Additional funding to MGNREGA
GS 2: Poverty
Government Policies & Interventions
- The Centre has sought ₹25,000 crore as additional funding for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme as part of the supplementary demand for grants submitted to Parliament, after the demand-driven rural jobs scheme ran out of funds midway through the year.
- Overall, ₹3.73 lakh crore of additional funding is planned for the current financial year, with an equity infusion into Air India Assets Holding Company, additional fertiliser subsidy, food storage and warehousing, and payment of pending export incentives being the big ticket items accounting for three-fourths of the total.
- The additional budget for MGNREGA was among the most keenly awaited, as pending payments for wages and materials have threatened to cripple implementation of the scheme.
- Continuing economic distress in rural India has led to increased demand for jobs under the scheme, which promises 100 days of unskilled work for every household at a pay of about ₹210 per day.
- With four months remaining in the financial year, MGNREGA has finished spending the ₹73,000 crore initially allocated in the budget, and its financial statement now shows a negative net balance of ₹10,244 crore, including payments due.
- Last year, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing lockdowns and widespread unemployment, MGNREGA, with a revised budget of ₹1.1 lakh crore, acted as a lifeline for the rural economy.
- This year, the Centre seeks to transfer ₹25,000 crore to the National Employment Guarantee Fund, and the supplementary demand for grants entails an additional cash out-go of almost ₹22,039 crore for the scheme.
- The additional fertiliser subsidy includes ₹43,430 crore for the phosphatic and potassic subsidy and ₹15,000 crore towards the urea subsidy scheme.
- The Food Ministry has also sought an additional ₹49,805 crore for food storage and warehousing schemes. ₹53,123 crore will go towards payment of pending export incentives.
GS 2: Welfare schemes
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development has spent over ₹1,000 crore on its Poshan or Nutrition Tracker, which records real-time data on malnourished and ‘severe acute malnourished’ children in each anganwadi. But four years since its launch, the Government is yet to make the data public.
- The Government has spent ₹1,053 crore on the Poshan Tracker or Information Communication Technology-Real Time Monitoring as on March 31, 2021, the Ministry of Women and Child Development told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports.
- Of the total, ₹600 crore was spent on procurement of smartphones; followed by ₹203.96 crore on smartphone recharge and maintenance; ₹180.68 crore on incentives to anganwadi workers and helpers for using the technology; and ₹68 crore on training.
- The NFHS is a sample survey conducted across 6.3 lakh households in two phases — from June 2019 to January 2020, and January 2020 to April 2021.
- The Poshan Tracker gives the Ministry daily data from 12.3 lakh anganwadi centres, with 9.8 lakh beneficiaries, including children, in the age of six months to six years, as well as pregnant women and lactating mothers.
- With the help of their mobile phones, anganwadi workers log into the Poshan Tracker mobile application and input data such as the height or weight of a child, which when tracked over a period of time indicates whether the child is growing appropriately for his or her age or is stunted, wasted or under-weight.
- Other services recorded include the vaccination status of the child; the nutrition status of pregnant women and lactating mothers; whether an anganwadi was opened on a particular day; how many children attended the anganwadi; how many received take-home rations and hot cooked meals, among others.
- It triggers alerts for beneficiaries and service providers, and provides a dashboard to enable officials from the Centre to district level to review progress.
- The Poshan Tracker, known as the ICDS-CAS (Integrated Child Development Services-Common Application Software) in its earlier avatar, was set up with the aim of tracking and improving various services delivered at anganwadis and to ensure nutritional management of beneficiaries.
- This real-time monitoring system is one of the key pillars of Poshan Abhiyan or Nutrition Mission approved by the Union Cabinet in November 2017 with a financial outlay of ₹9,000 crore for three years.
- Yet this important data is not available in the public domain, unlike the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act) data or the Health Management Information System (HMIS) of the Ministry of Health for monitoring of the National Health Mission and other health-related programmes.
- On its Poshan Tracker website, the government hosts a dashboard which provides only administrative details at the national, State and district level.
