19 July, 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- Midday Meal Scheme's Correlation to Stunting: Report (Social Justice)
- Challenges - LPG Reforms (Economy)
- Common Service Centres & BharatNet (Govt. Policy)
- Significance of Afghan Stability for Central Asia (International Relations)
- Question for the Day
UPSC Current Affairs: MID-MAY MEAL CORRELATION TO STUNTING: REPORT | Page – 01
UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper II, III- Indian economy and governance
Sub Theme: social security and hunger | UPSC
Context: A study published in journal Nature Communications titled 'Intergenerational nutrition benefits of India’s National School Feeding Program’ has used nationally representative data on mothers and their children from 1993 to 2016 to assess whether mid-day meals support intergenerational improvements in a child’s linear growth. The study highlights that girls who received free food in primary schools as part of the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) programme, were found to give birth to children who have better growth.
- Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
- A stunted child is too short for their age, does not fully develop and stunting reflects chronic under-nutrition during the most critical periods of growth and development in early life.
- Stunting is defined as the percentage of children, aged 0 to 59 months, whose height for age is below minus two standard deviations (moderate and severe stunting) and minus three standard deviations (severe stunting) from the median of the WHO Child Growth Standards.
About the Report
- The Report has used seven population level datasets spanning 1993 to 2016, including multiple rounds of National Sample Surveys of Consumer Expenditure (NSS-CES), National Family Household Surveys (NFHS), and India Human Development Surveys (IHDS).
- The study has been co-authored by University of Washington’s Suman Chakrabarti and International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI’s) Samuel Scott, Harold Alderman, Purnima Menon and Daniel Gilligan.
About Midday Meal Scheme
- Centrally Sponsored Scheme (August 1995) - With a view to enhancing enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving nutritional levels among children, the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on 15th August 1995.
- Extension of Scheme to Upper-Primary Class (October 2007) - the Scheme was extended to cover children of upper primary classes (i.e. class VI to VIII) studying in 3,479 Educationally Backwards Blocks (EBBs) and the name of the Scheme was changed from ‘National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education’ to ‘National Programme of Mid Day Meal in Schools’.
- Extension of Scheme to EGS & AIE Centres - From 1st April, 2008, the programme covered all children studying in Government, Local Body and Government-aided primary and upper primary schools and the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) centres including Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) of all areas across the country.
· The Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Non Formal Education (NFE) was introduced in 1979-80 on a pilot basis with a view to support the formal system in providing education to all children upto the age of 14 years as enunciated in the Directive Principles of the Constitution. NFE became an important component of the overall strategy for achievement of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE).
· However, The Education Guarantee Scheme and Alternative and Innovative Education (EGS & AIE) was evolved because of shortcomings of the NFE scheme in terms of very low investments, poor community involvement, problems in release of funds and several quality issues in education
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is Government of India's flagship programme for achievement of Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner, as mandated by 86th amendment to the Constitution of India making free and compulsory Education to the Children of 6-14 years age group, a Fundamental Right.
- Nutritional Norms –
Grams of Proteins
This energy and protein requirement for a primary child comes from cooking 100 g of rice/flour, 20 g pulses and 50 g vegetables and 5 g oil, and for an upper primary child it comes from 150 g of rice/flour, 30 g of pulses and 75 g of vegetables and 7.5 g of oil.
MDM has helped over the years to
- Avoid hunger & malnutrition
- Increase enrollment in schools
- Improve school attendance
- Improve mixing of students from different castes/religions
- Improve girl education & health
Highlights of the Report
- Correlation of Stunting & MDM Exposure – The Report highlights - Height-for-Age Z-score (HAZ) - among children born to mothers with full MDM exposure was greater (+0.40 SD) than that in children born to non-exposed mothers. Associations were stronger in low socio-economic strata and likely work through women’s education, fertility, and health service utilization. MDM was associated with 13–32% of the HAZ improvement in India from 2006 to 2016.
- Poor Beginnings - Due to institutional challenges, only a few states scaled up the program immediately. NSS-CES data from 1999 show that only 6% of all girls aged 6–10 years received mid-day meals in school.
- Supreme Court intervention - Between 1999 and 2004, program coverage increased in many states, largely due to an order from the Supreme Court of India directing state governments to provide cooked mid-day meals in primary schools.
- Coverage for Girls & Boys - In 2004, 32% of Indian girls aged 6–10 years were covered by the program. Finally, following a substantial increase in the budget allocation for the program in 2006, by 2011, 46% of girls aged 6–10 years benefited from the program. Coverage among boys was similar throughout this period.
