CATEGORY: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- MGNREGS running out of funds
Why in news
Government data shows that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme has used up almost half its allocated funds, one-third of the way through the financial year.
- Azim Premji Foundation (APF) conducted the survey in 13 states on the functioning of the Scheme.
- The scheme has used up more than 48,500 crore out of the expanded 1 lakh crore allocation announced following the COVID-19 outbreak.With this, on the ground:
- A number of gram panchayats in vulnerable areas have already exhausted their funds for the scheme.
- Employment rates are dropping as the monsoon stops work in several States.
- There are fewer livelihood options for more than four lakh families across the country which have completed their allotted 100 days of work.
- Ground observations suggest the payments are more or less in time where banking correspondents are in place.
- Payments through banks continue to be inefficient as rural branches of banks have limited capacity and infrastructure, and are often overwhelmed by overcrowding.
- Wages in the scheme are 25-30% lower than the minimum wages for agricultural workers in most States.
- APF has recommended that the Centre allocate another 1 lakh crore to the scheme, and double the permitted work limit to 200 days per household.
- In several Gram Panchayats, the approved projects have already been exhausted. There is an urgent need for a quick process of creating further sets of projects.
- The entire process cycle of implementation and making payments needs to be eased to respond to the current needs for work and payment.
- There is a need to put money into the hands of rural consumers via MGNREGA as it is key to kickstarting the economy.
Contraction in Manufacturing: PMI
Why in News
According to the recent IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), India’s manufacturing sector activity contracted at a faster pace in July 2020 than in
- It stood at 46 in July 2020, down from 47.2 in June 2020.
- In PMI parlance, a score above 50 means growth, while a score below that denotes
- This is the fourth straight month of contraction for the Indian manufacturing sector. In April, the PMI had slipped into contraction mode, after remaining in growth territory for 32 consecutive months.
Reason for Contraction:
- The demand conditions remained subdued with some businesses still closed amid lockdown extensions due to emergence of new epicentres of Covid-19 pandemic.
- Export orders have also witnessed a decline.
- The re-acceleration of declines in the manufacturing sector is undermining the trend towards economic stabilisation seen over the past two months. The firms have reduced both staff numbers as well as purchasing activity.
Purchasing Managers’ Index
- PMI is an index of the prevailing direction of economic trends in the manufacturing and service sectors.
- It consists of a diffusion index that summarizes whether market conditions, as viewed by purchasing managers, are expanding, staying the same, or contracting.
- The purpose of the PMI is to provide information about current and future business conditions to company decision makers, analysts, and investors.
- It is different from the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), which also gauges the level of activity in the economy.
- IIP covers the broader industrial sector compared to PMI.
- However, PMI is more dynamic compared to a standard industrial production index.
- In India the positive impact from unlock is not as strong as the negative impact of the lockdown.
- Therefore the government needs to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic on a priority to make economic recovery sustainable.
Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- Space X Capsule Returns Safely
Why in news
The first commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has returned to Earth.
- The Dragon capsule launched to the space station on a Falcon 9 rocket, was supplied by SpaceX.
- Elon Musk’s SpaceX became the first private company to send humans to orbit.
- It was the first splashdown by the USA astronauts in 45 years, with the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry people to and from orbit.
- The last time NASA astronauts returned from space to water was on 24 July 1975, in the Pacific to end a joint USA-Soviet mission known as the Apollo- Soyuz.
- The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was the first spaceflight to include two participating nations working together with their own national spacecraft.
- The Americans sent up an Apollo command module, while the Soviet launched a Soyuz spacecraft.
Space X Crew Dragon:
- It is a reusable spacecraft developed and manufactured by American aerospace manufacturer
- SpaceX is a private company founded in 2002 by Elon Musk. Its headquarters is located in Hawthorne, California (USA).
- It is the fifth class of the USA spacecraft to take human beings into orbit, after the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.
- The rocket Falcon 9 was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on 31 May 2020 and carried the spaceship into the orbit.
- The whole mission was carried out under the Demo-2 Mission of NASA and SpaceX.
- It clears the way for another SpaceX crew launch and possible tourist flights from 2021.
- SpaceX has now become the first private company to send humans to orbit who have spent more than two months on the space station.
- The landmark mission marked the first time the USA space agency launched humans from American soil since its shuttle program retired in 2011.
- Since then, the USA has relied on Russia’s space program to launch its astronauts to the space station.
Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
- Report on leopard sightings soon
Why in news
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is set to release a dedicated report on leopard sightings as part of its global tiger census.
Wildlife Institute of India (WII)
- WII is an autonomous institution under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- It is based in Chandrabani, Dehradun.
- Its functions include conducting specialised research in areas of study like Endangered Species, Biodiversity, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Forensics, Habitat Ecology, Spatial Modelling, Eco-development, and Climate Change.
- Quadrennial tiger survey is the highlight of the WII, conducted in coordination with the Environment Ministry.
- The population of other animals is also estimated by relying on camera trap images.
- In 2014, the last formal census on India’s leopards was conducted.
- The census estimated the leopard’s population at between 12,000 and 14,000.
- 8,000 leopards were estimated in the vicinity of tiger habitats.
- In the latest Tiger Survey, cameras installed across 72,000 sq km of tiger habitat yielded 76,651 and 51,777 images of tigers and leopards respectively.
- Critics have pointed out that conducting a leopard survey, along with the tiger survey is problematic because leopards are adapted to living on the edge of forests and human habitats, unlike the tiger which is an elusive creature.
- This had led to gross errors in estimating the true numbers of leopards.
- Leopard (Panthera pardus) is the smallest of the big cats and is nocturnal.
- In India, the leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)is found in all forest types, from tropical rainforests to temperate deciduous and alpine coniferous forests.
- It is also found in dry scrubs and grasslands, the only exception being desert and the mangroves of Sundarbans.
- It shares its territory with the tiger in 17 states.
- It is classified under the ‘vulnerable’ category in the IUCN Red List.
- It is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
It is included in Appendix I of CITES