India had initially set up Export Risks Insurance Corporation (ERIC) in July 1957. It was transformed into Export Credit and Guarantee Corporation Limited (ECGC) in 1964 and to Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India in 1983.
  • ECGC Ltd. is the seventh largest credit insurer of the world in terms of coverage of national exports.
Functions:
  • Provides a range of credit risk insurance covers to exporters against loss in export of goods and services as well.
  • Offers guarantees to banks and financial institutions to enable exporters to obtain better facilities from them.
  • Provides Overseas Investment Insurance to Indian companies investing in joint ventures abroad in the form of equity or loan and advances.
    • ECGC has around 85% share in export credit insurance market in India.
    • It supports exports worth ?02 lakh crore in 2020-21, which is around 28% of India’s merchandise exports and has settled claims of over ?7,500 crore in the last decade.
National Export Insurance Account (NEIA) Scheme:
  • NEIA Trust was established in 2006 to promote Medium and Long-Term (MLT)/ project exports by enabling credit and political insurance.
  • NEIA supports projects which are commercially viable and are strategically important.
  • Since inception, NEIA has extended 213 covers, with a consolidated project value of Rs. 53,000 crores, to 52 countries as of 31st August 2021
  • Its impact in enabling project exports has been most significant in Africa and South Asia.
  • The capital infusion in NEIA Trust will help the Indian Project Exporters (IPE) to tap the huge potential of project exports in focus market.
  • The NEIA Trust promotes Medium and Long Term (MLT) /project exports by extending (partial/full) support to covers issued by ECGC (ECGC Ltd, formerly known as Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India Ltd.) to MLT/project export and to Exim Bank for Buyer’s Credit (BC-NEIA) tied to project exports from India.
Other Export promotion Schemes:
  • Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS Scheme):
    • The objective of the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) is to promote the manufacture and export of notified goods/products from India.
    • Funds Allocated – 40,000 Cr. Annually
    • Under the MEIS Scheme, an incentive of 2% to 5% of the FOB value of exports is provided to all the exporters (merchant as well as manufacturer exporter), irrespective of their annual turnover.
  • Rebate of Duties & Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP Scheme) : The RoDTEP scheme aims to refund all those hidden taxes and levies, which were earlier not refunded under any export incentive scheme.
  • Service Export from India Scheme (SEIS Scheme): The objective of Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) is to encourage and maximize export of notified Services from India.
  • Service Exports also provides valuable foreign exchange to the country, therefore there is a need to motivate service exporters as well.
  • Under the SEIS Scheme, an incentive of 3% to 7% of Net foreign exchange earnings is provided to services exporters of notified services in India.

 

3) Production Linked Scheme for Textile Sector

 #GS3 #Mobilisation of Resources #Employment #GS2 #Government policies and Intervention 

 

Context: The Union Cabinet Wednesday approved a Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the textiles sector worth Rs 10,683 crore.

