Petition Demanding Wages for MGNREGA Workers
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition has been filed in the Supreme Court demanding that the government pay full wages to all active job card holders of MGNREGA during lockdown.
According to data, employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) declined to just over 1% of the usual rate in April, 2020 due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Less than 1.9 lakh families have been provided work under the scheme in April 2020, in comparison to almost 1.6 crore households which were provided work in March,2020 and the 1.8 crore households employed under the scheme in February, 2020 before the lockdown began.
Chhattisgarh was the highest employment generator under the scheme in April, providing work to more than 70,000 families. It was followed by Andhra Pradesh with more than 53,000 households given work.
The decline in employment rates under the scheme is despite the fact that migrant workers returning to villages should have increased demand in rural areas.
No exceptions from restrictions were provided for the MGNREGA under the lockdown.
This was despite States being asked to continue implementing the scheme while following social distancing guidelines.
The Ministry of Finance had said MGNREGA daily wages would be increased by ₹20, and would support the 13.6 crore families who hold job cards.
This relief is meaningless when most States have closed down MGNREGA worksites to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Launch of CollabCAD in Atal Tinkering Labs
Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) have jointly launched CollabCAD in Atal Tinkering Labs (or ATL schools) to provide students experience in creating and modifying 3D designs.
CollabCAD is a collaborative network enabled and desktop CAD (Computer -Aided Design) software system, which provides a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D printing.
3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.
3D printing has been used to create car parts, smartphone cases, fashion accessories, medical equipment and artificial organs.
Developed By: It is an initiative of National Informatics Centre (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology), New Delhi, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Department of Atomic Energy), Navi Mumbai and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (Department of Space, ISRO), Thiruvananthapuram.
Cyber Frauds and Covid-19
The Covid-19 outbreak presents a global challenge for the medical fraternity and society as well as for law enforcement agencies, due to the rising cases of cyber crime.
Novel ways (fake accounts and exploiting vulnerabilities of various applications) of defrauding people using information and technology are being used to siphon off the money.
The lockdown has forced employees to work from home. Use of public platforms may result in loss of confidential data if an organisation does not have its own infrastructure and does not use VPN (Virtual Private Network) for accessing its resources.
Recent Cases of Cyber Fraud
An alert has been issued about phishing of the UPI (Unified Payments Interface) ID of the PM CARES Fund, in which the offender created a similar-looking ID to deceive users.
UPI is a real-time payment system developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI) for inter-bank transactions.
The interface is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India and instantly transfers funds between two bank accounts on a mobile platform. The NPCI keeps a record of all the accounts and transactions.
Cases have been reported of fake Facebook accounts where money has been fraudulently asked for the treatment of alleged patients by hacking their accounts.
Zoom App Mishap:
The Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-In) circulated a vulnerability note giving Zoom a ‘medium’ security rating.
The permission to Zoom for accessing the user’s microphone, web-cam and data storage can result in hijacking and loss of private data.
‘Zoomraiding’ or ‘Zoombombing’ can be started, in which hate speech, pornography or other content is suddenly flashed by disrupting a video call on Zoom.
In the app, meeting IDs can be shared through a link, on screen and other mediums which give the chances to uninvited guests to join a meeting and gain access to sensitive information.
World Economic Outlook Report: IMF
Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released its World Economic Outlook (WEO) report.
The Covid-19 pandemic is having a severe effect on the world economy. As countries implement necessary quarantines and social distancing practices to contain Covid-19, the world has been put in a Great Lockdown.
It is expected to cause a -3% change (i.e., a contraction) in global output in 2020, which is much worse than the 2008-09 financial crises.
Case of India: India’s growth is expected to dip to 1.9% in 2020 and rebound to 7.4% in 2021.
India’s growth projection for 2020 is 3.9% less than what was projected for the country in the January update to the WEO while its rebound in 2021 is 0.9 % higher than the January projection.
Emerging Asia is projected to be the only region that grows in 2020, at a rate of 1.0% – still more than 5 percentage points below the previous decade’s average.
