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9 PM for Main examination
- Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Development of Infrastructural Facilities for the Judiciary
- Covid-19 and the Informal Workers in India
- Indian Agriculture during Covid-19 pandemic
- Covid-19 and Environmental Protection in India
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Development of Infrastructural Facilities for the Judiciary
Syllabus: GS 2: Judiciary, Judicial Reforms
Context: The government has approved Rs. 767.25 crore under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Development of Infrastructural Facilities for the Judiciary for the year 2020-21.
Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Development of Infrastructural Facilities for the Judiciary
- Genesis: The scheme was established in 1993 by the Department of Justice, Ministry of law and Justice.
- Aim: The aim of the scheme is to improve the infrastructure of subordinate courts and address housing needs of judicial officers in the country with a view to facilitate better justice delivery.
- Funding: The expenditure on the scheme is shared by the Centre and the State Governments on 60:40 basis.
- Conditions for release of grants to the States:
- Requirement of funds by the State Governments as per their Action Plan. The action plan includes information on number of new courtrooms required, housing needs of judicial officers.
- Submission of Utilisation Certificate of previous grants released to the States under the Scheme.
- Availability of funds under the Scheme as per budgetary allocation.
Issues with the scheme:
- Disparity in fund distribution among states: There has been disparity in fund distribution among states with Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh always receiving the largest share. On the other hand, despite of severe shortfall of infrastructure states like Kerala and Odisha receive low funds.
- Procedural Delays: Filing of utilization certificates and Action Plans by states are marred by procedural delays at different stages. This hinders the development of infrastructures such as courtrooms and residential units.
- Lack of Understanding among states: Researchers have cited lack of understanding among states about the expenditure sharing between the union and the state under the scheme.
- Flawed Design of the Scheme:
- According to critics, the design of the scheme is flawed. This is because of Utilisation Certificate which shows that the previous year’s funds have been exhausted.
- As this includes the state’s share of 40%, states which do not have the capacity to invest large amounts of money towards judicial infrastructure may become ineligible next year.
- Also, even if some states can allocate their respective shares, it is difficult to produce a UC for the entire amount released within the year as infrastructure projects take time due to bureaucratic delays.
- Lack of Transparency: A study by Vidhi Legal Policy notes that the union government allocates funds to states under the Scheme arbitrarily.
Recommendations for the scheme:
- Periodic Survey: Periodic survey to identify infrastructure shortage in judiciary should be done. The data should be used to disburse funds under the scheme
- CAG audit: An audit by the CAG to review the financial and material performance of the scheme should be conducted.
- Revamping: Revamping the design of the scheme, especially the Utilization certificate is essential.
Conclusion: It is important for the government to address practical difficulties associated with the scheme and ensure transparency in allocation and utilization of funds are the scheme. Nyaya Vikas Portal developed jointly by the Department of Justice and ISRO to allow geotagging of under-construction works under the scheme and to create a database of courtrooms is a step-in the right direction to uphold transparency.
2.Covid-19 and the Informal Workers in India
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 3: Economy: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development and employment.
Context: The Covid-19 pandemic has brought attention back to the informal sector in India.
- Informal sector includes all economic enterprises and employment that are not protected or regulated by the government laws and social security system.
- It is characterised by excessive seasonality of employment and casual and contractual employment. Further, there is no formal employer and employee relationship
Informal sector in India- An overview
Ministry of Labour has categorised the unorganised labour deployed in informal sector, under four groups in terms of:
- Occupation: Small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers, sharecroppers, fisherman, etc.
- Nature of Employment: bonded labourers, migrant workers, contract and casual labourers
- Specially Distressed Category: scavengers, head loaders etc.
- Service category: Domestic workers, vendors etc.
According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (2017-18), 90.6% of India’s workforce was informally employed.
Impact of Covid-19 on Informal Sector in India:
- Loss of jobs: Immediate burden of COVID19 lockdown in India has been on the informal sector and its workers. According to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE), the unemployment rate in India is at its highest- 27.1%, with millions of informal workers out of job.
- Livelihood crisis: Though many of the people would be able to resume work after the lockdown ends, informal workers, who are involved in casual or contractual work and those who returned to their villages might not be able to resume work putting their livelihood at risk.
- Urban-Rural Migration: The lockdown has witnessed unprecedented urban to rural migration and plight of poor migration workers. The migrant workers would not be gainfully employed in farming activities.
- Increase in informalization post lockdown:
- Informal employment will increase as workers who lose formal jobs during the COVID crisis will try to find or create work in the informal economy.
- Further, formal enterprises are likely to continue hiring informal workers to cut labour costs during the economic crisis which awaits post lockdown.
Steps to be taken:
Formalization of informal economy is the goal to be achieved. However, it is a complex and long process. Therefore, certain immediate steps should be taken:
- Social Security: It is important to ensure basic working conditions such as adequate living wages, limits on hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces. The draft Code on Social Security and Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan are steps in right direction.
- Skill Development: Skill development is required to enhance productivity and income of informal workers.
