More housewives committing suicide, NCRB records show

Recently released data by the National Crime Records Bureau shows that fifteen people commit suicide every hour in India. Of these, around 17% are housewives.

  • The NCRB divides the total suicides into 10 professional categories — housewife, service (government), service (private), public sector undertaking, student, unemployed, self-employed (business activity), farming/agriculture activity, retired and others.

Other details:

  • The data shows that 1.3 lakh people committed suicide in 2013. Among suicides by women, a whopping 51.4% are committed by housewives (almost 23,000).
  • The previous Census in 2011 recorded that 52% of India’s population married at least once. The 2013 NCRB data shows that a whopping 76 per cent of all suicides are by people who have married at least once.
  • According to some experts, the stress and pressures faced by housewives are a leading cause of suicide. This problem is exacerbated by modern lifestyles and occupations. To compound this problem, social stigma surrounding mental illness, or even the perception of mental illness, makes it next to impossible for the women to seek professional help.
  • Suicide by farmers makes up 3% of all suicides.

Sources: The Hindu.

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Khoya Paya web portal

The government of India recently launched the Khoya Paya web portal.

About the Portal:

  • The Khoya Paya portal is a citizen based website to exchange information on missing and found children.
  • It has been developed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).
  • The Khoya Paya website is an enabling platform, where citizens can report missing children, as well as sightings of their whereabouts without wasting much time.
  • The ‘Found’ children can also be reported on this web portal. The reporting can be done through text, photographs, videos and other means of transmitting and uploading information to the KhoyaPaya site.
  • Information about missing and sighted children can be uploaded at Khoyapaya.gov.in.

The missing children are a cause of deep concern not only for the Government but also for the child protection institutions, society and above all for the parents. These children are vulnerable to the mental and physical assault which leads to mental trauma for these children. Most of the missing children are trafficked for labour, for sexual exploitation, abducted, or kidnapped, or due to crimes against children. They could be runaways from home, or simply be lost. This is the reason that it is not only important to get the information related to these missing children, but it is equally important that the information is exchanged speedily to locate the children. The Khoyapaya web portal will facilitate in the speedy reporting of missing and found children.

Jharkhand tops the list of states which see cases of missing children and those of child trafficking. These children mostly end up working as child labour in big cities or are thrown into sex trade. In almost all these cases, the families of such children are extremely poor, illiterate and can’t even afford three meals a day.

Sources: PIB.

NCSC seeks explanation from IIT-M

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has sought an explanation from the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras for derecognising the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle.

  • If the IIT-M is found to be in violation of the law, especially the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the commission could instruct the police to register an FIR.

Why?

Recently, the IIT-M de-recognised the study circle on the premise that it had violated guidelines while organising a meeting in which some literature — critical of the Narendra Modi government and with potential to spread hatred among communities — was circulated.

About National Commission for Scheduled Castes:

It is a constitutional body established with a view to provide safeguards against the exploitation of Scheduled Castes. To promote and protect their social, educational, economic and cultural interests, special provisions were made in the Constitution.

Background:

  • In order to ensure that the safeguards provided to SCs and STs are properly implemented, the Constitution on its inception provided for appointment of a special office under Article 338 of the Constitution to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes and report to the President about the working of these safeguards. In pursuance of this provision a Special Officer known as the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes was appointed for the first time on 18th November, 1950.
  • A proposal was mooted for amendment of Article 338 of the Constitution (46th Amendment) by replacing the single member Special Officer by multi-member system. The first Commission for SC & ST came into being on August, 1978.
  • The setup of the Commission of 1978 underwent change in 1987 and it was named as National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This Commission being a National Level Advisory body played the role of adviser on major policy and developmental issues relating to SCs/STs
  • Later, through the 89th Amendment of the Constitution it was decided to have a separate National Commission for Scheduled Castes & separate National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. This came into effect in 2004.
  • Thus, the erstwhile National Commission for SCs & STs was bifurcated into two different Commissions.

Functions of the commission:

  • To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under this Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards;
  • To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes;
  • To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State;
  • To present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards;
  • To make in such reports recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State for the effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes; and
  • To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Castes as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify.

