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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd July 2019

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  • July 23, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd July 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Chandrayana-2

Part of: GS Prelims and Main GS Paper III- Science and Technology

Key PT Pointers:

  • Chandrayaan-1 (only Orbiter) launched in 2008 was ISRO’s first mission to the moon
  • Chandrayaan-2 consists of an Orbiter, Lander (named as Vikram) and Rover (named as Pragyan), all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon
  • The lander and rover are designed to work for only 14 days(1 lunar day), while orbiter will remain in orbit for a year
  • With Chandrayaan-2, India will become only the fourth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon.
  • Chandrayaan-2 will make a landing at a site near the South pole of the moon, where no earlier mission has gone,
  • The south pole of the moon
    • holds the possibility of the presence of water
    • It is also supposed to have ancient rocks and craters that can offer indications of history of moon, and also contain clues to the fossil records of early solar system.

Cryptocurrencies to be banned

Part of: GS Prelims and Main GS Paper III- Science and Technology

Key Pointers:

  • Subhash Chandra Garg Committee was constituted on November 2, 2017 to look into the legality of cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
  • The report says cryptocurrencies do not have any intrinsic value of their own and lack any of the attributes of a currency. They neither act as a store of value nor are they a medium of exchange in themselves
  • The committee thus recommended that private cryptocurrencies be banned in India.
  • It has, however, said the government should keep an open mind on the potential issuance of cryptocurrencies by the Reserve Bank of India.

Conservation efforts to revive gharial population

Part of: GS Prelims and Main GS Paper III- Environment and Conservation

In news:

  • Five gharials, were bred at the Nandankanan Zoological Park, Odisha and released into into the Satkosia gorge of Mahanadi.
  • The gharials are individually marked and fitted with radio transmitters for future identification and tracking of their migration route
  • Gharials are “critically endangered” species of crocodile.
  • Odisha is the only State in India having all three species — gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodile.

(MAINS FOCUS)


SOCIAL JUSTICE/GOVERNANCE

TOPIC: General studies 2 

  • Governance and related issues
  • 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.

An unbalanced view of the technical interventions in MGNREGA

Context:

  • Economic Survey has presented an unbalanced view of the technical interventions in MGNREGA
  • The Survey draws heavily from the Indian School of Business’s working paper titled “A Friend Indeed: Does The Use of Digital Identity Make Welfare Programs Truly Counter-Cyclical?”

Concerns:

  • Economic survey presents a skewed and unbalanced view of the programme’s technical interventions instead of taking a comprehensive view of the implementation.
  • The Survey completely ignores numerous instances where technology has resulted in violation of workers’ rights under the MGNREGA.

About MNREGA

  • 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.
  • “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act”, MGNREGA), is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the “Right to Work”.

MGNREGA History:

In 1991, the P.V Narashima Rao government proposed a pilot scheme for generating employment in rural areas with the following goals:

  • Employment Generation for agricultural labour during the lean season.
  • Infrastructure Development
  • Enhanced Food Security

This scheme was called the Employment Assurance Scheme which later evolved into the MGNREGA after the merger with the Food for Work Programme in the early 2000s.

Objectives of MGNREGA:

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has the following objectives:

  • MGNREGA guarantee “Right To Work” for at least one member of family for 100 days annually, 150 days for SC/STs during non-agricultural seasons .
  • Employment provided within 15 days of enrollment , failing to which the government will give unemployment wages to work-seekers
  • Increase economic security
  • Decrease migration of labour from rural to urban areas

Changes in MNREGA structure

  • By 2009-10, MGNREGA wages were only 90% of market wages for males, but 26% higher than market wages for females.
  • By 2011-12, they were lower than market wages for both category of workers, but for females, they were close to market levels.
  • The 2017-18 PLFS estimates show that private market wages for males were higher than MGNREGA wages by 74%, and female market wages were higher than MGNREGA wages by 21%.
  • Clearly, no male worker is going to demand MGNREGA work when he can get a much higher daily wage with the same effort .
  • However, women continue to demand and work under MGNREGA, though market wages are higher, because of non-availability of work and discrimination as well as exclusion from the private labour market.

