Fundamental flaws in crop insurance scheme’s design makes it ineffective

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the flagship programme launched with much fanfare in 2016, has run into rough weather. With both the area covered and the number of enrolled farmers declining, the country’s premium crop insurance scheme is certainly in need of an overhaul.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the flagship programme launched with much fanfare in 2016, has run into rough weather. With both the area covered and the number of enrolled farmers declining, the country’s premium crop insurance scheme is certainly in need of an overhaul

Challenges at present:

Insufficient reach and the issue of penetration.

With just around 45% of the claims made by farmers over the last three crop seasons data for the last rabi season is not available paid by the insurance companies.

The reason for the very low payout of claims is that only a few state governments are paying their share of the premiums on time and till they do, the central government doesn’t pay its share either. Till they get the premium, insurance companies simply sit on the claims.

There is hardly any use of modern technology in assessing crop damages. There is a lack of trained outsourced agencies, the scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smartphones and drones to improve the reliability of such sampling

Less number of notified crops than can avail insurance, Inadequate and delayed claim payment.

High actuarial premium rates: Insurance companies charged high actuarial premium rates.

If states delay notifications, or payment of premiums, or crop cutting data, companies cannot pay compensation to the farmers in time.

There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper Implementation of PMFBY.

PMBY is not beneficial for farmers in vulnerable regions as factors like low indemnity levels, low threshold yields, low sum insured and default on loans make it a poor scheme to safeguard against extreme weather events.

About PMFBY:

In April 2016, the government of India had launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) after rolling back the earlier insurance schemes viz. National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), Weather-based Crop Insurance scheme and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).

It envisages a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.

The scheme is mandatory for farmers who have taken institutional loans from banks. It’s optional for farmers who have not taken institutional credit.

Objectives:

  • Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
  • Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.

Ensuring the flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of the agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.

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Loan subsidy for middle-income group extended till March 2020

File pic Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said that the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, PMAY loan subsidy for the middle-income group has been extended till 31st March 2020.

The Minister said, more than 6 thousand 9 hundred crore rupees interest subsidy on housing loans have been disbursed to over 3.14 lakh beneficiaries of Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme CLSS under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022 when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence. The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:

  • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with the participation of private developers using land as a resource
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for the weaker section through credit linked subsidy
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.

The targeted group of beneficiaries

  • Indian women of all religions and castes. Everyone will be equally eligible no biased treatment on basis of caste or religion.
  • People who come from low income and economically weaker sections of the society.
  • SC (Scheduled Castes) and ST (Scheduled Tribes).

Eligibility criteria

  • The mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers.
  • Beneficiaries include the economically weaker section (EWS), low-income groups (LIGs) and Middle Income Groups (MIGs).
  • A beneficiary family will comprise the husband, wife, unmarried sons and/or unmarried daughters.
  • The beneficiary family should not own a pucca house either in his/her name or in the name of any member of his/her family in any part of India.
  • States/UTs, at their discretion, may decide a cut-off date on which beneficiaries need to be resident of that urban area for being eligible to take benefits under the scheme.

Objectives

  • Ensure that the housing requirements of all urban poor including slum dwellers are met through different Programme verticals.
  • The core objective is to provide central assistance to implementing agencies through States and UTs for providing houses to all eligible families/ beneficiaries by 2022.
  • Provide a pucca house with water connection, toilet & electricity facilities.
  • Ensure that urban localities are slums free & that all citizens have access to basic services.
  • Provide houses designed and constructed to meet requirements of structural safety against earthquake, flood, cyclone, landslides etc. conforming to the National Building Code (NBC) and other relevant Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) codes

Primary Features

  • Development of Slum Areas slum areas is to be developed under this scheme with the help of private participation using land as a resource.
  • Interest Subsidy – The government will provide an interest subsidy of 6.5% on housing loans availed by the LIG and EWS groups beneficiaries and an interest subsidy of 3-4% on housing loans availed by MIG beneficiaries under credit link subsidy scheme (CLSS).
  • Pro-Women – The scheme is pro-women as preference will be given to females applicants for house allotments.
  • Disabled Friendly – Ground floor of the houses will preferably be given to physically differently abled or to senior citizens.
  • Eco-Friendly – Construction developers should strictly follow eco-friendly development technologies.
  • Affordability – Grant subsidy range anywhere between INR 1 lakh and INR 2.30 lakh to LIG and EWS section of the urban population.

Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Rural)

  • In pursuance to the goal – Housing for all by 2022, the rural housing scheme Indira Awas Yojana has been revamped to Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) w.e.f. 1st April 2016. Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided for construction of the pucca house to all houseless and households living in dilapidated houses in rural areas.

Target

  • Under the scheme, it is proposed to build four crore pucca houses in total, by the year 2022
  • One crore households would be provided assistance for construction of pucca house during the first phase, from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

Identification of beneficiaries

  • To ensure that assistance is targeted at those who are genuinely deprived PMAY-G selects beneficiary using housing deprivation parameters in the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011, which is to be verified by the Gram Sabhas.
  • Identification of beneficiaries eligible for assistance and their prioritization is done using information from Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) ensuring total transparency and objectivity.
  • The SECC data capture specific deprivation related to housing among households.
  • The list will be presented to Gram Sabha to identify beneficiaries who have been assisted before or who have become ineligible due to other reasons.

Funding

  • The cost of unit assistance is to be shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.
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Government to achieve 100% household electrification ahead of Republic Day, says official

The government is likely to achieve its 100 percent household electrification target in the country ahead of Republic Day as it has already energized 2.39 crore out of the targeted 2.49 crore households under Rs 16,320 crore Saubhagya scheme.

“The 100 percent household electrification under ‘Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana’ (Saubhagya) would be achieved ahead of Republic day (January 26, 2019). The government has energized 2.39 crore households under the scheme till today,” the official said.

However, the state power ministers meet chaired by Power Minister R K Singh in Shimla in July 2018, had resolved to complete the task of energizing all households in the country by December 31, 2018, against the deadline of March 31, 2019.

Now, it said that only about 10.48 lakh households are left to be electrified in 4 states like Assam, Rajasthan, Meghalaya, and Chhattisgarh. These states are also taking all concerted efforts to achieve, at the earliest, saturation of household electrification in their respective states.

Since the launch of Saubhagya in Uttar Pradesh, 74.4 lakh households have been electrified and the state has declared saturation of all 75 districts.

The government of Uttar Pradesh has launched a special campaign in all parts of the state to identify any left out un-electrified households and to provide electrical connections to such households.

Under the campaign, a special vehicle ‘Saubhagya Rath’, is moving around in villages/towns and any left out households may approach them to avail electricity connection under the scheme. Also, any left out household requiring electricity connection may dial 1912 to avail the facility.

The Centre had launched Saubhagya scheme in September 2017, to achieve the goal of universal household electrification in the country by March 31, 2019.

The scheme envisages providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining households in rural as well as urban areas.

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One District, One Product Regional Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 29, 2018 visited Varanasi and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh on December 29, 2018.

The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of medical College in Ghazipur during the visit in the presence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He took stock of the preparations for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

About ODOP:

ODOP is aimed at giving a major push to traditional industries synonymous with the respective districts of the state.

The objective of the ODOP is to optimise production, productivity, and income, preservation and development of local crafts, promotion of art, improvement in product quality and skill development.

ODOP is basically a Japanese business development concept, which gained prominence in 1979. It is aimed at promoting a competitive and staple product from a specific area to push sales and improve the standard of living of the local population. Over time, it has been replicated in other Asian countries as well.