- Agricultural regeneration: Government needs to focus on agriculture which employs a larger proportion of informal workers
- Credit support: Credit support should be given to small enterprises in the informal sector. Incentives should be provided for formalisation of laborers
Conclusion: It is important for the government to immediately address the plight of the informal sector workers amidst the Covid-19 crisis. Adequate income support, free basic food items, other essentials and effective health services should be provided.
3.Indian Agriculture during Covid-19 pandemic
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 3: Agriculture
Context: The Covid-19 pandemic has adversely impacted the Indian economy. However, agriculture sector seems to perform well.
Share of different sectors in the Economy:
The share of various sectors in Gross Value Added (GVA) is:
Impact of Covid-19 on Indian Economy:
Services: Nikkei/IHS Markit Services Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to 5.4 in April from 49.3 in March.
- India’s core sector output contracted 6.5% in March- the worst since 2005.
- Crude oil production contracted 5.5%, natural gas 15.2%, refinery products 0.5%, fertilisers 11.9%, steel 13%, cement 24.7% and electricity 7.2% during the month. Coal was the only sector that grew 4%.
- It can be defined as the main industry which has a multiplier effect on the economy.
- The Eight Core Industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
- The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage are(a) Refinery Products (b)Electricity (c)Steel (d)Coal (e)Crude Oil (f)Natural Gas (g)Cement and (h)Fertilizers.
Though the Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected the service and industrial sectors, the agriculture sector has been performing well and emerged as the backbone of the economy during the lockdown.
- In 2019-20 agriculture sector grew by 11.3% at current prices.
- As on May 1, government agencies had bought 14.3 million tonnes (mt) of the new crop.
Steps to be taken to boost Agriculture Sector:
- Demand for agriculture commodities: It is important to sustain the demand for agricultural commodities. Investments in logistics should be enhanced. E-commerce and delivery companies and start-ups need to be encouraged with suitable policies and incentives.
- Farm Labour: The concerns over scarcity of farm labour due to migration should be addressed. Availability of machinery should be ensured through state entities, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) or custom hiring centres (CHCs).
- Procurement: The state governments should ensure smooth procurement of farmers’ marketable surpluses at MSP (minimum support price) or through other price support schemes.
- Agri-inputs: The government should focus on the Kharif season and ensure easy availability of Agri-inputs- seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, etc
- Credit: Institutional lending of crop loans should be expanded.
Conclusion: The agriculture sector has shown resilience during crisis and hold immense potential in contributing to the Indian economy. It’s high time the government takes necessary steps to leverage this potential.
4.Covid-19 and Environmental Protection in India
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS-3: Environmental pollution and degradation
Context: The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has challenged us to re-think and re-align our strategies for environmental protection, especially air pollution, in India.
Need to prioritise environmental protection in India
- Correlation to Covid-19 and Air Pollution: A recent study by Harvard University has shown the correlation between long-term exposure to air pollution and Covid-19 morbidity and mortality. Those living in polluted cities are likely to have poor respiratory, cardiac and other systems and hence are more vulnerable to Covid-19.
- Inequality in the impact of Covid-19: Covid-19 will disproportionately affect millions of those who live and work in open. The same population is also more susceptible to the negative impact of air pollution. For example, the migrant workers engaged in the informal sector in India are the worst effected
- Environmental degradation and rise of Zoonotic diseases:
- According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 75% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic and that these zoonotic diseases are closely interlinked with the health of ecosystems.
- Human activities such as deforestation, industrial agriculture, illegal wildlife trade destroy the natural buffer zones that normally separate humans from animals. This has increased the spread of zoonotic diseases and pose threat of future pandemics.
- Climate Change: Changes in temperature, humidity and seasonality affect the survival of pathogens in the environment. According to studies, disease epidemics especially zoonotic diseases would aggravate due to climate change.
- Sustainable agriculture and food systems: The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted food security. Conservation agriculture becomes essential to make agriculture and food systems more sustainable.
Steps to be taken:
- Structural Changes: Structural reforms across multiple sectors, institutions and processes required to strengthened environmental protection. Schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evem Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) Scheme is a way forward. It integrates food security, energy security and income security of farmers.
- Tackling Air pollution:
- Larger allocations and subsidies to initiatives like the National Solar Mission.
- Investment in new technologies for cleaner air. Examples: smog free towers, vertical forests.
- Reduce regulatory barriers that restrict the flow of capital to green projects.
- National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) should be used as a platform to combat air pollution as an emergency.
- Make sustainable food systems: Agriculture and food systems should be made sustainable by reducing food waste, reducing pesticides, decarbonizing food production and distribution systems
- Addressing zoonotic disease emergence:
- Impact of human activities on ecosystems needs to be controlled. There should be increased monitoring of human and wildlife health in landscapes that are being transformed.
- Understanding and preparedness for potential outbreaks should be increased to minimize risks.
- Scientific Research: It is important to invest more on scientific research and enhance scientific collaborations to strengthen environmental protection in a post Covid world.
Conclusion: In India, the complete lockdown has reduced environmental pollution substantially which years of strategies and policies failed to achieve. However, such lockdown is no way and means to address the environmental degradation in the country. It is high time that the government place right environment and climate related policies in place.
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