Sunday, July 28, 2013


Schemes Providing Subsidised Foodgrains


      Government of India makes allocation of foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families @ 35 kg per family per month. Beneficiaries for the scheme are identified by the States on the basis of 1993-94 poverty estimates of Planning Commission and March 2000 population estimates of Registrar General of India.  


The Department of Food & PD also makes allocation of food grains at BPL prices for the following welfare schemes implemented by various Ministries/Departments of the Government of India as well as State Governments/UTs:


The Mid Day Meal Scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The Scheme covers students of Primary & Upper Primary Classes in the Government Schools/Schools aided by Government and the Schools run by local bodies. Food grains are supplied free of cost @ 100 gram per child per school day where cooked/processed hot meal is being served or 3 kgs per student per month where foodgrains are distributed in raw form. 


This Scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Women & Child Development. The food grains allotted under this Scheme are utilized by the States/UTs under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) for providing nutritious/energy food to children in the age group of 0-6 years and expectant/lactating women.


      The Ministry of Women and Child Development administers the scheme at the central level and State/UT Governments implement the scheme.  The SABLA Scheme has been launched on 19.11.2010 by merging two schemes namely Nutrition Programme and Adolescent Girls (NPAG) and Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) in to a single scheme and proposed to be implemented in 200 selected districts across the country.  The Scheme aims at empowering adolescent girls of 11-18 years by improvement of their nutritional and health status and upgrading various skills like home skills, life skills and vocational skills.  It also aims at equipping the girls on family welfare, health hygiene etc. and information and guidance on existing public services along with aiming to mainstream out of school girls into formal or non-formal education. The requirement of food grains under the scheme for nutrition is @ 100 grams of grains per beneficiary per day for 300 days in a year. 

This Scheme is implemented by the Department of Food and Public Distribution through the State Governments/UTs. To meet the requirement of Hostels/Welfare Institutions, viz., N.G.Os/Charitable Institutions, an additional allocation of foodgrains up to 5% of the BPL allocation of each State/UT is made to States/UTs at BPL rates under this Scheme.  


      This Scheme is implemented by the Department of Food and Public Distribution through the State Governments/UTs. Under this Scheme, all residents of the hostels having 2/3rd students belonging to SC/ST/OBC are given 15 kg. foodgrains per resident per month .


      This Scheme is implemented by Ministry of Rural Development. Indigent senior citizens of 65 years of age or above who, though eligible for old age pension under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) but are not getting the same, are covered under this Scheme and 10 kgsof foodgrains per person per month are supplied free of cost.   


This Scheme is implemented by Department of Food and Public Distribution through the State Government of Orissa. The Scheme is being implemented in eight KBK Districts of Orissa covering 2 lakh beneficiaries andfoodgrains (rice) at BPL rates are being allocated to State Government of Orissa.  Cooked food containing, inter alia, rice-200 gmsdal (pulse)-40 gms and vegetables-30 gms is provided daily in the diet of each EFP beneficiary by the State Government.  


Village Grain Bank Scheme was earlier implemented by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 11 States. However, since 24.11.2004, the scheme is being implemented by the Department Food & Public Distribution. 

The main objective of the scheme presently being implemented is to provide safeguard against starvation during the period of natural calamity or during lean season when the marginalized food insecure households do not have sufficient resources to purchase rations.  Such people in need of food grains will be able to borrow food grains from the Village Grain Bank. The grain banks are to be set up in food scarce areas like the drought prone areas, the hot and cold desert areas, tribal areas and the inaccessible hilly areas which remain cut off because of natural calamities like floods, etc. These villages are to be notified by the concerned State Government/Union Territory. The scheme envisages inclusion of all willing BPL/AAY families in the villages to be identified by   the State Government in food deficit areas. The quantity to be lent and the period of repayment is to be decided by the Group themselves.  Village Panchayat/Gram Sabha, Self Help Group for NGOs etc. identified by the State Governments are eligible for running the Grain Banks.

