19 February , 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- Biometric authentication to benefit farmers: Centre Page -09- (Polity and Governance)
- Puducherry L-G orders floor test on Monday Page 01 - (Polity and Governance)
- Effecting a social rise, starting a political experiment Page 06- (Polity and Governance)
- Metroman Sreedharan set to join BJP, may contest poll Page 01 - (Ethics and Integrity)
- AQI expected to be very poor today Page 02 - (Environment)
UPSC Current Affairs: Biometric authentication to benefit farmers: Centre | Page - 9
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Public Policy | Mains – GS Paper II – Laws for Vulnerable Sections, GS Paper III – Public Distribution System - PDS
Sub Theme: Direct Benefit Transfer| Schemes under DBT | JAM - Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobiles | UPSC
With the aim of reforming Government delivery system by re-engineering the existing process in welfare schemes for simpler and faster flow of information/funds and to ensure accurate targeting of the beneficiaries, de-duplication and reduction of fraud Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) was started on 1st January, 2013. With the rapid rollout of Aadhaar in the country, it was felt possible to move to a system of transferring cash benefits directly to the poor.
Rollout of DBT
DBT Mission was created in the Planning Commission to act as the nodal point for the implementation of the DBT programmes. The Mission was transferred to the Department of Expenditure in July, 2013 and continued to function till 14.9.2015. To give more impetus, DBT Mission and matters related thereto has been placed in Cabinet Secretariat under Secretary (Co-ordination & PG) w.e.f. 14.9.2015.
- First phase of DBT was initiated in 43 districts and later on 78 more districts were added in 27 schemes pertaining to scholarships, women, child and labour welfare. DBT was further expanded across the country on 12.12.2014.
- 7 new scholarship schemes and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was brought under DBT in 300 identified districts with higher Aadhaar enrolment.
- Electronic Payment Framework was laid down vide O.M. dated 13.2.2015 and 19.2.2015. This Framework is to be followed by all Ministries/ Departments and their attached Institutions/PSUs and is applicable on all Central Sector (CS)/ Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) and for all schemes where components of cash is transferred to individual beneficiaries.
- Aadhaar is not mandatory in DBT schemes. Since Aadhaar provides unique identity and is useful in targeting the intended beneficiaries, Aadhaar is preferred and beneficiaries are encouraged to have Aadhaar.
- JAM i.e. Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile are DBT enablers. These provide a unique opportunity to implement DBT in all welfare schemes across country including States & UTs.
Present Status of DBT
- DBT has shown promising results in pilot schemes being run in different parts of the country. These include PAHAL (modified DBTL for LPG subsidy), Public Distribution System (PDS) in Puducherry, Chandigarh and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) payments in Jharkhand, Bihar, etc. The programme has already been universalised since February 2015.
- As on April, 2017, DBT onboarded schemes are 135 from 25 Ministries/Departments.
Categories of schemes covered under DBT
The scope of DBT include all welfare/subsidy schemes operated by all the Ministries/ Departments of Government of India directly or through implementing agencies, which involve cash / kind benefits' transfers to individuals. Accordingly, the scope of DBT covers the following categories of schemes.
Cash Transfer to Individual Beneficiary - This category includes schemes or components of schemes wherein cash benefits are transferred by Government to individual beneficiaries. Example PAHAL, MGNREGA, NSAP etc. This transfer of cash benefits from Ministry/Department to beneficiaries happens through different routes, as given below:
- Directly to beneficiaries
- Through State Treasury Account to beneficiaries
- Through any Implementing Agency as appointed
- Centre/State Governments to beneficiaries
In-kind Transfer from Government to Individual Beneficiary - This category includes schemes or components of schemes wherein kind benefits are given by the Government to individuals through an intermediate agency. Typically, Government or its agent incurs expenditure internally to procure goods for public distribution and make services available for targeted beneficiaries. Individual beneficiaries receive these goods or services for free or at subsidised rates.
To cite an example, in Public Distribution System (PDS), Food Corporation of India (FCI) is the Government agent responsible for procurement, movement, storage and distribution of food grains to Fair Price Shops. FCI issues the food grains at subsidised rates, as fixed by the Government. The rates so fixed do not cover the full economic cost incurred by the Corporation. The difference represents the consumer subsidy for the PDS, and is paid to the Corporation by the Government of India. Similarly, Government incurs internal expenditures for provision of subsidies in kind on other products like kerosene, fertilisers, books, medicines, vaccines, etc. The matrix below through examples depicts different categories of schemes which can be grouped on the basis of the type of benefits and the type of beneficiaries.
