Current Affairs Analysis

8th August 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Eravikulam National Park; What are Landslides? National Landslide Susceptibility Mapping (NLSM); Status of E-mobility in India; National Electric Mobility Mission Plan; Challenges of Electric Vehicle Adoption in India; What is restructuring? Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR); Strategic Debt Restructuring (SDR) scheme; Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A) scheme; 5/25 scheme; What is Handloom? Handloom sector in India; Challenges of handloom sector; Schemes of handloom sector; Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana; PMFBY; Schizophrenia; SFTS virus; High-speed Broadband connectivity for Andaman & Nicobar Islands; Optical Fiber Cable; Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF); Leopard Poaching in India; Leopard census; Study on Antibiotic Disposal in India's Waterways; India-UK; Cuba at Human Rights Council; Cuba; US -Cuba Relations; Kavkaz 2020; National Panchayat Awards 2020;etc.
By IASToppers
August 08, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Delhi Govt. Launches Electric Vehicle Policy
  • States quitting Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Study on Schizophrenia
  • Sever Fever

Economy

  • RBI’s new loan recast scheme
  • High-speed Broadband connectivity for Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Landslide in Idukki
  • Leopard Poaching in India
  • Study on Antibiotic Disposal in India’s Waterways

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Cuba at Human Rights Council

Defence & Security Issues

  • India to participate in Kavkaz 2020

Art & Culture

  • Why is August 7 called National Handloom Day

Key Facts for Prelims

  • National Panchayat Awards 2020

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Government Schemes & Policies

Delhi Govt. Launches Electric Vehicle Policy

The Delhi government launched its ambitious Electric Vehicle Policy.

Status of E-mobility in India

  • India is a member of the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI), a multi-governmental policy forum dedicated to accelerating the deployment of EVs. The EV@30 campaign, launched in 2017, sets goal for all EVI members to have EVs contribute to 30% of all vehicle sales by 2030.
  • In 2013, Government of India launched a National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020. Under the mission, the Scheme for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid & Electric Vehicles) in India (‘FAME India’) was launched in March, 2015 with Rs. 895 crores. The next phase of this scheme was rolled out since April-2019 as FAME-II with 10,000 crores.

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan

Government of India launched the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 in 2013.

  • It aims to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.

Challenges of Electric Vehicle Adoption in India

  • Availability of electricity: The electricity requirement for EVs is about 80 gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2020 which will rise up in future. This means that a substantial increase in electricity production is required to offset the overloading of local transformers and the grid. The risk of overloading of grid is high during peak hours when most of the EV owners plan to simultaneously recharge.
  • High upfront cost of EVs: India is currently the fourth largest global market for cars and the budget cars form the major segment of this sale. A high upfront cost of purchase along with battery replacement after few years does seem like a heavy investment to an average Indian with a decent income.
  • Range anxiety: one of the most inhibiting factors for consumers arises from the fear of running out of power before reaching destination or a charging station. Range anxiety stems through inadequacy of charging infrastructure.

Suggestions

  • To make EVs affordable in India, domestic production of quality batteries has to be taken up in the right earnest. Apart from cost reduction, domestic battery production will liberate India from import and fluctuation n foreign market.
  • The upfront cost of EVs can also be neutralized by economies of scale i.e. higher production level to offset the wholesale costs in the long run; especially that of the battery which constitutes 30-40 % of the cost of the EVs.
  • Boosting EV penetration is a huge task which asks for robust R&D and incentives from the government.
  • A major effort needs to be put into the planning for charging infrastructure-its optimum location, its design, new charging technology, etc.
  • Special incubation centre
  • Business models focused on EVS can be developed by starting an incubation centre for EVs. Initiatives for collecting a venture capital fund for research in EV sector need to be promoted.
  • Policies need to be framed to provide incentives to shift corporate fleets, cabs, public transport systems, and auto-rickshaws into EVs.
  • Fast adopting countries like Norway provides exclusive benefits to EV buyers (fee waivers, free parking etc.). The provided incentives can be recovered from taxing the petrol/diesel ICE vehicles. India could replicate this model.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

States quitting Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

States like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand etc. have communicated their decisions to the Union Government to exit the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) scheme

Causes:

  • States are finding it difficult to foot the rising premium bill. States’ share of premium jumped to 44% in FY20 from 41% in FY17 under the PMFBY and Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS).
  • The reluctance of the insurers to accept the farmers’ claims.