Six reasons why the Economic Survey’s presentation of the MGNREGA is misleading

1. Lack of adequate financial allocation, pending liabilities and low wages.

  • 20% of the Budget allocation in each of the last five years is of pending wage liabilities from previous years
  • MGNREGA wages in many States are about 40% lower than the Ministry of Labour’s national minimum wage.
  • Instead of sufficiently funding MGNREGA, a legal right, in times of severe drought, there is disproportionate attention by the government

2. Misrepresentation of continuous technological interventions in the MGNREGA since its inception

  • Electronic funds transfer started as far back as in 2011 through the Electronic Fund Management System (eFMS), which became symbolic of the Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT). 
  • In 2016 National Electronic Fund Management System (N-eFMS) has been
  • The Survey uses the term “ALP” for Aadhaar-linked payments and conflates it with the DBT .
  • The merging of two terms prevents one from making an honest assessment on the effect that different interventions have had.

3. The Survey makes strong assertions that timely payment of wages have positively impacted worker participation.

  • The Survey makes claims on reduction in payment delays due to the introduction of Aadhaar
  • Wage payments to MGNREGA workers happen in two stages
  • First stage: it is the time taken by the blocks to generate the electronic Funds Transfer Orders (FTO) and send it digitally to the Central government.
  • Second stage: it is the time taken by the Central government to process these FTOs and transfer wages to workers’ accounts.
  • Delays in the first stage have reduced, those in the second stage continue to be unacceptably high(takes more than 50 days).

4. An increase in demand for and supply of work in drought-affected areas to Aadhaar ignoring other crucial factors.

  • Judicial-administrative directives, which came into effect after Aadhaar was introduced, played an important role in the increase in the MGNREGA work uptake in drought areas.
  • Examples:
    • In Rajasthan- 67% increase in employment generated and a record number of households having completed 100 days of work under the MGNREGA as a part of ‘work demand cmapaign’
    • In Karnataka- There is a three-fold increase in employment generation in Karnataka in 2019 compared to 2018.

5. The Survey rightfully acknowledges the nature of positive targeting of the MGNREGA — with women, Dalits and Adivasis benefitting the most — it wrongfully attributes it wholly to the introduction of Aadhaar.

6. Aadhaar-linked payments identifying “ghost beneficiaries” is exaggerated as an RTI query showed that they accounted for only about 1.4% of total households in 2016-17.

Conclusion

  • Overlooking the fundamental issues, cherry-picking studies and using flawed analyses to justify technocracy is an example of ethical paralysis.
  • The Economic Survey harps about an ill-designed technological pipeline, the fact is that a landmark labour programme is being put on a ventilator.

Connecting the dots:

  • “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral” Elucidate?
  • In the Light of continuation of MNREGA in the present year. Discuss its achievements and limitations
  • MNREGA- is a great example of proactive disclosure of information through its Management Information System (MIS). Discuss
  • MNREGA, despite of all the limitations and failure, it is in agreement with sustainable development. Elucidate.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements about Chandrayana -2

  1. It is being launched from Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Kerala
  2. It is launched by GSLV MK-III, which is also its first operational flight
  3. China’s Chang’e 4 was the first space craft to achieve soft landing on the far side of the moon

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.2) Consider the following statements about Bhitarkanika National Park

  1. It is a national park located in Kendrapara district of Odisha
  2. The sanctuary is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India
  3. It is said to house 70% of the country’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1,2 and 3

Q.3) Consider the following statements about Cyroptocurrency

  1. Cryptocurrencies use decentralized technology to let users make secure payments and store money without the need to use their name or go through a bank.
  2. They run on a distributed public ledger called blockchain, which is a record of all transactions updated and held by currency holders.
  3. Google has unveiled its own cryptocurrency named “Libra”

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

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