Type of Benefit
MGNREGA, PAHAL, NSAP, Scholarships
SSA, Mid Day Meals, PDS,
Assistance to State for Control of Animal Disease
Apart from these two categories of schemes, there is another category of transfers from the government to different non-government functionaries who help in facilitation of various government schemes till the last mile. This category includes transfers made to the various enablers of government schemes like community workers, NGOs, in the form of honorarium, incentives, etc. for successful implementation of the schemes. Example - ASHA workers under NHM, Aanganwadi workers under ICDS, teachers in aided schools, sanitation staff in ULBs, etc. are not beneficiaries themselves but they are given wages, training, and incentives for their service to the beneficiaries/community.
Pre-requisites for DBT
- Identification of beneficiaries and digitisation of beneficiary database
- Opening of bank accounts
- Aadhaar enrolment
- Seeding of Aadhaar in beneficiary database and bank accounts
- Last mile connectivity/service delivery
Key Enablers for DBT
The success of an ambitious and a highly desirable initiative like DBT depends on a set of a few critical factors. For a heterogeneous and a large country like India, it becomes imperative that these critical success factors are ensured to achieve smooth rollout of a programme like DBT. The key success factors or enablers for an efficacious Implementation of DBT would include:
DBT by leveraging the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobiles) trinity and the technological prowess offers to drastically improve the benefit delivery system in the country. The JAM Trinity will enable this novel system to transfer benefits in a leakage-proof, well targeted, cashless and timely manner.
Business Correspondents (BC) Infrastructure
Reserve Bank of India introduced Business Correspondents / Banking Correspondents (BC) as an alternative to brick and mortar banks for infrastructure. BC is presently authorised to offer services such as cash transactions where the bank does not have a branch. As per census 2011, there are 23,333 villages with population above 5,000 and 1,19,761 villages above 2,000 populations. However, there are only 11,224 villages in the country with population above 5,000 which have a bank branch. Business Correspondents/ Bank Mitras will have a vital role in operationalising the programme and ensuring the last mile connectivity. The strong presence of BCs will ensure that payments are disbursed to the beneficiaries on time, at their doorstep and of full value.
A payments bank is like any other bank, but operating on a smaller scale, without involving any credit risk. It can carry out most banking operations and enable transfers and remittances through a mobile phone but cannot advance loans or issue credit cards. The main objective of payments bank is to widen the spread of payment and financial services to small business, low-income households, migrant labour workforce, etc. in secured technology-driven environment across the country. On 19 August 2015, the Reserve Bank of India gave in-principle licences to eleven entities to launch payments banks. With payments banks, RBI seeks to increase the penetration level of financial services in the remote areas of the country.
Mobile money is a fast moving way of payment in the country and could be helpful in providing solution to last mile issue for better accessibility of DBT. There is a need to develop a comprehensive eco-system for carrying out cashless transactions over mobile platform using Aadhaar as identifiers. This will revolutionise the drive for financial inclusion.
UPSC Current Affairs: Puducherry L-G orders floor test on Monday | Page–1
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance| Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Puducherry| Article 239A | Government of Union Territories Act, 1963| UPSC
The Madras High Court has set aside judgment of Single Bench which had held that Puducherry Lt Governor cannot interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the elected government in the Union Territory. It ruled that the Centre will take the final decision in matters referred by the Administrator in case of difference of opinion between her and the Union Territory Government.
- Earlier, Single Judge Bench of Madras High Court in 2019 had ruled that the Lieutenant-Governor (LG) of Puducherry cannot interfere in the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory when there is an elected government.
- High Court held that the LG is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers in matters where the Legislative Assembly is competent to enact laws as contemplated under Section 44 of the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963. The Court said incessant interference from the L-G would amount to running a “parallel government.”
- An appeal was filed by Union of India against the decision of Single Bench before a Division Bench of Madras High Court.
- The Division Bench has overruled the earlier ruling of Single Bench of Madras High Court and has asked Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry to work in unison and not in division.
- Constitution (Fourteenth Amendment) Act, 1962 added Article 239A to the Indian Constitution which provides that Parliament may by law create Legislature having Council of Ministers for the UT of Puducherry.
- Accordingly Parliament enacted the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963.
- Section 44 of the Act – Council of Minister – There shall be a Council of Ministers in each Union territory with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Administrator in the exercise of his functions who shall act in his/her discretion only in so far as any special responsibilities were concerned.