About PMFBY

  • It consists of a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops.
  • The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.
  • The PMFBY replaced two schemes namely, the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and the Modified NAIS.

Objectives:

  • Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
  • Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  • Ensuring the flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of the agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.
[Ref: Financial Express, IASToppers.com]

Issues related to Health & Education

Study on Schizophrenia

  • Recently, a pilot study on a south Indian, Tamil-speaking group consisting of 97 people with schizophrenia and 103 controls was carried out by Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) and Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation, in Chennai.
  • The study published in the International Journal of Immunogenetics finds an association of specific alleles with the disease.
  • Studies of schizophrenia among groups of varied ethnicities across the world have shown associations of the disease with alleles (variant genes) related to the human leukocyte antigen and related to a group of genes on chromosome six.

Schizophrenia

  • Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally.
  • Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behaviour that impairs daily functioning and can be disabling.
  • What causes schizophrenia is still not known. But researchers believe that a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environment contributes to the development of the disorder.
  • It requires lifelong treatment.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Severe Fever

  • A disease called Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome.
  • Caused by the tick-borne virus.
  • Killed seven and infected at least 60 in China.
  • Human-to-human transmission of the virus cannot be ruled out.

About SFTS virus:

  • STFS belongs to the Bunyavirus family.
  • Transmitted to humans through tick bites.
  • The virus was first identified by a team of researchers in China over a decade ago.
  • The disease is known to spread between March and November.
  • Farmers, hunters and pet owners are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Symptoms:

  • The incubation period is anywhere between seven and 13 days after the onset of the illness.
  • Patients suffering from the disease usually experience a whole range of symptoms, including, fever, fatigue, chill, headache, etc.
  • Some of the early warning signs of the disease include severe fever, thrombocytopenia or low platelet
  • Antiviral drug Ribavirin is known to be effective in treating the illness. Vaccine yet to be successfully developed.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Economy

RBI’s new loan recast scheme

In its monetary policy review, RBI gave special window providing one-time loan restructuring to companies and individuals to provide relief specifically to those impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

What is restructuring?

Restructuring is an act in which a lender, for economic or legal reasons relating to the borrower’s financial difficulty, grants concessions to the borrower.

Who will benefit from the scheme?

  • Eligibility: Only those companies and individuals whose loans accounts are in default for not more than 30 days as on March 1, 2020.

How will the scheme impact banks?

  • The biggest impact will be that banks will be able to check the rise in non-performing assets (NPAs) to a great extent.  However, it will not bring down the NPAs from the present levels of Rs 9 lakh crore.

Were earlier such schemes not misused by banks and corporates?

  • CDR: The objective of the Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) framework was to ensure timely restructuring of the corporate debts of entities facing problems, outside the purview of legal proceedings.
  • The RBI discontinued CDR scheme from April 1, 2015 because for several years, corporates were misusing the debt recast plans with the regulator turning a blind eye to manipulations by shady promoters in connivance with some banks.
  • Banks also created a separate CDR cell with erstwhile IDBI overseeing the process. The promoters of many big corporates took bank funds while their units suffered. They approached the CDR Cell and to get their loans recast. These promoters managed to get fresh loans and they used liberal loan recasts to evergreen their accounts and keep out of the NPA books.
  • SDR: Under the Strategic Debt Restructuring (SDR) scheme, banks were given an opportunity to convert the loan amount into 51% of equity which was to be sold to the highest bidder, once the firm became viable. This was unable to help banks resolve their bad loan problem as only two sales have taken place through this measure due to viability issues.
  • S4A: In the Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A) scheme, banks were unwilling to grant write-downs as there were no incentives to do so, and write-downs of large debtors could exhaust banks’ capital cushions.
  • 5/25: The 5/25 scheme was derailed because refinancing was done at a higher rate of interest so that banks could preserve the net present value of the loan amount. There was a perception that this was one of the tools deployed to cover NPAs by bank.
  • ARC: In the asset reconstruction scheme, the major problem was that asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) were finding it difficult to resolve assets they had bought from banks. Therefore, they wanted to purchase the loans only on low prices. Consequently, banks were reluctant to sell them loans on a large scale.
  • IBC: The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code kicked off; the RBI announced a stringent loan resolution process through its June 7 circular.