The main objectives of the One District One Product Scheme of Uttar Pradesh are as follows:

  • Preservation and development of local crafts/skills and promotion of the art.
  • Increase in the incomes and local employment (resulting in the decline in migration for employment).
  • Improvement in product quality and skill development.
  • Transforming the products in an artistic way (through packaging, branding).
  • To connect the production with tourism (Live demo and sales outlet – gifts and souvenir).
  • To resolve the issues of economic difference and regional imbalance.

To take the concept of ODOP to national and international level after successful implementation at the State level.

Committee to monitor DFI implementation soon

The government is in the process of setting up a panel to monitor the implementation of the recommendation of the Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI) committee, a senior agriculture ministry official said.

The government in 2016 constituted an expert committee headed by Dalwai to look into the entire agriculture ecosystem in the country to suggest ways and means to reform it so that farmers’ income can be doubled by 2022. The panel, in the last two-and-a-half years, came out with 14 voluminous reports that deal with all aspects of agriculture including agri inputs, risk management, post-harvesting, and agri-logistics.

The final recommendations, submitted by the committee a few months ago, were accepted by the government, paving the way for their implementation. The immediate and greater attention will be given to tapping the low-hanging fruits in the production and post-production stages of agriculture.

There is a need to make the States understand the value of undertaking reforms in the agricultural marketplace.

 

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Dharmendra Pradhan launches Ujjwala sanitary napkin initiative

Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched the Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin initiative in Bhubaneswar, which will expand women’s access to hygiene products and provide them with employment opportunities in every district of the state.

The Central scheme will be a counter to the Odisha government’s Khushi scheme, in which sanitary napkins are provided free of cost to female students of government and government-aided schools in the state.

In the first phase of the Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin initiative, around 100 local manufacturing units will be set up by oil marketing companies at Common Service Centres (CSCs) across 93 blocks in all 30 districts of Odisha. CSCs are facilities set up to deliver the Central government’s e-services in rural and remote locations.

Key highlights of the scheme:

  • The mission, which forms part of the CSR initiative of OMCs in Odisha, is aimed to educate women on female hygiene and health, improve accessibility to low cost eco-friendly sanitary pads and boost rural employment and economy.
  • The three companies will set up 100 manufacturing units at the Common Service Centres (CSC) covering 93 Blocks across 30 districts of Odisha at an estimated cost of ₹2.94 crore.
  • At least 10 Ujjwala beneficiary women will get employment at each CSC. Each facility will have a capacity to produce 1,200-2,000 pads per day and will have a sterilisation room to ensure that the napkins are sterilised before they are packed for use by rural women.
  • The CSCs are also being provided with raw material, enough to make 45,000-50,000 pads. These napkins will be priced at ₹40 per pack, each containing eight pads.
  • The Ujjwala pads will be made of virgin wood pulp sheet, non-woven white sheet and a gel sheet which are all biodegradable in nature and will leave a minimal carbon footprint.
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Postage stamp on Bengal’s Rosogolla

A postage stamp and special cover were released here on Friday to mark 150 years of the invention of ‘Bengal’s Rossogolla’ by Nabin Chandra Das.

Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) Firhad Hakim, who released them along with J. Charukeshi, Post Master General, Kolkata Region, referred to the long dispute between Odisha and West Bengal over Rosogolla. After years of contesting claims, the Geographical Identification tag for “Bengal Rosogolla” was given to West Bengal in November 2017.

Earlier this year, the State government observed November 14 as Rosogolla Day to mark one year of obtaining the GI tag

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Govt invites nominations for Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar

The Government of India invites nominations for the “Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar” for excellence in the field of disaster management. The winners will be declared on 23rd January 2019, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Key facts:

Three eligible institutions and individuals will be given the ‘Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar’ every year with cash rewards ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 51 lakh.

If the awardee is an institution, it will be given a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 51 lakh and the prize money will be utilized for disaster management-related activities only.

If the awardee is an individual, the person shall receive a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.

An application by an institution does not debar any individual from that institution to apply for the award in his individual capacity.

Eligibility:

Only Indian nationals and Indian institutions can apply for the award.

