News & Editorial Analysis 7 March 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – MGNREGA:
GS II Topic Government Policies and Interventions
Funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) are likely to be withheld for West Bengal in the upcoming fiscal year if the Centre-State disagreement over the violation of the regulations in the scheme’s implementation is not resolved.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), also referred to as the MNREGS or the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Plan, was passed by Indian legislators on August 25, 2005.
The MGNREGA officially guarantees one hundred days of employment per fiscal year to adult members of any rural family who are willing to engage in unskilled manual labour associated with public work for the statutory minimum wage.
The Indian Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) is in charge of managing the complete implementation of this initiative in cooperation with state governments.
This law aims to give rural inhabitants in India more purchasing power, especially those who work in low-wage, semi-skilled employment and fall below the poverty line.
It tries to narrow the wealth and poverty gaps in the country.
Around one-third of the workforce must be made up of women.
Adults in rural households submit their name, age, address, and photo to the Gram Panchayat.
The Gram Panchayat records residences and issues employment cards after making inquiry.
The adult member’s information and picture are on their job card.
To apply for a job, a registered person should write to the Panchayat or the Programme Officer (for at least fourteen days of continuous work).
After the Panchayat/Program officer accepts a legitimate application and dates it as received, a letter explaining the work will be given to the applicant and displayed at the Panchayat office.
The employment will be available within a 5 km radius; if further, further compensation will be provided.
To be eligible for MGNREGA benefits, an applicant must be an Indian citizen.
At the time of application, the job candidate was of legal drinking age.
The candidate must live nearby (i.e. application must be made with local Gram Panchayat).
The candidate must be willing to do manual labour.
Under the MGNREGA, a rural household with adults who volunteer to do unskilled manual labour is entitled to 100 days of pay work per fiscal year.
Individual beneficiary-oriented works may be submitted for consideration by members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, small- or marginal-farmers, people who have benefited from land reforms, or people who have benefited from the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.
Within 15 days after submitting the application, the applicant will be offered a wage employment, or on the first day that labour is needed.
If no job is found within fifteen days of submitting an application or from the date work is sought for, the applicant has the right to unemployment compensation.
payment must be made within fifteen days of the work’s completion.
The projects that Gram Panchayaths are allowed to work on are numerous.
MGNREGA places a strong emphasis on the economic and social empowerment of women.
The “Green” and “Decent” jobs that MGNREGA offers.
Accountability and transparency are promoted by requiring social audits for MGNREGA programmes.
The MGNREGA programme aims to protect farmers from such risks, lessen their reliance on climate change, and preserve natural resources.
The principal platform for wage seekers to express their concerns and make demands is the Gram Sabha.
The Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat, who also decide on the projects’ priority, approve the list of MGNREGA projects.
2 – Blue Economy:
GS III Topic Indian Economy
The G20 Environmental and Climate Sustainability Working Group recently met in Bengaluru. Land degradation, the blue economy, and the circular economy were the three subjects that were mentioned the most frequently during the Indian presidency. In an interview with The Hindu, Ashish Chaturvedi, Chief of UNDP India’s Environment, Energy and Resilience Division, discussed the Blue Economy and its importance to the G20 conference.
What Is the Blue Economy?
Gunter Pauli first proposed the concept in his book “The Blue Economy: 10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million employment” from 2010.
To support the sustainability of the ocean ecology, better housing conditions, employment possibilities, and economic development.
It encourages greening ocean development activities for increased productivity and the preservation of ocean health.
According to the Blue Economy hypothesis, the growth of the ocean economy is connected with social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and cutting-edge commercial concepts.
It is composed of
Social and economic advancement may be significantly aided by the use of sustainable marine energy.
Fisheries: Sustainable fisheries can boost profits, produce more fish, and support the recovery of fish stocks.
At least 80% of all goods that are traded worldwide are sent by water.
Ocean and coastal tourism can benefit the economy and create jobs.
Oceans have a crucial role in preventing climate change by acting as a carbon sink (blue carbon).
Waste Management: Improved rubbish management on land may help the ocean recover.
What role does the blue economy play?