What are the major differences with previous recast schemes?

Entry Barriers

  • Earlier schemes: No entry barriers.
  • New scheme: For only accounts which are in stress due to Covid and only for borrowers which are not in default for more than 30 days as on the cutoff date of March 1, 2020.

Defined Timelines

  • Earlier schemes: No specified timelines.
  • New scheme: banks have to decide by December 31 on which accounts are eligible for restructuring 2020.
  • Individual and MSME loans have to be restructured by March 31, 2021 while corporate loans by June 30, 2021.

Clearly Defined Contours

  • Earlier schemes: No restrictions on how lenders restructure loans.
  • New scheme: Specifies that loan tenure cannot be extended beyond two years. There could also be sector-specific financial parameters set by the Kamath committee.

Penalties for Delays

  • Earlier schemes: No disincentives for lenders delaying an agreement for restructuring.
  • New scheme: Provides a for a 20% penal provision for lenders not signing the inter-creditor agreement.

Independent Validation

  • Earlier scheme: Loans above Rs 500 crore needed a rating from at least two rating agencies.
  • New scheme: Loans above Rs 100 crore will require only one credit agency’s validation.
  • Large loans above Rs 1,500 crore will also require to be vetted by Kamath committee.

Provisioning

  • Earlier schemes: Provisioning was only 5% earlier with a reversal allowed after one year, which was misused.
  • New scheme: Require 10% provisions and there is no straight reversal
  • Lenders can reverse 50% provisions on repayment of 20% loans and the other 50% on further 10% repayment.

Post-Monitoring Performance

  • Earlier schemes: No disincentive to the borrower for not making timely payments after implementation of the plan.
  • New scheme: A default with any of the lenders will automatically lead to a 30-day review period. Loans will be classified as NPAs if 10% repayment is not done during this period.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

High-speed Broadband connectivity for Andaman & Nicobar Islands

  • The Prime Minister will inaugurate submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) cable connectivity to Andaman & Nicobar Islands (A&NI).

Key Points:

  • The Cable will connect Chennai and Port Blair. It will also connect Port Blair to Swaraj Dweep (Havelock), Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Kamorta, Great Nicobar, Long Island, and Rangat.
  • About 2300 Kms of Submarine OFC cable has been laid at a cost of about Rs 1224 Crore.
  • The submarine OFC link will deliver bandwidth of 2 x 200 Gigabits per second (Gbps) between Chennai and Port Blair, and 2 x 100 Gbps between Port Blair and the other islands.
  • Funded by the Government of India through the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
  • Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) executed this project while Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) is the Technical Consultants.

Expected Benefits:

  • Boost tourism and employment generation in the Islands.
  • Facilitate delivery of e-Governance services such as telemedicine and tele-education.
  • Opportunities in e-commerce.

Optical Fiber Cable:

  • An Optical Fiber Cable is similar to an electrical cable but is designed to carry light.
  • It uses a principle known as total internal reflection.
  • Mainly used for long-distance telecommunication or providing a high-speed data connection.

About the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF):

  • USOF was formed by the Central Government to help fund projects to boost connectivity in rural areas.
  • Established in 2002, it is headed by the USOF Administrator who reports to the Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
  • The money for this fund comes through a ‘Universal Access Levy,’ charged from the telecom operators on their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) which are then deposited into the Consolidated Fund of India and require prior parliamentary approval to be dispatched.
[Ref: PIB, IASToppers.com]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Landslide in Idukki

At least 18 persons were killed and 52 others are missing after a series of landslips at the Nayamakkad tea estate adjacent to Eravikulam National Park in Idukki district.

