12, May 2017

  1. Rail Connectivity for Chardham Pilgrimage

Source: PIB

Taking forward the vision to link the Chardham pilgrimage centres through rail connectivity and in keeping with its budgetary commitment, the Indian Railways is taking the significant step to commence the Final Location survey for a single BG line rail connectivity for the Chardham Pilgrimage.

Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), a Public Sector Enterprise under Ministry of Railways has been entrusted to undertake the Final Location Survey for rail connectivity to Chardham and Chardham Yatra (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath & Kedarnath via Dehradun & Karanprayag) in the State of Uttarakhand.

Chardham Pilgrimage:

  • Chardham, is one of the unique cornerstones of Hindu pilgrimage which is intertwined to mystical and spiritual aspirations of every devout Hindu. Large number of pilgrims flock to Chardham while foreign and domestic tourist are attracted to trekking & sightseeing in the state of Uttarakhand.
  • ‘Char Dham’ which means the four holy abodes of the almighty, mainly comprise of four pilgrim destinations namely, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.

  1. e-Krishi Samvad

Source: PIB

e-Krishi Samvad, an online interface, was recently launched by the government.

e-Krishi Samvad

  • e-Krishi Samvad is internet-based interface and is a unique platform that will provide direct and effective solutions to the problems faced by farmers and stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
  • With this, people can get the appropriate solutions from the subject matter specialists and institutes through web or SMS. Stakeholders can upload photographs related to diseases of the crops, animals or fishes for diagnostics and remedial measures instantly from the specialists.
  • The platform is helpful to get information pertaining to welfare and development of agricultural stakeholders.

  1. Govt. regulator gives nod for GM mustard

Source: PIB

India’s central biotech regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has cleared the genetically modified (GM) Mustard for commercial cultivation and recommended its approval to the environment ministry.

What next?

The fate of this transgenic variety of oil-seed will now be in the hands of the MoS environment Anil Madhav Dave who may either accept it, reject it or sit over the file till the Supreme Court takes its call on a pending application on the matter.


  • The GM mustard, developed by a Delhi University institution, is only the second food crop which got its clearance from the central regulator. The GEAC had earlier in 2010 cleared the Bt Brinjal but the decision was not accepted by then environment minister Jairam Ramesh. Currently, only Bt Cotton – a non-food GM crop – is commercially cultivated in the country.
  • An application for commercial release of the GM Mustard was filed in December 2015. The GEAC had subsequently set up a sub-committee to examine the safety aspect of the use of transgenic variety of the mustard. The sub-committee had last year given its safety clearance while noting that the GM Mustard is safe for human consumption and environment.
  • Decision of the GEAC was, however, vehemently opposed by environmentalists and anti-GM groups.

  1. Voluntary unemployment rising

Source: The Hindu

NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy has flagged a dramatic rise in voluntary unemployment across the country, where people choose not to work below a certain income level after ‘investing’ in education.

The trouble with current official data on labour and employment is that they can be used to claim ‘jobless growth’ as well as ‘growth-less jobs’ — and fail to capture the pre-dominantly informal and unorganised nature of the Indian economy. In reality, India needs to create 10 to 12 million new jobs.


  • This remark assumes significance as a task force led by the Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya was recently formed on employment data. While the government attaches highest priority to job creation, policy making and analysis is conducted in a data vacuum, so the task force has been tasked with coming up with reliable and timely data solution for tracking employment trends.
  • The data compiled by the Labour Bureau from enterprises for select sectors on a quarterly basis is not amenable to finding out what is really happening to labour and employment thanks to its sample size and design.

Types of unemployment:

