Tuesday, September 25, 2012


The government has initiated, sustained, and refined many programs since independence to help the rural poor. In order to minimize unemployment in rural areas, the government of India launched a number of programmes and schemes from time to time but they did not achieve the desired quantum and became ineffective. India has had a number of antipoverty programs since the early 1960s. These include the ‘National Rural Employment Programme’ and the ‘Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Program’. The National Rural Employment programme evolved in 1980 from the earlier ‘Food for work Programme’ to use unemployment and underemployed workers to build productive community assets. The rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme was instituted in 1983 to address the plight of the hard-core rural poor by expanding employment opportunities and building the rural infrastructure as a means of encouraging rapid economic growth. To improve the effectiveness of the National Rural Employment Programme, in 1989 it was combined with the ‘Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme” and renamed it as ‘Jawahar Rozgar Yojana’. The Ministry of Rural Development has been implementing various programmes in the rural areas for which it releases central funds for policy formulation, overall guidance, monitoring and evaluation.

Employment is the primary requirement for prosperous villages. Poverty and unemployment are inter related and form a vicious circle. Villages are unable to break it. Population employment discontent and violence is on the rise, playing havoc in the villages. The remedies are being applies half-heartedly as if concealing the wound with beautiful cover might heal it or catchy slogans might solve the problems. Right from the days of community development, this process is going on and the results are obvious. People are migrating from villages and there is no space left in cities. Villages are disintegrating and cities are turning into slums. It is implement remedial measures with determination and commitment.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA):

MGNREGA makes the government legally accountable for providing employment to those who ask for it and thereby goes beyond providing a social safety net towards guaranteeing the Rights to Employment. A very significant feature of this Act is that if a worker who has applied for work under MGNREGA is not provided employment within 15 days from the date on which work is requested, an unemployment allowance shall be payable by the State Government at the rate prescribe in the Act. MGNREGA is a unique weapon to activate and empower the Panchayats. It is a revolutionary step for India’s rural poor. It aims to identity the development activities. It lays the solution of the crux of the problem of long term employment opportunities. It has prevented distress migration and helped in empowerment of rural women. Moreover it is an integral part of rural development plan.

Progress of MGNREGA during the year 2006-07 to 2011-12

The Act was notified in 200 districts in the first phase with effect from February 2nd 2006 and then extended to additional 130 district in the financial year 2007-2008(113 districts were notified with effects from April 1st 2007, and 17 districts in UP were notified with effects from May 15th 2007). The remaining districts have been notified under the MGNREGA with effects from April 1, 2008 covering 34 States and Union Territories, 614 Districts, 6,096 Blocks and 2,65 lakhs Gram Panchayats. Thus MGNREGA covers the entire country with the exception of districts that have a hundred percent urban population.

Budget Allocation:

The pioneering programme saw its budget outlay increase from Rs.11,300 crore to Rs.40,100. The scheme experienced a negative increment in the budget allocation from Rs. 40,100 crore in 2010-11 to Rs. 40,000 crore in 2011-12.

Job Cards:

The MGNREGA makes it mandatory for jobseekers to have a job card, for which the rural people have to apply to the Panchayat. The Panchayat are required to provide applicants with job cards within 15 days. Having a job card is the first step to demand employment and claim wages or unemployment allowance if job is not provided within the stipulated time frame. Job Card is the most important instrument that can ensure that the workers are not being cheated on their entitlements. Government issued job-cards to the households under MGNREGA. The cumulative figures of the job-cards issued 3.79 crore of job cards. After that the figures increased up to 12.33 crores in the year 2011-12. A percentage indeed shows the growth from 100 points to 323.02 points during the six years.

Demand and Employment:

One of the most important aspects of MGNREGA is that the villagers can rightfully demand employment. The Act guarantees provision of at least 100 days of employment to each households that have been provided with 100 days of employment is an important indicator for assessing the progress of MGNREGA. The Government is bound to provide employment in response to the demand or provide unemployment allowance in case it is unable to do so. In order to understand the effectiveness of the Act, it is essential to look at the response of the Government in providing employment against the demand raised by the workers. From the data available available, the national scenario reveals that, 99 percent people who have applied for jobs have got employment under MGNREGA.
During the year 2009-10 the performance of the scheme in demand and supply was recorded 99.37 percent achievements.

Employment Generation:

Of the total person days generated, women constitute more than 40 percent . The scheduled caste families have been provided with 30 percent and the scheduled tribe families with 20 percent persons days of work. The following Table No. 05 shows the data about employment generation (mandays) under the MGNREGA.
the scheme has benefited to S.C ., S.T physically disabled persons and women In the year 2006-07; 9,050.54 lakh man may was generated was continually increased up to 28,359.57 lakh man days up to the year 2009-10 and thereafter it was seen up to 16,055.17 lakh man days in the year 2011-12 . Out of total man days was generated under the programmes the share of women was 40.63 percent in the year 2011-12. The average share of women in total person days was 46 percent during the study period. It is the big achievement of scheme for rural woman empowerment.

Available funds and its Utilization:

The Utilization of resource available with the state government is also an important indicator to measure the success of the state in implementing the Act. The states that are able to utilize more resources reflect that on an average, they have been able to produce more person days of work and create more infrastructures in the villages. The national average during the five years for utilization of NREGA resources is merely 77.64 percent. One major, and indeed unique, programme for poverty alleviation through employment generation and asset creation and which has elicited world-wide attention, is the Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act. It is based on the genius of using public works to play the role of a safety net by providing stabilization benefit to the rural poor women who lack skills of any kind except perhaps possess physical stamina. It has enabled the deployment of labour of the poor to build infrastructure for development. Its preponderant and immediate benefit every year, especially during times of distress due to droughts, is the effects of enabling the poor to handle the risk of decrease in consumption.


The Need of New Time Zone to Eastern India.

Compared to the rest of India, the eastern States of West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, the seven north-eastern States and Sikkim lag in almost all the measures of economic growth. Productivity in these States is low, infrastructure poor and employment opportunities meagre. Overall, the perception is that people of eastern India are lazy and unproductive

Many factors play a part in the development of a region — its location, weather conditions, political leadership, availability of raw materials, etc. Eastern India is blessed with an abundance of mineral wealth — 93 per cent of India’s iron ore, 84 per cent of its coal, 100 per cent of its kyanite, 70 per cent of its mica, 20 per cent of its limestone, 10 per cent of its manganese, 80 per cent of its tea and about 15 per cent of its crude oil.

If this be so, why then are the States of eastern India less productive than the rest of India?

Since India has a single time zone, States located to the west of the Indian Standard Time line of longitude (82.5°E) have more daylight hours compared to States located to its east.

To calculate the time difference it is useful to know that 15° of longitude is equivalent to one hour.

Too far ahead

Mumbai’s longitude is 78°82’E, Delhi’s is 76°E and Kolkata’s is 88° 22’E. Hence, Kolkata lags Delhi and Mumbai by about 45 minutes. For cities in northeast India, the time difference with Mumbai or Delhi is even greater. Gangtok’s longitude is 88°0’E and, at the other end, Kohima’s is 94°20’E.

The sun rises and sets in all these States in northeast India at least an hour earlier than the rest of the country.

The seven States in northeast India have many political, ideological and ethnic differences. However, the one thing they all agree on is that the clock there must be advanced by one hour during summer and more during the winter months of October to February

Plus points

Some advantages of advancing the clock would be:

1. Increased productivity: An early start would have more energetic people in the offices.

2. Reduced power consumption: Starting and closing an hour earlier would result in a saving an hour of electricity in offices.

In homes, shops and restaurants about two hours would be saved as people would wake up and go to bed earlier, thus using more of the available daylight hours. A conservative estimate shows that starting the day an hour earlier would result in a saving of about 550 MW of power in northeast India alone.

3. Curbing alcoholism: With five to six “available extra hours” after work and with little else to do most people fall prey to alcoholism.

Revisit decision

The Department of Science & Technology (DST) which examined the feasibility of setting up dual time for India in 2007 turned down a proposal to advance the clock in northeast India by an hour in as it felt it would cause acute administrative challenges.

It is time for the DST to revisit their 2007 decision. The DST should examine the possibility of introducing the new time zone not only for northeast India but for all of eastern India.

The international picture

Singapore is an example of a country that has kept their clock an hour ahead of the standard time longitude.

While Singapore’s longitude is 105°E they have kept their time on 120°E, keeping the country permanently one hour ahead.

This could be one of the reasons for the Singaporean’s greater productivity and prosperity of the island state.

China too follows the longitude of 120°E as their time zone, keeping almost the entire country to the west of their time meridian.