About Eravikulam National Park

  • It is located in the High Ranges (Kannan Devan Hills) of the Southern Western Ghats in Devikulam Taluk of Idukki District, Kerala.
  • It also has South India’s highest peak, Anamudi (2695 m).
  • It has special Neelakurinji flowers that bloom once every 12 years.
  • A new bright reddish-orange-coloured frog named Raorchestes resplendens was discovered in the Eravikulam National Park.
  • Fauna: Grasslands, Shrub Land and Shola Forests.
  • Flora: Nilgiri Langur, Leopards, Indian Bison etc.

What are Landslides?

  • Landslides are the downslope movement of soil, rock and organic materials due to gravitational force.

Landslides in India

  • In India, excluding the permafrost regions in the north, about 0.42 Million km2 areas of the landmass (12.6%) is landslide-prone which are spread over 19 States/UTs and are spreading over more than 65,000 villages in hilly/ mountainous areas.

Government’s effort  

  • National Disaster Management Agency work with Geological Survey of India to designate certain areas as landslide-prone areas.
  • A National Landslide Risk Mitigation Project (NLRMP) approved by the Planning Commission is being run at NDMA. Under this project a landslide site Aizawl, in Mizoram State has been selected.
  • In 2019, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) published a comprehensive report on National Landslide Risk Management Strategy.

National Landslide Susceptibility Mapping (NLSM)

  • Since 2014 – 15, Geological Survey of India (GSI) has launched a national programme on landslide susceptibility mapping – National Landslide Susceptibility Mapping (NLSM).
  • It aims to cover the 0.42 million sq. km landslide prone areas of the country.

Objective

  • To create a dynamic National Landslide Susceptibility Geodatabase for India.
  • To prepare GIS – based seamless Landslide Susceptibility Maps of India on 1:50,000 scale.
  • To prepare a nation-wide repository on GIS-based Landslide Inventory.

General landslide hazard map of India

  • In general landslide hazard map of India, Himalayas of Northwest and Northeast India and the Western Ghats are two regions of high vulnerability and are landslide prone.
  • Majority of landslide prone areas are located in the earthquake prone seismic Zone-IV
  • and V.

Challenges

  • Information on precise time of a landslide based on instrumentation and real time monitoring is lacking.
  • In India, safe shelter and alternate route maps for landslide hazard are often not available.
  • Another important aspect that makes early warning ineffective is the lack of public awareness.
  • Communication of warning to all concerned stake holders remains a challenge as most of the hilly area population either remains isolated, nonresponsive due to remoteness of the region.
  • The response time is poor due to difficult terrain and accessibility in mountainous regions of India.
  • Regulation and enforcement promoting monitoring of potential/ existing landslides that pose risk are weak.
  • There is no institutional framework for collection and preservation of basic landslide data. Similarly, the inventory maps of landslides are being prepared by different agencies in a scale not generally usable on the ground.

Suggestions

  • Technologies such as Equipments for emergency response, geological reconnaissance of landslide-prone areas, local monitoring services, site investigation with borings and test pits, slope stability analyses, seismic analysis of slopes, technical assistance in construction of buildings, etc can be used.
  • Database on rainfall derived from satellite and ground based observation need to be compiled to understand variability in a regional landslide.
  • Wireless networking of all landslide monitoring stations and establishment of real time rainfall monitoring control room.
  • A simplistic course at school level may be introduced which must elaborate do’s and don’ts to prevent/ mitigate any type of landslide situation.
  • Geologist and engineers related to the field of landslides must be exposed to the latest development in the domain of landslides investigations and management.
  • The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) can be used for hazardous site inspection. Specific skill development in handling UAS shall be introduced for the scientists.
  • Creation of Village Disaster Management Plans (VDMPs) through participatory risk assessment with the participation of Village Disaster Management Teams (VDMTs), locals and students.
  • Provisions shall be made under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) scheme for undertaking small scale structural mitigation of landslides.
  • A time-bound national programme for controlling all major landslides should be undertaken, for which a National Task Force committee of professionals should be constituted to study and decide management strategies for all the known problematic landslides in the country.
  • Adequate funding should be provided through national landslide mitigation and management projects or by one-time funding from the Central Government.

