Daily Analysis: 10th October 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index

A) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

1. Survey of Villages Abadi and Mapping with Improvised Technology In Village Areas (SVAMITVA) Scheme (PIB)

2. IBM-DST collaboration for girl students–Vigyan Jyoti and Engage with Science (PIB)

3. Indian cotton gets ‘Kasturi’ branding (TH)

4. ‘Har Ghar Jal’ State and Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) (PIB)

B) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

5. Benefits of being a state party or national party (PIB)

C) Science and Technology/Defence/Space

6. Explained: What is SMART test, and why it matters (IE)

D) International Relations

7. Explained: Who won the Nobel Peace Prize 2020, and why?

E) Economy

8. Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2020-21 (TH)

F) Miscellaneous

9. CAWACH Initiative (PIB)

A) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

1. Survey of Villages Abadi and Mapping with Improvised Technology In Village Areas (SVAMITVA) Scheme (PIB)

Context: The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has launched the physical distribution of Property Cards under the SVAMITVA Scheme.

  • The launch will enable around one lakh property holders to download their Property Cards through the SMS link delivered on their mobile phones.
  • This would be followed by physical distribution of the Property Cards by the respective State governments.­­­­ 

About SVAMITVA

  • SVAMITVA is a Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, which was launched on National Panchayati Raj Day, 24th April 2020.
  • The scheme aims to provide the ‘record of rights’ to village household owners in rural areas and issue Property Cards.
  • The Scheme is being implemented across the country in a phased manner over a period of four years (2020-2024) and would eventually cover around 6.62 lakh villages of the country.

Other features of the scheme:

  1. Drone-based survey of rural areas by the Survey of India;
  2. Establishment of Continuous Operating System (CORS) stations’ network to assist in future drone flying activities;
  3. Digital property card format.

The scheme seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  • To bring financial stability to the citizens in rural India by enabling them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.
  • Creation of accurate land records for rural planning.
  • Determination of property tax, which would accrue to the GPs directly in States where it is devolved or else, add to the State exchequer.
  • Creation of survey infrastructure and GIS maps that can be leveraged by any department for their use.
  • To support in preparation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) by making use of GIS maps.
  • To reduce property related disputes and legal cases

Survey of India (SoI) is the national mapping agency (NMA) of the country under the Ministry of Science & Technology.

Continuously Operating Reference System (CORS)

  • CORS enables users (e.g. moving platforms) to position themselves with high-precision (cm-level). 
  • CORS is a GPS augmentation system that facilities, archives and distributes GPS data corrections for precise positioning in an automated manner, usually over an Internet connection.
  • Distance-dependent errors are greatly reduced because more than one station is at work to ensure correct positioning.
  • GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) technology has transformed how surveying is done.
  • However, its use in survey applications is limited because of inherent errors associated with the GPS signals.
  • Continuously Operating Reference System (CORS) is an infrastructure that can solve the problem of accuracy and real-time data acquisition.
  • Looking at the importance and usefulness of the technology, the Survey of India has started an initiative of establishing nationwide CORS network.
  • CORS Network has wide applications in the development of India.
  • It will help in the construction of large infrastructure projects and in generation and updation of revenue maps, which is one of the major problems being faced by the country today.
  • The system will also augment with the NAVIC network along with other GNSS networks like GPS, Galileo and GLONASS. In future, when the NAVIC system improves, dependence on foreign satellite systems will be reduced, making India a self-reliant nation.
  • It is in great demand among industries like surveying, navigation, construction, mining, precision agriculture and scientific research that require greater positional accuracy, as well as continuity of data.
  • India has launched various ambitious missions to prepare the nation for disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Industry 4.0 and robotics. 

2. IBM-DST collaboration for girl students–Vigyan Jyoti and Engage with Science (PIB)

Context: The Department of Science & Technology (DST) and IBM India announced collaborations to scale up two DST initiatives–Vigyan Jyoti and Engage with Science (Vigyan Prasar) to expand existing opportunities for meritorious girls to nurture their interest in Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Analysis

  • DST and IBM India aim to create a robust STEM ecosystem that nurtures critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and next-generation innovators through Inspire Awards-MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspirations and Knowledge) – a program targeting to build one million ideas rooted in science from school students.

