• Current Affairs, 22 May 2020

    Coir geo textiles accepted for rural road construction

    Related For: – Economics, Topics: – Textile industry

    In News:

    • Coir Geo textileshas been accepted as a good material for rural road construction under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-III (PMGSY-III).
    • As per these instructions, 5% lengthof the rural roads under PMGSY-III will be constructed using Coir Geo textiles.
    • The decision opens up a huge market potentialand will be a boon to the Coir Board which comes under the Ministry of MSME of the Central government.

    Important Points

    The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)

    • It is a nationwide plan in India to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages.
    • This is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

    Coir Geo Textile 

    • It is a permeablefabric, naturalstrong and highly durable.
    • It is resistantto rots, moulds and moisture and is free from any microbial attack.
    • It is totally biodegradable.
    • It helps in soil stabilisationand renew vegetation in varying slopes.


    Complete solarisation of Konark Sun Temple and Konark town launched

    Relevant For :- Environment Topics:- Arts and culture, Energy, In News:

    • Government of India has launched a scheme for 100% solarisationof Konark sun temple & Konark town in Odisha.

    Important Points:

    • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy(MNRE) will be responsible for the solarisation.
    • Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency(OREDA) shall implement the project.
    • The Scheme aims to set up 10 MW gridconnected solar project and various solar off-grid applications like solar trees, solar drinking water kiosks, etc.
    • There will be 100% Central Financial Assistance (CFA) support of around Rs. 25 Crores.
    • The scheme will meet all the energy requirementsof Konark town with solar energy.

    Konark Sun Temple

    • It is a 13th-century CE Sun temple at Konark on the coastline of Odisha, India.
    • The temple is attributed to king Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE.
    • It is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya.
    • This temple was called the “Black Pagoda”in European sailor accounts.
    • It was declared a UNESCO world heritagesite in 1984.
    • It is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus,
    • Large number of devotees gather here every year for the Chandrabhaga Melaaround the month of February.


    Special liquidity scheme for NBFCs/HFCs approved

    Relevant For :-  Economy/ Topics :-Schemes for development of the economics

    In News:

    • Recently, the proposal to launch a new Special Liquidity Schemefor Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) was approved.
    • This shall improve liquidity positionof the NBFCs/HFCs.

    Key takeaways:

    • A large public sector bank would set up a Special Purpose Vehicle(SPV) to manage a Stressed Asset Fund (SAF) whose special securities would be guaranteed by the Government of India and purchased by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) only.
    • The SPV would issue securities as per requirement.
    • Total amount of securities should not exceed Rs. 30,000 crore.
    • The Scheme will be administered by the Department of Financial Services.

    Important value additions 

    Non-Banking Financial Company

    • It is a financial institutionthat does not have a full banking license or is not supervised by a national or international banking regulatory agency.
    • The most important difference between non-banking financial companies and banks is that NBFCs don’t take demand deposits.  

    Housing Finance Company

    • It is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956.
    • It primarily transacts business of providing finance for housing, directly or indirectly.


    Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) approved for implementation 

    Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II –Welfare Schemes & GS-III –  Economy

    In News:

    • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY).

    Key takeaways:

    • It is a scheme to bring Blue Revolutionthrough sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector in India.
    • Scheme will be implemented during a period of 5 yearsfrom FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25.
    • It will have two separate Components namely
      • Central Sector Scheme (CS)
      • Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS).
    • Under the Central Sector Scheme Component, an amount of 1,720 crores has been earmarked.
    • Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) Component, an investment of  18,330 crores has been envisaged,
    • For optimal outcomes, ‘Cluster or area-based approach’would be followed.
    • This approach will have forward and backward linkages and end to end solutions.
    • Aims and objectivesof PMMSY
      • Harnessing of fisheries potential in a sustainable, responsible, inclusive and equitable manner.
      • Enhancing fish production and productivity through expansion, intensification, etc.
      • Modernizing and strengthening of value chain – post-harvest management and quality improvement.
      • Doubling fishers and fish farmers incomes and generation of employment.
      • Enhancing contribution to Agriculture Gross Value Addition and exports.
      • Social, physical and economic security for fishers and fish farmers.
      • Robust fisheries management and regulatory framework.
    • The scheme intends to address:
      • critical gaps in fish production and productivity
      • modernization and strengthening of value chain
      • establishing a robust fisheries management framework and fishers’ welfare
      • sanitary and phyto-sanitary matters

    Important value additions:

    • Fisheries and aquacultureare an important source of food, nutrition, employment and income in India.
    • The sector provides livelihoodto more than 20 million fishers and fish farmers at the primary level and twice the number along the value chain.
    • Fish being an affordableand rich source of animal protein, is one of the healthiest options to reduce hunger and malnutrition.



    Relevant For :- Governance Topics :-Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources ,Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 

    A Moment to Revive MGNREGA

    Context: The lockdown has resulted in a massive loss of livelihoods, and the 400-million strong unorganised workforce has been the worst hit.

    About MGNREGA

    • It stands for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005
    • It guarantees 100 days of wage employmentin a financial year to a rural household whose adult members (at least 18 years of age) volunteer to do unskilled
    • It has unique legal architecture of being demand-driven, and not budget constrained.
    • It is social security and labour law that aims to enforce theright to work’.
    • It has provision for unemployment allowance,when the state cannot provide work
    • Agriculture and allied activities constitute more than 65% of the works taken up under the programme.
    • MGNREGA has helped build rural infrastructure through approximately 10 crore families.