  • Frictional Unemployment: Frictional unemployment is a temporary phenomenon. It may take place in various ways. When some workers are temporarily out of work while changing jobs, it is called “frictional unemployment.” Similarly, strikes and lockouts may result in the suspension of work, and there may exist some frictional unemployment for the time being. To some extent, frictional unemployment is also caused by the imperfect mobility of labour. Factors inhibiting the geographical or occupational movement of unemployed workers into vacant jobs, thus, cause frictional unemployment.
  • Casual Unemployment: In industries such as building construction, catering or agriculture, where workers are employed on a day- to-day basis, there are chances of casual unemployment occurring due to short-term contracts, which are terminable any time. Thus, when a worker’s contract ends after the completion of work, he has to find a job elsewhere, which he is likely to get depending on circumstances or he may get a fresh contract with the same firm when some new work is started.
  • Seasonal Unemployment: There are some industries and occupations such as agriculture, the catering trade in holiday resorts, some agro-based industrial activities, like sugar mills and rice mills, etc., in which production activities are seasonal in nature. So, they offer employment for only a certain period of time in a year. For instance, work in sugar mills lasts for about six months. Rice mills work for only a few weeks.
  • Structural Unemployment: Due to structural changes in the economy, structural unemployment may take place. Structural unemployment is caused by a decline in demand for production in a particular industry, and consequent disinvestment and reduction in its manpower requirements.
  • Technological Unemployment: A kind of structural unemployment may take place in an economy as a result of technological improvement. Such unemployment may be described as technological unemployment. Due to the introduction of new machinery, improvement in methods of production, labour-saving devices etc., some workers tend to be replaced by machines. Their unemployment is termed as “technological unemployment.” Technological unemployment is basically created by introduction of machinery. But, it is a temporary phenomenon. In the long run, the development effectuated by the use of more capital leads to diversification of activities and promotion of many allied industries which would create additional job opportunities so that the unemployed workers will be absorbed in a more remunerative way.
  • Cyclical Unemployment: Capitalist-biased, advanced countries are subject to trade cycles. Trade cycles — especially recessionary and depressionary phases — cause cyclical unemployment in these countries. During the contraction phase of a trade cycle in an economy, aggregate demand falls and this leads to disinvestment, decline in production, and unemployment. Lerner calls it “deflationary unemployment.” Keynes emphasised that depressionary unemployment is caused by the insufficiency of effective demand.
  • Chronic Unemployment: When unemployment tends to be a long-term feature of a country it is called “chronic unemployment.” Underdeveloped countries suffer from chronic unemployment on account of the vicious circle of poverty. Lack of developed resources and their underutilisation, high population growth, backward, even primitive state of technology, low capital formation, etc. are the major causes of chronic unemployment in underdeveloped economies.
  • Disguised Unemployment: The term “disguised unemployment” commonly refers to a situation of employment with surplus manpower, in which some workers have zero marginal productivity so that their removal will not affect the volume of total output.
  • Classical unemployment: Classical unemployment is caused when wages are ‘too’ high. This explanation of unemployment dominated economic theory before the 1930s, when workers themselves were blamed for not accepting lower wages, or for asking for too high wages. Classical unemployment is also called real wage unemployment.

  1. China tests ‘Lunar Palace’ as it eyes moon mission

Source: The Hindu

China has started its experimental tests of “Yuegong-1”, or “Lunar Palace”.

Key facts:

  • As part of this experiment, four Chinese students have entered the 160-square-metre (1,720-square-foot) cabin. They will live there for 200 days.
  • The volunteers will live in the sealed lab to simulate a long-term, self-contained space mission with no input from the outside world.
  • The “Lunar Palace” has two plant cultivation modules and a living cabin: 42 square metres containing four bed cubicles, a common room, a bathroom, a waste-treatment room and a room for raising animals.
  • The Lunar Palace is the world’s third bioregenerative life-support base, and the first developed in China. It is the only such facility to involve animals and microorganisms as well as plants and humans.
  • Human waste will be treated with a bio-fermentation process, and experimental crops and vegetables grown with the help of food and waste byproducts.
  • The project seeks to help the country prepare lunar explorers for longer stays on the surface.

  1. Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims worst off: report

Source: The Hindu

The 2016 Indian Exclusion Report (IXR) was recently released by the Centre for Equity Studies (CES).

The 2016 Report reviews exclusion with respect to four public goods: pensions for the elderly, digital access, agricultural land, and legal justice for undertrials. It also profiles four highly vulnerable groups in terms of their access to these goods.

Important findings:

  • Disadvantaged groups: Despite the diverse public goods reviewed, the groups most severely and consistently excluded from provisioning tend to the same historically disadvantaged groups: Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, and persons with disabilities and age-related vulnerabilities.
  • Land holding: Pattern of land distribution “broadly reflects the socio-economic hierarchy — large landowners invariably belong to the upper castes, cultivators to the middle castes, and agricultural workers are largely Dalits and Adivasis.” The rate of landlessness was highest among Dalits, at 57.3%. Among Muslims, it was 52.6%, and 56.8% of women-headed households were landless. Around 40% of all those displaced by “development activity” were Adivasis. Where Dalits, Muslims and women owned land, the holdings were meagre in size, with only 2.08% of Dalit households owning more than two hectares of land. Also, the quality of land owned by Dalits was very poor, with 58% of it having no irrigation facility.
  • Land reform efforts have not benefited Dalits, women or Muslims significantly, according to the IXR. Land allotments to SC/ST households were often only on paper, as allottees were forcefully evicted or not allowed to take possession, noted the report.
  • Digital exclusion: Almost 1.063 billion Indians were offline even though India ranks among the top five nations in terms of the total number of Internet users. Poverty and geographic location were the two major barriers to digital access, with urban locations enjoying better Internet penetration rates. Government initiatives to improve IT access have been riddled with implementation problems like poor infrastructure, a lack of adequate institutional frameworks, low literacy in the targeted areas, and poor cooperation from government officials.


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