High Return on Investment: One dollar invested in fundamental ocean activities returns five times that amount, or five dollars, and frequently more, according to a report commissioned by the high-level group for a sustainable ocean economy.
Synergy with SDG: It promotes all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, particularly SDG14, which is about “life below water”.
Sustainable Energy: To meet the growing need for renewable energy, offshore regions have a lot of promise for offshore wind, waves, ocean currents, including tidal currents, and thermal energy.
Importance to India: The blue economy contributes an estimated 4% of India’s GDP and supports 95% of the country’s transportation-related business. The nation’s 7,500 km of coastline is split between nine coastal states, with 12 major and 200 minor ports (GDP).
What actions are taken to promote the blue economy?
With the intention of developing technologies to use both live and non-living resources found in the deep ocean, the Deep Ocean Mission was started.
In order to develop and maintain bilateral projects between the two countries, the India-Norway Task Group on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development was founded in 2020.
A strategy plan for port-led growth called the Sagarmala Initiative mainly relies on IT-enabled services to modernise ports.
O-SMART: In order to control the use of the oceans and marine resources for sustainable development, India created the O-SMART umbrella initiative.
Integrated coastal zone management aims to increase coastal residents’ prospects of earning a living while maintaining marine and coastal resources.
National Fisheries Policy: India’s national fisheries strategy promotes the “Blue Growth Initiative,” which is centred on the sustainably exploitation of fisheries wealth from marine and other aquatic resources.
How to Proceed:
As a result of India’s substantial maritime interests, the blue economy has a significant future role in the country’s economic development.
Sustainability and socioeconomic welfare could very possibly become the next multiplier of GDP and well-being if they are prioritised.
In order to attain the greater goals of growth, job creation, fairness, and environmental conservation, India should endeavour to adopt Gandhi’s idea of combining economic benefits with sustainability.
3 – Olive Ridley Turtles:
GS III Topic Environmental Conservation
The 6.37 lakh Olive Ridley sea turtles that arrived to Rushikulya shoreline this year for mass nesting set a new record for the beach in Odisha’s Ganjam district.
The creation of new beaches for egg-laying near to the Podampetta area, according to Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer Sunny Khokkar, is to blame for the arrival of 6.37 lakh turtles between February 23 and March 2, which is regarded as the primary nesting period.
Olive ridley marine turtles are the smallest and most common marine turtles in the world.
These turtles are carnivores, as evidenced by their olive-colored carapace.
What distinguishes them most is the Arribada mass nesting, in which numerous females gather to lay their eggs on the same beach.
The warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans are home to them.
The Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in Odisha is believed to contain the largest sea turtle rookery (colony of breeding animals) in the world.
The 1972 Wildlife Protection Act’s Schedule 1. Appendix 1 of CITES: Listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
To extract their flesh, eggs, shells, and leather for human consumption, they are regularly poached.
Sea Pollution and Waste: Plastics, fishing nets, abandoned nets, polythene, and other trash dumped by tourists and fishery workers are harming the habitats of sea turtles.
Fishing Trawlers: The overexploitation of marine resources by the use of trawlers usually violates the ban on fishing within 20 kilometres of a marine sanctuary.
The damage indicators on many of the dead turtles suggested they may have been captured in gill nets or trawls.
Saving Olive Ridley Turtles: Steps taken:
The Indian Coast Guard’s “Operation Olivia,” which was started in the early 1980s, helps to protect Olive Ridley turtles each year as they congregate along the coast of Odisha for breeding and nesting from November to December.
Also, it halts illegal trawling activities.
It is necessary to employ Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs):
In order to prevent unintentional killing of turtles in India, the government of Odisha has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), a net particularly constructed with an exit cover that allows the turtles to escape while conserving the catch.
Scientists use non-corrosive metal tags to identify endangered Olive Ridley turtles in order to protect the species and its ecosystems. This enables them to follow the turtles’ movements and pinpoint the places they frequently visit.