Friday, July 26, 2013

India ranked 3rd in Global Consumer Confidence Index

India has been ranked third in the Global Consumer Confidence Index. The latest survey by the Nielsen reveals that in the second quarter of the current financial year, India slipped one point behind Indonesia and Philippines in the overall consumer confidence levels.  Indonesia emerged as the most optimistic country with 124 points followed by Philippines with 121 points and India came third with 121 points. 
According to the survey, 72 percent Indians are optimistic about their job prospects in the next 12 months.  The job security is the major concern followed by the state of Indian economy. Analysts say that the pattern is a reflection of the concerns of the devaluation of the rupee and the continuing inflation for urban Indians over the past six months.  The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions measures is based on consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Poverty Ratio of India declined to 21.9 percent in 2011-12: PCI Poverty Estimates Report

Poverty Ratio in India declined to 21.9 percent in 2011-12 from 37.2 percent measured in 2004-05 on the basis of the increase in per capita consumption. The Planning Commission of India on 23 July 2013 released its report on the Poverty Estimates for 2011-12. The report was based on the Large Sample Surveys on Household Consumer Expenditure conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Poverty Ratio in India

The National Poverty Line estimated for rural areas during 2011-12 was 816 rupees per capita per month, whereas, for urban areas it was recorded at 1000 rupees per capita per month. Thus, for a family of five, the all India poverty line in terms of consumption expenditure would amount to about 4080 rupees per month in rural areas and 5000 rupees per month in urban areas. These poverty lines would vary from State to State because of inter-state price differentials.

Poverty Estimates 2011-12
1.    The all India poverty ratio is obtained as state-population weighted average poverty ratio, and the all India poverty line is the per capita per month expenditure that corresponds to the all India poverty ratio.
2.    The NSSO tabulates expenditure of about 1.20 lakh households. Since these households have different number of members, the NSSO for purpose of comparison divided the household expenditure by the number of members to arrive at per capita consumption expenditure per month. This is called Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure (MPCE) and is computed on the basis of three different concepts: 
a)    Uniform Reference Period (URP)
b)    Mixed Reference Period (MRP)
c)    Modified Mixed Reference Period (MMRP). 
3.    The national level poverty ratio based on comparable methodology (Tendulkar Method) for 1993-94, 2004-05 and 2011-12 estimated from Large Sample Survey of Household Consumer Expenditure data of 50th, 61st and 68th round respectively are given in the image.
4.    The percentage of persons below the Poverty Line in 2011-12 has been estimated as 25.7 percent in rural areas, 13.7 percent in urban areas and 21.9 percent for the country as a whole. The respective ratios for the rural and urban areas were 41.8 percent and 25.7 percent and 37.2 percent for the country as a whole in 2004-05. It was 50.1 percent in rural areas, 31.8 percent in urban areas and 45.3 percent for the country as a whole in 1993-94. In 2011-12, India had 270 million persons below the Tendulkar Poverty Line as compared to 407 million in 2004-05, that is a reduction of 137 million persons over the seven year period.
5.    The decline in poverty flows from the increase in real per capita consumption. The per annum increase in real MPCE for each of the ten deciles. The clear inferences are
a)    The real MPCE increased by much more in the second period (2004-05 to 2011-12) as compared to the first (1993-94 to 2004-05)
b)    That the increase was fairly well distributed across all deciles of the population
c)    The distribution was particularly equitable in rural areas

The ratio is based on the methodology that was suggested by the Suresh Tendulkar Committee that suggests the factors in money spent on health and education besides calorie intake to fix a poverty line. As per Tendulkar Methodology, the poverty line has been expressed in terms of MPCE based on Mixed Reference Period. 

Since several representations were made suggesting that the Tendulkar Poverty Line was too low, the Planning Commission, in June 2012, constituted an Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Dr. C. Rangarajan to once again review the methodology for the measurement of poverty. The report on the recommendation on poverty line made by Tendulkar Committee from the Rangarajan committee is likely to be submitted by mid 2014.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

EC amended the Symbols Order

In exercise of the powers conferred by the Article 324 of the Indian Constitution, the Election Commission has amended the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968. the amended order decided to facilitate allotment of a common symbol to the registered un-recognised parties that contest a general election from a minimum of 10% of seats in a State (Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly) six months in advance. As per the earlier provisions allotment of common symbol to registered un-recognised parties was made close to the date of notification of election. 

In the event of premature dissolution of a House, the application for common symbol can be submitted from the date of dissolution of the House. Allotment of symbol will be made as and when the application, complete in all respects, is received, and the allotment will be on ‘first-come-first-served’ basis. If applications of two parties are received on the same day, and both ask for the same symbol, the matter will be decided by draw of lots between such parties. However, in such cases, if one of the parties has sitting MP or MLA elected on the same symbol, it will get preference over the other party(ies) for allotment of the symbol. 

At the time of making the application, the party has to give an undertaking that it will contest from a minimum of 10% of the constituencies in the State. In States with 40 seats or less in the Assembly, the party has to contest from a minimum of 5 seats. In the case of Lok Sabha election, in the States with less than 20 Lok Sabha seats, the party has to contest from a minimum of 2 seats. The party is required to submit the list of constituencies where it is going to contest.