Vigyan Jyoti

  • Vigyan Jyoti is an initiative that will create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in their higher education, especially from the top colleges in the areas where girls are hugely underrepresented.
  • Ministries: Department of Science & Technology (DST)
  • Eligibility: The Programme ‘Vigyan Jyoti’ aims to tap 100 girl students from grades 9 to 12 in 550 districts from 2020-2025.
  • The students will be chosen based on their percentile.

Engage with Science

  • In the other collaboration launched alongside, IBM will work with Vigyan Prasar – an autonomous body under the DST to help India’s science popularization agenda through several strategic initiatives, including ‘Engage with Science’.
  • This is an interactive platform that will be built on top of the India Science Over-The-Top (OTT) platform to encourage and inspire high school students to pursue Science & Technology (S&T) for a career.

3. Indian cotton gets ‘Kasturi’ branding (TH)

  • This article has already been covered in detail in 8th October file.

4. ‘Har Ghar Jal’ State and Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) (PIB)

  • Context: Goa becomes first ‘Har Ghar Jal’ State across the nation harnessing the immense benefits of efficiently utilising the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) which aims to improve the quality of life and bring ‘ease-of-living’ to rural communities
  • It successfully provided 100% Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs) in the rural areas covering 2.30 lakh rural households.

Analysis

  • JJM, being implemented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, aims at providing potable water in adequate quantity i.e. 55 litres per capita per day (lpcd) of prescribed quality i.e. BIS Standard of IS: 10500 on regular basis.
  • Assured availability of safe drinking water in the household premises will improve the health and thereby socio-economic condition of the rural population and will also bring down the drudgery of rural women, especially girls.
  • Water quality affected habitations will be given priority under JJM.

For the implementation of JJM, following institutional arrangement has been proposed:

  • National Jal Jeevan Mission at the Central level;
  • State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM) at State level;
  • District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) at district level; and
  • Gram Panchayat and/ or its sub-committees i.e. Village Water Sanitation Committee (VWSC)/ Paani Samiti at village Level to plan, manage, implement, operate and maintain the in-village water supply infrastructure.
  • Communities are also to be enabled to take up surveillance of quality of water supplied by training five persons, preferably women, in every village for quality testing through Field Test Kits (FTKs).
  • Extra budgetary resources will be made available for JJM and is proposed to be allocated along with Gross Budgetary Support among States/ UTs as per the allocation criteria.
  • Good performance of the States/ UTs will be incentivized out of the fund not utilized by other States at the fag end of the financial year.
  • No expenditure towards centage charges, O&M cost of the schemes like electricity charges, salary of regular staff and purchase of land, etc. will be allowed out of Central share.
  • Mandatory source sustainability measures like rain water harvesting, groundwater recharge and other water conservation measures as along with grey water management (including reuse) are proposed to be undertaken in convergence with MGNREGS and grants under Finance Commission, State Finance Commission, District Mineral Development Fund (DMF), etc. 
  • The fund sharing pattern to be 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States; 50:50 for other States and 100% for UTs.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) Vs Jal Shakti Abhiyan

  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan has been launched by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • It is a campaign for water conservation and water security.
  • The campaign will run through citizen participation during the monsoon season, from 1st July, 2019 to 15th September, 2019.
  • An additional Phase 2 will be run from 1st October, 2019 to 30th November, 2019 for States receiving the North East retreating monsoons.
  • The focus of the campaign will be on water stressed districts and blocks.
  • It is a collaborative effort of various Ministries of the Government of India and State Governments, being coordinated by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
  • It aims to ensure five important water conservation interventions.

These will be

  1. Water conservation and rainwater harvesting,
  2. Renovation of traditional and other water bodies/tanks, 
  3. Reuse bore well recharge structures,
  4. Watershed development and
  5. Intensive afforestation.
  • There is no additional funding or specific targets for the campaign to achieve.

Jal Shakti Mantralaya

  • Jal Shakti Mantralaya is formed by integrating the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
  • One of its aim is to ensure piped water supply to all rural households by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • This Mission, under the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, will focus on integrated demand and supply side management of water at the local level, including creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse in agriculture.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission, which has no budget allocation of its own — will need to converge with other Central and State government schemes to achieve its objectives of sustainable water supply management across the country.
  • The ongoing Jal Shakti Abhiyan, a water conservation campaign in 256 water-stressed districts also has no separate allocation, depending on funds available under existing schemes, mostly in the rural development sector.

B) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

5. Benefits of being a state party or national party (PIB)

Context: Considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and enhanced relevance of non-contact based campaign, Election Commission of India, in consultation with Prasar Bharti Corporation has decided to double the broadcast/telecast time allotted to each National Party and recognized State Party of Bihar State on Doordarshan and All India Radio during the ongoing General Election to the Legislative Assembly of Bihar, 2020.

Analysis

Benefits of being a state party or national party

  • The Representation of Peoples’ Act allows political parties to accept contributions voluntarily offered to it by any person or company other than a government company.
  • Candidates of registered parties get preference in allotment of election symbols. 
  • A national/state party is allowed exclusive use of its allotted symbol during Assembly or parliamentary elections ‘across the country/in a state’ where it is recognised as such.
  • A candidate belonging to such parties needs only one proposer for filing the nomination.
  • These parties are also entitled to two sets of electoral rolls free of cost at the time of revision of rolls, while their candidates get one copy of electoral roll for no cost during general elections. 
  • Since 1998, these political parties also get broadcasting rights over All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan during Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
  • Both national and state parties also enjoy the privileges of utilising star campaigners for their election campaigns. A recognised national or state party can have a maximum of 40 star campaigners during a state or national election.
  • Notably, the travel expenses of star campaigners cannot be accounted for in the election expense accounts of candidates.

Registration of Political Parties

  • Registration of political parties is governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. 
  • The Election Commission lists political parties as “national party”, “state party” or “registered (unrecognised) party”.
  • The conditions for being listed as a national or a state party are specified under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

National Party

  • As per the order, a registered political party needs to fulfil at least one of the following three conditions to become a national party:
  1. It needs to win minimum two percent of seats in the Lok Sabha (11 seats) from at least three different states.
  2. It needs to get at least six percent of votes in four states in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, in addition to winning four Lok Sabha seats.
  3. It needs to get recognised as a state party in four or more states.

There are eight political parties with the tag of national party:

  • Bharatiya Janata Party,
  • Indian National Congress,
  • Communist Party of India,
  • Communist Party of India (Marxist),
  • Nationalist Congress Party,
  • Bahujan Samaj Party,
  • Trinamool Congress, and
  • National People’s Party (NPP).

The NPP is the latest to get the status of a recognised National Party.

  1. It has satisfied the last of these conditions.
  2. It is recognised as a state party in four states — Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland, besides Meghalaya.
  3. It has earned that recognition by fulfilling different conditions in different states.
  • In 2010, Rashtriya Janata Dal, led by Lalu Prasad Yadav, lost its national party status after performing poorly in Jharkhand, where it used to be recognised as a state party. 

State Party

  • Each of the 29 states in India has at least one political party which comes under the category of state party.
  • As of March 2019, the Election Commission of India recognises 52 political parties as such. 
  • In order to be recognised as a state party, a political party needs to fulfil at least one of the four criteria laid down by the Election Commission of India. 
  • A political party will be recognised as a state party:
  1. If it wins three percent of the total seats in the Legislative Assembly of the state (subject to a minimum of three seats).
  2. If it wins one Lok Sabha seat for every 25 Lok Sabha seats allotted for the state.
  3. If it gets at least six percent of votes in a state during a Lok Sabha or Assembly election. In addition, it also needs to win at least one Lok Sabha or two Legislative Assembly seats.
  4. If it wins at least eight percent votes in a state during the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly elections.
  • In the past few years, many political parties have been derecognised for failing to secure minimum number of seats and vote share as prescribed by the Election Commission.