The Commission consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members. They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal. Their conditions of service and tenure of office are also determined by the president. The commission presents an annual report to the president.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Mega Food Park Inaugurated at Nalbari, Assam

A Mega Food Park was inaugurated at Nalbari, Assam recently by the Chief Minister of Assam. It Park has been set up in 50 acre of land at the cost of Rs. 76 crore.This project is having facilities of fully operational industrial sheds for SMEs, developed industrial plots for lease to food processing units, Dry Warehouse of 10000 MT, Cold Storages of 3000 MT, Common Effluent Treatment plant, Quality Control Labs etc.

  • The Park also has a common administrative building for office and other uses by the entrepreneurs.
  • 6 Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) are also proposed to be set up at Nagaon, Badarpur, Tinsukia, Barapani, Krishnai and Kajalgaon which will provide facilities for primary processing and storage near the farms.

Mega Food Parks Scheme:

The Scheme of Mega Food Park aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximizing value addition, minimizing wastages, increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector.

Aim of the Scheme: The Scheme is aimed at providing modern infrastructure facilities along the value chain from farm gate to the market with strong backward and forward linkages.

What these food parks provide?

  • They facilitate the efforts to increase the level of processing of agricultural and horticultural produce, with particular focus on perishables, in the country and thereby to check the wastage.
  • The Scheme has a cluster based approach based on a hub and spokes model. It includes creation of infrastructure for primary processing and storage near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) and common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre (CPC).
  • The PPCs are meant for functioning as a link between the producers and processors for supply of raw material to the Central Processing Centres.
  • CPC has need based core processing facilities and basic enabling infrastructure to be used by the food processing units setup at the CPC. The minimum area required for a CPC is 50 acres.
  • The scheme is demand-driven and would facilitate food processing units to meet environmental, safety and social standards.

Implementation and financial assistance:

  • Mega Food Park project is implemented by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which is a Body Corporate registered under the Companies Act. State Government/State Government entities/Cooperatives applying for setting up a project under the scheme are not required to form a separate SPV.
  • The financial assistance for Mega Food Park is provided in the form of grant-in-aid at 50% of eligible project cost in general areas and at 75% of eligible project cost in NE Region and difficult areas (Hilly States and ITDP areas) subject to maximum of Rs. 50 crore per project.

Benefits:

  • Reducing post harvest losses.
  • Maintainance of the supply chain in sustainable manner.
  • Additional income generation for the farmers.
  • Shifting the farmers to more market driven and profitable farming activities.
  • It will be a one stop shop where everything will be available at a single location.
  • As per experts, it will directly employ 10,000 people.
  • This integrated food park will help reduce supply chain costs.
  • It will also reduce wastage across the food value chain in India and improve quality and hygiene to create food products in the country.

Difficulties in implementation:

  • Major challenges being faced by the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) in implementation of the Mega Food Park projects, include acquiring contiguous land of 50 acres or more in the name of SPV, obtaining term loan from the Banks, difficulties in obtaining various statutory clearances from the State Government Departments/Agencies, timely contribution of equity by the promoters, lack of cohesiveness amongst the promoters etc.

Sources: PIB, The Hindu.

Revamp on cards

An expert panel set to expedite roll out of broadband in rural areas has suggested revamp of national optical fibre network (NOFN) initiative, increasing the scope of the project that will entail three fold increase in cost to Rs.72,778 crore from about Rs.20,000 crore approved earlier.

Other details:

  • The committee has estimated the total cost of the revised project at Rs.72,778 crore, which is three fold higher than Rs.20,000 crore approved earlier.
  • The report stresses on involvement of States, besides private players, for speedier implementation of the project that has fallen far behind its planned schedule.
  • The report stresses on involvement of States, besides private players, for speedier implementation of the project that has fallen far behind its planned schedule.
  • The Committee has also re-worked the timelines for implementation, stating that the project can be commissioned by December 2017.

Seven States have proposed to come up with their own model to roll out broadband network under BharatNet programme.

National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN):

The NOFN project was approved by Cabinet in 2011 and deadline to connect all panchayats was fixed by end of 2013 then deferred to September 2015 by UPA government. The Narendra Modi-led government re-examined project status and set target to complete roll out in 50,000 village panchayats by March 31, 2015, and another 1 lakh by March 2016 and the rest by end of 2016.