If a party is submitting application before the period of three months prior to the date of expiry of the House, or within one month of dissolution a House, the party has the option of even proposing the symbols that may be allotted to it. In such case, the party has to give, for the Commission’s approval, the design and drawing of the symbol it is proposing which should not have any resemblance to a reserved or free symbol, or any religious or communal connotation or depict any bird or animal. In other cases, the choice of symbol has to be from the notified list of free symbols only.

The facility of allotment of common symbol is a one-time facility for all parties. It would be for the parties to decide at which election it wants to avail of the facility.

Government liberalises FDI sector

In order to give a push to the slow moving economy, government has introduced a major reform. It has  decided to liberalise and hike foreign direct investment (FDI) limits in insurance, retail, telecom, defence and a host of other sectors. The decision was taken during a meeting of senior cabinet ministers chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

The major changes are:

1. In the insurance sector, it was decided to raise the sectoral FDI cap from 26 per cent to 49 per cent under automatic route under which companies investing do not require prior government approval.
2. It was decided to allow 49 per cent FDI in single brand retail under the automatic route and beyond through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
3. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap for civil aviation was, however, left unchanged at 49 per cent.
4.  FDI cap in defence sector remained unchanged at 26 per cent but higher limits of foreign investments in 'state-of-the-art' technology manufacturing will be considered by the Cabinet Committee on Security.
5. In case of PSU oil refineries, commodity bourses, power exchanges, stock exchanges and clearing corporations, FDI will be allowed up to 49 per cent under automatic route as against current routing of the investment through FIPB.
6. In basic and cellular services, FDI was raised to 100 per cent from current 74 per cent. Of this, up to 49 per cent will be allowed under automatic route and the remaining through FIPB approval.
7. FDI of up to 100 per cent was allowed in courier services under automatic route.
8. In credit information firms 74 per cent FDI under automatic route would be allowed.
The decisions taken by the high level committee were based on recommendations of Mayaram Committee which had suggested relaxing investment caps in about 20 sectors.

GOI planning to launch Supplementation Programme for adolescent

India has high prevalence of adolescent anaemia. About 56 per cent girls and 30 per cent boys suffer from anaemia. Thus GOI is launching the Weekly Iron Folic Acid Supplementation Programme for Adolescents on 17th July 2013.

Anaemia and its impact

Anaemia occurs primarily due to nutritional deficiency of essential micronutrients. It is the most widespread nutritional disorders in the country today. Almost 50 per cent of nutritional deficiency related anaemia is Iron Deficiency Anaemia. It is a result of under-nutrition and poor dietary intake of iron. Anaemia in adolescent results in poor physical growth, reduced school performance and diminished concentration in daily tasks thus impacting work capacity and work output resulting in diminished earning capacity. Anaemia in adolescent girls enhances risk of preterm delivery and having babies with low birth weight. These babies are more likely to be ill and not reach the age of one year. Anaemia in adolescent girls also increases their risk of maternal deaths. About 1/3rd of all maternal deaths take place in young women in the age group of 15 to 24 years.

About the  Supplementation Programme

WIFS will cover adolescent population in the age group of 10 to 19 years. Under the programme, supervised Iron Folic Acid (IFA) supplementation will be done. Sessions on Nutrition and Health Education will be planned at the schools and Anganwadi centres to inform and counsel adolescents and their care givers on nutrition and related health issues.

The programme, implemented across the country, will (rural and urban areas) cover 13 crore adolescents – 6 crore girls and boys enrolled in class VI-XII of government and government aided school and 7 crore out-of-school adolescent girls.

The Health Ministry has suggested to the states that a fixed day in a week, preferably Monday, be earmarked as the day when IFA tablet is provided to adolescents.

The key features of WIFS are:- (1) Administration of supervised Weekly Iron Folic Acid Supplements of 100mg elemental iron and 500mg Folic acid; (2) Screening of target groups for moderate/severe anaemia and referring these cases to an appropriate health facility; (3) Biannual de-working (Albendazole 400mg), six months apart, for control of helminthic infestation and (4) Information and counselling for improving dietary intake and for taking actions for prevention of intestinal worm infestation.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Biodiversity Hotspots in India

A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans. To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot on Myers 2000 edition of the hotspot-map, a region must meet two strict criteria:
1. It must contain at least 0.5% or 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemics, and
2. It has to have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation.