  • The scheme aims to attract fresh investment of Rs 19,000 crore in the sector for production of in-demand textiles, and additional turnover of Rs 3 lakh crore over five years.
  • This is part of a larger PLI scheme for 13 sectors, with a total budgetary outlay of 1.97 lakh crore.
Key Details:
  • Aim: The PLI scheme for textiles aims to promote the production of high value Man-Made Fibre (MMF) fabrics, garments and technical textiles.
  • Incentives: The scheme is set to provide incentives to eligible producers in two phases.
    • Any person or company willing to invest a minimum of Rs 300 crore in plant, machinery, equipment and civil works (excluding land and administrative building cost) to produce products of MMF fabrics, garments and products of technical textiles will be eligible to participate in the first part of the scheme.
    • Investors willing to spend a minimum of Rs 100 crore under the same conditions shall be eligible to apply in the second part of the scheme.
    • The companies investing between Rs 100 crore and Rs 300 crore will also be eligible to receive duty refunds and incentives (lower than 15 percent of their turnover).
Significance of the scheme:
  • Two-thirds of international trade in textiles is of man-made and technical textiles. This scheme has been approved so India can also contribute to the ecosystem of fabrics and garments made of MMF.
    • Man-made staple fibres accounted for exports of $1,699.05 million in FY20, while technical textiles accounted for exports of $42.7 million in the same year.
    • In Q1 FY22, man-made staple fibres accounted for exports of $483.3 million, while technical textiles accounted for exports of $11.7 million in the same period.
  • The PLI scheme will provide an immense boost to domestic manufacturing, and prepare the industry for making a big impact in global markets in sync with the spirit of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
  • It is estimated that over the period of five years, the PLI Scheme for Textiles will lead to fresh investment of more than Rs.19,000 crore, cumulative turnover of over Rs.3 lakh crore will be achieved under this scheme.
    • This will create additional employment opportunities of more than 7.5 lakh jobs in this sector and several lakhs more for supporting activities.
    • The textiles industry predominantly employs women, therefore, the scheme will empower women and increase their participation in formal economy.
  • The Technical Textiles segment is a new age textile, whose application in several sectors of economy, including infrastructure, water, health and hygiene, defence, security, automobiles, aviation, etc. will improve the efficiencies in those sectors of economy.
    • Government has also launched a National Technical Textiles Mission in the past for promoting R&D efforts in that sector.
  • PLI will help further, in attracting investment in this segment.
  • Scheme would directly benefit the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha, as these were states where the textile sector is already growing.
    • In addition, priority will be given for investment in Aspirational Districts, Tier 3, Tier 4 towns, and rural areas and due to this priority Industry will be incentivized to move to backward area.

 

4) Ordnance Factory Board

 #GS3 #Employment #Effects of Liberalization on the Economy #Changes in Industrial Policy & their Effects on Industrial Growth

 

Context: The 220-year-old Ordnance Factory Board will be dissolved on October 1, and its units will be corporatized under seven PSUs.

Key Details:
  • The decision to corporatize the Ordnance Factory Board which controls the 41 ordnance factories was announced in 2020 by Union Finance Minister as part of a package to make India self-reliant in defense hardware production.
  • The board will now be split into seven new Defense public sector entities 100% owned by the government that will produce ammunition and explosives, vehicles, weapons and equipment, troop comfort items, opto-electronics gear, parachutes and ancillary products, the person cited above said.
  • All OFB employees in the production units will be transferred to the new corporate entities on a deemed deputation initially for a period of two years without altering their service conditions as central government employees.
  • Pension liabilities of the retirees and existing employees will continue to be borne by the government.
  • An empowered group of ministers (EGoM), constituted under the defense minister Rajnath Singh last year, will oversee the board’s corporatization and also take decisions on related matters.
Reasons behind restructuring:
  • There have been complaints from the defence forces that the quality of products manufactured by the OFB were substandard.
  • News reports had last year said that the Indian army in an internal assessment had flagged concerns about faulty ammunition and armaments supplied by the OFB causing casualties and causing wastage of public finances.
  • AS per the assessment, some 403 accidents over the previous six years resulted in the deaths of 27 soldiers and a loss of ?960 crores to the exchequer.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General had repeatedly raised questions about the quality of products supplied by the OFB and its overall performance in its reports.
Significance of the move:
  • The new structure will help overcome various shortcomings in the existing OFB set-up by eliminating inefficient supply chains and provide these companies incentive to become competitive.
  • It will boost their autonomy.
  • The restructuring will transform the ordnance factories into productive and profitable assets, deepen product specialisation, boost performance and improve quality, cost efficiency and accountability.
  • This move is being seen as a major move towards achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing.
  • It is expected that seven new professionally-managed entities will increase their share in the domestic market as well as tap new export opportunities.
Apprehensions:
  • One of the main apprehensions of the employees is that corporatisation (ownership and management lies with the government) would eventually lead to privatisation (transfer of ownership and management rights to the private player).
  • The new corporate entities would not be able to survive the unique market environment of defence products that has very unstable demand and supply dynamics.
  • Restructuring will result in greater autonomy and lesser government control over the corporation but there is a fear of job loss.

How did the government tackle the workers’ strike against corporatisation?