    Problems facing MGNREGA

    • Governments capping its financial resources and turning it into supply-based programme
    • Workers had begun to lose interest in working under it because of the inordinate delays in wage payments.
    • With very little autonomy, gram panchayats found its implementation cumbersome
    • As a result, over the last few years, MGNREGA had begun to face an existential crisis.

    MGNREGA- a saviour in crisis times

    • Migrants returning to villages in the wake of COVID crisis have a source of livelihood in MGNREGA programme
    • The scheme provides employment to unskilled rural labour especially in the times of rising unemployment
    • It provides social security especially during agricultural lean season
    • Nearly half of the beneficiaries of the scheme are women and SC/STs, hence it acts as social empowering tool

    MGNREGA and COVID-19

    • As a part of stimulus package government has sanctioned additional Rs 40,000 crore for MGNREGA amounting to nearly Rs 1 lakh crore for FY 2020-21
    • However, the allocation which amounts to 0.47% of the GDP continues to be much lower than the World Bank recommendations of 1.7% for optimal functioning of the programme.

    Way ahead with regard to MGNREGA

    1. Proactive State governments
      • They must ensure that public works are opened in every village
      • Workers turning up at the worksite should be provided work immediately, without any delay or restrictions
    1. Proactive local governments to ease administrative process
      • Local bodies must proactively reach out to returned and quarantined migrant workers and help those in need to get job cards
      • Gram panchayats and elected representatives need to be provided with adequate resources, powers, and responsibilities to sanction works, provide work on demand, and authorise wage payments
    1. Precautions at work site
      • Adequate facilities such as soap, water, and masks for workers must be provided free of cost at the worksite
      • For reasons of health safety, MGNREGA tools should not be shared between workers
    1. Simplified Payments Procedures
      • Attempts to distribute wages in cash, sans biometric authentication, must be rolled out as there is limited coverage of bank infrastructure in rural areas
    1. Flexibility of the work done
      • Many governments will possibly prioritise individual land-based works to comply with instructions of physical distancing.
      • However, it is important to also ensure community works are taken up so that landless workers are not left out of the programme


    With nearly eight crore migrant workers returning to their villages, and with an additional allocation for the year, this could be a moment for the true revival of MGNREGA. A revival led by workers themselves.

    Connecting the dots:

    • Rights based governance framework
    • Union Government’s Four Labour Codes


    A double disaster: On a cyclone amid the coronavirus


    Context: Cyclone Amphan, a tropical cyclone formed over Bay of Bengal has affected states of Odisha and West Bengal. At least 72 people are dead and normal life is paralysed for millions in Kolkata and in the rural areas of both the States.

    Did You Know?

    • Cyclone Amphan has been named by Thailand.
    • Amphan is the second pre-monsoon cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal in two years. The first one was Cyclone Fani
    • The pre-monsoon period is generally considered to be unsupportive for the formation of tropical cyclones.

    About Cyclones

    • Cyclones are low-pressure systems that form over warm tropical waters, with gale force winds near the centre.
    • The winds can extend hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the eye of the storm.
    • Cyclones can unleash catastrophic storm surges — tsunami-like flooding — when they make landfall.
    • The term “storm surge” refers to rising seas whipped up by a storm, creating a wall of water several metres higher than the normal tide level
    • The tropical cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal and neighbouring Arabian Sea has two peaks around May and November, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

    What has been the response of States during Cyclones?

    • National and State Disaster Response Force units are alerted by weather forecasting agencies through governments
    • A code of practice has been evolved for a storm coming under category 3 and above: (following points will be useful for Ethics Case Studies)
      • Quick evacuations through all routes
      • Arranging for backup power
      • Warning people to stay far from the coasts
      • Designating strong buildings as cyclone shelters
      • Providing for at least a week’s supply of cooked food
      • Bolstering medical supplies in these temporary shelters
    • Some vital activities such as functioning of the Kolkata airport were restored a day after the cyclone struck, facilitating movement of essentials.

    What are the additional challenges associated with Cyclone Amphan?

    • Threat of COVID-19:Thousands of people have been moved to crowded shelters where the COVID-19 pandemic poses a continuing threat.
    • Administrative Challenges:There are logistical difficulties in adhering to hygienic practices, monitoring those requiring medical assistance and testing for the virus.
    • Livelihoods of migrants: Many who were working in distant States have returned to Odisha and Bengal in the wake of the economic paralysis caused by COVID-19, and thus need sustained support after the storm.
    • Shelter Challenges:There is also challenge to provide pre-fabricated facilities for safe shelter in outlying areas, such as the Sunderbans
    • Fund Constraints:State governments are facing revenue shortages due to lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19. Thus, their ability to rehabilitate lives post cyclone is constrained

    Way Ahead

    • Strong support from the Centre, which the State must be provided to help it overcome the double jeopardy of the pandemic and the cyclone.
    • Using off-the-shelf solutions such as solar power to mobilise communities
    • Decentralised governance for ensuring quick rehabilitation of communities adapting to local needs



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