IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


24th March, 2020


As virus toll rises to nine, States put in place tougher measures

States actions:

-       Thirty States and Union Territories moved to a complete lockdown mode,

-       Governments warned of strict punitive action against those who violate preventive measures.

-       Parliament curtailed its session and adjourned sine die after passing the Finance Bill.

-       The Ministry of Civil Aviation ordered the shutting down of all domestic flight operations. A total of 650 aircraft owned by various Indian airlines will now be grounded across airports. 

-       Kerala closed shops, offices and establishments barring essential services closed as cases are on rise.

-       Camps will be prepared for migrant laborers, who will be provided food and given medical examinations.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/as-virus-toll-rises-to-nine-states-put-in-place-tougher-measures/article31147652.ece


Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill without debate

The Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die after the passage of the Finance Bill, 2020 without any debate due to the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision to pass the Bill without any discussion was taken at an all-party meeting convened by Speaker Om Birla.

About Finance bill:

Definition: A Finance Bill is a Money Bill as defined in Article 110 of the Constitution.
Description: The proposals of the government for levy of new taxes, modification of the existing tax structure or continuance of the existing tax structure beyond the period approved by Parliament are submitted to Parliament through this bill.

The Finance Bill is accompanied by a memorandum containing explanations of the provisions included in it. The Finance Bill can be introduced only in Lok Sabha.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/lok-sabha-passes-finance-bill-without-debate/article31147557.ece

Centre amends law to enable excise duty increase on fuel

The government amended the law to get enabling powers to raise excise duty on petrol and diesel by ₹8 per liter each in future.

Amendment to Eights schedule of Finance act:

-       Government hike of ₹2 a liter increase in special additional excise duty on petrol in March took the special additional excise duty to maximum permissible in law — ₹10 in case of petrol and ₹4 in case of diesel.

-       Now, this limit has been increased to ₹18 per liter in case of petrol and ₹12 in case of diesel.

-       The amendment gives powers to the government to raise the duty by up to ₹8 per liter in petrol and diesel at any time it wishes.


AAP govt. to deploy environment marshals, build smog tower in CP

Delhi Budget:

-       Deployment of “environment marshals” to aid district administration in enforcing environment laws.

-       Allocated ₹20 crores to create mass awareness on environment.

-       “Green citizen award” for people contributing towards environmental protection and preservation.

-       Set aside ₹210 crores toward desilting, deepening of drains, constructing of series of check dams, barrages in 45 km length of Najafgarh drain with an aim to clean the Yamuna.

-       30 crores were allotted for smog tower.

-       A target has been set to plant 40 lakh saplings by 22 green agencies in the year 2020-21.

Target: Reduce the Delhi pollution to 1/3rd level from its current level.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/aap-govt-to-deploy-environment-marshals-build-smog-tower-in-cp/article31146797.ece


Delhi’s per capita income 3 times higher than national average

Delhi Budget:

-       The per capita income of Delhi is estimated to be ₹3, 89,143 in 2019-20, which is about three times the national average, which is estimated to be ₹1, 34,432 in 2019-20.

-       The contribution of Delhi to the national GDP has increased from 3.97% in 2014-15 to 4.20 % in 2019-20.

-       Delhi has maintained its consistent revenue surplus, which was ₹6,261 crores during 2018-19 as compared to ₹4,913 crores during 2017-18.

-       Per capita expenditure on health in Delhi has increased from ₹1,996 in the year 2014-15 to ₹3,044 in 2018-19. 

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/delhis-per-capita-income-3-times-higher-than-national-average/article31146820.ece

Corona virus | Lockdown hits NREGA workers hard

Effect of Covid-19:

-       The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme has been officially shut down in at least seven States, while it is effectively closed in many more.

-       Reduced the size of groups at work sites to less than 50.

-       Shifted measurement of work from group attendance to individual attendance.

Demand of workers:

-       Relief in the form of wages during the shutdown,

-       Payment of pending dues,

-       Extension of the scheme in the next financial year to accommodate more workers.

-       Civil society is demanding an emergency relief package of ₹7,000 a month for all poor households for April and May.

-       Unemployment allowance must be given to those who have already applied for work under the scheme.