4 – SWAMIH Investment Funds:
GS III Topic Indian Economy
The Special Window Investment Fund for Affordable and Middle-Income Housing (SWAMIH) I have so far raised Rs 15,530 crore in order to provide priority debt financing for the completion of stressed, brownfield, and residential projects that are certified by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and fit into the affordable, mid-income housing category. SWAMIH has so far given final permission to more than 130 projects with fines totaling more than Rs 12,000 crore.
A social impact fund called the Investment Fund for the Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) I was created specifically to complete difficult and stalled residential projects.
The Fund is managed by SBICAP Ventures Ltd., a State Bank Group company, and is funded by the Indian Ministry of Finance.
The fund considers inexperienced developers, experienced developers with challenging projects, developers with a history of stalled projects, customer complaints and NPA accounts, and even projects with legal issues.
It is recognised as the lender of last resort for financially distressed projects.
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
Johns Hopkins University researchers recently revealed their ambitions for “organoid intelligence,” or OI, a potentially revolutionary new branch of study that aims to create “biocomputers” (JHU).
When brain cultures created in the lab are coupled with actual sensors and input/output devices, we can use real human brain cells to make computing “more brain-like”.
The biological hardware that powers computational systems in biocomputers is called organoids, or groups of living tissue created from stem cells that act like organs.
This technology’s underlying principle is:
It has proven difficult to fully understand how the human brain works. Rat brains have historically been used to study various neurological conditions that affect humans. Rodents and humans have significantly diverse brain structures and functions, as well as very varied cognitive capacities, even though rats provide a more approachable and straightforward model for understanding the brain than humans.
Scientists are developing brain organoids, or 3D cultures of brain tissue, in the lab in an effort to develop systems that are more applicable to humans. These “mini-brains” (up to 4 mm in size) mimic many of the structural and functional features of a developing human brain and are created from human stem cells. Researchers are now using them to test drugs and look into how the human brain develops.
Because the human brain also requires other sensory inputs (touch, smell, vision, etc.) to mature into the complex organ that it is, brain organoids made in the lab are not sophisticated enough. Also, the organoids’ current lack of blood circulation limits their capacity to grow.
OI and biocomputers’ relevance:
According to experts, it will enable more complex learning than a conventional computer, resulting in richer feedback and better decision-making than AI. The technology can understand the biological basis of human cognition, learning, and many neurological disorders by utilising the brain’s processing power.
With regards to the newest “bio-computer”:
JHU researchers intend to create “bio-computers” by merging brain organoids with cutting-edge computing methods. They plan to combine the organoids with machine learning by growing the organoids inside flexible structures coupled with multiple electrodes (similar to the ones used to take EEG readings from the brain).
These structures will be able to record the neural firing patterns as well as deliver electrical stimulation to mimic sensory experiences. The response pattern of the neurons and their influence on human behaviour or biology will next be examined using machine learning techniques.
A microelectrode array that can record and stimulate human neurons was created recently by researchers. By providing either positive or negative electric feedback from the sensors, they were able to train the neurons to produce an electrical pattern that would be generated if the neurons were playing table tennis.
Potential applications of “bio-computers”
Despite being slower than computers, for example, at elementary mathematics, human brains do better than machines when processing sophisticated information.
Brain organoids can also be made using stem cells from people who have cognitive or neurodegenerative disorders. By contrasting the information on brain structure, connections, and signalling between “healthy” and “patient-derived” organoids, one can learn about the basic foundations of human cognition, learning, and memory.
They may also help with the biology of and treatment development for severe neurodegenerative and neuro developmental diseases like Parkinson’s disease and microcephaly.
Advancing the use of commercial biocomputers:
Today’s brain organoids have an average cell count of less than 100,000 and a diameter of less than 1 mm, making them around three millionths the size of a real human brain. So, expanding the brain’s organoid and introducing non-neuronal cells involved in biological learning will both improve the brain’s computational capacity.
Microfluidic systems will also need to be developed by researchers to transport nutrients, trash, and oxygen. To store and analyse the massive amounts of data (i.e., brain recordings from each neuron and link) that these hybrid systems would generate, researchers will need to deploy “Big Data” infrastructure.
They will also need to create and use cutting-edge analytical techniques to link the structural and functional changes in the brain organoids to the many output variables (with the aid of machines).