- State Variability in MDM Rollout - NSS-CES data show that substantial state variability in MDM rollout existed even ten years after the central mandate.
- Stunting was lower in states having high MDM Coverage - Empirical exploration of the intergenerational benefits of the MDM scheme was motivated by the observation that stunting prevalence was lower among children aged 0–5 years in 2016 in states where MDM coverage was higher in 2005. The ability of historical MDM coverage to predict the prevalence of stunting in 2016 suggests that a mother’s exposure to the program during primary school may have future returns for her children.
- HAZ correlations with Socio-economic status & MDM Coverage - HAZ in children also increased with later mother’s birth year and was higher in non-poor households compared to poor households.
- Impact of Migration - Since the study measure MDM exposure at the state level in the past and associate it with child nutrition in the future, attribution of the estimated role of MDM exposure would be weakened in the presence of substantial migration across states. A recent study allays this concern by providing estimates on migration in India.
UPSC Current Affairs: CHALLENGES - LPG REFORMS I Page 07
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS III: Economic reforms
Theme: LPG reforms | UPSC
July 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the LPG Reforms. The LPG reforms have brought about a fundamental change in the nature of Indian Economy. It has led to decrease in Government's control and monopoly and higher role for the private sector. So, far, the LPG reforms has been a mixed bag for India. On one hand, the GDP size of India has increased from $275 bn to $ 2.9 trillion. However, on the other hand, the increased in GDP size has not been accompanied by transformative changes in the Indian Economy.
So, from the perspective of UPSC Mains exam, one needs to be aware about various aspects of LPG such as Rationale, Benefits and Challenges etc. In our DNS dated 01-July-2020, we had discussed some of the aspects of LPG.
Taking this forward, let us understand about the challenges with the LPG reforms in India.
Agricultural Development: The average growth rate of Indian agriculture is below the targeted growth rate of 4% and is way below the double-digit growth rate of the service sector. In spite of being the one of the largest producers of food grains, India's share in global export of agricultural commodities has remained stagnant at 2% (9th Rank). Similarly, the import of cheaper agricultural commodities has adversely affected the income levels of the farmers. This clearly shows that the farmers in India have not able to get benefitted from LPG reforms.
Stagnation in Manufacturing sector: The share of manufacturing sector to India's GDP has remained stagnant at 16-17% since 1991 reforms. Instead of focussing on labour intensive industries, the manufacturing sector has come to be dominated by capital intensive Industries. The failure of the LPG reforms to promote manufacturing sector is considered to be the biggest loss for the Indian Economy.
Jobless Growth: The employment elasticity is hardly around 0.1 which means every 1% increase in GDP growth rate leads to 0.1% increase in employment creation. Apart from low quantity of jobs, concerns have also been raised with respect to poor quality of jobs. 90% of India's workforce is employed in informal sector which is characterised by low wages, poor productivity and lack of access to social security benefits. Hence, there is a need to create high-paying, high-productivity formal sector jobs.
Lack of Inclusive Growth: India has failed to prevent concentration of wealth and provide for equitable distribution of income. For instance, as per Credit Suisse, 1% of the wealthiest in India have increased their share in wealth from 40% in 2010 to 60% in the last five years. The richest 10% in India own more than 4 times the wealth than the remaining 90%. Going forward, richest 10% in India would take away the majority share of $ 5 trillion economy.
Provision of basic services: The Government has failed to allocate sufficient financial resources for provision of basic goods and services. For instance, India's expenditure of 3% on education is much below the target of 6%. Similarly, expenditure on health has remained quite lower at 1.5% as against the mandated 3%.
Balanced Regional Development: The private sector investment tends to get concentrated in the already well-developed states and regions. This in turn leads to disparity in the development across the states and within states in India. Some of the states such as Maharashtra, TN, Punjab etc. have made rapid progress. However, the states in the North East and Eastern India continue to have lower growth rates. Similarly, even within the states, there are certain pockets of underdeveloped regions such as Vidarbha (Maharashtra), Saurashtra (Gujarat), Hyd-Kar region (Karnataka) etc.
Concerns with India's External Sector:
- India's share in the world's exports has remained stagnant at 1.6% in the last decade.
- India is still critically dependent on import of critical goods such as Pulses, Oilseeds, Electronic Goods, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) etc. which shows lack of self-sufficiency of Indian Economy.
- Imports into India is much higher than exports. This usually leads to Current Account deficit.
- India's export basket is dominated by Capital intensive goods such as Petroleum products, Gems, Jewelry etc. (rather than Labor intensive goods such as Textiles, Leather etc.)