Bangladesh, which is to the west of the northeast States (Dhaka: longitude 90°25’E), keeps its time 30 minutes ahead of India.

In addition, Bangladesh advances its clocks by one hour during the winter months. Thus for five months of the year Bangladesh Standard Time is one-and-a-half hours ahead of India. Could it be this that is helping the country’s steady economic growth?


Since Independence, the States in eastern, especially north-eastern, India have fallen behind the rest of the country and the bedrock of the backwardness is the poor productivity of the people. There are many practical steps to change this and a separate time zone is one.

Source: The HINDU

Relevance of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) after the Cold War Era

Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit that was held in Tehran recently was that almost all of its 120 members gathered there in the face of U.S., allied western nations attempts to pressure and isolate Iran to abandon parts of its nuclear programme.

It is in this context that the decision of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resist U.S. pressure and attend the Summit himself has to be seen. Even though he made no mention of the Iran nuclear issue at the Summit, his very presence was seen as expressing the Indian government’s support for NAM more generally

on the international agenda, the Prime Minister spoke out forthrightly against “external intervention” in the Syrian crisis, which, he said, would “exacerbate the suffering of ordinary citizens.” He added that “NAM should urge all parties to recommit themselves to resolving the crisis peacefully through a Syrian-led inclusive political process.” This was directly in opposition to the U.S. stand and actions on the issue. But NAM could not come out with a clear stand because of many internal differences, especially among the Arab and Islamic nations, and the final declaration made no mention of the issue.

Is NAM still relevant in the post-Cold War world, in an era where the U.S. and its allies are politically, economically and strategically more dominant than ever?

NAM is routinely derided by the western media and policymakers as an irrelevant “relic of the Cold War.” U.S. policymakers have explicitly stated that they would like to see India out of NAM altogether and even abandon the concept of non-alignment in its foreign policy thinking. Alternatively, they would like India to join their alliance of democracies against non-democracies, which in their opinion is the defining agenda in the present global scenario. Another idea is “multi-alignment” — participation in diverse international groupings of nations like G 20, G 77, IBSA, RIC, Brics, Basic, among others, for promoting different interests.

The reasons are not far to seek. Even from its pre-origins in the Bandung Conference of former colonial nations in 1955, NAM has meant much more than not being aligned with the two Cold War blocs. It was also conceived as the voice of the former colonies and poor nations in a world overwhelmingly dominated by the rich western nations. The G 77 which takes up the cause of the developing countries in international fora on economic and development issues was complementary to NAM. Solidarity within NAM provides strength to its member nations. Hence, NAM has that flavour of anti-imperialism associated with its origin and history which the rich and powerful nations would like to see forgotten.

In such a context what should NAM’s role be in Indian foreign policy?

The Prime Minister in his address reaffirmed the continuing relevance of NAM. And he emphasised that NAM was important “to preserve our strategic space.” A recent policy perspective document developed by the a panel of “independent thinkers,” some closely linked to the Indian Government, titled Non-Alignment 2.0: A Foreign and Strategic Policy for India in the Twenty First Century, argues that the objective of non-alignment is to preserve and enhance the nation’s “strategic autonomy.”

Interestingly, the phrases “Non-Aligned Movement” and “G 77” do not find any place in it. Non-alignment has been redefined in exclusively Indian national terms to enhance its independence or sovereignty and provide room for manoeuvre amidst diverse pressures to promote its ambitions and interests.

What has been decisively abandoned is India’s solidarity with the developing countries and the aim of mobilising them on the basis of common interests and agenda. This perspective has become more influential in Indian policy circles especially after the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the initiation domestically of radical economic private sector oriented reforms at the start of the 1990s. However, the founding fathers of NAM saw the two objectives — national independence and the solidarity of developing countries — as profoundly interdependent for the former colonies which were embarking on the path of development in a deeply unequal world.

Can they be separated in an age when there is no communist bloc to provide a countervailing force to the almost complete dominance of the rich and powerful nations?

In recent decades, the Indian government seems to have more faith in the U.N. as a forum to protect its independence and interests. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its communist allies, that institution has almost completely been dominated by the powerful nations. The U.S., long hostile to many of its associated organisations, has been openly sceptical if not downright contemptuous of it, even though its West European allies are keener to work within its framework. Whether in the context of lack of solidarity among the developing nations, the U.N. will be able to provide a check on those powerful nations is doubtful.

Change in perspective

This change over the last quarter century in the Indian perspective on NAM has to be seen in the context of its revised foreign policy agenda being almost exclusively focused on transforming the nation into a great power. The way towards this objective, it is felt, is to start thinking big, join the rich man’s club and enter into friendly relations with the rich and powerful nations for economic, hi-tech and military benefits and a place at the high table where the great powers decide the fate of humankind. Hence, one of its chief priorities is to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Another, to be allowed hegemony in the South Asian region. To advance this agenda, friendship with the most technologically and economically advanced and militarily powerful nation, the United States, is seen as the most promising path.

But India wants to also maintain its “strategic autonomy,” “to preserve our strategic space.” Hence, the continuing ambivalence and shifting stands. India voted against Tehran earlier but has since resisted additional sanctions by the U.S.-led western nations. Also, it tried to resist attempts to restrict its oil purchases from Iran, before ultimately succumbing to U.S. pressure. It has also actively tried to increase its bilateral trade and economic ties and maintain more friendly political relations with Iran.

Even if building better relations with the rich and powerful nations has benefited India in recent decades, abandoning the solidarity with other developing nations within NAM may well end up adversely affecting the nation’s economic, political and strategic interests.

Source:The HINDU

Friday, September 21, 2012


What is the Higgs Boson?

In a quantum leap in physics, scientists have claimed to have spotted a sub-atomic particle ‘’consistent’’ with the Higgs boson or ‘God particle’, believed to be a crucial building block that led to the formation of the universe. On a major milestone I the 50year search for the elusive Higgs, that is believed to have been responsible for leading mass to the particles that eventually formed the stars and the planets after the Big Bang 13.7 billion year ago . The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle’s properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of the Universe.

Joe In candela , the leader of CMS, one of the two teams at the world’s biggest atom smasher , told a packed audience of scientists at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN ) that the data has reached the level of certainty needed for a “ discovery “. But he did not yet confirm that the new particle is indeed the tiny and elusive Higgs boson, which is believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape. A second team of physicists Atlas also claimed they have observed a new particle, probably the elusive Higgs boson but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication.

Why is it called ‘God particle’?

The Standard Model is a hugely successful theory but has several gaps, the biggest of which is why some particles have mass but others do not.

Mooted by Higgs and several others, the boson is believed to exists in a treacly, invisible, ubiquitous field created by the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago. CERN uses a giant laboratory where protons are smashed together at nearly the speed of light, yielding sub- atomic debris that is then scrutinized for signs of the fleeting Higgs. The Higgs has been dubbed the “ God particle “ because it is powerful and everywhere ,yet so hard to find .Over the years , tens of thousands of physicists and billions of dollars have been thrown into the research , gradually narrowing down the mass range where it might exist.

How was it found?

A ‘Higgs boson – like particle ‘ has been discovered at the $10bn Large Hadron Collider , 300 ft underground near Geneva. LHC is designed to accelerate protons to very speeds and then smash them together to create tiny fireballs, recreating conditions that prevailed when the universe was less than a trillionth of second old.

Why is the finding important?

The discovery would confirm the standard Model of physics. Other particles predicted by this theory have already been detected .With the missing Higgs boson now believed to be discovered , scientists can look at other riddles of the cosmos-like the mysterious dark matter and energy, antimatter super symmetry etc with more surety.

What have been the life-altering experiments at CERN?

Medical Imaging

Particle physics experiments at CERN and other labs have paved the way for new medical imaging technologies such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) which has stemmed from general studies of antimatter and the use of particle detectors. Several new imaging techniques are at various stages f commercialization.

Parallel Computing

The million of collisions that take place inside an atom smasher generate tons of data, which requires a great deal of computing power. Parallel processing and grid computing technologies were developed to analyze this data, and later became commercially available.

World Wide Web

The most famous contribution of CERN is the World Wide Web , which was first proposed by Time Berners – lee in 1989. In 1991, it was made available to the community of high –energy physicists via the CERN library and subsequently was freely accessible on the Internet. The idea was to combine PC technologies, information network and the hypertext into one global information system.

Cancer Therapy

In the most recent developments in cancer therapy, accelerators using particles called hadrons have been adopted to improve results of conventional radiotherapy. The advantage of using hadrons is that they deposit all their energy in the same spot, which helps in targeting tumours without harming healthy tissues. Proton therapy is another new form of cancer treatment to selectively target and destroy tumors cells.

