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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 21st August 2020

Contents

  1. MEA to help with Covid-19 vaccine, and Sputnik V Offer
  2. RBI releases National Strategy for Financial Education
  3. 63% work under model village scheme over
  4. ‘Slowdown to extend as virus goes rural’

MEA TO HELP WITH COVID-19 VACCINE, AND SPUTNIK V OFFER

Focus: GS-III International Relations

Why in news?

  • The Ministry of External Affairs has said it will provide inputs and support to the recently set up National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 to help Indian companies that are interested in any candidate vaccines developed worldwide get connected.
  • CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) that created the vaccine — Sputnik V — says it is the “safest” vaccine under trial at present, and Vaccine will be made available to Indians.

MEA on acquisition of Vaccines

  • MEA Spokesperson said that India and China had acknowledged the need to maintain close communication through diplomatic and military channels so as to ensure complete disengagement and that India-Bangladesh discussed completion of development projects during the Foreign Secretary’s recent Bangladesh visit.
  • The Spokesperson said that all vaccine-related matters were being handled by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19.
  • The purpose of the expert group is to keep India in the forefront of any ongoing effort worldwide to innovate, prepare, produce and launch candidate vaccines to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, for India and for the world.

Regarding Sputnik V for India

  • The CEO of RDIF didn’t confirm specific plans to collaborate with Indian companies but says that the Russian vaccine will be made available to Indians.
  • He said that Russia got a head start because its MERS vaccine was actually ready, and since COVID-19 is 80% similar to MERS, Russia was able to use a very safe approach.
  • The Russian vaccine is based on the already existing human adenoviral-vector platform where inactivated adenoviruses act as vectors or vehicles, delivering genetic material from S-protein, which forms the spike of coronavirus into a human cell to induce an immune response.
  • Сlinical trials demonstrated that 100% of volunteers developed immunity within 21 days.
  • After the second vaccination, the immunity response was further boosted and provided for long-lasting immunity.
  • All the volunteers are feeling well, no unforeseen or unwanted side effects were observed.
  • Not a single participant of the clinical trials has caught COVID-19 after being administered with the vaccine.
  • Historically, India has been a strategic partner for Russia across many sectors.
  • The Russian Direct Investment Fund has been collaborating with Indian companies and organisations since 2012, developing joint investment projects aimed at supporting the national economies and fostering economic ties between the two countries.

-Source: Times of India, The Hindu


RBI RELEASES NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR FINANCIAL EDUCATION

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The National Strategy for Financial Education (NSFE): 2020-2025 document released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recommended a ‘5 C’ approach for dissemination of financial education in the country.

It is the second NSFE, the first one being released in 2013.

National Strategy for Financial Education (NSFE)

  • This NSFE for the period 2020-2025 has been prepared by the National Centre for Financial Education (NCFE) in consultation with all the Financial Sector Regulators (namely: RBI, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), etc.) under the aegis of the Technical Group on Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy (TGFIFL).
  • NCFE is a Section 8 (Not for Profit) Company under the Companies Act, 2013 promoted by RBI, SEBI, IRDAI and PFRDA.
  • It emphasizes a multi-stakeholder-led approach for empowering various sections of the population to develop adequate knowledge, skills, attitudes and behavior which are needed to manage their money better and to plan for the future i.e., ensuring their financial well-being.
  • The Strategy also suggests adoption of a robust ‘Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to assess the progress made.
  • Recently, RBI also released the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI) for the period 2019-2024.
  • It is an ambitious strategy which aims to strengthen the ecosystem for various modes of digital financial services in all Tier-II to Tier VI centres to create the necessary infrastructure to move towards a less-cash society by March 2022.

Technical Group on Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy (TGFIFL)

  • TGFIFL would be responsible for periodic monitoring and implementation of NSFE under the oversight of Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).
  • TGFIL was set up in November 2011 by the FSDC.

‘5 C’ approach

  1. Content: Financial Literacy content for various sections of population.
  2. Capacity: Develop the capacity and ‘Code of Conduct’ for financial education providers.
  3. Community: Evolve community led approaches for disseminating financial literacy in a sustainable manner.
  4. Communication: Use technology, media and innovative ways of communication for dissemination of financial education messages.
  5. Collaboration: Streamline efforts of other stakeholders for financial literacy.