- However, the Act does not specify the ‘special responsibilities’ in relation to which the L-G could apply his/her discretion.
Single Bench Judgment of Madras High Court - 2019
- The Central government as well as the Administrator should be true to the concept of democratic principles. Otherwise, the constitutional scheme of the country of being democratic and republic would be defeated.
- The Court said that Article 239AA imposes several restrictions on the legislature of Delhi as they cannot legislate on some of the entries in State List - Public Order (Entry 1), Police (Entry 2), and Land (Entry 18). However no such restrictions have been imposed explicitly in the case of Puducherry under Article 239A.
- So, on the basis of difference in law making power of legislatures of Delhi and Puducherry, the Court held that Legislature of Puducherry is supreme and above the Administrator of Puducherry.
- Thus, on this basis, the Court held that Government Secretaries of the Puducherry administration were required to report to the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister on all official matters.
- The secretaries were accordingly not empowered to issue orders on their own or upon the instructions of the Administrator of Puducherry.
- The Court disapproved of the present practice where officials being part of social media groups were taking administrative instruction from Administrator for redressing public grievances. As per the rules, officials are bound to use only authorised medium of communication when it came to issues related to administration.
- The Court while mentioning about Section 44 (Council of Minister) of Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 said that it is the bounden duty of the Administrator and the Council of Ministers to avoid logjam and facilitate the smooth functioning of the government in public interest, leaving the political differences apart.
Madras HC - Division Bench Judgment - 2020
- Puducherry Legislature not equal to State - The court noted that the Union Territory of Puducherry and its legislature as well as its system of governance is distinct. It therefore cannot be given an equivalent status that of a state through a judicial verdict given its present Constitutional and legal structure.
- Act in Unison - The popularly elected government is expected to be headed by the Chief Minister and the Administrator/Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry shall work in unison and not in division as their role is intertwined.
- UT Legislature created under Law and not by Constitution - State legislatures were a creation of the Constitution, whereas the Union Territory legislatures were created under a law, such as the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963, made by Parliament. The primary responsible role of the governance has to be executed by the Council of Ministers who are under an obligation to submit the same before the Administrator through the Chief Minister.
- Authority of Administrator - The Administrator thereupon has the authority to revisit the matter and in case of adverse opinion and may send for reconsideration to the Council of Ministers. Further the Administrator can call for any information from the Chief Minister on proposals for legislation or other information. Thus, the channelisation of the process of governance is therefore through the Administrator.
- Difference in opinion to be resolved by Centre - If the Administrator has a difference of opinion it has to be resolved by referring to the Central Government whereupon the decision of the President of India shall be acted upon. A draft bill can be referred by the Administrator prior to its introduction in the legislative assembly.
- Home Ministry exercises Referral Power - The Central Government through the Home Ministry under orders of the President of India exercises a referral role to umpire a decision in the event the Administrator makes a reference.
UPSC Current Affairs: Effecting a social rise, starting a political experiment | Page - 6
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance| Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Scheduled Caste| Article 341 | Central List| UPSC
Context: Government of India tabled THE CONSTITUTION (SCHEDULED CASTES) ORDER (AMENDMENT) BILL 2021 that seeks to give effect to a long-standing political demand to group seven Scheduled Caste sub-sects in Tamil Nadu under the heritage name ‘Devendrakula Velalar’ (DKV). The 2021 Order amends the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950. In its statements of objects and reasons, The CONSTITUTION (SCHEDULED CASTES) ORDER (AMENDMENT) BILL 2021 highlights that the Orders have been amended by Acts of Parliament enacted under clause (2) of article 341 of the Constitution.
- Presidential Order for SC - Article 341 – With respect to State and Union Territories, the President after consulting with the Governor, through public notification specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union territory. Under Article 341(2) of the Indian Constitution, Parliament is empowered to confer status of Scheduled Caste notified through a Presidential List.
Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.
Presidential Order for ST - Article 342 - With respect to State and Union Territories, the President after consulting with the Governor, through public notification specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union territory. Similarly under Article 342(2), Parliament is empowered to confer status of Scheduled Tribe notified through a Presidential List.
UPSC Current Affairs: Metroman’ Sreedharan set to join BJP, may contest poll | Page–1
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Current events of national importance| Mains: GS Paper IV – Civil Service Values
Sub Theme: Contributions of Metroman in Public Life | Public Service | UPSC
Elattuvalapil Sreedharan is an Indian engineer, popularly known as the Metro Man, who is credited with changing the face of public transport in India with his leadership in building the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro while he served as the managing director of Delhi Metro Rail corporation DMRC between 1995 and 2012.