Solar Energy

Using ultra-high vacuum technology, CERN has developed and extensively tested a new type of flat panel solar collector. It is suited both for heating and for cooling, and can be used for water desalination, drying crops, and so on. These panels can actually produce electricity with efficiencies similar to those of photovoltaic cells

Source: Yojana

Household Financial Savings in India

Given the strong anecdotal evidence of households shifting their investments away from financial savings instruments, corroboration from official agencies was perhaps not needed.

Household Financial Savings:

Even so, the Reserve Bank of India’s finding that household financial savings fell to 7.8 per cent of the GDP in 2011-12 is a major cause for concern. It is the lowest in 11 years and way below the average of 11 per cent in the three preceding years. Since government savings today are in negative territory and corporate retained earnings are under stress, the fall in household financial savings will have an adverse impact on the government’s efforts at stepping up investment.

Causes Behind the fall in household financial savings:

A number of factors are at play here. Many more individuals are investing in gold and physical assets such as real estate. Gold has always been in demand for making jewellery but its recent track record as an investment asset that delivers high returns that few forms of financial savings can match explains the phenomenal increase in its demand. Gold is more easily available to the ordinary man than ever before.

A large number of banks sell gold. While banks have always lent against gold, a few non-banking finance companies, many from Kerala, have cashed in on the demand and exponentially increased their lending. The RBI, concerned with such rapid growth, has clamped down in a few cases. The other big macroeconomic worry arises from the fact that very large gold imports widen the trade imbalance and the current account deficit.

Policy measures to increase, if not at least retain, financial savings should involve a two pronged approach

1. The lure of gold cannot be countered by clamping down on imports: the trade will simply shift underground. Instead, innovative ways of integrating the bullion and the financial markets must be encouraged. Already, besides gold loans, exchange traded funds in gold have gained acceptance. Commercial banks should be given the wherewithal to offer gold backed deposit schemes of the type offered in important financial centres like Singapore.

2. The other part of the strategy is to make the existing financial savings avenues more attractive to investors. Recently, the SEBI has tried to provide additional incentives to mutual funds and their distributors. The government has sought to popularise the equity cult among small investors with mixed results. Bank deposits continue to account for over 50 per cent of financial savings. But this is hardly an unequivocal endorsement of the most traditional form of savings. An average bank depositor has many valid reasons to complain. Limited tax concessions and the hassles in obtaining tax deduction certificates are just a few.

Source: The HINDU

Monday, September 17, 2012


It is critical to detect and prevent under-nutrition, as early as possible, across the life cycle, to avert irreversible cumulative growth and development deficits that compromise maternal and child health and survival, achievement of optimal learning outcomes in primary education and gender equality. The national plan of action on nutrition will be centered on the following critical facts related to malnutrition

[1] Every fifth child in the world lives in India
[2] 22% babies are born with low birth weight
[3] 42.5% of children 0-5 years are underweight
[4] 53 out of 1000 live births do not complete their first year of life
[5] 79% children (6-35 months) are anemic
[6] Declining female / male ratio in children under -6 yrs – from 945 to 927/1000
[7] 35.6 % women with low BMI.

Nutrition challenges: Some facts

Some nutrition challenges include:

[1] Maternal and child under – nutrition is the underlying cause of more than one third of the mortality of children under five years.
[2] One fifth of maternal mortality can be averted by addressing maternal stunting and iron deficiency anemia.
[3] One fifth of neonatal mortality be prevented by ensuring the universal practice of early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding (around 22% neonatal mortality can be averted by this).
[4] One fifth of child mortality (Under 5 years ) in India can be prevented by ensuring universal exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and appropriate complementary feeding practices after 6 months (along with continued breastfeeding till 2 years and beyond).
[5]Over one in the short term, by available nutrition interventions, implemented at scale.

The Policy Frame work and Key Interventions:

Priorities, process indicator and need for convergent action:

The Eleventh Five year plan positions the development of children at its cent re and recognizes nutrition as critical for ensuring child survival and development. It accords high priority to addressing maternal and child undernutrition through multi and child undernutrition through multi sector interventions by different sectors.
The nutrition status f the population is the outcome of complex and inter-related set of factors and cannot be improved by the efforts of single sector or action alone. The national Plan of action on Nutrition 1995 lays down a systematic framework for collaboration among national government agencies, state government, NGOs , the private sector and the iinternational community. It is a multi-sectrol framework for implementation of the national nutrition goals too be reached by 2000 AD. The multi-sectrol plan states the objectives and tasks of 14 different sector namely, Agriculture, Food ,Civil supplies & public Distribution, Education, Forestry, Maternal & child Health, Food Processing Industries, Health, Information & Broadcasting, Labour , Rural Developmwnt, Urban Development, Welfare, Women & child Development

[1]. National Nutrition Policy (NNP):

The National Nutrition Policy (NNP) 1993 identified key areas of action in various areas like agriculture, food production, food supply, education, information, health care, social justice, tribal welfare, urban development, rural development, labour, women and child development, people with special needs and monitoring and surveillance. The core strategy envisaged under NNP is to tackle the problem of nutrition through direct nutrition interventions for vulnerable groups as well as through various development policy instruments which will improve access and create conditions for improved nutrition. The National plan of Action on Nutrition (NPAN) 1995 laid down the frame work for systematic collaboration among national government ministries / departments, State Government, NGOs, the private sector and the international community. Specific implementation arrangement suggested by NPAN included National Nutrition Council headed by the prime ministers, special working groups in concerned ministries/ departments, committees, Nutrition council etc. at the state and district levels by the State Governments, among others. The interventions to address nutrition challenges in India mainly stem from the National nutrition policy and the National plan of Action o Nutrition and policies of related sector such as health, food and agriculture.

The Government of India has over the past few years, expanded the coverage under a number of programmes, which have the potential to improve the current nutrition security situation of the country . These programmes include the National Rural Heath Mission (NRHM), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, Mid Day Meal Scheme , National Food Security Mission Horticulture Mission, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and the National Rural Drinking Water Programme. The table below discusses the existing government schemes/ interventions listed by life cycle focus area.

Schemes like, National Rural Health Mission (2005-06), National Horticulture Mission(2005-06), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (2005-2006), Janani Suraksha Yojana (2006-07) , Total sanitation Campaign , Mid Day Meal (2008-09), Integrated child Development services (ICDS) scheme (2008-09) and National Rural Livelihood Mission (2010-11) have been expanded / universalized in the recent past, and hence better result could be awaited in the years to come . All these schemes address one or the other aspect of nutrition.

While the ICDS scheme continues to cater to the supplementary nutritional needs of children below six years and pregnant and lactating mothers, and the Mid-day Meal scheme take care of the school going children (6-14 years ) ,
the recently introduced

Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG), namely , SABLA would provide a package of services including health and nutrition to adolescent girls in the age group of 11-14 years for out of school girls and 15-18 years for all girls for nutrition in 200 districts as a pilot. Additionally, a new scheme, the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY)- The CMB Scheme would provide a better enabling environment for improved health and nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers and support for providing early & exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life on pilot basis in 52 districts initially. In order to address the India’s nutrition challenges every State Government and UT Administration has a crucial role to play. The National Nutrition Policy 1993 and the National plan of Action on nutrition 1995 specify clear institutional structure from national to grassroots level. Although some States / UTs have taken a few initiatives in this regard, the implementation of provisions and structure laid down in the National Policy and plan of Action have largely not been put in place or made effective. Most of these programmes are being implemented by the State Government / UT Administrations.

[2] Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA):

The Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA) was launched in November 2010.The objective of the scheme are to address nutritional problems and improving the health status of adolescent girls in the age group of 11-18 years, equipping them with knowledge on family welfare, health and hygiene providing information and guidance on existing public services and mainstream out of school girls into formal or non-formal education . The major activities that would take place in the next five years from 2011 till 2016 would mainly be implementation in 200 districts to begin with, followed by evaluation and further expansion across the country . The deliverables envisaged for the Scheme, in line with major activities to be performed between 2011 till 2016, are to ensure that nutrition and non-nutrition components of Scheme are delivered to adolescent girls, utilization of fund takes place as per norms and evaluation of pilot is conducted

[3] Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY)

Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) has been approved the health and nutrition status of pregnant, lactating women and infants by the promotion of appropriate practices, care and services utilization during pregnancy, safe delivery and lactation; encouragement of women to follow (optimal) Infant and young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices including early and exclusive breast feeding for the first six months; and by contributing to better enabling environment by providing cash incentives for improved health and nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers.