- This includes total attendance, vaccinations, take-home ration delivered and hot cooked meals served for the past one month, past seven days, and today.
- It neither allows an analysis of these services over a period of time nor does it share critical information — such as nutrition status of the beneficiaries — that researchers, economists and activists are most interested in.
- While Poshan Tracker records real-time data, surveys such as NFHS come out once in few years, and there is a lag between when the data is collected and when the report is released.
- Poshan Tracker data needs to be in the public domain as it is built from public money and involves public data. Its availability will improve transparency and accountability.
GS 1: History of India
- The Centre said the Paika rebellion cannot be called the first War of Independence. Since 2017, Odisha has demanded that the rebellion of Odisha be declared as the first war of Independence. At present, the Indian Mutiny or Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 is called the first war of Independence against British Rule.
- The Paika Bidroha (Paika Rebellion) of 1817 took place nearly 40 years before the first sepoy mutiny.
- The Paikas were peasant militas of the Gajapati rulers of Odisha who offered military services to the king.
- The British established themselves in Odisha when the East India Company dethroned the King of Khurda, Raja Mukunda Deva in 1803.
- The following year, in 1804, the king planned a rebellion against the British and roped in the Paikas for the same. But the plan was discovered by the British who confiscated his entire territory.
- The Paikas lost their estates when the new colonial establishments and land revenue settlements of the British came into force.
- The continuous interference in the economy and revenue systems led to exploitation and oppression of the peasants and farmers eventually triggering a rebellion against the British.
- A large number of Paikas were mobilised under the leadership of Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar, who then confronted the British on April 2, 1817.
- A 400-strong party of Kandhas crossed over into Khurda from Ghumsur and declared rebellion.
- The uprising spread like a wildfire across the state resulting in several confrontations and encounters between the British and the Paika forces.
- Government buildings in Banapur were set on fire, policemen killed and the British treasury looted. Over the next few months, the revolt continued but was eventually overpowered by the British army. Bidyadhar was imprisoned in 1825 and died while still in jail four years later.
- The result of the Rebellion was disheartening as the rebels involved were awarded sentences of death, long-term imprisonment.
- A commission was appointed by the British officials to enquire into the rebellion. There were severe uprisings post this Paika rebellion initiated by people from Kandha & Koi region. The major issue that prevailed post the Paika rebellion was the revenue policy which didn’t undergo any change.
- The rebellion projected Lord Jagannath as the symbol of Odiya unity. Though this was a bloody rebellion prior to the famous Revolt of 1857 that challenged British Supremacy in India, it did not gain much popularity.
Global Gateway Plan
GS 2: International Relations
- Brussels has announced plans named Global Gateway Plan to raise up to €300 billion to counter China’s infrastructure spending around the world.
- The money will help poorer countries build highways, pipelines and broadband networks.
- The move is a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BIR), a massive collection of infrastructure projects across the globe that has served to fortify Beijing’s foreign policy and soft power.
- The European enterprise is meant to bring in the necessary investment to manage worldwide challenges, such as the fight against climate change and the security of supply chains. The scheme promises to promote high social, environmental, fiscal and labour standards.
- The G7 commission, earlier this year, acknowledged the trans-Atlantic roots of the plan on its website, noting, “Initiatives such as the Build Back Better World and Global Gateway will mutually reinforce each other”.
- Projects had to be of high quality, with a high level of transparency and good governance and had to deliver tangible results for the countries involved.
- The money to be made available will not come from EU and member state coffers, and the plan will need funding from international institutions and from the private sector if it is to get anywhere near its target.
- The EU strategy is an offshoot of a plan by G7 countries (Build Back Better Programme) to offer developing countries an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative.
- To strengthen Europe’s supply chains, boost EU trade and help fight climate change, focusing on digitalisation, health, climate and energy and transport sectors, as well as education and research.
- To mobilize the fund between 2021 and 2027 by joining the resources of the E.U., member states, European financial institutions and national development finance institutions.