He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2001, the Padma Vibhushan in 2008, the Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 2005 by the French government and was named one of Asia's Heroes by TIME magazine in 2003.
Sreedharan was appointed by the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to serve on the United Nations's High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport (HLAG-ST) for a period of three years in 2015. He is also a member of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.
Sreedharan and T. N. Seshan were classmates at BEM High School and Victoria College in Palakkad. Both of them were selected for Engineering in JNTU Kakinada, a university in a port town in Andhra Pradesh, however, E. Sreedharan decided to pursue it, while T. N. Seshan decided to join Madras Christian College (MCC).
- Pamban Bridge: In December 1964, a cyclone washed away parts of Pamban Bridge that connected Rameswaram to mainland Tamil Nadu. The Railways set a target of six months for the bridge to be repaired while Sreedharan's boss, under whose jurisdiction the bridge came, reduced it to three months. Sreedharan was put in-charge of the execution and he restored the bridge in just 46 days. The Railway minister's Award was given to him in recognition of this achievement.
- Kolkata Metro:In 1970, as the deputy chief engineer, he was put in charge of the implementation, planning and design of the Calcutta metro, the first ever metro in India. Sreedharan not only completed this much heralded project but also laid down the foundation of modern infrastructure engineering in India. He was taken off this post in 1975.
- Cochin Shipyard Limited:When Sreedharan joined the Cochin Shipyard in October 1979,it was undergoing a phase of unproductivity. The production of its first ship MV Rani Padmini had been delayed for a long period. When Sreedharan took over, he turned the fortunes of the shipyard around and made sure its first ship was built while he was its chairman and managing director (CMD). In 1981, under Sreedharan's leadership, the shipyard launched its first ship, the MV Rani Padmini.
- Konkan Railways: He was promoted as general manager, Western Railway in July 1987, and in July 1989 elevated to the post of Member Engineering, Railway Board and ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India. On his retirement in June 1990, the Government made it clear it still needed his services and he was appointed the CMD of Konkan Railway on contract in 1990 by the then railway minister, George Fernandes. Under his stewardship, the company executed its mandate in seven years. The project was unique in many respects. It was the first major project in India to be undertaken on a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) basis; the organisation structure was different from that of a typical Indian Railway set-up; the project had 93 tunnels along a length of 82 km and involved tunnelling through soft soil. The total project covered 760 km and had over 150 bridges. That a public sector project could be completed without significant cost and time overruns was considered an achievement by many.
- Delhi Metro: He was made the managing director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation by then Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma and by mid 1997 all the scheduled sections were completed by their target date or before, and within their respective budgets. Sreedharan was given the sobriquet of Metro Man by the media for his grand success in executing the completion of the Delhi Metro. His stint in the Delhi Metro has been considered so successful and crucial to India that in 2005, he was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by the government of France, and the Padma Vibhushan by the government of India in 2008. There were also demands by prominent political figures that Sreedharan be awarded the Bharat Ratna, the most prestigious civilian award in India.He was particularly known for isolating his projects from political pressures and influences and winning political commitments for fast execution of projects.He had announced that he would retire by the end of 2005, but his tenure was further extended to oversee the completion of the second phase of Delhi Metro. After 16 years of service with the Delhi Metro, Sreedharan retired from service on 31 December 2011.
UPSC Current Affairs: AQI expected to be ‘very poor’ today | Page–2
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Prelims: Environment | Mains – GS Paper III – Environment & Ecology
Sub Theme: Air Quality Index | CPCB | AQI Category | UPSC
Air Quality Index is a tool for effective communication of air quality status to people in terms, which are easy to understand. It transforms complex air quality data of various pollutants into a single number (index value), nomenclature and colour.
There are six AQI categories, namely Good + Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe. Each of these categories is decided based on ambient concentration values of air pollutants and their likely health impacts (known as health breakpoints). AQ sub-index and health breakpoints are evolved for eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term (upto 24-hours) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.
Based on the measured ambient concentrations of a pollutant, sub-index is calculated, which is a linear function of concentration (e.g. the sub-index for PM2.5 will be 51 at concentration 31 µg/m3, 100 at concentration 60 µg/m3, and 75 at concentration of 45
µg/m3). The worst sub-index determines the overall AQI. AQI categories and health breakpoints for the eight pollutants are as follow: