Government Schemes & Policies
- Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice approved
- Efficient implementation of National Food Security Act discussed
Issues related to Health & Education
- More than 8000 schools selected for establishing ATLs
- SBI authorised to issue and encash Electoral Bonds
Science & Technology
- Maritime technology centre at IIT Kharagpur to bring India on par with Germany, Russia
Key Facts for Prelims
- #IBelong Campaign
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Government Schemes & Policies
Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice approved
Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Department of Food & Public Distribution has approved the Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System.
- Financial Assistance up to 90% in case of North-Eastern, Hilly and Island States and up to 75% in case of rest of the States has been extended.
- Further, Government of India has also advised all States/UTs especially those States/UTs that are distributing wheat flour through Public Distribution System (PDS), to distribute fortified wheat flour through PDS.
ABOUT FOOD FORTIFICATION:
- Fortification is the addition of micronutrients such as Iron, Iodine, Zinc, and Vitamins to staple foods such as rice, wheat, oil, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content. These nutrients may or may not have been originally present in the food before processing or may have been lost during processing.
- It is an effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of the society.
- Food fortification is a complementary strategy, and not a replacement of balanced, diversified diets to address malnutrition.
NEED FOR FOOD FORTIFICATION:
- As per National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), public health concerns like Iron deficiency Anaemia is still prevalent in over 50 per cent of women (15- 45 years) and children under 5 years of age.
- Almost 62% of Indian population has low serum blood levels of vitamin A and 50%-94% of people in different states across India, suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
- Adverse functional outcomes like stunting, increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, physical impairments, cognitive losses, blindness and premature mortality are caused because of micronutrient deficiency.
BENEFITS OF FOOD FORTIFICATION:
- This is an excellent method to improve the health of a large section of the population, all at once.
- The addition of micronutrients to food does not pose a health risk to people. The quantity added is so small and so well regulated as per prescribed standards that likelihood of an overdose of nutrients is unlikely.
- It does not require any changes in food habits and patterns of people.
- It does not alter the characteristics of the food—the taste, the feel, the look.
- It can be implemented quickly as well as show results in improvement of health in a relatively short period of time.
- This method is cost-effective especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms.
- ‘Food Fortification: Global Mapping Study 2016’ by WHO, has showcased positive consequences of fortification in many countries.
IS FORTIFICATION NEW TO INDIA?
- Food fortification is not a new idea in India. Fortification of Vanaspati, was mandated in 1953 and iodization of salt was mandated in 1962.
- India’s 10th (National Nutrition Policy), 11th and 12th Plan documents recommend fortification of staples with micronutrients. In order to achieve targeted outcomes over the next five years (2022), envisioned by the National Nutrition Strategy on “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat”, food fortification has been identified as one of the key strategies for implementation.
FOOD SAFETY AND STANDARDS (FORTIFICATION OF FOODS) REGULATIONS, 2018
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in 2018 released Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018.
KEY PROVISIONS OF FOOD SAFETY AND STANDARDS (FORTIFICATION OF FOODS) REGULATIONS, 2018.
- Provide a minimum and maximum range for fortification of staples like wheat flour (atta), maida, rice, salt, vegetable oil and milk, while the dosage of the micronutrients has been adjusted to provide 30 to 50 per cent of the daily requirements.
- In milk and oil, the unit of dosage has been changed to microgram Retinol Equivalent for Vitamin A and microgram for Vitamin D from IU. In wheat flour and rice fortification, other sources of iron have been added, while vanaspati fortification has been excluded.
- The ‘+F’ logo will be used for fortified foods.
- Packaging and labelling of the fortified food must state the food fortificant added, logo and the tagline ‘Sampoorna Poshan Swasth Jeevan’.
- Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder to the rice that adheres to the grains or spraying of the surface of ordinary rice grains in several layers with a vitamin and mineral mix to form a protective coating.
- As per Department of Biotechnology, India, rice fortification is the most efficient way of mass fortification and distribution.
- Rice kernels can be fortified with several micronutrients, such as iron, folic acid and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc.
As per World Health Organization (WHO), Fortification of rice,
- with iron is recommended as a public health strategy to improve the iron status of populations, in sttings where rice is a staple food.
- with vitamin A may be used as a public health strategy to improve the iron status and vitamin A nutrition of populations.
- with folic acid may be used as a public health strategy to improve the folate nutritional status of populations.
- In October 2016, National Summit on Food fortification was held that announced the operationalizing the standards of fortification.
- After various deliberations and comments received from the stakeholders, the final standards for fortified foods were notified in 2018 as Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2018.
Efficient implementation of National Food Security Act discussed
In a meeting, the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution discussed issues pertaining to efficient implementation of national food security act among other.
ABOUT THE MEETING:
- The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution met government officials to discuss efficient implementation of national food security act, End to end computerization, transparency in storage and distribution of food grains and synergizing of all Food Corporation of India (FCI) depots and Central/State Warehousing Corporation (CWC/SWC) depots with the Depot Online System (DOS).
KEY DECISIONS TAKEN DURING THE MEETING:
- FCI will provide an internet gateway for integrating DOS with State governments soon. After that, States will integrate their Warehouse Management Systems with DOS.
- Another key decision taken was moving towards One Nation One Ration Card (RC) which will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access Public Distribution System (PDS) across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice. This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and curtail instances of corruption.
WHAT IS INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM (IMPDS)?
- Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS) is a system in which a beneficiary can avail his share of food grain from any district in the State.
- It is already operational in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura.
WHAT IS DEPOT ONLINE SYSTEM (DOS)?
- Launched in 2016, it is an Online System to automate all the operations of FCI depots.
- DOS has been implemented in all warehouses of Food Corporation of India (FCI) and several depots of Central Warehousing Corporation.
FEATURES OF DOS:
- Automate all the activities during the stock inflow/outflow by road.
- Provide an efficient way to monitor & track the movement of items by rail.
- Availability of Stock position of the shed on real time basis.
- Integrate with the weighbridge installed within the depot.
- Track chemical spraying, fumigation & procurement quality check.
- Keep track of all the millers/Agency that are associated with the depots.
- Facilitate the depot management for FCI, help in speeding up operations, Free up manpower from laborious data collation and report preparation. Thus, saving operational costs.
- Integrated view of end to end processes, use of workflow, notification and alerts and seamless connection between depots and district/regional offices of FCI.
NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT (NFSA), 2013
- Government notified the National Food Security Act, 2013 with the objective to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT, 2013
- Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS):Upto 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population will be covered under TPDS, with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month.
- However, since Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households constitute poorest of the poor, and are presently entitled to 35 kg per household per month, entitlement of existing AAY households will be protected at 35 kg per household per month.
- State-wise coverage:Corresponding to the all India coverage of 75% and 50% in the rural and urban areas, State-wise coverage will be determined by the Central Government.
- Subsidized prices under TPDS and their revision:Food grains under TPDS will be made available at subsidized prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains for a period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act. Thereafter prices will be suitably linked to Minimum Support Price (MSP).
- In case, any State’s allocation under the Act is lower than their current allocation, it will be protected upto the level of average offtake during last three years, at prices to be determined by the Central Government.
- Identification of Households:Within the coverage under TPDS determined for each State, the work of identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs.
- Nutritional Support to women and children:Pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to meals as per prescribed nutritional norms under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) schemes. Higher nutritional norms have been prescribed for malnourished children upto 6 years of age.
- Maternity Benefit:Pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.
- Women Empowerment: Eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards.
- Grievance Redressal Mechanism: Grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels. States will have the flexibility to use the existing machinery or set up separate mechanism.
- Cost of intra-State transportation & handling of foodgrains and FPS Dealers’ margin:Central Government will provide assistance to States in meeting the expenditure incurred by them on transportation of foodgrains within the State, its handling and FPS dealers’ margin as per norms to be devised for this purpose.
- Transparency and Accountability:Provisions have been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
- Food Security Allowance:Provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals.
- Penalty: Provision for penalty on public servant or authority, to be imposed by the State Food Commission, in case of failure to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer.
- Though the Indian Constitution does not have any explicit provision regarding right to food, the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution may be interpreted to include right to live with human dignity, which may include the right to food and other basic necessities.
Issues related to Health & Education
More than 8000 schools selected for establishing ATLs
8878 schools have been selected for establishing Atal Tinkering Lab (ATLs) to promote research and innovation in schools.
ABOUT ATAL INNOVATION MISSION (AIM):
- AIM is flagship initiative to promote culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in country.
- Its sub-schemes include establishing Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) and Atal Incubation Centers (AICs), for providing scaling up support to Established Incubation Centres.
- It also includes finding ultra-low cost solution to India’s most intractable problems through Atal Grand Challenges and Atal Vikas Challenges.
- Develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of economy.
- Provide platform and collaboration opportunities for different stakeholders, create awareness.
- Create umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country.
WHAT ARE ATAL TINKERING LABS?
- With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, Atal Innovation Mission established Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.
KEY FEATURES OF ATL:
- ATL is a work space where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode; and learn innovation skills.
- Young children will get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
- ATL would contain educational and learning ‘do it yourself’ kits and equipment on – science, electronics, robotics, open source microcontroller boards, sensors and 3D printers and computers.
- In order to foster inventiveness among students, ATL can conduct different activities ranging from regional and national level competitions, designing and fabrication of products, lecture series etc. at periodic intervals.
- AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.
- Schools (Grade VI – XII) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society to set up ATL.
SBI authorised to issue and encash Electoral Bonds
State Bank of India (SBI) has been authorized to issue and encash Electoral Bonds through its 29 Authorized Branches for 10 days.
WHAT ARE ELECTORAL BONDS?
- Electoral bonds will be bearer instrument in nature of promissory note and an interest-free banking instrument.
- These can be redeemed only through the registered accounts of a political party in a prescribed time frame.