[3] National commission for protection of Child Rights (NCPCR):

The National Commission for Protection of child Right (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. The Commission’s mandate is to ensure better protection of the rights of the Child through the monitoring of constitutional and legal rights of children, review of safeguards, review of existing laws, looking into violations of the constitutional and legal rights of children, and monitoring programmes relating to the survival, protection, participation and development of children. The Commission also has to ensure that all National laws, policies, programmes, and administrative mechanisms are informed by a “right-based” emphasis and are in consonance with the child-rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the child.

[4] National Institute of Public Cooperation and child Development (NIPCCD):

National Institute of public cooperation and child Development (NIPCCD) is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of women and child Development. The objectives of the Institute are to develop and documentation in the overall domain of women and child development. NIPCCD takes a comprehensive view of child development and promotes programmes in pursuance of National Policy for Children and evolves a framework and perspective for Organizing children’s programmes through governmental and voluntary efforts.

The current thrust areas of the institute relating to child development are maternal and child health, nutrition, early childhood education, positive mental health in children and child care support services. The institute conducts research and evaluation studies; organizes training programmes, seminars,, workshops and conferences; and provides documentation and information services in priority areas in public cooperation and child development .The Institute functions as an apex body for training of functionaries of the Integrated Child Development services (ICDS) programme. The Institute entrusted with the responsibility of training and capacity building of functionaries at the national and regional level, under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS).


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Critical Analysis of FDI in Multi Brand Retail

Arguments supporting the FDI in Multi Brand Retail

Modernisation of retail is a critical and necessary condition for sustaining high growth impulses in the economy. The entry of FDI with its modern inventory management practices, supply chain management, new storage and vending technologies and advanced organisational skills will go a long way in the modernisation of this sector. With greater investment and new technologies, the sector can act as a growth driver rather than a drag with its outdated practices and inability to take advantage of either economy of scale or of scope.

Bust the myth

It is important to bust the myth that the entry of FDI will sound a death knell for the ‘self-organised’ or small-format retail trade. Currently, the share of modern retail is a mere five per cent in the total retail trade sector. From all estimates, this is expected to, at best; quadruple over the next 20 years. That would still leave a healthy 80 per cent of total retail trade — the volume is expected to rise from current $500 billion to $900 billion — to the self-organised sector. Thus 20 years later, ‘mom & pop’ stores will still have a business turnover of more than $650 billion as compared to the current $450 billion. By no stretch of imagination is there going to be an annihilation of the self-organised retail trade sector.

Generating Skilled Job:

As many studies citing empirical evidence and survey-based results have shown, a modernised retail sector will offer significant benefits for farmers, small producers and, of course the consumers. But the most important contribution will be in the generation of a large number of ‘semi-skilled’ or skilled jobs for India’s young population. These jobs are not being generated by the self-organised sector, whose labour practices are not of the highest standards. Estimates show that given the high labour intensity of modern large format retail, millions of youth will be trained and new jobs will be created. All those who oppose FDI in retail must pause to think and suggest alternatives in a situation that demands the creation of 10 million new jobs in our economy simply to absorb new entrants to the work force.

For the farmer:

Greater shelf life for farm products:

Farmers will benefit in more than one way. The investment in backend infrastructure by modern retailers would reduce wastage and allow greater shelf life for farm products This much needed investment will connect the farm-gate to retail stores, an investment and process that cannot be undertaken by small retailers. This will also minimise the layers of intermediaries as a result of which farmer get much lower prices than they could if they supplied directly to retail stores. Moreover, modern retailers will also provide farmers with new high yield varieties of seeds and better technologies that will help bring down the cost and more yields. Therefore, the entry of FDI in multi-brand retail is likely to have a significant positive impact on the modernisation of the agricultural sector.

Impetus for the growth of MSMEs:

In their attempt to position themselves better vis-à-vis established FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) brands, modern retailers encourage their own brands for which they depend upon small-scale suppliers. Thus, we can expect a strong impetus for the growth of MSMEs (medium and small enterprises) that will be mobilised by large retailers to produce their own ‘house brand’ across the entire range of FMCG and other consumer products.The fear that these retailers will inundate our economy with cheap imports is somewhat misplaced because it will be more profitable, and thus in their interest, to procure locally rather than pay high transport cost and custom duty in importing supplies. Let us hope that the States, which have now been given the option for attracting FDI in the retail sector, will adopt this measure quickly and in large numbers so as to usher in a new era of modern retail in the country

Arguments against the FDI in Retail Multi Brand Retail


It has projected FDI in retail as a boon for agriculture. Unfortunately, this is not true. Even in the U.S., big retail has not helped farmers — it is federal support that makes agriculture profitable. In its last Farm Bill in 2008, the U.S. made a provision of $307 billion for agriculture for the next five years. .Where is the justification for such massive support if big retail was providing farmers better prices? And let us not forget, despite these subsidies studies have shown that one farmer in Europe quits agriculture every minute.

The second argument is that big retail will squeeze out middleman and therefore provide a better price to farmers. This is again not borne by facts. In the U.S., some studies have shown that the net income of farmers has come down from 70 per cent in the early 20th century to less than four per cent in 2005.

This is because big retail actually brings in a new battery of middlemen — quality controller, standardiser, certification agency, processor, packaging consultants etc. It is these middlemen who walk away with the profits and the farmer is left to survive on the subsidy dole. Monopolistic power enables these companies to go in for predatory pricing. Empirical studies have shown that consumer prices in supermarkets in Latin America, Africa and Asia have remained higher than the open market by 20 to 30 per cent.


The Indian retail market is estimated to be around $400 billion with more than 12 million retailers employing 40 million people. Ironically, Wal-Mart’s turnover is also around $420 billion, but it employs only 2.1 million people. If Wal-Mart can achieve the same turnover with hardly a fraction of the workforce employed by the Indian retail sector, how do we expect big retail to create jobs? It is the Indian retail sector which is a much bigger employer, and big retail will only destroy millions of livelihoods.

State government’s prerogative:

Very cleverly, the Central government has allowed the State governments the final say in allowing FDI in retail. This may to some extent pacify those State governments opposed to big retail. However, the industry is upbeat and knows well that as per international trade norms, member countries have to provide national treatment. Being a signatory to Bilateral Investment promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPAs), India has to provide national treatment to the investors. Agreements with more than 70 countries have already been signed. State governments will, therefore, have to open up for big retail. Industries will use the legal option to force the States to comply.

And more importantly, let us look at how the virus of big retail spreads, even if the promise is to keep it confined to major cities. Recently, a New York Times expose showed how Wal-Mart had captured nearly 50 per cent of Mexico’s retail market in 10 years. What is important here is that as per the NYT disclosure “the Mexican subsidiary of Wal-Mart, which opened 431 stores in 2011, had paid bribes and an internal enquiry into the matter has been suppressed at corporate headquarters in Arkansas”.

Source : The HINDU

Friday, September 14, 2012

Decent Working Conditions for Domestic Labour

The decade-long efforts to legislate decent working conditions for domestic labour globally are at last coming to fruition. The International Labour Organisation’s new global standard — Convention 189 — that seeks to regulate working conditions for millions of people employed in households and guarantee basic protection for them will enter into force next year.


This follows the latest ratification of the Convention by the Philippines and a few months earlier by Uruguay. The provisions relating to reasonable working hours and weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours are of particular concern in the developing world, notoriously wanting in minimum safety measures for women workers. Given the peculiar characteristics of domestic work behind closed doors, monitoring and punishing violations can prove difficult. The Convention also incorporates stipulations to make the terms and conditions of employment explicit to workers, restrict in-kind payments and respect workers’ rights, including the right to association and collective bargaining. The effectiveness of these provisions would depend on the overall prospects of trade unions in the workplace generally, aided by a conducive political climate and a proactive judiciary. Significantly, but not surprisingly, stipulations on minimum wages are missing in the Convention. Notwithstanding this omission, the objectives entailed in the new standard could potentially alter the situation on the ground quite radically. Prevalent social attitudes on domestic work, that are at best paternalistic, should make way to a greater recognition of its status as an important economic activity.


When it comes to the situation in India, any attempt to regulate domestic work and streamline standards must surely be welcomed. Sadly, the government has not yet deemed it fit to ratify this path-breaking labour convention. Ironically, making the Convention part of domestic statute could strengthen some of the government’s steps in related areas. A case in point is the Cabinet’s approval to amend the law to completely abolish child labour in the country. The amendment would contribute to realising more fully the right to compulsory basic education for children. Similarly, regulating the conditions of domestic labour — an extremely laudable social objective in itself — would enormously augment the goal of expanding basic education, considering that large numbers of children are employed as household workers. Above all, according legal recognition to domestic work will complement the governments’ efforts to combat crimes against women and children.