Key facts

  • Bhukosh web portal is the spatial data portal and a geophysical data repository of GSI.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Leopard Poaching in India

A paper titled ‘SPOTTED’ in Illegal Wildlife Trade: A Peek into Ongoing Poaching and Illegal Trade of Leopards in India’ by TRAFFIC India was published in the latest edition of TRAFFIC India’s newsletter.

Key Points:

  • Of the total of 747 leopard deaths between 2015-2019 in India, 596 were linked to illegal wildlife trade and activities related to poaching.
  • Highest numbers of poaching incidents were reported from the States of Uttarakhand and Maharashtra.
  • Skin accounted for 69% of all seizures, while derivatives like claws, teeth and bones were also traded.
  • Another concern raised in the paper is the incidence of live animal trade involving leopard cubs in seizures in Chennai and Maharashtra.
  • Lured by high profits and low risk of detection.

Leopard census

  • The last formal census on India’s leopards was conducted in 2014, which estimated the population between 12,000 and 14,000.
  • Indian leopards suffered 75% to 90% population decline.

Causes

  • Habitat destruction
  • Human-wildlife conflict

Conservation Status:

  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable.
  • Schedule I under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Study on Antibiotic Disposal in India’s Waterways

  • A research programme led by experts from the University of Birmingham and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad has received 1.2 million pounds of UK and Indian funding to explore the role played by India’s rivers is increasing antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • The new project is part of a GBP 8-million package of UK-India government-backed research aimed at deepening existing scientific research collaboration with five new programmes to tackle anti-microbial resistance (AMR) that could lead to important advances in the global fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes.
  • The project is supported by the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Fund for International Collaboration (FIC) as well as the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) along with researchers from Newcastle University, the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, IIT Gandhinagar and IIT Madras.

Key Points:

  • The researchers will sample and model two contrasting river networks in India – the Musi river in Hyderabad, which has high concentrations of antibiotics released from production facilities, and the less polluted Adyar river in Chennai.

Expected Benefits:

  • Learn how antibiotics and resistant bacteria flow through river networks and how far they can be transported in rivers, from where they can spread onto fields and into communities during floods.
  • Make a quantitative risk assessment to help create environmental standards for safe concentrations of antibiotics in water bodies.
  • Compare the effectiveness of different interventions such as separate treatment of waste streams from the manufacturing of antibiotics, decentralised sewage treatment or containment reservoirs.
  • Will help bring down the levels of resistance in the environment

Additional Facts:

  • An estimated 58,000 babies die in India every year from superbug infections passed on from their mothers.
  • River Musi is considered to be a factory for superbugs.
[Ref: Times of India]

Bilateral & International Relations

Cuba at Human Rights Council

  • Cuba, which sat on the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2014-2016 and 2017-2019, has applied to fill one of the regional vacancies for 2021-2023.
  • The seats are distributed geographically and are awarded for three years. Members are not eligible for immediate reelection after serving two consecutive terms.
  • U.S. Secretary of State has urged UN members not to support Cuba’s bid to join the council.

Reason:

  • The US accuses that Cuba’s sale of medical services, which is the main source of foreign exchange for Cuba, as a form of human trafficking.
  • Cuba is under a brutal dictatorship.

About Cuba:

  • Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
  • It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
  • Cuba is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos.
  • Havana is the largest city and capital.
  • Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America.
  • Natural resources found here include cobalt, nickel, iron ore, copper, salt, petroleum etc.
  • Its exports include skilled labour, sugar, tobacco, and coffee.
  • Cuba is a founding member of the United Nations, the G77, the Non-Aligned Movement and among others.

US -Cuba Relations:

  • Under the Treaty of Paris, Cuba became a U.S. protectorate from 1898–1902 and the U.S. gained a position of economic and political dominance over the island, which persisted after it became formally independent in 1902.
  • The Cuban Revolution of 1959, bilateral relations deteriorated substantially. The bone of contention was the spread of Communism of Latin America and Africa carried out by Cuba.
  • In 1961, the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and led to the events like 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and among others.
  • On 17 December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the U.S, also known as the Cuban Thaw. This process led to the lifting of some U.S. travel restrictions and among other measures.
  • The current U.S President has reversed most of the decisions taken by the previous U.S President. 
[Ref: The Hindu]

Defence & Security Issues

India to participate in Kavkaz 2020

  • India will take part in the Russian Kavkaz 2020 strategic command-post exercise.
  • It is also referred to as Caucasus-2020.
  • The exercise will be held from September 15 to 26 in Astrakhan in southern Russia.
  • A small tri-service contingent of India will take part.
  • At least 18 countries including China, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey apart from other Central Asian Republics part of the SCO have been invited.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Art & Culture

Why is August 7 called National Handloom Day

On August 7, 2015, Prime Minister of India inaugurated the first National Handloom Day to promote the handmade and the handwoven.

