1ST FEBRUARY CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. Pulse Polio Programme

News: President of India, launched the Pulse Polio Programme for 2021 today by administering polio drops to children less than five years old.

Background:

  • The strategy of Pulse Polio Immunization Programme was conceived in December 1993 and it was rolled out from 2ndOctober, 1994 when the first child was immunized against Polio as part of this programme.
  • Almost 12 lakh children were immunized in a single day at around 4000 centres. In 1995 seeing the visible impact of the Pulse Polio Programme in Delhi, this was replicated at the national level.
  • A year later, several countries of South East Asia region of WHO emulated the strategy and implemented similar programs.
  • ‘Polio-free certification’ of the entire South-East Asia Region of WHO including India on the 27thof March 2014 was a huge accomplishment in the history of India and Global Public Health.

The Pulse Polio Programme:

  • India launched the Pulse Polio immunisation programmein 1995 after a resolution for a global initiative of polio eradication was adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1988.
  • Children in the age group of 0-5 years are administered polio drops during national and sub-national immunisation rounds (in high-risk areas) every year. According to the Ministry of Health, the last polio casein the country was reported from Howrah district of West Bengal in January 2011.
  • Under the Pulse Polio Programme, all states and Union Territories have developed Rapid Response Teams (RRT)to respond to any polio outbreak in the country.
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans (EPRP)have also been developed by states, indicating steps to be undertaken in case of detection of a polio case.

Need for such programme:

  • The Indian policy-makers continue to focus on polio, though the Southeast Asian region, including India, became polio-free in 2014. This is because the threat of resurgence is real and can happen in two ways.
  • As of today, two countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan — still have circulating polio. And the poliovirus can cross borders easily through adults who show no symptoms.
  • In 2011, 10 years after becoming polio-free, China’s Xinjiang province saw 21 cases of paralytic polio and two deaths. Once we stop the remaining two viruses (WPV-1 and WPV-3) in their tracks, OPV will be phased out and replaced globally with IPV.

What is Polio?

  • The World Health Organization (WHO)defines polio or poliomyelitis as “a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children.
  • The virus is transmitted by person-to-person, spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
  • There are three wild-types of poliovirus that cause the disease:
  1. Wild Poliovirus 1 (WP1)
  2. Wild Poliovirus 2 (WP2)
  3. Wild Poliovirus 3 (WP3)
  • Out of the three, WPV-2 was interrupted successfully more than a decade ago.
  • The two remaining viruses, now seen in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, are WPV-1 and WPV-3.
  • Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.”

Treatment of Polio:

  • There are two vaccines available to fight polio:
  1. Inactivated poliovirus (IPV):IPV consists of a series of injections that start 2 months after birth and continue until the child is 4 to 6 years old. This version of the vaccine is provided to most children in the U.S. The vaccine is made from inactive poliovirus. It is very safe and effective and cannot cause polio.
  2. Oral polio vaccine (OPV):OPV is created from a weakened form of poliovirus. This version is the vaccine of choice in many countries because it is a low cost, easy to administer, and gives an excellent level of immunity. However, in very rare cases, OPV has been known to revert to a dangerous form of poliovirus, which is able to cause paralysis.
  • Polio vaccinations, or boosters, are highly recommended for anyone who is not vaccinated or is unsure whether they are.

Polio eradication in India:

  • The WHO on February 24, 2012, removed India from the list of countries with active endemic wild poliovirus transmission.
  • Two years later, the South-East Asia Region of the WHO, of which India is a part, was certified as polio-free.
  • The Regional Certification Commission (RCC) on March 27, 2014, stated: “The Commission concludes, from the evidence provided by the National Certificate Committees of the 11 Member States, that the transmission of indigenous wild poliovirus has been interrupted in all the countries of the Region.”
  • To prevent the virus from coming to India, the government has since March 2014 made the Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV)mandatory for those travelling between India and polio-affected countries, such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Syria and Cameroon.

2. Jal Jeevan Mission

News: Recognizing the key role Members of Parliament/ elected representatives can play in mobilizing the local community and empowering them to ensure assured piped water supply in rural homes, provisions have been made in the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission to enable their participation to make Jal Jeevan Mission – Har Ghar Jal, a ‘Jan Andolan’. The National Jal Jeevan Mission (NJJM) issued an advisory to States elaborating on the roles; the Members of Parliament can play in achieving the goal of the Mission.

Significance of the move:

  • Starting with involvement of MPs in District Water &Sanitation Mission (DWSM), which includes review of
  • progress of JJM in districts;
  • promote community engagement and participation;
  • prioritize convergence with MPLAD funds and other centrally sponsored scheme funds;
  • resolution of bottlenecks in implementation of schemes; and
  • overall to ensure that implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission – Har Ghar Jal
  • It is being done in accordance with provisions of the Operational Guidelines of the mission, so that every rural household gets assured potable tap water on regular and long-term basis.
  • MPs are already nominated as Co-Chairperson of the District Level District Development Coordination & Monitoring Committee (DISHA) of the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • Their inputs/ suggestions would be considered while finalizing the District Action Plan (DAP) for 100% coverage for provision of drinking water in all rural households of the districts in their constituencies.
  • Further, before declaring any district as’ Har Ghar Jal’ district, i.e. districts with tap water supply in every rural home, Members of Parliament whose constituencies are part of the district would be consulted so that ‘no one is left out’.