Registered but Unrecognised Political Parties

  • Political parties in India are governed by The Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RPA).
  • Any association of Indian citizens or body of individual citizens of India calling itself a political party need to make an application to the Election Commission to get itself registered under Section 29A as a political party in order to take part in elections and for other provisions of RPA.
  • RPA also allows political parties to receive voluntary contributions from anyone including corporate companies (but not government companies).
  • At the end of September 2020, the numbers stood at eight national parties, about 64 state parties and over 2,500 registered unrecognised parties.
  • The candidates set up by a political party registered with the Election Commission of India gets preference in the matter of allotment of free symbols vis-à-vis purely independent candidates. 
  • These registered but unrecognised political parties do not have the privilege of contesting elections on a fixed symbol of their own.
  • They have to choose from a list of ‘free symbols’ issued by the poll panel.
  • However, these parties are allowed to have up to 20-star campaigners during an election campaign. 
  • To become a recognised political party either at the state or national level, a party has to secure certain minimum percentage of polled valid votes or certain number of seats in the state legislative assembly or the Lok Sabha during the last election.
  • Fearing misuse of the provisions for financial contributions to political parties, the Election Commission had in 2016 asked the Central Board of Direct Taxes to look into the finances of 255 registered but unrecognised political parties it had “unlisted” that year for not contesting polls in the last one decade between 2005 and 2015.
  • There have been fears that most of such parties are used to ’round trip’ the black money into white.
  • Under existing laws, the EC has the authority to register a political party but there is no provision to allow it to deregister any party that has been given recognition.
  • With its demand to get power to deregister a party being pending with the Law Ministry, the Commission had used its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to “delist” parties for being dormant and not contesting elections for a long time.
  • Delisting merely implies that the parties won’t receive tax exemption.

C) Science and Technology/Defence/Space

6. Explained: What is SMART test, and why it matters (IE)

Context: India recently successfully conducted the flight test of a Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Analysis

What is SMART system?

  • Torpedoes, self-propelled weapons that travel underwater to hit a target, are limited by their range.
  • SMART is a missile assisted release of lightweight Anti-Submarine Torpedo System for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations far beyond Torpedo range.
  • This SMART system comprises a mechanism by which the torpedo is launched from a supersonic missile system with modifications that would take the torpedo to a far longer range than its own.
  • For example, a torpedo with a range of a few kilometres can be sent a distance to the tune of 1000 km by the missile system from where the torpedo is launched.
  • The system also gives flexibility in terms of the missile system’s launch platform.
  • A number of DRDO laboratories have developed the technologies required for SMART.

Shaurya missile

  • The test follows another crucial test of the nuclear-capable Shaurya missile.
  • Shaurya is a land-based parallel of the submarine-launched K-15 Sagarika missile.
  • In January 2020, DRDO conducted two successful tests of the K Family’s K-4 missiles.
  • The capability of launching nuclear weapons from submarine platforms has great strategic importance in light of the “no first use” policy of India.
  • The nuclear-powered Arihant submarine and its class members in the pipeline are assets capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads.

Maareech

  • Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capability got a boost in June after the conclusion of a contract for Advanced Anti-Torpedo Decoy System, Maareech, capable of being fired from all frontline warships.
  • ‘Maareech’ has been designed and developed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and it is capable of detecting, locating and neutralizing incoming torpedo.

D) International Relations

7. Explained: The Nobel Peace Prize 2020 (IE)

Context: The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize 2020 to the United Nation’s (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) for its efforts to combat hunger and for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for preventing the use of hunger being weaponised in war and conflict.

Analysis

About the Nobel Peace Prize

  • The Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded since 1901 and was not awarded on 19 occasions including 1914-1916, 1918, 1939-1943 among some other years.
  • This is because the statutes of the Nobel Foundation mention, “If none of the works under consideration is found to be of the importance indicated in the first paragraph, the prize money shall be reserved until the following year. If, even then, the prize cannot be awarded, the amount shall be added to the Foundation’s restricted funds.” Therefore, fewer awards were given during the two World Wars.

Process of nomination and selection

  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for selecting the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.
  • A nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize may be submitted by any persons who are qualified to nominate.
  • According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, a nomination is considered valid if it is submitted by a person who falls within one of the following categories:
  1. Members of national assemblies and national governments (cabinet members/ministers) of sovereign states as well as current heads of states
  2. Members of The International Court of Justice in The Hague and The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague Members of l’Institut de Droit International.
  3. Members of the international board of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
  4. University professors, professors emeriti and associate professors of history, social sciences, law, philosophy, theology, and religion; university rectors and university directors (or their equivalents); directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes
  5. Persons who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
  6. Members of the main board of directors or its equivalent of organizations that have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  7. Current and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
  8. Former advisers to the Norwegian Nobel Committee

Candidacy criteria

  • The candidates eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize are those persons or organizations nominated by qualified individuals, see above.
  • A nomination for yourself will not be taken into consideration.

