News Snippet

News 1: MGNREGS made up for up to 80% income loss during pandemic

News 2: Centre to help set up paddy straw pellet units to arrest stubble burning

News 3: ISRO’s own Next-Gen Launch Vehicle may assume PSLV’s role

News 4: SC delivers split verdict on Karnataka hijab ban

News 1: MGNREGS made up for up to 80% income loss during pandemic


Background:

  • In a first providing empirical evidence, a study conducted on the impact of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) during the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that the wages earned under the Act helped people compensate between 20% and 80% of the income loss incurred because of the lockdown.
  • The report also said that around 39% all job card-holding households interested in working under the MGNREGA did not get a single day of work in the year 2020-21.
  • The study was aimed at determining the extent to which working in the programme provided income support to vulnerable households during the pandemic.
  • The team surveyed a total of eight blocks in four States — Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The study, however, also pointed out that MGNREGA was unable to meet with the actual demand from the ground. Across the eight blocks on an average 39% of households did not get a single day’s work. 

MGNREGS:

  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), also known as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) is Indian legislation enacted on August 25, 2005.
  • The MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage.
  • The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments

Objective of the Act

  • The objective of the Act is to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

MGNREGA Goals

  • Strong social safety net for the vulnerable groups by providing a fall-back employment source, when other employment alternatives are scarce or inadequate
  • Growth engine for sustainable development of an agricultural economy. Through the process of providing employment on works that address causes of chronic poverty such as drought, deforestation and soil erosion, the Act seeks to strengthen the natural resource base of rural livelihood and create durable assets in rural areas. Effectively implemented, MGNREGA has the potential to transform the geography of poverty
  • Empowerment of rural poor through the processes of a rights-based Law
  • New ways of doing business, as a model of governance reform anchored on the principles of transparency and grass root democracy Thus, MGNREGA fosters conditions for inclusive growth ranging from basic wage security and recharging rural economy to a transformative empowerment process of democracy

News 2: Centre to help set up paddy straw pellet units to arrest stubble burning


Background:

  • With winter approaching and instances of stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana rising, the Union Environment Ministry announced a ₹50 crore scheme on Thursday to incentivise industrialists and entrepreneurs to set up paddy straw pelletisation and torrefaction plants.
  • Paddy straw made into pellets or torrefied can be mixed with coal in thermal power plants. This saves coal as well as reduces carbon emissions that would otherwise have been emitted were the straw burnt in the fields, as is the regular practice of most farmers in Punjab and Haryana.
  • The estimated cost of setting up a regular pelletisation plant, which can process a tonne per hour, is ₹35 lakh. Under the scheme, the Centre will fund such plants to a maximum of ₹70 lakh subject to capacity.
  • Similarly, the cost of establishing a torrefaction plant is ₹70 lakh. Under the scheme, it is eligible for a maximum funding of ₹1.4 crore. Torrefaction is costlier but can deliver a product whose energy content is much higher and theoretically substitute for more coal in a power plant.

One-time measure

  • The Centre has underlined that this would be a “one-time only” scheme and regular pellet plants would be eligible for ₹40 crore of the overall pie.
  • Every year, about 27 million tonne of paddy straw is generated in Punjab and Haryana. The problem is that about 75% or 20 million tonne is from non-basmati rice that cannot be fed to cattle because of its high silica content. “
  • Through the years the government has attempted to dissuade farmers from burning straw through penalising them as well as incentivising them.

Torrefaction:

  • Torrefaction, a thermal pretreatment process, is gaining attention as it improves the physical properties and chemical composition of biomass for recycling. During torrefaction, biomass is heated slowly in an inert or oxygen-deficit environment to a maximum temperature of 300°C.

News 3: ISRO’s own Next-Gen Launch Vehicle may assume PSLV’s role


Background:

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is developing a Next-Gen Launch Vehicle (NGLV), which will one day replace operational systems like the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), ISRO Chairman S. Somanath has said.
  • PSLV, often dubbed the ‘trusted workhorse’, “will have to retire” one day, Mr. Somanath said during a three-day Engineers Conclave 2022, which opened at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Valiyamala, on Thursday.
  • In NGLV, ISRO is understood to be looking at a cost-efficient, three-stage, reusable heavy-lift vehicle with a payload capability of 10 tonnes to Geostationary Transfer Orbit. NGLV will feature semi-cryogenic propulsion for the booster stages which is cheaper and efficient, he said.
  • “We believe at least 10 tonne capability to GTO is needed. Correspondingly, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) capability will be twice that. However, payload capability will be lower when the rocket is reusable,” he said.