Source: The Hindu


Development of a Strong Nation:

Quality Life of the People:

The development of a strong nation requires that the human resources of the country are endowed with higher level of education, skill and specialization. The recently released United Nations Development Report 2011 ranked India 134 out of 187 countries. It also presents a strong case for governments all over the word to encourage human mobility. Migration, including those of low skilled workforce pays dividends all around. While economic growth is extremely important, it has to be accompanied by improvement in the quality life of the people for the development process to be sustainable in the medium to long run. More importantly it has to be inclusive in a nature. Ultimately, a healthy, educated and an empowered population contribute to improved productivity which, in turn sustain growth. Literacy as a qualitative attribute of the population is one of most important indication of the socio economic and political development of a society.

Education- pre-request to Indian long term development:

Education is the single most important instrument for social and economical transformation. Education has been well rooted in India Society since times; with several well –known centre of learning that no longer exist today. Changes to the system and a joint effort of governments and the development partners in the last decade resulted in improvements in the educational system. Although a number of problems remain, Education today is not only seen as a pillar of economic growth but also as a pre-request to Indian long term development, empowering individuals to become fully active citizens. In the recent budget, education and health are the key development indictors did not fare too well. Central govt. Total allocation for education is 0.73 percent of the GDP, marginally up from 0.69 percent in 2011-12. Finance minister provided rupees 25,555 crore for implementing the Right to Education through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which is 21.7 percent higher from the last year.

Primary education is a basic human right, Both Transformative and empowering. Beyond this intrinsic importance it is also indispensable for the enjoyment of other human right and is a means for accessing broader social, economic, political and cultural benefits. Education contributes to building more just societies through reduction is a powerful driver for the realization of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and for sustainable development more broadly.

The achievement of universal primary education, which is the second of the MDGs and the subject of one of the education for all goals requires that every child of primary schooling. A lack of primary education in recent decades has led to high levels of adult illiteracy. Overall one sixth of the world population, approximately 760 million persons, cannot read or write.

Working age population:

India is a nation of young people – out of a population of above 1.21 billion; 672 million people are in the age-group 15 to 59 years, which is usually treated as the “working age population’. It is predicted that India will see a sharp decline in the dependency ratio over the next 30 years, which will constitute a major ‘demographic dividend ‘for India. This young population should be considered as an invaluable asset which is equipped with knowledge and skill, can contribute effectively to the development of the nation as well as the global economy. Our vision is to realize India’s human resource potential to its fullest in the education sector, with equity and inclusion .The three pillar of education are expansion, inclusion and excellence.

Although the Indian census were conducted since 1881 and the data series on literacy was available since 1901 census, one can notice that only 5 people out of 100 were literate in 1901, 18% in 1951. It has taken another 50years for literacy to increase from a meager 18% to 65.4% in 2011. Female literacy has increased from a very low of 8.9% in 1951 to only 65.46 in 2011, an increase of six times while male literacy increased by three and half time during the same period.

Educational disparity:

Further it is essential to note that educational disparity is starting between various states and regions of India. While the state of Kerala is exceptional with 93% literacy with low gender disparity, and the least state is Bihar with only gender disparity, and the least state is Bihar with only 63.82% of its citizen are educated.

Various Education schemes started by govt. are;

1. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
2. National Programme for education of girls at Elementary Education
3. National Programme of Mid day Meals in school:
4. Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidalaya for SC, ST, OBC and other minority communities.
5. Thrust for female literacy (Saakshar Bharat) : The National Literacy Mission has been launched recently as Saakshar Bharat in which at least 7 crore non-illiterates will be made literate to achieve 80% literacy and to reduce gender disparity in literacy from 21% to 10 %. 365 districts in the country, with adult female literacy rate of 50% or less, have been identified for the implementation of Saakshar Bharat.
6. Rashriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan: The Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) at the secondary level is currently around 60percent which is woefully low. To improve this ratio, this scheme with the scheme of model schools was launched in the Eleventh plan to improve Enrollment and quality in secondary education.

Gender deprivation:

Despite rapid growth in literacy in post independence India, gender deprivation still exists and needs to be overcome. Despite the gains in female literacy only 2011, 65.46 percent of females are literate against 82.14 percent males as shown in recent conducted census. It may be seen that it took almost five decades for male-female disparity to reduce to half of what it was in the 1960s.

Education in India comes under the concurrent list and thus both the central and state governments are involved leading to multiple control and regulations by the Govt. and statutory bodies. There is an urgent need for replacement of bureaucratic controls in education by professional regulation along with Private-public partnership to ensure universal primary education literacy gap which was 21.2 percentage point in 2001 has come down to 16.1 percent points in 2011 There is improvement in female literacy than males in both rural and urban areas. The gender gap in literacy has come down from 24.6 in 2001 to 19.8 in 2011 in rural areas from 13.4 in 2001 to 9.8 in 2011 in urban areas.


The landmark legislation giving every child the fundamental right to have compulsory elementary education is just one stew towards setting right what is wrong with the sector. The emphasis on education in the eleventh plan, the setting up of acknowledge commission, and Yash pal committee to advise on revamping and rejuvenating higher education have all helped to discuss the more reality to education that need to be advanced urgently.

The challenge of quality in Indian education has many dimensions for e.g.

• Providing adequate physical facilities and infrastructure.
• Making available adequate teacher of requisite quality.
• Effectiveness of teaching learning processes.

Besides the need to improve quality of our education institute in general, it is also imperative that an increasing number of them to attain world class standards and are internationally recognized for them, quality and skill development is also a major area that needs attention. In the present context, education policies and strategies have to reckon with emerging challenges and opportunities that come from increasing globalization. The task of nation building has to take into account increasing demand for certain professional skills and Knowledge that is linked to the labour market. A globalized world will ultimately require the outsourcing of human skills in regions which will witness a’ demographic deficit’ skilled human capital will have to be improved to certain regions to sustain economic growth. This can offer tremendous opportunities for employment and growth provided the young are equipped with requisite knowledge and skill.

Faced with the complexity of current and future global challenges, institutes of education have the social responsibility to advance our understanding of multifaceted issues, which involve social, economic, scientific and cultural dimensions and our ability to respond to them. To do so, institutions must increase their interdisciplinary focus and promote innovative thinking which contributes to the advancement of peace, well being and development, and the realization of human right, including gender equity.

Compulsory Education a Right of every Child:

In line with the goal of nation building, India has been committed to providing free and compulsory education to all children. Towards this end, Indian parliament has enacted a legislation making free and compulsory education a Right of every child in the age group of 6-14 years which has come into force from 1st April 2010, the act mandates all teachers need to complete and meet training requirements within three years of legislation.


Even when the Government is luring poor people by giving them free food, books and even uniforms to send their children to work so that they can earn some bucks for the family. This is the problem of our education system where even higher education does not guarantee employment. So there is a need to improve our primary as well as secondary education system.

Education is no doubt an important tool of Human development, and improved Human Development plays very important role in improving living standards of the people. Improved education and health facilities can also help in economic development of the country. No doubt the entire education sector is expectedly buzzing with activity. The HRD ministry is taking steps to improve education standard in India. Indian national policy since 1968 wanted to raise public expenditure of education to 6% of GDP. On the other hand outlay of Central and State Government for educations amounted to about 3% of GDP. Thus the gap allocation for education is still substantial, and need to be urgently addressed. To make India one of the major knowledge countries in the world in the near future, it is important to continue the current level of focus and commitment, along with the right amount of resource in an improved governance and service delivery framework.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement

India is a rapidly industrialising economy and society with intense demands for better infrastructure from its people. The last 20 years have seen a great acceleration in this process, with India becoming one of the world’s fastest growing economies. However, for those whose lands were acquired for these purposes and the even more vulnerable people whose livelihoods depended on the lands acquired, a great human tragedy has unfolded. Independent estimates place the number of people displaced following development projects in India since independence at 60 million. This is the highest number of people uprooted for development projects in the world. Only a third of these people were resettled in a planned manner. Most of them were the asset-less rural poor, marginal farmers, poor fisherfolk and quarry workers. Around 60 per cent of the displaced belonged to the Adivasi and Dalit communities. Given that 90 per cent of our coal, more than 50 per cent of minerals and most prospective dam sites are in Adivasi regions, there is likely to be continuing contention over issues of land acquisition in these areas.

Two sides of a coin

We need to move decisively away from the colonial Land Acquisition Act 1894, which treats the Indian people as “subjects,” towards a vision of citizens, whose rights are guaranteed under the Constitution. This is what the proposed Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act seeks to do. The most significant feature of the new law is that it combines land acquisition with resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R). For these must inescapably be seen as two sides of the same coin. R&R must, in each instance, necessarily follow upon significant acquisition of land. Not combining the two within one law risks neglect of R&R, whose provisions need to be made mandatory and not reduced to being conditionalities without consequences, as they have largely been thus far.

