Nod for Ken-Betwa link project
(GS-II: Government policies and issues related)
The Union Cabinet has approved the funding and implementation of the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project at a cost of ₹44,605 crore at the 2020-21 price level.
The Centre would fund ₹39,317 crore for the project, with ₹36,290 crore as a grant and ₹3,027 crore as a loan.
About the Project:
The project involves transferring of water from the Ken river to the Betwa river through the construction of Daudhan dam and a canal linking the two rivers, the Lower Orr Project, Kotha Barrage and the Bina Complex Multipurpose Project.
Significance of the Project:
The project is slated to irrigate 10.62 lakh hectares annually, provide drinking water supply to 62 lakh people and generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.
The project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The project is expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation.
It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region.
Several obstacles have dogged the project.
The project will partly submerge the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and affect the habitat of vultures and jackals.
After years of protests, it was finally cleared by the apex wildlife regulator, the National Board for Wildlife, in 2016.
Benefits of interlinking:
World Inequality Report
(GS-I: Issues related to population and development)
The 2022 World Inequality Report (WIR) has been released.
What you need to know about the WIR?
Released by the World Inequality Lab, a research center at the Paris School of Economics.
The WIR studies different kinds of financial data to find out how a country’s (and the world’s) income and wealth are distributed.
Significance of the report– why do we need a study on inequalities?
This is vital information because in most democracies, the wealthy can, and do, transform their economic power into political power, and therefore, the higher the inequality, the greater the likelihood that an affluent minority could end up determining the fate of the majority. Availability of accurate data about levels of inequality can help generate public opinion in favour of policy measures that can mitigate them.
Key findings of the 2022 report:
The gap between the rich and the poor in terms of share of national income is quite large, and growing rapidly as a result of government policies that favour the affluent elite. The richest 10% of the global population takes home 52% of the global income, whereas the poorest 50% got only 8.5% of it.
Global wealth inequities are worse than income inequalities. While the poorest 50% own just 2% of the global wealth, the richest 10% own 76% of all the wealth.
Inequality between countries was narrowing while inequality within countries was increasing. While the gap between the average incomes of the richest 10% of countries and the average incomes of the poorest 50% of countries has dropped from 50x to less than 40x, the gap between the average incomes of the top 10% and the bottom 50% of individuals within countries has almost doubled, from 8.5x to 15x.
Countries are growing richer, governments are becoming poorer: The share of privately owned wealth in national wealth was rising, while that of public wealth (buildings, universities, roads, hospitals etc) was shrinking.
Inequality across the continents:
While Europe was the region with the least amount of inequality (the income share of the top 10% was 36%), inequality was highest in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where the share of the top 10% was 58%.
Income inequality in India:
India is one of the world’s most unequal countries, with the top 1% getting 21.7% of the national income.
Top 10% of Indians capture 57% of the national income, while the share of the bottom 50% is only 13%.
While the average national income of the bottom 50% stood at ₹53,610, the top 10% earned more than 20 times more, ₹11,66,520.
Inequality in India- Before and after 1947:
Income inequality in India today is worse than it was under British rule. Under the British (1858-1947), the top 10% got about 50% of the national income (lower than today’s 57%).
In the decades after India got independence, socialistic economic policies reduced income inequality, bringing the share of the top 10% to 35-40%.
But starting from the 1980s, the report states, “deregulation and liberalisation policies have led to one of the most extreme increases in income and wealth inequality observed in the world.”
Overall learning from the report:
The report points out that inequality and poverty are not inevitable but mainly the effect of policy choices.
It tracks how inequalities burgeoned around the globe from the 1980s onward – in contrast to the previous three decades – following the liberalisation programmes that were implemented in different countries.
It recommends wealth taxes on the super-rich and a robust redistribution regime as policy measures that could arrest, if not reverse, the current trend of rising inequality.
(GS-II: Issues related to health)
The Government has informed the Lok Sabha that State Governments and Union Territories have utilised only 56% of the total funds released under the Poshan Abhiyan or Nutrition Mission in the past three years.
Out of a total amount of ₹5,312 crore disbursed by the Centre between financial years 2019 to 2021, a sum of ₹2,985 crore was utilised.
The number of “severe acute malnourished” children in the country has become less than 15 lakh.
About Poshan Abhiyaan:
The programme seeks to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Launched in 2018 with specific targets to be achieved by 2022.
It aims to reduce:
Stunting and wasting by 2% a year (total 6% until 2022) among children.
Anaemia by 3% a year (total 9%) among children, adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
More than a third of the children under five face stunting and wasting and 40% aged between one and four are anaemic. Over 50% of pregnant and other women were found to be anaemic, said the National Family Health Survey 4 released in 2016.
Suggestions made by NITI Aayog:
The programme must be stepped up to meet the targets set by the Centre to reduce stunting, wasting and anaemia by 2022.
Graduate to a POSHAN-plus strategy which apart from continued strengthening the four pillars of the Abhiyaan also requires renewed focus on other social determinants in addition to addressing the governance challenges of NHM/ICDS delivery mechanisms.
Lay as much emphasis on complementary feeding as it does on breastfeeding. This can help avert 60% of the total stunting cases in India.
It is an umbrella scheme covering the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) (Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyan, Scheme For Adolescent Girls, National Creche Scheme).
It was announced in Union Budget 2021-22 by merging supplementary nutrition programmes and the POSHAN Abhiyaan.
It was launched to strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcome, with renewed focus on developing practices that nurture health, wellness and immunity to disease and malnutrition in the country.
Unified payments interface (UPI)
(GS-III: Developments related to Science and Technology)
The UPI facility will soon be extended to feature phone users. At the moment, the unified payments interface (UPI) — the single largest retail payments system in the country in terms of volume of transactions for small-value payments — is available only for smartphones.
RBI is doing this to further deepen digital payments and make them more inclusive, ease transactions for consumers, facilitate greater participation of retail customers in various segments of financial markets and to enhance the capacity of service providers.
What is UPI?
Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system, allowing users to transfer money on a real-time basis, across multiple bank accounts without revealing details of one’s bank account to the other party.
UPI is currently the biggest among the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) operated systems including National Automated Clearing House (NACH), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS), Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), RuPay etc.
The top UPI apps include PhonePe, Paytm, Google Pay, Amazon Pay and BHIM, the latter being the Government offering.
What is BHIM?
Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is India’s digital payment application (app) that works through UPI, a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application.
The BHIM app has three levels of authentication:
For one, the app binds with a device’s ID and mobile number.
Second a user needs to sync whichever bank account (UPI or non-UPI enabled) in order to the conduct transaction.
Third, when a user sets up the app they are asked to create a pin which is needed to log into the app. The UPI pin, which a user creates with their bank account is needed to go through with the transaction.