  • It is a project to provide broadband connectivity to over two lakh (200,000) Gram panchayats of India at a cost of Rs.20,000 crore.
  • The project provides internet access using existing optical fiber and extending it to the Gram panchayats. Connectivity gap between Gram Panchayats and Blocks will be filled.
  • The project was intended to enable the government of India to provide e-services and e-applications nationally.
  • A special purpose vehicle Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) was created as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Companies Act of 1956 for the execution of the project.
  • The project will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and was estimated to be completed in 2 years.
  • The project envisaged signing a tripartite MoU for free Right of Way (RoW) among the Union Government, State Government and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL).
  • All the Service Providers like Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), ISPs, Cable TV operators etc. will be given non-discriminatory access to the National Optic Fibre Network and can launch various services in rural areas. Various categories of applications like e-health, e-education and e-governance etc. can also be provided by these operators.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, NOFN.

Digital Locker – 1,00,000 Mark in 100 Days

After Digital Locker trial version was launched in Feb, 2015 over 1,00,000 Digital Lockers have been opened by the Citizens, within 100 days of its launch.

Digital Locker:

It is dedicated personal storage space, linked to each resident’s Aadhaar number. DigiLocker can be used to securely store e-documents as well as store Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) link of e-documents issued by various issuer departments. The e-Sign facility provided as part of DigiLocker system can be used to digitally sign e-documents.

  • The initiative was launched by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, under the Ministry of Communications and IT.
  • Here, the users can store their documents such as insurance, medical reports, PAN card, passport, marriage certificate, school certificate and other documents in the digital format.
  • With this, the government is trying to create an electronic version of documents, which can be easily verified and stored in printable format.
  • At present, the digital locker gives 10MB of free space for individuals to store documents and links of government department or agency-issued e-documents. The government is also planning to subsequently increase the storage space to 1 GB.

digital locker

Benefits:

  • It will minimize the use of physical documents and will provide authenticity of the e-documents.
  • It will provide secure access to Govt. issued documents.
  • It will also reduce administrative overhead of Govt. departments and agencies and make it easy for the residents to receive services.

Digital Locker is one of the key initiatives under the Digital India vision, which is aimed at eliminating the usage of physical documents. Digital Locker will allow various agencies to push the documents into the Digital Locker of citizens mapped to their Aadhaar Number.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, digitallocker.gov.in.

PM’s interaction through PRAGATI

The Prime Minister of India recently chaired his third interaction through PRAGATI – the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation.

  • Initiating his interaction, the Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that PRAGATI was speeding up decision-making processes in vital projects and important areas of governance. He also said that the spirit of problem-solving and swift implementation, which is being generated through the PRAGATI interactions, is gradually spreading to all areas of governance.

PRAGATI:

Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation.

PRAGATI is a unique integrating and interactive platform. The platform is aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.

Unique features:

  • The PRAGATI platform uniquely bundles three latest technologies: Digital data management, video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology.
  • It also offers a unique combination in the direction of cooperative federalism since it brings on one stage the Secretaries of Government of India and the Chief Secretaries of the States.
  • With this, the Prime Minister is able to discuss the issues with the concerned Central and State officials with full information and latest visuals of the ground level situation. It is also an innovative project in e-governance and good governance.
  • It is a three-tier system (PMO, Union Government Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries of the States).
  • Prime Minister will hold a monthly programme where he will interact with the Government of India Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries through Video-conferencing enabled by data and geo-informatics visuals.
  • Issues to be flagged before the PM are picked up from the available database regarding Public Grievances, on-going Programmes and pending Projects.
  • The system will ride on, strengthen and re-engineer the data bases of the CPGRAMS for grievances, Project Monitoring Group (PMG) and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. PRAGATI provides an interface and platform for all these three aspects.
  • It will also take into consideration various correspondences to PM’s office by the common people or from high dignitaries of States and/or developers of public projects.
  • It is also a robust system for bringing e-transparency and e-accountability with real-time presence and exchange among the key stakeholders.
  • The system has been designed in-house by the PMO team with the help of National Informatics Center (NIC).

Sources: PIB.