Three regions that satisfy these criteria in India are described below:a) The Western Ghats and Sri Lanka
The Western Ghats are a chain of hills that run along the western edge of peninsular India. Their proximity to the ocean and through orographic effect, they receive high rainfall. These regions have moist deciduous forest and rain forest. The region shows high species diversity as well as high levels of endemism. Nearly 77% of the amphibians and 62% of the reptile species found here are found nowhere else.

The area is extraordinarily rich in biodiversity. Although the total area is less than 6 percent of the land area of India, the Western Ghats contains more than 30 percent of all plant, fish, bird, and mammal species found in India. Like other hotspots, the Western Ghats has a high proportion of endemic species. The region also has a spectacular assemblage of large mammals and is home to several nationally significant wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves, and national parks. The Western Ghats contains numerous medicinal plants and important genetic resources such as the wild relatives of grains (rice, barley, Eleucine coracana), fruits (mango, garcinias,banana, jackfruit), and spices (black pepper,cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg).

In addition to rich biodiversity, the Western Ghats is home to diverse social, religious, and linguistic groups. The high cultural diversity of rituals, customs, and lifestyles has led to the establishment of several religious institutions that strongly influence public opinion and the political decision-making process.

Conservation challenges lie in engaging these heterogeneous social groups and involving them in community efforts aimed at biodiversity conservation and consolidation of fragmented habitats in the hotspot.

b) The Eastern Himalayas

The Northeast India, (22-30 degree N and 89-97 degree E) spread over 2,62,379, represents the transition zone between the Indian, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese bio-geographic regions and a meeting place of the Himalayan Mountains and Peninsular India. The region is made up of eight states: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura and is endowed with a wide range of physiography and eco-climatic conditions.

The Eastern Himalayas region, with diverse climatic conditions and complex topography, has different types of forest and vegetation. Broadly, vegetation types in the EH can be categorised into a) tropical, b) sub-tropical, c) warm temperate, d) cool temperate, e) sub-alpine and f) alpine types.

It has nearly 163 globally threatened species including the One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), the Wild Asian Water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis (Arnee)) and in all 45 mammals, 50 birds, 17 reptiles, 12 amphibians, 3 invertebrate and 36 plant species  The Relict Dragonfly (Epiophlebia laidlawi) is an endangered species found here with the only other species in the genus being found in Japan. The region is also home to the Himalayan Newt (Tylototriton verrucosus), the only salamander species found within Indian limits. There are an estimated 10,000 species of plants in the Himalayas, of which one-third are endemic and found nowhere else in the world.

c) Indo-Burma
The Indo-Burma region encompasses several countries. It is spread out from Eastern Bangladesh to Malaysia and includes North-Eastern India south of Brahmaputra river, Myanmar, the southern part of China's Yunnan province, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. The Indo-Burma region is spread over 2 million sq. km of tropical Asia.

Much of Indo-Burma is characterized by distinct seasonal weather patterns. During the northern winter months, dry, cool winds blow from the stable continental Asian high-pressure system, resulting in a dry period under clear skies across much of the south, center, and west of the hotspot (the dry, northeast monsoon). As the continental system weakens in spring, the wind direction reverses and air masses forming the southwest monsoon pick up moisture from the seas to the southwest and bring abundant rains as they rise over the hills and mountains.  A wide diversity of ecosystems is represented in this hotspot, including mixed wet evergreen, dry evergreen, deciduous, and montane forests. There are also patches of shrub lands and woodlands on karst limestone outcrops and, in some coastal areas, scattered heath forests. In addition, a wide variety of distinctive, localized vegetation formations occur in Indo-Burma, including lowland floodplain swamps, mangroves, and seasonally inundated grasslands.

IOR-ARC Economic and Business Conference held

(IOR-ARC) Economic and Business Conference held in Port Louis, Mauritius.The Union Minister of Commerce & Industry Shri Anand Sharma co-chaired the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) Economic and Business Conference.

India and Mauritius co-hosted the first economic and business conference under the theme of "Deepening Economic Linkages for Balanced, Inclusive & Sustainable Growth". The meeting brought together business representatives from across the Indian Ocean Rim. 

The IORARC has 20 members, of which India and Australia are the largest economies. Through it pass some of the most important energy transport routes from Middle East to South-East and East Asia, and securing these routes has become a global priority. In recent years, the United States, Britain, France, China, Japan and Egypt have become "dialogue partners" of the IORARC.

