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Capacity Strengthening Initiative for Panchayats

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein

Why in the news?

The Union Minister of Jal Shakti, today launched the capacity strengthening initiative for Panchayats of the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti, in Ranchi, Jharkhand.

What are the features of the initiative?

  • This initiative will create a pool of 2800 field trainers in its initial trainings, who will reach out to around 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats across the country.
  • The initiative seeks to ensure the sustainability of open defecation free (ODF) villages created under the Swachh Bharat Mission in the long term and enable field trainers and members of PRIs (Panchayat Raj Institutions) to create capacity to manage solid and liquid wastes as well as improve access to safe and adequate drinking water supply.


Skill Development in the North-East Region

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Why in the news?

Union Minister for Skill Development, reviewed skill development initiatives in the North-Eastern Region with State Skill Ministers

What are the achievements under Skill India in the North-East Region?

  • The Skill India programs have taken significant strides in the North Eastern states. Under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), free skill training and certification across roles is provided to improve employability. In the North-East Region, 2.5 lakhs youths have been trained since 2016, of which 1.82 lakhs have been certified. 
  • To improve the livelihood opportunities of more than 80 thousand traditional arts and handicrafts artisans have had their skills certified under the PMKVY in the region. The Ministry has allocated 103 Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKKs) multiple skills institutes for better employability of NER youths who are in demand in many industries such as retail, tourism, music, health care etc.
  • Further, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) last year introduced National Skill Training Institute (NSTI) for skilling women of Tripura in non-traditional roles and increasing gender sensitivity in the workplace. Training is provided in CNC mechanics, automation specialists, warehouse packers, mine welders, toolmakers and die-makers, security guards, vermicomposting producers among others. Under a Skill India Special Project to support the Bru Tribe Women, almost 250 women have been trained under PMKVY 2, and employed. Jan Shikshan Sansthans under MSDE have been established and are operated through NGOs, providing vocational skills.
  • MSDE have also undertaken several initiatives to promote entrepreneurship pan India including the north east region. This is the unexplored potential in Northeast region. Certain area of Northeast e.g. Arunachal Pradesh, 40% of fruit goes to waste due to lack of storage & transportation, the same can be used to produce fresh juices at very affordable pricing. Therefore, youngsters are heading towards the northeast states & venturing into entrepreneurship
  • The entrepreneurial nature of women in North East region is evident from the fact that in the 2018 National Entrepreneurship awards organized by these Ministry 214 applications were received from the North East region, and out of 33 winners 5 were from North East of which 3 are women. The ministry has ensured that there is a single regulator for training ecosystem (for both short-term and long-term training) to streamline all skill trainings to one legal entity. MSDE has further established the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET) which was approved by the Cabinet in October 2018. NCVET is in the process of being set up as an overarching skills regulator by merging the existing skill regulatory bodies- National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) & National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT).
  • As part of the review, the minister also looked into the PM-YUVA scheme that was implemented in 2017 on entrepreneurship education and training across the country through Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL). Six IHL from North East region participated in the scheme and 684 students received entrepreneurship training in 2017-2018. The scheme is now being restructured to make it relevant for the candidates emerging from skilling ecosystem (ITI, Polytechnic, PMKK, JSS and RPL trainees). As per Finance Ministry, the revised PM YUVA scheme is to be implemented in the next Financial Commission period from April 2020.
  • To further encourage the skilling efforts of the government, the MSDE organizes the National Entrepreneurship Awards Scheme (2016-21) and recognized the efforts of exceptional first-generation entrepreneurs (this year-39) and individuals and organizations supporting entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial journey. Last year, 214 applications were received from the North East region and out of 33 winners 5 were from North East. There are also special category awards for women, SC/ST, PwC and entrepreneurs from difficult areas. The call for application for this year’s awards will open from August 1 till 10th September 2019.
  • In another development, the administrative charge of the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship in Guwahati was transferred to MSDE in May 2015. Since then, MSDE has helped the institute streamline its role with a focus on Entrepreneurship. Last year (2018-19), MSDE sanctioned a grant of Rs4.63 crore, including Rs2.05 crore from North East pool fund, for renovation of the institute.

Data Officer for Smart Cities

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Why in the news?

  • Each of the 100 smart cities is in the process of appointing a chief data officer (or CDO). 
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has asked each municipality to build its own “data cell”, appoint departmental “data champions”, and push for “data alliances” under the Smart Cities Mission’s “Data Maturity Assessment Framework”. All these efforts are aimed at improving governance by understanding data and patterns at the city level.
  • Almost all cities have submitted their self-assessments to the ministry and over Rs 13,000-crore worth of IT and digitisation tenders have been put out so far. 
  • When they are up and running, these projects will funnel 2,000 to 6,000 terabytes (TB) of data into the cities’ Integrated Control and Command Centres from CCTV cameras, traffic systems, and water flow sensors, among others.
  • However, cities need a data policy without which CDO will find it hard to push through. Moreover, mapping data and using it in governance is uncharted territory for most, including some CDOs. As things stand, lateral entry for the CDO’s position, too, is not allowed.

What is the Smart Cities Mission?

  • Smart Cities Mission is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government of India with the mission to develop 100 cities across the country making them citizen friendly and sustainable.
  • It will operate as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) where in the central Government proposes to provide financial support up to Rs. 100 crore per city per year. An equal amount, on a matching basis, will have to be contributed by the State/ULB.
  • The objective of the Smart Cities Mission is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions. 
  • The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a lighthouse to other aspiring cities. 
  • It is meant to set examples that can be replicated both within and outside the Smart City, catalysing the creation of similar Smart Cities in various regions and parts of the country. 
  • Accordingly, the purpose of the Smart Cities Mission is to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local area development and harnessing technology, especially technology that leads to Smart outcomes. 
  • Area-based development will transform existing areas (retrofit and redevelop), including slums, into better planned ones, thereby improving liveability of the whole City. 
  • New areas (greenfield) will be developed around cities in order to accommodate the expanding population in urban areas. 
  • Application of Smart Solutions will enable cities to use technology, information and data to improve infrastructure and services. 
  • Comprehensive development in this way will improve quality of life, create employment and enhance incomes for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, leading to inclusive Cities. 
  • The smart city aspirants have been selected through a process of competition called ‘City Challenge Competition’ in an objective manner as hailed by NITI Aayog. It entails effective citizen participation ending the ‘top down’ approach and leading to ‘people centric’ urban development.


Prelims Specific

  • Sahara is a project in Ahmedabad district that is aimed at reducing haemorrhage-related maternal deaths by providing new mothers with a special suit —the NASG (non-pneumatic anti-shock garment).