Selection of Nobel Laureates

  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for the selection of eligible candidates and the choice of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.
  • The Committee is composed of five members appointed by the Storting (Norwegian parliament).
  • The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway, not in Stockholm, Sweden, where the Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and the Economics Prize are awarded.

50 year secrecy rule

  • The Committee does not itself announce the names of nominees, neither to the media nor to the candidates themselves.
  • In so far as certain names crop up in the advance speculations as to who will be awarded any given year’s Prize, this is either sheer guesswork or information put out by the person or persons behind the nomination.
  • Information in the Nobel Committee’s nomination database is not made public until after fifty years.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2019

  • Abiy Ahmed Ali “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.”

Nobel Prize awarded organizations

  • The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 28 times to organizations between 1901 and 2020.
  • 25 individual organizations have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, as UNHCR, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has received the Nobel Peace Prize twice, in 1954 and 1981, and the work of Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross) (ICRC) has been honoured three times, in 1917, 1944 and 1963.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2020: World Food Programme (WFP)
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2017: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
  • “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2015: National Dialogue Quartet
  • “for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011”
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2013: Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2012: European Union (EU)
  • “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2007: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2006: Grameen Bank
  • “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below”
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2005: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2001: United Nations (U.N.)
  • “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world”

Do you know?

  • So far, the youngest laureate is Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 years old when she won in 2014 and the oldest recipient was Joseph Rotblat who was given the award at the age of 87 in 1995.

Mother Teresa 

  • The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Mother Teresa in 1979.
  • Having become an Indian citizen, Mother Teresa served the cause of dying destitutes, lepers and drug addicts, through Nirmal Hriday (meaning Pure Heart), the main centre of her activity.
  • Her selfless service and unique devotion, not only to helpless fellow-Indians but also to the cause of world peace, earned her and India the first Nobel Peace Prize.

Kailash Satyarthi

  • He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.         

Mahatma Gandhi and Nobel Prize

  • Despite being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on five occasions – 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and a few days before he was assassinated in 1948 – Mahatma Gandhi was never awarded the prize.

So, what is the UN WFP and why did it win the prize?

  • The WFP, headquartered in Rome, was established in 1961 at the behest of the US president Dwight Eisenhower, and is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation (certified as the largest by the Guinness World Records in 2002) committed towards its global goal of ending hunger by the year 2030.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization saving lives and changing lives, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
  • WFP’s efforts focus on emergency assistancerelief and rehabilitationdevelopment aid and special operations
  • In 2015, eradication of world hunger became one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and WFP is the UN’s primary instrument in achieving that goal.
  • Other UN agencies that work towards providing food security include the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
  • Other UN SDGs include ending poverty, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, providing quality education and affordable and clean energy among others.
  • WFP runs entirely on public donations and was able to raise over $8 billion last year. Its donors include governments, corporations and individuals.

How does WFP help people?

  • WFP provides food assistance in two ways, either by way of providing food or by meeting people’s food-needs by providing cash-based transfers.

How does WFP measure hunger?

  • The organisation estimates hunger by the prevalence of undernourishment.
  • The UN defines undernourished or food-deprived people as those individuals whose food intake falls below the minimum level of dietary energy requirements.
  • These dietary energy requirements are set by sex and age groups in consultation between the FAO, UN and WHO.

Does WFP work in India?

  • WFP has been working in India since 1963, two years after its establishment, with work transitioning from food distribution to technical assistance since the country achieved self-sufficiency in cereal production.
  • With the Government now providing its own food distribution systems, WFP work focuses on supporting the strengthening of these systems to ensure they become more efficient and reach the people who need the most.
  • One-fourth of the world’s undernourished population is in India and about 21 percent of the population live on less than $1.90 a day.
  • At the moment, WFP is working to improve the government’s targeted public distribution system (TPDS) to ensure that food reaches those that need it the most.
  • The WFP has proposed some unique initiatives like Automatic Grain Dispensing Machine (Annapurti) — ATMs for rice— that are aimed at checking malpractices in the distribution system, and Mobile Storage Units, a “cost-effective solution for foodgrain storage”, for the effective implementation of TPDS.
  • Annapurti allows beneficiaries to withdraw their foodgrain quota accurately and at a time of their choice.
  • It can dispense two commodities at a speed of 25 kg per 1.3 minutes.
  • It has a storage capacity of 200 kg to 500 kg.
  • It is also working with the government to improve the nutritional value of the Midday Meal programme and is using its own software called the Vulnerability and Analysis Mapping to identify the most food insecure groups in the country.
  • Recently, WFP has partnered with the government of Uttar Pradesh to set up over 200 supplementary nutrition production units to support distribution under the government’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme that provides nutrition services to children below the age of six.
  • Recently, the United Nations World Food Programme India and IIT-Delhi announced that they will collaborate to combine forces to develop solutions for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the government’s food safety nets through operations research.