During the meet - Trade and industry ministers of member countries and dialogue partners of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IORARC) agreed to push trade within the grouping to promote economic cooperation and development in the strategic Indian Ocean region.

The ministers agreed to encourage "open regionalism" and harmonise trade practices in line with international norms and lower barriers to trade.

They also agreed to build on the complementarities and identify key growth sectors.

During the meet India called for a common maritime security enforcement regime and liberal visa regimes to boost trade and investment.

India-China meet

Setting aside recent acrimony over Chinese incursions in Ladakh, the Indian Minister of Defence, Mr AK Antony met Gen Chang Wanquan during an official visit to China.  The two Defence Ministers held talks in a cordial and friendly atmosphere and had an extensive exchange of views on a wide range of defence and security issues aimed at averting such incidents of encroachment in future. 

In an effort to avoid incidents like Chinese soldiers pitching tents in the Depsang valley in April resulting in tensions between the two countries, the ministers reviewed "the working agreement and protocols dealing with the maintenance of peace and tranquility and directed that it be further strengthened".They reaffirmed that defence exchanges were an important facet of the India-China strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity.

Further during the meet  it was decided that the two sides would focus on interaction at various levels of the forces to promote understanding. The dialogue and consultations would move further when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would visit China later this year. This will create trust and confidence not only at top but also at the ground level. 

Also the two sides finalised military exchanges between the two countries which would be resumed after a gap of five years. About 110 personnel from both countries each would take part in the anti-terrorism exercises being planned in China's Kunming city in October this year.

Border personnel meetings (BPM) will take place with greater frequency and additional locations will be finalised after discussions. The navies of both the countries will increase visits of ships, consider conducting joint maritime search and rescue exercises and cooperate in counter-piracy operations. The Air Forces will carry out high level visits and expand their functional exchanges. They would focus on topics of mutual interest including flight safety, aviation medicine and training. Military training institutions will also strengthen their exchanges at the faculty and student levels. Also to promote greater awareness and understanding among young officers of the armed forces, visits and exchanges will be carried out annually.

India and Mauritius meet

The Union Minister of Commerce & Industry Shri Anand Sharma met Mr. Sayyad Abd-Al-Cader Sayed Hossen, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mauritius, in Port Louis l. 

During the meeting, India has submitted a draft proposal to Mauritius for export of basmati rice to the Indian Ocean island nation. 

Basmati rice is a unique Geographical Indication (GI) product under the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Standards in India are dynamic in nature and are currently being harmonised among all relevant institutions for ensuring uniformity which will be notified when ready. India has already nominated the Export Inspection Council as the nodal agency which will issue a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) for all basmati rice exports from India to Mauritius.

Presently India’s exports to Mauritius comprise largely petroleum products as a result of the three-year agreement signed between MRPL and the State Trading Corporation of Mauritius in July 2007 for the supply of all petroleum requirement of Mauritius. Thus during the meet, India and Mauritian ministers also discussed regarding the issue of renewal of contract with Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL). The agreement is expected to be renewed later this month.

Further the Mauritian side expressed happiness on the advancements in the field of textiles and conveyed determination to take forward the intended outcomes of the Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) signed recently. Five institutional level MoUs were signed to take the partnership forward. These are:
i. MoU between Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) and Enterprise Mauritius (EM)
ii. MoU between Northern India Textile Research Association (NITRA) and Mauritius Standards Bureau 
iii. MoU between NITRA and National Productivity and Competitive Council (NPCC) of Mauritius 
iv. MoU between Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) and Mauritius Export Association (MEXA); and 
v. MoU between Institute of Apparel Management (IAM) and Fashion and Design Institute of Mauritius (FDI) 

Apart from these MoUs, a Letter of Intent outlining the implementation plan for training for 1000 textile factory workers, 35 scholarships in the textile sector as well as the development of a compliance code (on the lines of DISHA) for 10 Mauritian textile factories was also signed between the two governments.

Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony 2013 to Zubin Mehta

Zubin Mehta, an Indian-Parsi maestro of western classical music on 10 July 2013 was named for the second edition of Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony for the year 2013 on 10th July. He was named for the award because of his outstanding contribution to cultural harmony.

His name was selected by a high level four-member Jury that was led by Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh and it comprised the Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Public Intellectual Gopalkrishna Gandhi. 

The first Tagore Award was conferred on Pt. Ravi Shankar, the Indian Sitar Maestro in 2012 Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony was instituted by the Government in 2012 during the commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The award carries an amount of Rs. 1crore, a citation in a scroll, a plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft or handloom item.