-       MGNREGA workers should be brought under the ambit of the Building and Other Construction Workers welfare boards.

-       The government is saying that public and private sector employers must give paid leave at this time. For MGNREGA workers, government itself is the employer. Should they not be paid leave as well?

Demand for informal workers:

-       Informal workers are unable to work from home or follow the social distancing norm, as their economic conditions do not allow it.

-       The government must provide free ration for one month to all ration cardholders under the National Food Security Act.

-       An immediate cash transfer of ₹10,000 or the minimum wage if higher than ₹10,000, to workers with BPL and APL cards.

-       Two months’ pension to all pensioners under the national pension schemes.


-       The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has the following objectives:

-       Provide 100 days of guaranteed wage employment to rural unskilled labour

-       Increase economic security

-       Decrease migration of labour from rural to urban areas

-       Grassroots-driven approach to employment generation.

-       Programmes under the act are demand driven.

-       The scheme is funded by the central government, which bears the full cost of unskilled labour and 75% of the cost of material for works undertaken under this law.

-       The central and state governments audit the works undertaken under this act through annual reports prepared by CEGC (Central Employment Guarantee Council) and the SEGC (State Employment Guarantee Councils).


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-lockdown-hits-nrega-workers-hard/article31145538.ece

Don’t lay off workers or cut salaries: Ministry

Government appeal:

-        Employers were asked to “extend their cooperation by not terminating employees” in this “challenging situation”.

-        If any worker takes leave during this period, they should be “deemed to be on duty without any consequential deduction of wages”. 

-       The same should apply to those working in an establishment that is ordered to shut down due to the corona virus pandemic.

-       The termination of employee from the job or reduction of will not only weaken the financial condition of the employee but also hamper their morale to fight the epidemic.

-       The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization, which disburses monthly pensions to 65 lakh people, said that it had instructed all its field offices to generate and reconcile the pension amounts and details for the current month.

About Employees' Provident Fund Organization:

-       The Employees' Provident Fund Organization (abbreviated to EPFO), a statutory body formed by the Employees' Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.

-       It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.

-       EPFO assists the Central Board in administering a compulsory contributory Provident Fund Scheme, a Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme for the workforce engaged in the organized sector in India.

-       It is also the nodal agency for implementing Bilateral Social Security Agreements with other countries on a reciprocal basis.

-       It is the largest social security organizations in World in terms of the number of covered beneficiaries and largest in India interms of the volume of financial transactions undertaken.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-dont-lay-off-workers-or-cut-salaries-says-labour-ministry/article31143847.ece

RBI advances second tranche of OMO

 Review of current liquidity and financial conditions:

-       The RBI had announced open market operations (OMOs) of ₹30,000 crores in March 2020 — the first tranche was scheduled for March 24 and the second tranche for March 30.

-       The Reserve Bank has decided to advance the second tranche of purchase of government securities under OMOs for ₹15,000 crores to March 26, 2020.

Open Market Operations (OMO):

-       Open market operations are the sale and purchase of government securities and treasury bills by RBI or the central bank of the country.

-       The objective of OMO is to regulate the money supply in the economy.

-       When the RBI wants to increase the money supply in the economy, it purchases the government securities from the market and it sells government securities to suck out liquidity from the system.

-       RBI carries out the OMO through commercial banks and does not directly involve with public.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/rbi-advances-second-trancheof-omo/article31145307.ece


Over 900 Yakshagana scripts go digital

More than 900 Yakshagana scripts, including the ones printed in 1905 and 1907, have now been digitized and made available online for free.

About Yakshagana:

-       Yakshagana is a traditional Indian theatre form, developed in Karnataka.

-        It combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, make-up, and stage techniques with a unique style and form.

-       It is believed to have evolved from pre-classical music and theatre during the period of the Bhakti movement.

-       Most of the stories in yakshagana are drawn from the epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavatha and other mythological episodes.

-       The name yakshagana suggests the music of celestial beings.

-       Yakshagana is believed to have evolved from the ancient Bhutha-worship prevalent in South Canara and Kasaragod.

-       Theyyam is also a manifestation of this Bhutha worship. 

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/over-900-yakshagana-scripts-go-digital/article31149254.ece