What is Handloom?

  • As per Handloom (Reservation and Articles for Production) Act, 1985, handloom’ meant any loom other than powerloom.
  • In 2012, a new definition was proposed: “Handloom means any loom other than powerloom; and includes any hybrid loom on which at least one process of weaving require manual intervention or human energy for production”.

Handloom sector in India

  • India has a rich tradition of handloom weaving since time immemorial. Rigveda, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Thalia (by Greek historian Herodotus) and Kautilya have mentioned spinning and weaving as well as high quality of silk and cotton.
  • Since then, Different parts of India have produced distinct styles – muslin of Chanderi, Varanasi brocades, Rajasthan and Orissa have given tie and die products, Patola sarees from Patan, himroos of Hyderabad, phulkari and Khes from Punjab, Daccai and Jamdani from Bengal, traditional designs from Assam and Manipur like the Phenek and Tongam.

Challenges of handloom sector

Raw Material:

  • The Fourth All India Handloom Census (2019-2020) cites raw material support needed by nearly 59.5 % of weaver household. From cotton, silk, and woollen yarn to dyes, costs have increased and so has the shortage.
  • In 2015, a concern was raised that weavers in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra had to travel long distances to get cotton added to their transportation costs. Besides, smaller weavers have been unable to buy in bulk leading to lower output of material.

Credit Support:

  • The Textile Association of India records that the budget allocation for the textile sector came down to Rs 4,831 crore in (2019-2020) from Rs 6,943 in the previous fiscal.
  • This also means that various schemes be it housing, subsidies, health insurance will affect the weaver too. Quite often smaller weavers are at the mercy of money lenders, and suicides have made headlines in these recent years.

Reduced numbers:

  • With many traditional families moving to cities for jobs as labourers, weavers have been leaving the loom.
  • While the recent Handloom Census (2019-2020) records that there are nearly 31.44 lakh handloom households, and it has seen a rise from 27.83 lakh in the last census, the numbers are still dismal.

Lack of access:

  • Poor infrastructure, older looms and inaccessibility to reach prime markets have made lives of handloom weavers even more difficult.
  • While there are nearly 13 government schemes currently for weavers, there’s basically 3% that is aware of the Weavers Health Insurance Scheme and only 10.5 % know of the credit waivers for loans that they can avail.

Marketing Issue:

  • Weavers lack awareness and information on customer preferences, customers are unable to distinguish between the products produced from the power loom sector versus those produced from the handlooms and promotional campaigns are not sustained over time to promote the products.

Greater Competition

  • The modernization of the textile industry with increased usage of sophisticated technology (Diversified product ranges, low prices etc.) in production of cloth has led to serious threat to the traditional handloom industry.

Poor policy dissemination:

  • Major institutions providing input — credit, research, technology, management and market development — are centralised and, hence, unable to reach the dispersed home-based weavers.

Other issues:

  • Unorganized nature of industry, inconvenient working conditions, limited research and training, lack of information on government schemes amongst weavers etc.

Suggestions

Providing Market Intelligence to Weavers

  • Providing marketing linkages and intelligence to the weavers will help them to craft and market relevant products. Proper education and training should be provided to weavers about modern and innovative techniques of production.

Regular Supply of Raw Materials

  • National Handloom Development Corporation (NHDC) is responsible for providing yarn to the weavers. NHDC should scale up its operations and set up a network of regional yarn depots.

Introduce New Design Elements

  • Weavers should be engaged in design workshops and guided to experiment to improve marketability of new products. Hence, there is a need for innovation and experimentation in designs by the artisans.

