Group wants new order on MGNREGA workers revoked
(GS-II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections, issues related to development and management of the social sector)
The Union Rural Development Ministry must withdraw its order to discontinue manual attendance for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) worksites with more than 20 workers and use a mobile phone-based application, National Mobile Monitoring Software (NMMS), for recording attendance, the People’s Action For Employment Guarantee (PAEG), a group of academics and activists working in the field.
Violation of NREGA: The Ministry’s order of manual attendance is in violation of the NREGA law and also flagged a series of technical and sociological issues with the app.
Section 15 – Schedule 1 lays down rules about the muster rolls — clearly says that the muster roll must be accessible to the workers on demand all day during all working hours. If The muster roll is available only digitally, access will be limited.
Discourages mates: The app discourages women from being mates which fundamentally undermines the Ministry’s own repeated push towards encouraging women workers as NREGA mates.
The job of a mate is to see the work of the workers working in his workplace. To make daily attendance of labourers, to see who came and who did not.
Lack of access to digital devices: Having a smartphone is now mandatory for mates to record attendance on the NMMS. However, many women from poorer households don’t have access to smartphones.
Language issues: The app has been designed completely in English And there is no technical help provided to redress problems.
National Mobile Monitoring Software (NMMS):
The NMMS App permits taking real-time attendance of workers at Mahatma Gandhi NREGS worksites along with geotagged photographs, which will increase citizen oversight of the programme besides potentially enabling processing payments faster.
Area Officer Monitoring App facilitates them to record their findings online along with time-stamped and go-coordinate tagged photographs for all the schemes of Deptt of Rural Development- Mahatma Gandhi NREGS, PMAYG, PMGSY.
This would also enable not only better record keeping of inspections by field and supervisory officials but also facilitate analysis of the findings for better programme implementation.
Covid vaccines prevented 42 lakh deaths in India in the first year
(GS-III: Science and Technology)
A study by Lancet Infectious Disease has estimated that Covid-19 vaccines prevented nearly 1.98 crore deaths worldwide — out of a potential 3.14 crore deaths — in the first year of the vaccine programme. These include 42.10 lakh deaths prevented in India.
What does the study say:
Majority of Indians are fully vaccinated: India began vaccination in January 2021. According to the Health Ministry, to date, the cumulative vaccination coverage exceeds 196.62 crores. More than 65% of the population are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.
Global inequalities: The study found high and upper-middle-income countries accounted for the greatest number of prevented deaths (1.22 crore/1.98 crore), highlighting inequalities around the world.
Significance of the study:
Huge impact: The data shows the remarkable impact that vaccination has had, especially in India, which was the first country to experience the impact of the Delta variant.
Regulating misleading advertisements
(GS-IV: Media Ethics)
The Central Consumer Protection Authority has come up with the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022.
Bait advertising: It means enticing consumers to buy the product at a lower price.
High Tech:-Computers and other high-tech items are easy to bait and switch because many people don’t understand the technology. So, when a salesperson claims that the only difference between this model and the one advertised is that the manufacturers are different, the consumer believes it.
They are regulated in India.
Surrogate advertisements: They refer to any advertisement that promotes regulated products, like cigarettes and alcohol, in the disguise of another product.
The guidelines prohibit the use of surrogate advertising.
Free advertisements: The advertising method that helps brands get free promotion and boost online presence without any high price tags.
Eg. Do a free product giveaway or contests; answer quora questions.
Advertisements targeted at children and youth: The guidelines prohibit the advertisement of such products that will harm kids in any way.
The guidelines also prohibit advertisements that can develop a negative image of the body in the minds of the children. E.g Fairness cream etc.
Advertisements also cannot give the impression that a product is better than the traditional food that children usually consume at home. E.g Maggi, Yippee noodles, etc.
Penalty (derived from the Consumer Protection Act): It prescribes monetary penalties to the tune of Rs 10 lakh for the first offence, which can go up to Rs 50 lakh for subsequent offences, and imprisonment of up to two years under Section 89 of the Act.
What FPIs’ market exit means
(GS-III: Effects of liberalisation on the economy (post-1991 changes))
Foreign portfolio investors have pulled out Rs 42,000 crore this month amid rising inflation and monetary policy tightening in the US.
What are Foreign portfolio investors (FPI)?
FPI involves an investor buying foreign financial assets such as fixed deposits, stocks, and mutual funds. All the investments are passively held by the investors.
Why is capital flowing out?
Playing safe: Investors see relatively high valuations in India, rising bond yields in the US, an appreciating dollar and concerns regarding the possibility of a recession in the US triggered by a rate hike in the US as the possible reasons for their pullout.
In India, inflation surged to an eight-year high of 7.79% in April, prompting the RBI to hike the repo rate by 90 basis points to 4.90%.
How does it impact the markets and the rupee?
India’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen $46 billion in the last nine months to $596.45 billion as of June 2022, mainly due to the dollar appreciation and FPI withdrawals.
Rupee depreciation may lead to higher import bills: A strong dollar (and weaker rupee) is good for export-oriented companies but bad for import-oriented industries such as oil, gas and chemicals.
With the dip in the rupee, oil imports and other imported components will get costlier, which will further lead to higher inflation.
How do FPIs operate?
In times of global uncertainty, FII moves money from risky assets such as equities and add more bonds and gold. When interest rates rise in the US and other advanced economies, they withdraw money from emerging markets such as India and invest in the bonds in their domestic markets. The 10-year US bond has shot up from a low of 0.54% in July 2020 to over 3.30% now.
How big are FII in India?
FPIs are the largest non-promoter shareholders in the Indian market and their investment decisions have a huge bearing on the stock prices and overall direction of the market.
Will the rupee fall further?
The rupee has continued to depreciate despite the RBI selling dollars from its forex reserve to stabilise the currency. The rise in US inflation, rate hike worries and the stock market fall may drive further weakening of the rupee in India.