  • Union government introduced The Essential Defence Services Bill which was aimed at preventing the staff of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on a strike.
    • Around 70,000 people work with the 41 ordnance factories around the country.
Highlights of the Bill:

 

What is Essential Defence Services:

  • Any service in any establishment dealing with production of goods or equipment required for any purpose connected with defence.
  • Any service in any establishment of, or connected with, the armed forces of the Union or in any other establishment or installation connected with defence.
  • Any service in any section of any establishment connected with defence, on the working of which the safety of such establishment or employee employed therein depends;
  • Any other service, as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be essential defence services, the cessation of work of which would prejudicially affect the:
    • Production of defence equipment or goods.
    • Operation or maintenance of industrial establishments or units engaged in such production.
    • Repair or maintenance of products connected with defence.

Defines Strikes:

  • It is defined as cessation of work by a body of persons acting together, which includes:
    • Mass casual leave.
    • Coordinated refusal of any number of persons to continue to work or accept employment.
    • Refusal to work overtime, where such work is necessary for maintenance of essential defence services.
    • Any other conduct which results in, or is likely to result in, disruption of work in essential defence services.

Prohibition on strikes, lock-outs, and lay-offs:

  • It may issue such an order prohibiting any strikes, lockouts and lay-offs in places working on essential defence services, if necessary, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of any state, public order, public, decency and morality.
  • Any lock-out declared or commenced, whether before or after the issue of such order, by any employer engaged in the essential defence services shall be illegal.

About Ordnance Factory Board:

  • It is an umbrella body for the ordnance factories and related institutions, and is currently a subordinate office of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
  • OFB is the world’s largest government-operated production organisation, and the oldest organisation in India.
  • The first Indian ordnance factory was set up in the year 1712 by the Dutch Company as a Gunpowder Factory, West Bengal.
  • It is a conglomerate of 41 factories, 9 training Institutes, 3 regional marketing centres and 5 regional controllers of safety.
  • Headquarters: Kolkata
  • Significance: A major chunk of the weapon, ammunition and supplies for not just armed forces but also paramilitary and police forces come from the OFB-run factories.
  • Ordnance factories currently manufacture tanks, armoured personnel carriers, mine protected vehicles, bombs, rockets, artillery guns, anti-aircraft guns, parachutes, small arms, clothing and leather equipment for soldiers.

  

5) Antimalarial Drug Resistance

 #GS3 #Awareness in Different Fields – Biotechnology

Context: In recent years there is increasing evidence for the failure of art emisinin-based combination therapy for falciparum malaria either alone or with partner drugs.

Key Details:
  • In most malaria-endemic countries including India, Artemisinin-based antimalarial drugs are the first-line choice for malaria treatment especially against Plasmodium falciparum parasite which is responsible for almost all malaria-related deaths in the world.
  • A recent study has described the presence of two mutations responsible for artemisinin resistance in Northern Uganda.
  • The current report of artemisinin resistance in East Africa is a matter of great concern as this is the only drug that has saved several lives across the globe.
History of the resistance:
  • In the 1950s chloroquine resistance came to light. Both chloroquine and pyrimethamine resistance originated from Southeast Asia following their migration to India and then on to Africa with disastrous consequences.
  • Similarly, artemisinin resistance developed from the six Southeast Asian countries and migrated to other continents, as is reported in India and Africa.
  • Overuse has led to mutations in P. falciparum cases treated with artemisinin.

Artemisinin-based combination therapy failure in India:

  • In 2019, a report from Eastern India indicated the presence of two mutations in P. falciparum cases treated with artemisinin that linked to its presence of resistance.
  • Again in 2021, artemisinin-based combination therapy failure was reported from Central India where the partner drug SP showed triple mutations with artemisinin wild type.
    • This means the failure of artemisinin-based combination therapy may not be solely linked to artemisinin.
  • In the past, chloroquine was very effective for all types of malaria treatment in India. But it is no longer used for the treatment of falciparum malaria.
  • Reports of the presence of chloroquine resistance mutations in some vivax-dominated areas are a cause of concern and continued monitoring is needed.

Way Forward:

  • The time has come to carry out Molecular Malaria Surveillance to find out the drug-resistant variants so that corrective measures can be undertaken in time to avert any consequences.
  • Some experts even advocate using triple artemisinin-based combination therapies where the partner drug is less effective.

Daily Current Affairs 1st October -2021

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