- It aims at rooting out current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to generation of black money in the economy.
- Electoral bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of Rs.1,000, Rs.10,000, Rs.10 lakh, and Rs.1 crore from any of the specified branches of State Bank of India (SBI).
WHO CAN PURCHASE?
- A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond.
- The purchaser is allowed to buy electoral bonds only on due fulfilment of all extant KYC norms and by making payment from a bank account. It will not carry the name of the payee.
- In essence, the donor and the party details will be available with the bank, but the political party might not be aware of who the donor is.
ELIGIBILITY OF POLITICAL PARTIES:
- Every party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or State election will be allotted a verified account by the Election Commission of India. Electoral bond transactions can be made only via this account.
- It will have a life of 15 days during which they can be used to make donations to registered political parties.
- The electoral bonds will be available for purchase for a period of 10 days each in months of January, April, July and October with additional 30 days to be specified by Central government in year of general election so that this does not become a parallel currency.
CONCERNS RELATED TO THE CONVENTIONAL SYSTEM OF POLITICAL FUNDING:
- The conventional system of political funding is to rely on donations. These donations, big or small, come from a range of sources from political workers, sympathisers, small business people and even large industrialists.
- The conventional practice of funding the political system was to take donations in cash and undertake these expenditures in cash.
- The sources are anonymous or pseudonymous. The quantum of money was never disclosed.
- The present system ensures unclean money coming from unidentifiable sources. It is a wholly non-transparent system.
WHY ELECTORAL BONDS ARE NECESSARY?
Elections and political parties are a fundamental feature of Parliamentary democracy.
- Elections cost money. The round the year functioning of the political parties involves a large expenditure. Parties run offices throughout the country. Staff salaries, travelling expenses, establishment cost are regular expenditures of political parties. There has not been a single year where election either for the Parliament or State Assemblies have not been held.
- Besides expenditure of individual candidates, political parties have to spend money on election campaigns, publicity, tours, travels and election related establishments. These expenditures run into hundreds of crores. Yet there has not been a transparent funding mechanism of the political system.
- India is the largest democracy in the world. However, despite strengthening various institutions for the last seven decades, India has not been able to evolve a transparent political funding system.
Science & Technology
Maritime technology centre at IIT Kharagpur to bring India on par with Germany, Russia
Ministry of Shipping signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with IIT Kharagpur for setting up the Centre for Inland and Coastal Maritime Technology (CICMT) at IIT Kharagpur.
ABOUT THE CENTRE FOR INLAND AND COASTAL MARITIME TECHNOLOGY (CICMT):
- CICMT will provide technological support, research, testing and experimentation facility to agencies involved in inland water transport, shipbuilding and ports, among others.
- It is being set up the under the flagship Sagarmala Programme. It will be also funded for 5 years under Sagarmala Programme.
- It will focus on ship design for coastal/inland waterways, transport systems & logistics, cryogenic cargo handling, green/renewable energy harvesting from coastal and inland waters and automation and artificial intelligence (AI) for maritime operations.
- First of its kind, this center will be a hub for latest technology tools for maritime sector.
- It will reduce India’s dependence on foreign institutions.
- It will also reduce the cost of research drastically and result in cost and time savings for work in the port and maritime sector.
- It will boost the domestic shipbuilding industry and would also promote advanced ships on electricity, battery and LNG ultimately developing as a global hub.
- It will also reduce the logistics cost from 15 per cent to 10 per cent which will hugely benefit the nation.
- Currently, there is no testing and experimentation facility available in India for inland and coastal vessels for which the shipbuilders have to approach various European countries.
- CICMT is being setup to address this long felt need and to provide impetus to development of inland waterways and coastal shipping in the country.
Key Facts for Prelims
- The UNHCR #IBelong Campaign was launched in November 2014.
- Together with States, civil society and other UN Agencies, it aims to end statelessness by 2024 by resolving existing statelessness, preventing new cases from emerging and better identifying and protecting stateless populations.
- At least 10 million people worldwide are currently stateless, and a baby is born stateless every 10 minutes. Not allowed a nationality, they are often denied the rights and services that countries normally offer their citizens.
Drive to rescue Missing Children
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has developed web portals “TrackChild” and “Khoya-Paya” to track the missing and found children.
ABOUT THE TRACKCHILD PORTAL:
- The ‘TrackChild’ portal has been designed adhering to the guidelines provided in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and Model Rules 2007 and the provisions laid down in the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS).
- It is implemented in association with various stakeholders including Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Railways, State Governments, Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards and National Legal Services Authority.
- It holds the live data base of ‘missing’ & ‘found’ children and tracks the overall progress of the children living in the Child Care Institutions (CCIs).
- The “Khoya-Paya” has been integrated as a citizen corner on TrackChild portal.
- To ensure timely tracking of Missing Children.
- To ensure ultimate repatriation and rehabilitation of the missing children.
- To ensure proper care and development of the children of the Child Care Institutes (CCIs).
- To set up a framework for participating organizations involved in the process.