- Undoubtedly, the forex reserves have increased to all time high. However, it is mainly on account of increase in volatile FPI inflows rather than on account of export surplus.
- Unlike China, India has failed to get integrated into Global value chains (GVCs).
Poor Innovation Ecosystem: The R&D Expenditure as % of GDP at 0.7% has remained stagnant in the last 2 decades. Unlike developed economies, the R&D expenditure in India is mainly driven by public sector. The private sector investment in R&D needs to be substantially enhanced.
UPSC Current Affairs: COMMON SERVICE CENTRES I Page 09
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II, III: Governance, Government measures.
Sub Theme: E-governance| UPSC
About Common Service Centres (CSC) Scheme
- Common Service Centres (CSC) Scheme is one of the mission mode projects under Digital India Programme.
- CSCs are the access points for delivery of essential public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services.
- The CSCs provide high quality and cost-effective video, voice and data content and services, in the areas of e-governance, education, health, telemedicine, entertainment as well as other private services.
- A highlight of the CSCs is that it offers web-enabled e-governance services in rural areas, including application forms, certificates, and utility payments such as electricity, telephone and water bills.
- Thus, CSC is a pan-India network catering to regional, geographic, linguistic and cultural diversity of India thereby ensuring social, financial and digitally inclusive society.
- CSC has been set up under Ministry of Electronics & IT.
- The PPP model of the CSC scheme envisages a 3-tier structure consisting of the CSC operator (called Village Level Entrepreneur or VLE); the Service Centre Agency (SCA), that will be responsible for a division of 500-1000 CSCs; and a State Designated Agency (SDA) identified by the State Government responsible for managing the implementation in the entire State.
Digital India Campaign
- The Government of India launched the Digital India campaign to ensure that the services of the Government are made available electronically to all citizens.
- This objective is achieved by strengthening online infrastructure and improving internet connectivity or to make India digitally empowered in the field of technology.
- Digital India campaign was launched in 2015 to ensure that government services are made available to citizens electronically by
- improved online infrastructure,
- by increasing internet connectivity,
- by making the country digitally improved in the field of technology.
- The initiative includes plans to connect rural areas with high speed internet networks.
- Digital India consists of three Core Components –
- Developments of secure and stable infrastructure,
- Delivering Digitally, &
- ensuring Universal Digital Living
Results which Digital India (DI) Aims to Achieve
- Since DI focuses on a tech-enabled societal transformation, the overarching mission works in-tandem with multiple departments under several ministries; each individual program stands on its own, but also is part of the larger vision. DI efforts are laid down to achieve results in two key focus areas:
- Governance and services on demand – DI aims to integrate processes and information across departments and jurisdictions seamlessly so to help provide real-time services to citizens both – on online and mobile platforms, digitally enable processes for businesses, creating a digitally enabled cashless economy and creating cloud-based repository for easy access for the citizens as well as better planning and decision-making with the help of GIS.
- Digital empowerment of citizens – Provide digital literacy and digital services to all citizens through universally accessible digital resources and services in several Indian languages and introduction of collaborative digital platforms, availability of all documents and certificates online and availability of all entitlements through cloud.
UPSC Current Affairs: SIGNIFICANCE OF AFGHAN STABILITY IN CENTRAL ASIA I Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains and Prelims: Indian Relations
Sub Theme: India-Afghan relations | UPSC
After the U.S. and NATO completed their pullout from the Bagram air base, and most other key locations, the Taliban have been making advances to return to power, through sheer violence. In this context, the Contact group on Afghanistan of SCO Foreign Ministers not only condemned the violence but cautioned against any forceful capture of power in Afghanistan. A recent Central and South Asia connectivity conference in Tashkent also expressed similar concerns.
Significance of Afghan stability to central Asia:
- Afghanistan has been an important link in the regional trade, cultural, playing the role of a connecting bridge for Central and South Asia
- Harnessing Afghanistan’s transit and infrastructure potential will provide the Central Asian countries with the shortest access to the seaports of Indian ocean
- Instability in Afghanistan can spill over to Neighbouring central Asian countries like Tajikistan, Turkmenistan etc.
- Civil war in Afghanistan will lead to refugee crisis in Central Asia and South Asia.
- Taliban resurgence will revive extremism in the region and the region can become a safe sanctuary for ISIS, Let etc.
So, Afghanistan should be given enough space in Central Asian architectures like SCO (Shanghai cooperation organisation). At present Afghanistan has observer status in SCO. Full membership for Afghanistan in SCO will create consensus among regional powers over Afghan question and it fills the vacancy created by withdrawal of US.