The present challenge for this technology is the development of long-term memory. The use of these to patient-derived brain organoids, such as donors for autism and Alzheimer’s disease, is then already envisaged. Drug development could gain in this decade.
OI and biocomputers are emerging technologies that face similar challenges. It is also advised to form an ethics team to identify, examine, and assess moral dilemmas when they arise in relation to this technology.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
Doubling Farmers’ Income:
The Indian government is attempting to double farmer earnings in the year when it celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence and enters Amrit Kaal.
Now that we have reached Amrit Kaal, it would be a good idea to reflect on that dream and determine whether it has come true, and if not, how it might be done.
The country’s total development depends on the development of its agriculture:
The GDP as a whole cannot grow at a sustained high rate unless farmer incomes rise.
This is because the manufacturing sector runs into a demand restriction right after meeting the demand of wealthy urban customers.
because most people are employed in agriculture (45.5 per cent in 2021-22 as per PLFS). In order to ensure the long-term, rapid expansion of the overall economy, focusing on agriculture is the wisest course of action.
Also, agriculture must guarantee the security of food and nutrition for the largest population on the globe.
But in order to achieve this aim in the current climate, it is necessary to take steps to maintain the planet’s vital resources, such as the soil, water, air, and biodiversity. There is a paradox right here. I’ll explain.
Governmental projects and programmes in the agriculture sector, as well as concerns related to them:
By providing programmes and subsidies like the fertiliser subsidy, which has a budget of more than Rs 2 lakh crore, the government has taken various steps to ease the financial burden that farmers must bear while paying for supplies. The price of urea in India stayed constant at roughly $70 per tonne even while urea prices hit $1,000 per metric tonne abroad. The cost might be the lowest it has ever been.
PM Kisan’s proposal to support farmers’ income.
The PM Garib Kalyan is another Several small and marginal farmers are given free meals of at least 5 kg per person every month through the Anna Yojana programme.
In addition, there are subsidies for banking, agricultural insurance, and irrigation (drip).
Also, governments liberally provide out power subsidies, especially for irrigation. Some governments offer financial assistance for everything from customised recruiting firms to farm equipment.
All of this is true, and the annual sum of these subsidies will undoubtedly be higher than Rs 4 lakh crore. Yet, we must consider how these will impact both the environment and agricultural earnings.
The CAG should conduct an audit of all federal and state-provided subsidies to determine how they impact farmer income and the environment.
The audit’s conclusions are not likely to be well received if they are put into practise. But that might motivate us to make these regulations simpler.
There are several programmes in the agricultural sector that are being criticised:
On the one hand, input subsidies do help farmers earn more money, but it’s also possible that the government has imposed output trade and marketing policies that have reduced farmers’ incomes.
For instance, rice is subject to a 20% export tax, certain commodities are periodically subject to stocking limitations, and numerous commodities are suspended from the futures markets. Wheat exports are also prohibited.
The results that we have projected do not show a “pro-farmer attitude”. The tactic actually benefits customers. This is the main problem with our policy framework.
The practise of extensively subsidising inputs, particularly fertilisers and power, as well as the guaranteed and continued acquisition of wheat and paddy, at least in some selected states, is having a negative impact on the environment. They are all begging for an explanation.
Undoubtedly, increasing farmer income will take some time. Nonetheless, it is still possible to achieve this by raising productivity with better irrigation and seeds.
They must also have unlimited access to the best markets for their produce in addition to that.
It will also be vital to diversify into high-value crops, and on farmer farms, solar panels might even be planted as a third crop. With such a committed and sustained effort, one can only hope to quadruple farmers’ incomes. The dream won’t come true if not.
One option to move forward is to reorient these assistance programmes with an eye towards environmental outcomes. Possibly millets, pulses, oilseeds, and much of horticulture might be given carbon credits to promote its cultivation. They need less fertiliser and water.
In order to diversify the crops and increase the income of millet farmers, the government must extend the MSP’s applicability to millet crops.
For more ecologically friendly, high-value agriculture that is likewise diverse and diversified in terms of products, institutions, and policies, reforms are needed.
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