Strategic Objectives:

  • Inculcate financial literacy concepts among the various sections of the population through financial education to make it an important life skill.
  • Encourage active savings behaviour.
  • Encourage participation in financial markets to meet financial goals and objectives.
  • Develop credit discipline and encourage availing credit from formal financial institutions as per requirement.
  • Improve usage of digital financial services in a safe and secure manner.
  • Manage risk at various life stages through relevant and suitable insurance cover.
  • Plan for old age and retirement through coverage of suitable pension products.
  • Knowledge about rights, duties and avenues for grievance redressal.
  • Improve research and evaluation methods to assess progress in financial education.

-Source: The Hindu


63% WORK UNDER MODEL VILLAGE SCHEME OVER

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

The Narendra Modi government’s flagship Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), for targeted development of select villages, has seen 63% of its work completed.

Details

  • Tamil Nadu has clocked the best usage, completed 96% of the projects, followed by Uttar Pradesh which finished 88% of works.
  • West Bengal has not completed a single project.
  • With 38% incomplete work and 17% plans not available, the progress of the scheme will be reviewed later this month by officials and experts.
  • Adding to problems, official records also say that in 2014, the first phase of the programme saw adoption of 1,493 Gram Panchayats, but in the second phase with 2019, MPs adopted 348 Gram Panchayats, showing a sharp decline in the rate of adopting a village.
  • The rural development ministry has also identified that only 30% of utilization certificates or statement of expenditure have been shared by States/UTs till July 2020.

Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana

Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) is a village development project launched by Government of India in 2014, under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.

The main objectives of SAGY are:

  • To trigger processes which lead to holistic development of the identified Gram Panchayats
  • To substantially improve the standard of living and quality of life of all sections of the population through
    • Improved basic amenities
    • Higher productivity
    • Enhanced human development
    • Better livelihood opportunities
    • Reduced disparities
    • Access to rights and entitlements
    • Wider social mobilization
    • Enriched social capital
  • To generate models of local level development and effective local governance which can motivate and inspire neighbouring Gram Panchayats to learn and adapt
  • To nurture the identified Adarsh Grams as schools of local development to train other Gram Panchayats.

In order to achieve these objectives, SAGY would be guided by the following approach:

  • Leveraging the leadership, capacity, commitment and energy of the Members of Parliament (MP) to develop model Gram Panchayats
  • Engaging with and mobilizing the community for participatory local level development.
  • Converging different government programmes and private and voluntary initiatives to achieve comprehensive development in tune with people’s aspirations and local potential.
  • Building partnerships with voluntary organisations, co-operatives and academic and research institutions.
  • Focusing on outcomes and sustainability.

Identification of Adarsh gram

  • A Gram Panchayat would be the basic unit. It will have a population of 3000-5000 in plain areas and 1000-3000 in hilly, tribal and difficult areas. In districts where this unit size is not available, Gram Panchayats approximating the desirable population size may be chosen.
  • The MP would be free to identify a suitable Gram Panchayat for being developed as Adarsh Gram, other than his/her own village or that of his/her spouse.
  • The MP will identify one Gram Panchayat to be taken up immediately, and two others to be taken up a little later.

-Source: Hindustan Times


‘SLOWDOWN TO EXTEND AS VIRUS GOES RURAL’

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

  • India is staring at a protracted slowdown as coronavirus cases reach its countryside, with signs of recovery in the rural economy hailed by Prime Minister “at best a mitigating factor”, government officials and analysts said.
  • Almost half of India’s 1.38 billion population rely on agriculture, with the sector accounting for 15% of economic output.

Details

  • The economic situation has in fact worsened since April and May, and we are likely moving towards a longer economic slowdown than earlier expected.
  • The situation on the economy front is very serious and the government’s hands are tied on the fiscal front.

‘A mitigating factor’

  • A slump in monthly demand for fuel, electricity, steel, consumer durables and auto sales over April-June highlight the dire state of the economy.
  • India also has the third-highest number of virus infections at more than 2.7 million, and new cases are increasingly emerging outside major cities, dashing hopes the rural economy will be a buffer against shrinking exports and manufacturing.
  • A widening fiscal deficit may also limit India’s ability to provide more stimulus.
  • The deficit had hit 83.2% of the fiscal year’s target.

-Source: The Hindu

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