For institutional awards, voluntary organizations, corporate entities, academic, research institutions, response, uniformed forces or any other institution may apply for the award.

The applicant must have worked in the area of disaster management like prevention, mitigation, preparedness, rescue, response, relief, rehabilitation, research, innovation or early warning related work in India.

The application must be accompanied by details of the work done in disaster management and must highlight achievements in any one or more of the areas like saving human lives, reduction in the impact of disasters on lives, livestock, livelihoods, property, society, economy, or environment.

Mobilization and provision of resources for effective response during disasters, immediate relief work in disaster-hit areas and communities, effective and innovative use of technology in any field of disaster management and disaster mitigation initiatives in hazard-prone areas are some of the other criteria.

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Cabinet approves bill for setting up of National Commission for Indian System of Medicine

The Union Cabinet approved the draft National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator, the Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM), with a new body to ensure transparency and accountability, an official statement said.

The draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Ayurveda under the Board of Ayurveda and Unani, Siddha and Sowarigpa under the Board of Unani, Siddha and Sowarigpa.

There are two common boards namely Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Indian systems of Medicine and Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Indian systems of medicine to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice under the National Commission for Indian Medicine, the statement stated.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam, which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses. Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed in the Bill to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.”Till now things were ad-hoc, he added.

The draft bill, according to the statement, is aimed at bringing reforms in the medical education of Indian medicine sector in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine.

The proposed regulatory structure will enable transparency and accountability for protecting the interests of the general public, it said.

The NCIM will promote the availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country, according to the statement.

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Cabinet approves setting up of the National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Bill, 2018

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the draft National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Homoeopathy (CCH) with a new body to ensure transparency.

The draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with three autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Homoeopathy by Homoeopathy Education Board. The Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Homoeopathy and Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Homoeopathy to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice are under the National Commission for homoeopathy.

It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses. Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.

It further aims at bringing reforms in the medical education of Homoeopathy in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine. The CCH had been earlier superseded by Board of Governors through an Ordinance and subsequent amendment of Act.

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MoU signed to develop a mobile Audio Guide App for five iconic sites

The Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism, Shri. K J Alphons handed over a Memorandum of Understanding under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project to M/s Redbird Technologies for development of a mobile Audio Guide App for five iconic sites here, today. The five iconic sites for which the mobile Audio Guide App is to be developed are Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Kaziranga (Assam), Colva Beach (Goa), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).

The five iconic sites are as follows:

  • Rajasthan – Amer Fort.
  • Assam – Kaziranga.
  • Goa – Colva Beach.
  • Kerala – Kumarakom.
  • Bihar – Mahabodhi Temple.

The shortlisted agencies would become ‘Monument Mitras’ through the innovative concept of ‘Vision Bidding’, which will give them the opportunity to associate their CSR activities with a heritage site if the Vision Bid is selected.

Adopt a Heritage Project:

The ‘Adopt a Heritage Scheme’ of Ministry of Tourism was launched on World Tourism Day i.e. 27th September 2017.  This project is a key initiative of Ministry of Tourism in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archeological Survey of India (ASI), to develop the heritage sites/monuments and making them tourist-friendly to enhance the tourism potential and their cultural importance in a planned and phased manner.

The project plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for the development of tourist amenities. The project aims to develop synergy among all partners.

Successful bidders selected for adopting heritage sites/monuments by the Oversight and Vision Committee shall be called as Monument Mitras. The basic and advanced amenities of the tourist destinations would be provided by them. They would also look after the operations and the maintenance of the amenities. The ‘Monument Mitras’ would associate pride with their CSR activities.

Adopt a Heritage project is meant to address the challenges that the Archaeological Survey of India and other government bodies are facing in operating tourism infrastructure at heritage sites. By allowing private players to build, operate and maintain “tourist-friendly” and “world class amenities at these sites, the expectation is that the project will boost domestic and international tourism.

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