Improve Credit Delivery

  • Weavers must get the credit on soft terms as they are supposed to with the new initiatives like opening up of bank accounts, direct delivery of subsidies and digital governance.
  • They should be brought under the purview of Jan Dhan–Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) Trinity as this would effectively cut leakages by enabling better delivery of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), eliminate fake beneficiaries.

Connect with private sector through CSR

  • Leverage the expertise of private companies by connecting women weavers with corporate Corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds through CSR programmes in line with UN SDG goals to achieve gender equality.

Scaling up marketplaces for handloom products

  • As handlooms are a major source of attracting for tourists, marketplaces like Delhi Haat should be replicated across the country.

Promote Handloom Mark

  • The Handloom Mark, which is an indicator of high-quality products should be widely promoted as it can help in realising premium prices for handloom products just like higher prices are charged for organic food products.

Have a National Campaign on Handlooms

  • There is a need to have a National Campaign for Handlooms going beyond Khadi.

Schemes of handloom sector

The Office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles is implementing following schemes for development of handlooms:

1. National Handloom Development Programme (NHDP)

Components of NHDP

  • Block Level Cluster: Introduced in 2015-16 as one of the components of NHDP, Financial assistance upto Rs. 2.00 crore for various interventions such as skill upgradation, product development etc.
  • Handloom Marketing Assistance: Provide marketing platform to the handloom agencies/weavers to sell their products directly to the consumers.
  • Weavers’ MUDRA Scheme: Credit at concessional interest rate of 6% to handloom weavers. 
  • Hathkargha Samvardhan Sahayata (HSS): Introduced in 2016 to provide looms/accessories to the weavers. 90% of the cost of loom/accessory is borne by the Government of India while remaining 10% is borne by the beneficiary.
  • India Handloom Brand- During the celebration of as National Handloom Day, ‘India Handloom’ Brand was launched on 7th August 2015 for branding of high quality handloom products.
  • E-Commerce- A policy frame work was designed under which any e-commerce platform can participate in online marketing of handloom products.
  • Urban Haats: set up in the big towns/metropolitan cities to provide adequate direct marketing facilities to the craft persons/weavers.

2. Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme:

  • Implemented for development of Mega Handloom Clusters covering at-least 15000 to 25,000 handlooms.
  • the artisans are provided good quality raw material at subsidized rates.

3. Handloom Weavers’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme

  • Weavers Comprehensive Welfare Scheme (HWCWS) is providing life, accidental and disability insurance coverage under the components Pradhan Mantri Jivan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) and Converged Mahatma Gandhi Bunkar Bima Yojana (MGBBY).

4. Yarn Supply Scheme:

  • Yarn Supply Scheme is being implemented to make available all types of yarn at Mill Gate Price. The scheme is being implemented through National Handloom Development Corporation

Awards of handlooms sector

  • Sant Kabir Award: Conferred to outstanding handloom weavers who have made valuable contribution to the development of the sector.
  • Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Awards: Exclusive award to the women handloom weavers.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims

National Panchayat Awards 2020

Recently, the Union Minister of Panchayati Raj & Rural Development distributed the National Panchayat Awards 2020.

Awarded on the following categories:

  • Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar (DDUPSP): To be conferred to best performing Panchayats (Gram, Intermediate & District) across the States/UTs in recognition of the good work done for improving the delivery of services and public goods.
  • Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar (NDRGGSP): To be conferred to GPs for their outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development by involving Gram Sabhas.
  • Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) Award: To be conferred to best performing GPs across the country which has developed their GPDPs according to the State/UT specific guidelines prepared in line with the model guidelines issued by MoPR [or adopted as such].
  • Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award (CFGPA): To be conferred to best performing GPs/Village Councils (VCs) (one in each State/UT) for adopting child-friendly practices.
  • e-Panchayat Puraskar: To be conferred to best performing States/UTs for promoting e-enablement of PRIs for bringing in efficiency, transparency and accountability in their functioning.

Key Facts:

  • National Panchayati Raj Day on 24th of April 2020.
  • Gramoday Sankalp is a magazine of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. This magazine contains important information about the excellent works of Panchayats, inspiring themes and success stories as well as the plans of the departments.
[Ref: PIB]

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