Social Impact Assessment (SIA)

The bill has been shaped over the last one year through an incredibly transparent process of consultations with all stakeholders and has taken on board almost all the suggestions of the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The most important provision in the bill is Social Impact Assessment (SIA), a practice well established across the world that has greatly helped carry forward development in a more just and inclusive manner. The SIA includes an assessment of whether the proposed acquisition serves public purpose, an estimate of project affected families (PAFs) and of the extent of land to be affected by the acquisition.

The SIA will study the social costs of the project vis-à-vis its benefits. It will ensure that the views of the affected families are assiduously recorded and included in the SIA Report. For this purpose, public hearings will be held at the affected area, after adequate publicity about the date, time and venue of the hearing. The SIA report will be evaluated by an independent multi-disciplinary Expert Group, which will include two non-official social scientists, two representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions, two experts on rehabilitation and a technical expert in the subject relating to the project. If the Expert Group is of the opinion that the project does not serve any public purpose or the social costs and adverse social impacts of the project outweigh its potential benefits, it will make a recommendation that the project be abandoned forthwith.

Protecting the interests of PAFs

However, in the event the Expert Group gives the go-ahead to the project, the bill contains powerful provisions protecting the interests of PAFs. Inclusive of 100 per cent solatium, compensation for land losers will be twice the market rate in urban areas and 2-4 times the market rate in rural areas. The exact value in rural areas will be determined through a sliding scale, reflecting the distance of the project from urban areas, the precise scale being left to the State governments to determine.

Each PAF will be entitled to a comprehensive R&R package. In irrigation projects, each landed PAF will get one acre of land in the command area. SC/ST families will get more, being provided with land equivalent to land acquired, subject to a maximum of 2.5 acres. PAFs will also be allowed fishing rights in the reservoirs. House for house lost will be given in every project. Where jobs are created through the project, PAFs will be entitled to employment. In urbanisation projects, 20 per cent of the developed land will be reserved for landowning PAFs, in proportion to the area of their land acquired.

To support relocation, each PAF will get a subsistence grant, resettlement allowance and a transport allowance, which will be higher for the SC/STs. As far as possible, no acquisition of land will be made in the Scheduled Areas. But if this happens, the approval of the concerned gram sabha/panchayats/autonomous district councils will be obtained and they will be resettled preferably in the same Scheduled Area in a compact block so that they can retain their ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity.

Each resettlement area will be provided a number of facilities including roads within the area and an all-weather road link to the nearest pucca road, transport services, proper drainage and sanitation facilities, assured sources of safe drinking water, including drinking water for cattle, electric connections and public lighting, schools as per the provisions of the Right to Education Act, primary health centre, basic irrigation facilities, seed-cum-fertilizer storage facility, fair price shops, panchayat ghars, village post offices, burial or cremation ground, anganwadis, veterinary service centre, grazing land, playground for children, community centre, places of worship, etc.

Protest to recognition

The initial chorus of protests from the corporate sector appears now to have settled down in a clear recognition that the price to be paid for compensation and R&R will only be a small fraction of the potential returns from these projects. They are also reassured by the fact that land compensation provided will not be taken as the base for circle rates for subsequent acquisitions, so as to avoid a speculative price spiral. However, a valid remaining concern is about the new processes visualised under the law becoming endless. This is something that is of equal importance to the PAFs for historically R&R processes have dragged on painfully, exacerbating the tragedy of displacement.

Thus, the latest version of the bill being currently reformulated seeks to provide strict time-lines within which the land acquisition as well as the R&R process have to be completed. This includes a provision of six months for the SIA process and an overall limit of 35 months for the land acquisition process. Full payment of compensation will be made within a period of three months and the monetary part of the R&R will be paid within six months from the date of the Award. It has also been provided that in case of irrigation or hydro-power projects, R&R will be completed six months before submergence.

PPP projects

Questions have been raised about the government acquiring land for private or PPP projects. But we must first recognise that a lot of infrastructure development already occurs in India through this route. And given the huge asymmetries of information and power in the land market, there are innumerable instances of distress sales by farmers to more powerful entities at throwaway prices. In many instances, these sales have been followed by use of the land in ways that are completely contrary to the original stated purpose and have yielded windfall profits to land and real estate mafias, with the sellers receiving no share in these. That is why there has to be a role for the government — to put in place a transparent and flexible set of rules and regulations and to ensure its enforcement that protects the interests of land and livelihood losers in every instance of large transfers of land. In all private or PPP projects, acquisition will need the consent of 80 per cent of land losers. Indeed, the bill makes a historic provision of mandatory R&R even for very large private purchases of land, the limits for which will be determined by each State government.

The bill also seeks to protect food security by placing definite limits on acquisition of multi-cropped irrigated land as also on total agricultural land acquired. The limits will again be left to the State governments to determine in line with their development priorities, since these can vary widely across States. The operation of the draconian urgency clause of the 1894 law has also been strictly circumscribed, to be applied only to the minimum area required for defence, national security or emergencies arising out of natural calamities.


It is to be hoped that winter session will see the passage of this ground-breaking legislation that will help avoid several historical injustices, while making development much more inclusive and participatory.

Source:The HINDU

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Universalisation of Elementary Education

A National Goal

Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) has been accepted as a national goal in India since independence. The Indian constitution recognized UEE as a crucial input for nation building and included it in the Directive Principles to be implemented with in a period of ten years. Article 45 of the constitution states, “The State shall endeavour to provide with a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years”

The National Education Policies have retired the constitutional directive. Te National Policy on Education, 1986, provided that “Free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality shall be provided to all children up to the age of 14 years before we enter the 21st century.” The Programme of Action (POA), 1992 outlined various strategies for achieving this goal.

Millennium Development Goals

In the millennium year (2000) leaders of 189 nation states including India, signed the United Nations sponsored Millennium Declaration, which set out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) to inter alia ensure that all children around the world are in primary school by the year 2015. In adherence with this declaration, the Central Government announced its Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, 2001 (Education for All) programme and tabled the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002 which was passed with unanimous acclamation by Parliament.

With the Right to Education Act coming into force, India has joined the league of over 130 countries which have legal guarantees to provide free and compulsory education to children. According to the UNESCO’s ‘Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010’, about 135 countries have constitutional providing free and compulsory schooling to children in the 6-14 year age bracket, came into force with effect from the 1st April, 2010 . With the new education act now, India has joined some 20 other countries including Afghanistan, China and Switzerland, which have laws guaranteeing free and compulsory education for eight years of elementary education.

Constitutional Safe Guards:

The 86th Amendment (December, 2002) of the Constitution includes the following changes.

Article 21A: Right to Education:

“The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6-14 years, in such a manner as the State may, by law determine”.

Article 45: Provision for Early Childhood Care and Education to Children below the Age of 6 years:

“The State shall endeavor to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years”.

Article 51A: Clause ‘k’ has been added in 51A Fundamental Duties:

It shall be the duty of every citizen of India “who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be ward between the age f and 14 years”.

International Recognition of Education as a Human Right:

The right to education is marked priority on the agenda of the international community since it is quintessential for the exercise of all other human rights. A number of human rights treaties accepted and recognized internationally, identifies right to education as a fundamental aspect for development and social transformation

The right to education is clearly acknowledged in the United Nations’ Universal
Declaration of Human Right (UDHR)
, adopted in 1948, which States:

“Everyone has the right to education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit…..”(Article 26).

The Right to Education Act, 2009: An Overview

Article 21-A and the RTE Ac came into effect on 1 April 2010. The title of the RTE Act incorporates the words ‘free and compulsory’. ‘free education ‘ means that no child , other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education. ‘Compulsory education’ casts on obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14age group. The Key provision of the act overviewed as follows:

Duties of Appropriate Government and local Authority:

•All children between the ages of 6-14 have access to a neighborhood school with the prescribe number of teachers having prescribed minimum qualifications, building ad infrastructure as defined in the Act.
•All children are entitled to free and compulsory admission , attendance and completion of elementary education (Class 1 to VIII)
•No child shall be denied any of the entitlement guaranteed under the Act on the ground of community, caste or religion, gender , rural, urban , rich or poor , able or with special needs – they will study together in an inclusive environment.
•Good quality elementary education conforming to the standards as prescribes in the Act.
•Provision of training facilities and professional development for teachers.
•Monitoring of school functioning.
•Children will study in their age appropriate class and special training will be provided for out of school children who are being enrolled and need to catch up.