In China, where the coronavirus’s impacts were first recorded this year, first quarter economic activity could have contracted by 8% year on year. China is projected to grow at 1.2% in 2020 and 9.2% in 2021.
Apart from India’s modest 1.9% in 2020, Indonesia is expected to grow at 0.5%, while others in the region experience contractions.
Advanced economies will have an output change of -6.1% (i.e., a contraction) in 2020 followed by 4.5% in 2021.
The U.S. is projected to contract by 5.9% in 2020 and grow by 4.7% 2021.
The Euro area, will contract by 7.5% in 2020 and grow by 4.7% 2021.
Impact on Global GDP:
The cumulative loss to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over 2020 and 2021 from the pandemic crisis could be around 9 trillion dollars, greater than the economies of Japan and Germany, combined.
Assuming that the pandemic fades in the second half of this year, with containment efforts gradually easing up, the world economy is projected to grow at 5.8% in 2020 as economic activity normalizes, aided by policy.
If the pandemic does not recede in the second half of 2020, global GDP would fall an additional 3% in 2020.
Civil Defence volunteers
More than 50,000 Civil Defence volunteers are working at the grassroots level in various roles and capacities to assist the local administration in implementing the measures to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Civil Defence personnel are supplementing the local administration in conducting surveillance of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. They have been working as rapid response teams.
They have been deployed in all the States and most Union Territories, barring Ladakh, Daman & Diu, and Puducherry.
Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Assam have taken the lead in using their services.
The volunteers have been deployed under the command of District Magistrates to assist the local administration in implementing the COVID-19 guidelines and policies effectively.
How civil defence personnel can be employed? Provisions in this regard?
Civil Defence operates under the Civil Defence Act and associated rules and regulations. The Act was amended in 2009 and a notification was issued in 2010 to include disaster management as an additional role. Civil Defence is primarily organised on voluntary basis except for a small nucleus of paid staff and establishment which is augmented during emergencies.
Although it is a Central law, Section 4 of the Civil Defence Act empowers State governments to raise corps at the local administration level as per their requirement. The District Magistrate, District Collector or Deputy Commissioner is designated as Controller of the Civil Defence.
Eligibility for becoming a Civil Defence Volunteer:
A person who intends to apply for appointment to a Civil Defence Corps must fulfil the following conditions;
Both men and women shall be eligible for appointment to the Corps.
Colour coding to help manage COVID-19 pandemic
The government has decided to divide all districts across the country into hotspots, non-hotspots and green zones.
The health and family welfare ministry has identified 170 hotspot districts, 207 non-hotspot districts reporting cases and 359 green zone districts not reporting any cases across the country.
These numbers will increase or decrease based on fresh cases of novel coronavirus infection.
Why this classification was necessary? What are its implications?
This will help in managing the Covid-19 pandemic as well as partial opening up of economic activities during the extended period of the nationwide lockdown. This would help in management of hotspots and spread of pandemic.
How are the districts divided?
The health ministry used two criteria to classify the districts as hotspots — the absolute number of cases and the speed of growth in cases.
The technical definition followed to classify the districts is any district reporting more than six cases would be classified as hotspot district or red zone.
Any hotspot district with more than 15 cases would be treated as a district witnessing outbreak.
Which districts are under red zone?
Delhi and NCR, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Thane, Yavatmal, Sangli, Buldhana, Ahmednagar, and Latur in Maharashtra, and Chennai, Chengalpattu, Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Erode, Dindigul, Karur, Madurai, Namakkal, Ranipet, Tiruchirapalli, Tiruppur and Theni in Tamil Nadu.
Demarcation of epicentre and containment zones:
A house with positive cases or a cluster with positive cases is marked as the epicentre of the containment zone. A radius of 0.5 km is taken and the area around it is cordoned off with only essential services available.
Also, a buffer zone is marked where people with severe and acute respiratory illnesses (SARI) are checked and monitored.
Containment zones are created to map the local transmission of the disease and prevent the contagion from spreading.