Simple, robust design

  • NGLV will feature a simple, robust design that allows bulk manufacturing, modularity in systems, sub-systems and stages and minimal turnaround time.
  • Potential uses will be in the areas of launching communication satellites, deep space missions, future human spaceflight and cargo missions.

PSLV:

  • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is the third generation launch vehicle of India. It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages.
  • After its first successful launch in October 1994, PSLV emerged as a reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle of India. The vehicle has launched numerous Indian and foreign customer satellites.
  • Besides, the vehicle successfully launched two spacecraft “Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013”that later travelled to Moon and Mars respectively.
  • PSLV earned its title ‘the workhorse of ISRO’ through consistently delivering various satellites into low earth orbits, particularly the IRS Series of satellites
  • Due to its unmatched reliability, PSLV has also been used to launch various satellites into Geosynchronous and Geostationary orbits, like satellites from the IRNSS Constellation

GSLV:

  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is an expendable space launch vehicle designed, developed, and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) to launch satellites and other space objects into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits.
  • SLV rockets using the Russian Cryogenic Stage (CS) are designated as the GSLV Mk I while versions using the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) are designated the GSLV Mk II.

Difference between PSLV and GSLV:


News 4: SC delivers split verdict on Karnataka hijab ban


Background:

  • The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict on whether Muslim students should shed their hijabs at their school gates.

Timeline:

Split verdict:

 Justice Hemant Gupta upheld Karnataka’s prohibitive government order of February 5, saying “apparent symbols of religious belief cannot be worn to secular schools maintained from State funds”.

  • Justice Gupta said ‘secularity’ meant uniformity, manifested by parity among students in terms of uniform.
  • Justice Gupta held that adherence to uniform was a reasonable restriction to free expression. The discipline reinforced equality. The State had never forced students out of State schools by restricting hijab. The decision to stay out was a “voluntary act” of the student.
  • Justice Gupta, in his opinion, said students need to follow the discipline of wearing the school uniform without any “addition, subtraction or modification”. A student cannot claim the right to wear a headscarf to a secular school as a matter of right. “A girl’s right to express herself by wearing a hijab stopped at the school gate”.
  • Justice Gupta, agreed with the government that the “ethic of fraternity is best served by complete erasure of all differences”, especially religious. Wearing hijabs in secular schools “would stand out and overtly appear differently.
  • In his opinion, Justice Hemant Gupta said the “practice of wearing hijab may be a ‘religious practice’ or an ‘essential religious practice’ or it may be social conduct for the women of Islamic faith. The interpretations by the believers of the faith about wearing of headscarf is the belief or faith of an individual”.
  • But the judge was categorical that such a “religious belief” cannot be carried to a “secular school” maintained out of government funds and the State of Karnataka was right in issuing its February 5 government order restricting the wearing of hijabs at schools.

Divergent opinion:

  • In his divergent opinion, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia said secularity meant tolerance to “diversity”. Wearing or not wearing a hijab to school was “ultimately a matter of choice”. For girls from conservative families, “her hijab is her ticket to education”.
  •  “Asking the girls to take off their hijab before they enter the school gates, is first, an invasion of their privacy, then it is an attack on their dignity, and then ultimately it is a denial to them of secular education… There shall be no restriction on the wearing of hijab anywhere in schools and colleges in Karnataka,” Justice Dhulia held.
  • But Justice Dhulia countered that school was a public place. It was not correct to draw a parallel between a school and a jail or a military camp.
  • He said the fallout of the hijab ban had been that some girl students were not able to appear for their Board exams and others were forced to seek transfer, most likely to madrasas, where they may not get the same standard of education.
  • But Justice Dhulia disagreed with the idea of forced homogeneity. He said schools and pre-university colleges were the “perfect institutions” for children to learn the rich diversity of India and imbibe values of tolerance and accommodation.
  • Justice Dhulia, in his divergent opinion, said the issue whether wearing hijab was an essential religious practice in Islam was wholly irrelevant in the case. He said the court, as a secular institution, should steer clear from choosing one among many possible interpretations of theological doctrine.
  • “We have before us two children, two girl students, asserting their identity by wearing hijab, and claim protection under Article 19 (right to expression) and Article 25 (freedom of religion) of the Constitution. Whether wearing hijab is an ERP in Islam or not is not essential for the determination of this dispute. If the belief is sincere, and it harms no one else, there can be no justifiable reasons for banning hijab in a classroom,” he observed.

Though the Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict on students’ right to wear hijab in school, both judges on the Bench seemed to agree that believers or worshippers are the best persons to interpret whether a practice is essential to their religion or not.

The case would now be re-heard by a larger Bench.


 

 

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