Duties and responsibilities of schools:

•School shall create an environment free of fear, anxiety and stress – there will be no detention, no corporal punishment, no mental harassment and no expulsion. Teachers will care for children and respect their dignity.
•School cannot deny admission to any children the grounds of lack of birth / transfer certificate and they shall be admitted in their age appropriate class.
•School shall admit out of school children through out the academic year.
•A School must have clean class rooms, safe drinking water, toilets (Separate for girls / boys), play area and library facilities.
•Children will have a school Management Committee comprising elected representative who will monitor the progress of the school and draw up a school development plan.
•Prescribe minimum working days and hours for teachers.
•Private / unaided schools will reserve 25% seats for children from disadvantaged communities as stated in the Act.

Duties and Responsibilities of Teachers:

•Maintain regularity and punctuality in attending school.
•Conduct and complete the curriculum in accordance with the provisions of section 29 of RTE Act 2009 within the specified time.
•Maintain a file containing the cumulative records for every child will be the basic for awarding the completion certificate when the child finishes class VIII
•Hold regular meeting with parents and guardians and appraise them regularly about attendance of their children, the child’s learning ability, progress and any another relevant information.
•Participate in training programmes.
•No teacher shall engage himself or herself in private tuition or in private activity.


Budgetary allocation for RTE-SSA Programme should be adequate to meet the centre’s commitment of 65% since most state government is struggling with ballooning budget deficits. Due to paucity of funds with the Government for allotment under the Act, substantial public-private participation in elementary education may be considered for its effective implementation. The most important challenge, if the ground reality is taken into account is the abject poverty coupled with population explosion emerges as the root causes of depriving the children their right to education. If our Government is really serious abut effective implementation of RTE, and then poverty has to be accepted as a biggest challenge. In addition to that, the spectrum of implementation issues covering finance, accountability and monitoring need to be addressed forthwith.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Establishment of India's Space Mission

Beginning of Space Programme:

Half a century has passed since India took its first steps towards establishing a space programme of its own. The country’s first experimental satellite, Aryabhata, was launched from the Soviet Union in 1975 and the first successful satellite launch from within the country, using the SLV-3 rocket, followed five years later.

100th Mission:

On Sunday, the Indian Space Research Organisation celebrated its 100th mission with a flawless launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota. Given the long association between the French and Indian space programmes, it was particularly appropriate that this landmark launch carried France’s SPOT 6 satellite.

Evolution of PSLV:

A deal in the mid-1960s to make a small French two-stage rocket (known as a sounding rocket) in India catalysed the development of solid propulsion capabilities needed for the launch vehicle programme. A decade later, another deal gave ISRO access to French liquid propulsion technology, which has gone into the PSLV’s second stage. The PSLV has become a rugged workhorse with 21 consecutive successful launches behind it. It has taken over 50 satellites and spacecraft into space, half of them for foreign customers. Since it became operational, the PSLV has carried all of India’s remote sensing satellites and also launched the country’s first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1. The first Indian mission to Mars too will travel on its shoulders next year.

Need of GSLV:

With the PSLV, the country does not have to look abroad for launching its remote sensing satellites. But the same is not true with communication satellites. In contrast to the PSLV, the trouble-prone Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) has been hampered by delays in mastering the cryogenic technology required for it as well as other problems. Moreover, ISRO’s needs appear to go beyond the capabilities of this rocket, which was designed to carry two-tonne communication satellites. The Indian space agency has already launched three communication satellites weighing over three tonnes on Europe’s Ariane 5. A fourth satellite, GSAT-10, is to be carried on the Ariane 5 in two weeks’ time. Such foreign launches are expensive. In the case of the GSAT-8, which went into operation last year, it cost Rs. 300 crores to build the satellite and a similar sum went for its launch.

The giant solid-propellant boosters and liquid-propellant core stage for the next generation GSLV Mark-III are ready and will be tested in an experimental flight. But this rocket, with the ability to carry four-tonne communication satellites, cannot be put to use till an entirely different cryogenic engine and stage have been perfected. That could take time. The Indian launch vehicle programme has a long way to go.

Source:The HINDU

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Malady of Missing Children

The malady of missing children in many parts of the country is a terrible commentary on our collective response to the complex web of socio-economic and gender-based injustices.

Reasons for the Disappearances

Organised crime, bonded labour, drug peddling, and trafficking for sexual exploitation are among the reasons for the disappearances of children. The Central and State governments have now been issued notices by the Supreme Court on a petition alleging that about 55,000 children have gone missing in the past three years. In the Capital alone, over 19,000 children have disappeared since 2009, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Most are still untraced. If this malaise seems familiar, so does the cure.

Recommendation of NHRC

The committee set up in the aftermath of the gruesome Nithari incidents recommended strengthening the separate cell within the Central Bureau of Investigation to track the whereabouts of disappeared children. The apex court has, in its recent intervention, sought to know the current status of this cell. The recommendation dates back to a 2007 National Human Rights Commission report. The NHRC has repeatedly called for greater involvement and accountability on the part of the local administration and the police in protecting vulnerable children and their families.

Crimes involving child-smuggling transcend inter-State and international borders. A central repository of data harnessing forensic science and information technology would go a long way towards breaking the nexus between crime syndicates and errant officials.

Root Causes of Child Trafficking

But addressing the root causes of child trafficking requires a more comprehensive response. Poor access to primary education and the lack of a stimulating learning environment to sustain initial school enrolments account for the still pervasive prevalence of bonded labour, as well as for runaways. It is also worth remembering that better wages for the adult workforce have historically been one of the surest ways of stopping families from sending children to work rather than to school. Cumulatively, such measures would add up to a strong case for replacing informality in India’s workforce — over 90 per cent of which is currently outside the organised sector — and investing more in social protection policies.


None of this detracts from the immediate need for psycho-social counselling services for vulnerable or affected children and families. The police and the law enforcement machinery would also need to be sensitised to this all-important human dimension. Inculcating a culture of respect for the rights of children is essential to strengthen the traditional family-oriented value system.

Source: The HINDU

Friday, September 7, 2012

Developmental success of Bangladesh and the Lessons to India

Developmental success of Bangladesh

Bangladesh is very much in the news these days in our country, but for the wrong reasons. In the unfortunate Bangladesh-bashing that seems to have become somewhat of a pastime, we seem to have failed to notice the striking developmental success that it has had in the last few decades, compared with some high-profile Indian States.

Consider this. Bangladesh is considerably “poorer” than India going by GDP alone — its GDP per capita (adjusted for purchasing power parity) in 2010 was only $1,585, roughly half of India’s ($3,419) and less than a third of Gujarat’s ($5,098) and Haryana’s ($5,434). But how is Bangladesh doing on social dimensions compared to some of our “richer” States?

Child Development in Bangladesh

Let us start with the status of children. In almost every standard indicator of child development, Bangladesh is doing better than some of the richer Indian States.

The Infant Mortality Rate and the under-Five Mortality Rate in Bangladesh is better than 13 large Indian States, including much richer Indian States like Gujarat, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

The proportion of children that are underweight is also lower in Bangladesh compared to six Indian States, including richer Gujarat where the Chief Minister has now come up with a truly bizarre explanation for the prevalence of malnutrition there.

Fertility Rate

Interestingly, Bangladesh’s Total Fertility Rate, which measures the children born per woman, is 2.2 (which is nearly the “replacement rate”) and lower than 10 large Indian States, including Gujarat (2.5) and Haryana (2.3). Even when it comes to access to improved sanitation, Bangladesh again does better than every large Indian State other than Kerala, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal.

What does all this data tell us? Clearly, Bangladesh demonstrates that it is possible to have superior social outcomes at lower per capita incomes and lower rates of economic growth. There is more to social development than just GDP. So why has Bangladesh done so well?


Let us first examine the arguments of the naysayers. One set of sceptics would argue that Bangladesh simply “Exports its Poverty” to India, especially to our Northeast. But even if one believes the most exaggerated statistics of Bangladeshi migration to India, not more than five to six per cent of Bangladeshis seek their livelihoods in our country.

The second argument of the naysayers is that Bangladesh’s data is Fudged or Exaggerated by the donor community to justify its larger than life presence in the country. However, doctoring national data at such scale is simply not possible in today’s day and age of scrutiny by academics, researchers and sceptics.

Lessons to be learnt:

Public Health Expenditure

So how might have Bangladesh done it? Spending has something to do with it. As Jean Drèze has argued, the public health expenditure as a proportion of the GDP in Bangladesh has been much higher than in India until a few years ago.