E) Economy

8. Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2020-21 (TH)

Context: The Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2020-21-Series VII has been opened for subscription by the RBI.

The RBI has also decided to offer a discount of ?50 per gram less than the nominal value to those investors applying online, and the payment against the application is made through digital mode.

Analysis

Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme

What is a sovereign gold bond (SGB)?

  • Sovereign gold bond is a substitute for holding physical gold. The bonds are issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on behalf of the government and is a bond denominated in gold.
  • The government issues such bonds in tranches at a fixed price that investors can buy through banks, post offices and also in the secondary markets through the stock exchange platform.

What are the benefits of buying SGB?

  • These bonds are backed by a sovereign guarantee and can also be held in demat form.
  • They are priced as per the underlying spot gold prices.
  • Hence, investors who want to invest in gold can buy the bonds without worrying about safekeeping of physical gold along with locker charges, making charges or purity issues.
  • These bonds offer an interest at the rate of 2.5% per annum on the principal investment amount.
  • While the interest on the bonds are taxable, the capital gains at the time of redemption are exempt from tax.
  • These bonds can also be used as collateral for availing loans from banks and NBFCs.

What are the benefits of buying SGB?

  • Hence, investors who want to invest in gold can buy the bonds without worrying about safekeeping of physical gold along with locker charges, making charges or purity issues.
  • While the interest on the bonds are taxable, the capital gains at the time of redemption are exempt from tax.

How are the bonds structured?

  • SGB has a fixed tenure of eight years, though early redemption is allowed after the fifth year from issuance.
  • Since the bonds are listed on the exchange, these can be transferred to other investors as well.
  • The bonds are priced in rupees based on the simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity, published by the India Bullion and Jewellers Association for the last three business days of the week preceding the subscription period.
  • At the time of redemption, cash equivalent to the number of units multiplied by the then prevailing price would be credited to the bank account of the investor.
  • Those who apply online for the latest tranche are eligible for a discount of ?50 per gram.
  • Everyone except for non-resident Indians (NRIs) can invest.
  • Investment in these bonds can be made through cash (up to ?20,000), cheque or demand draft.
  • The bonds are issued in denominations of one gram and in multiples thereof.
  • Maximum investment in a year is capped at 4 kg for individuals. Minimum permissible investment will be 1 gram of gold.
  • The RBI fixes the price of the bond.
  • Bonds will be tradable on stock exchanges within a fortnight of the issuance on a date as notified by the RBI.

Are there any risks in investing in SGB?

Capital loss is a risk since the bond prices would reflect any change in gold prices. If gold prices fall, the principal investment would fall proportionately.

Gold ETFs Vs Sovereign Gold Bonds

  • Total returns on investment through gold ETFs is lower than actual return on gold (*Actual return (per gram) is assumed as = Price of gold per gram on trading exchange on date of sale – Cost of purchase of that gram of gold) whereas it is higher than actual return on gold in case of Sovereign Gold Bonds (due to the interest paid on the bond during holding period).
  • Unlike Sovereign Gold Bonds, gold ETFs can’t be used as collateral for loan.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

  • Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are mutual funds listed and traded on stock exchanges like shares.
  • Like mutual funds, they pool together investors’ money to buy a diversified portfolio of stocks or bonds.
  • The only difference is that instead of buying an ETF directly from a fund company, you buy a share of it through a brokerage, just like you would a stock.

F) Miscellaneous

9. CAWACH Initiative (PIB)

  • The technologies developed by some start-ups have been repurposed and extended for COVID19 with support from the Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), an initiative by National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science and Technology (DST), implemented by Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay.

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