Jal Jeevan Mission

  • Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by
  • JJM focuses on integrated demand and supply-side management of water at the local level.
  • Creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse, would be undertaken in convergence with other government programmes/schemes.
  • The Mission is based on a community approach to water and includes extensive Information, Education and Communication as a key component of the mission.
  • JJM looks to create ajan andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority.
  • Funding Pattern: The fund sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.
  • The Central government has recently released the operational guidelines for JJM.
  • For the implementation of JJM, following institutional arrangement has been proposed:
  • National Jal Jeevan Mission (NJJM) at the Central level
  • State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM) at the State level
  • District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) at the District level
  • Village Water Sanitation Committee (VWSC) at Village level

Village Action Plan:

  • As envisaged in the programme, Village Action Plan (VAP) for five years co-terminus with 15thFinance Commission period is to be prepared for each village with active involvement of local community.
  • These VAPs have components i.e.
  • strengthening of local drinking water sources;
  • in-village water supply infrastructure to provide tap water connections to every home and public institutions;
  • grey water treatment and reuse; and operation & maintenance of water supply systems so as every family gets assured supply of potable water on regular and long-term basis.
  • The VAP will be prepared by the Gram Panchayat/ VWSC/ Pani Samiti with the help from RWS/ PHE department and implementation support agencies (ISAs).
  • The work and activities identified in the VAP will be implemented by dovetailing of resources available at village level under various schemes/ programmes.
  • The VAP is the document to ensure long-term sustainability of water sources and systems in villages. People’s representatives will play a huge role in community mobilization, bring transparency and local community will have the water supply schemes of their choice and need.

3. Prabuddha Bharata

News: The Prime Minister, addressed the 125th anniversary celebrations of ‘Prabuddha Bharata’, a monthly journal of the Ramakrishna Order, started by Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda named the journal Prabuddha Bharata to manifest the spirit of our nation.

Prabuddha Bharata

  • The journal ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ has been an important medium for spreading the message of India’s ancient spiritual wisdom. It is India’s longest-running English language journal (wiki).
  • Its publication was started from Chennai (erstwhile Madras), where it continued to be published for two years, after which it was published from Almora. Later, in April 1899, the place of publication of the Journal was shifted to Advaita Ashrama and it has been continuously published from there since then.
  • Some of the greatest personalities have left their imprint on the pages of ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ through their writings on Indian culture, spirituality, philosophy, history, psychology, art, and other social issues.
  • Luminaries like Netaji SC Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sister Nivedita, Sri Aurobindo, Former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, among others, have contributed to the Journal over the years.

 

4. Green India Mission

 

News: The central government’s afforestation scheme, Green India Mission (GIM), was able to only achieve 2.8 per cent of its plantation target, according to the Economic Survey 2021.

Green India Mission

  • GIM is one of the eight Missions outlined under India’s action plan for addressing the challenge of climate change -the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
  • Launched in February 2014, it is aimed at protecting; restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures.
  • The mission has the broad objective of both increasing the forest and tree cover by 5 million ha,  as well as increasing the quality of the existing forest and tree cover in 10 years.
  • The Mission proposes a holistic view of greening and focuses not on carbon sequestration targets alone, but also, on multiple ecosystem services, especially, biodiversity, water, biomass etc., along with provisioning services like fuel, fodder, timber and non-timber forest produces. It will also increase options of forest-based livelihood of households living in the fringe of those landscapes where the Mission is implemented.
  • As of March 2020, plantation under the scheme was undertaken only over 0.14 m ha land. A 2018 parliamentary committee report on GIM found that the scheme was grossly underfunded. The report found that the scheme had also missed its targets by 34 per cent in both 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years.
  • The committee also pointed out that the afforestation done under the mission was only aimed at increasing tree count without considering the soil and weather conditions.
  • Trees like eucalyptus were planted which make environmental problems worse rather than solving it.
  • Planting of unsuitable trees may cause drought and prevent biodiversity in the regions.

 

5. Public Financial Management System

 

About PFMS

  • With an objective of bringing in transformational accountability and transparency and to further promote good governance, the Indian government envisioned Public Financial Management System (PFMS).
  • PFMS has evolved as an end to end solution for Processing, Monitoring and reconciling financial flows of Central Govt. PFMS has empowered governance to become more responsive, accountable and transparent.

Functions:

  • It acts as a financial management platform for all plan schemes and allows for efficient and effective tracking of fund flow to the lowest level of implementation for plan scheme of the Government.
  • It is mandated to provide information on fund utilization leading to better monitoring, review and decision support system to enhance public accountability in the implementation of plan schemes.
  • To result in effectiveness and economy in Public Finance Management through better cash management for Government transparency in public expenditure and real-time information on resource availability and utilization across schemes.

Achievements of PFMS

  • PFMS can be credited to the transformation of Direct beneficiary transfers space in financial governance in India. An estimated 102 crore DBT transaction were dome through PFMS in FY 19-20 amounting to about ₹67 lakh crore. Through efficient use of technology, PFMS is estimated to have saved about ₹1 lakh crore in direct beneficiary transfers.

Scope for improvements

  • Only after ensuring significant coverage, the true execution of the concept will take place.
  • PFMS will have to add significant data management capabilities in-order to ensure better monitoring/review to deliver on the idea of a decision support system for effective cash management or management of idle float in the system.
  • Adaption to rapid changes in technology is another key area that would call for a considerable amount of focus both in terms of upgradation and monitoring.
  • One of the most critical factors for successful execution of PFMS is its integration with the banking systems.
  • The Banks and PFMS will have to actively partner to ensure faster coverage/integration of all the Govt. entities.

Conclusion

  • The PFMS has revolutionized the ways public finances are managed in the country. With constant improvement and increasing coverage, the scope of PFMS is ever-increasing. Going ahead, PFMS will not only be seen as a tool for managing planned expenditure but will also add new meanings to Direct Beneficiary transfers, data driven cash management and e-Governance in India.