Social Mobilisation at the Local Level

Another clear lesson is that grassroot institutions seem to matter. One of the major reasons for the success of Bangladesh has been social mobilisation at the local level, such as through women’s self-help groups (SHG), which has led to increased public awareness and greater accountability in service delivery. A lot of this has been facilitated by robust and effective development NGOs that have achieved scale — in fact, Bangladesh is perhaps the best case study of NGO success anywhere in the world. As scholars have argued, NGOs are involved at scale in virtually every development activity in the country, including education, health, poverty alleviation, etc. NGOs may have “broad-based” social development in Bangladesh, as some have argued, since they have primarily worked with the poor through social campaigns, but this phenomenon may be unique to Bangladesh, as state institutions may be weaker, as compared to countries like India, and NGOs may be filling up that space.

Nevertheless, there are lessons for India — effective grassroot institutions matter for service delivery. In the Indian context, financially and administratively empowering the Panchayati Raj institutions, with their 2,50,000 gram panchayats, and 30 lakh elected representatives (of which 12 lakh are women) is critical. This is not happening on any significant scale. Similarly, the 30 lakh women’s SHGs (that we hope to increase to 70 lakh in the next five years through the National Rural Livelihoods Mission — Aajeevika), could play a major role in improving social outcomes. But for this to happen, we will need to ensure that these SHGs are linked to banks and involved in service delivery, as in Andhra Pradesh.


Currently, 80 per cent of all credit to SHGs goes to the four southern States of India — Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala — and this needs to be broad-based nationally. In addition, we need to enhance rural connectivity — the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), a major success in connecting habitations above 500 population with pucca roads, needs to scaled up to connect smaller habitations. Sanitation and hygiene have to undergo a veritable revolution, given their multiplier effects on reducing child mortality and malnutrition, enhancing economic productivity, and upholding the dignity of women.


Clearly we must not settle for lower GDP growth rates in India. Indeed, the data shows that there is a clear positive correlation between GDP and social development indicators. More importantly, continued high rates of GDP growth are required for generating resources to invest in health and education, and sustaining the investments on the required scale.

But what Bangladesh’s experience shows is that we don’t have to wait for that high economic growth to trigger social transformations. Robust grassroot institutions can achieve much that money can’t buy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Proposed National Food Security Bill and the Revival of the Public Distribution System

In earlier writings, we have drawn attention to the quiet revival of the public distribution system (PDS) in many States during the last few years. Market prices of PDS commodities — mainly rice and wheat — have sharply increased, giving people a much greater stake in the system. In response to this, or for other reasons, many States have initiated bold PDS reforms. The combination of increased public pressure and greater political commitment to the PDS has led to significant results, including more regular distribution and reduced leakages.


Many States have also moved towards a more inclusive PDS. Restricting the PDS to “below poverty line” (BPL) households has proved very problematic: there is no reliable way of identifying BPL households, exclusion errors are massive, and targeting is also very divisive. There is, therefore, growing pressure for a different approach, where the PDS covers a large majority of the population. Tamil Nadu has gone all the way to a universal PDS: every household there is entitled to 20 kg of rice every month, that too free of cost. Other States that have made significant moves towards a universal or near-universal PDS (at least in rural areas) include Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Orissa, and Rajasthan. This approach has helped to not only avoid exclusion errors but also ensure that the PDS works: a more inclusive PDS is under much greater pressure to function.

In some States such as Orissa and Rajasthan, these changes are very recent. In others, notably Chhattisgarh and, of course, Tamil Nadu, they were initiated several years ago. The National Sample Survey (NSS) data for 2009-10 provide a useful opportunity to look for early signs of the results.

One interesting development is a major increase in PDS purchases: between 2004-5 (the previous “thick round” of the NSS) and 2009-10, household purchases of wheat and rice from the PDS increased by 50 per cent in quantity terms. The proportion of households purchasing at least some rice or wheat from the PDS increased from 27 per cent in 2004-5 to 45 per cent in 2009-10. This quantitative expansion is one important aspect of the recent revival of the PDS in large parts of India.

Further, in value terms, PDS entitlements are now quite substantial in many States. The implicit income subsidy from the PDS can be calculated as the difference between PDS price and market price, multiplied by quantity purchased, and summed over wheat and rice. There are different ways of estimating this, since there is more than one way of identifying the relevant market price. Using the median market price, State-wise, as a benchmark, the average implicit subsidy (for rural households that purchased at least some grain from the PDS) was around Rs 250 per month in 2009-10. Over the year, this is equivalent to the earnings of a whole month’s work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act — without having to work. In absolute terms, it is not much, but for people who are constantly struggling to make ends meet, it does help. The implicit subsidy would be larger, of course, if the PDS worked well across the country.


Based on these implicit subsidy calculations, it is possible to estimate the impact of PDS on rural poverty — by adding the implicit subsidy to the explicit NSS estimate of Monthly Per Capita Expenditure (MPCE) for each sample household. To illustrate, consider the following exercise. Suppose we define the “Tendulkar poverty gap” as the sum, over all rural households below the national Tendulkar poverty line, of the difference between that line and a household’s actual MPCE. How far does the PDS reduce the Tendulkar poverty gap? In other words, how much smaller is the poverty gap (in rural areas) when the implicit PDS subsidy is added to the standard components of MPCE?

Using NSS data for 2009-10, it turns out that the PDS (more precisely, the foodgrain component of the PDS) reduces the Tendulkar poverty gap by around 18 per cent at the national level. This is a moderate achievement, but what is more interesting than the national average is the contrast between States. In Tamil Nadu, the PDS reduces the Tendulkar poverty gap by more than 50 per cent. Other States where the PDS has a large impact on rural poverty include Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh (about 40 per cent), and also Himachal Pradesh and Kerala (around 35 per cent). By contrast, the poverty impact is below 15 per cent in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. As it happens, all the States in the high-impact list have a relatively inclusive PDS, whereas all those in the low-impact list were still clinging to BPL targeting at that time (Rajasthan did expand the coverage of the PDS after 2009-10, with impressive results). In short, a more inclusive approach seems to give better results not only in terms of the general functioning of the PDS, but also in terms of its impact on poverty.

These figures are illustrative, since (as mentioned earlier) there are various ways of going about these calculations. All of them, however, point to the same basic conclusion: the PDS is now having a substantial impact on rural poverty in States where it is broad-based.

So far, we have looked at PDS as an implicit income transfer. Aside from “transfer benefits,” the PDS is likely to have important “stabilisation benefits”, insofar as it brings some security in people’s lives. It is a little bit like having an additional source of income, and a stable one too; this can be very important for those who depend on a single and meagre source of income (such as casual labour) for their survival. The PDS may also have a positive impact on food consumption patterns (e.g. by enabling households to spend more on nutritious food items), although this is somewhat speculative. More likely, the PDS will start having a significant impact on nutrition when commodities other than rice and wheat (e.g. pulses, oil, and millets), with a higher nutrition value, are included in it. This has already happened in some States such as Tamil Nadu (where a wide range of food commodities are included in the PDS), Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. The provision of nutritious foods that are badly lacking in the diets of poor households is an important future possibility for the PDS.


These findings have an important bearing on the National Food Security Bill. The Bill is a great opportunity to complete the transition towards a functional and inclusive PDS across the country, and put an end to food insecurity. In its present form, however, the Bill is likely to undermine instead of facilitating this transition. This is because it seeks to impose a rigid targeting formula, based on a complicated division of the population into three groups (priority, general and excluded), without any clarity on how each group is to be identified. Given the failure of numerous expert committees and advisory groups to come up with any reliable targeting method, the idea of a universal PDS (at least in rural areas) looks more sensible than ever.

Various proposals have also been made for an intermediate approach, whereby all households would have common minimum entitlements except possibly those who meet reasonable and well-specified “exclusion criteria”. However, the government is turning these proposals into a reductionist version of the Bill, which would amount to little more than a reshuffling of existing PDS allocations, without any justiciable entitlements being created for anyone. Further, under the abominable formula proposed by the Food Ministry, whereby — roughly speaking — 33 per cent of the population would be excluded from PDS across the board (in every State, in rural as well as urban areas), the reshuffling would favour the richer States at the expense of the poorer States. Punjab and Haryana would be the biggest gainers, while Orissa stays in place — this makes no sense, and defeats the purpose of the Bill.

These and other flaws of the Bill (including a gradual trimming of many entitlements) derive partly from misplaced fears about the foodgrain requirements. Meanwhile, procurement has crossed 70 million tonnes per year, distribution is not keeping up, and excess stocks are growing. Never in history has so much undernutrition co-existed with so much hoarding of food. Reviving and revamping the Food Security Bill sounds like a better idea.

Source: The Hindu