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Policy Buzz: Edition 3

Accountability Initiative Staff

17 August 2019

Keep up-to-date with all that is happening in welfare policy with this curated selection of news, published every fortnight. This edition also contains highlights of the government’s development agenda from the Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech.


Policy News 


Health and Nutrition: 

  • The Centre has identified four districts, two each in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, to carry out a pilot under the Poshan Abhiyan. The Scientific Steering Committee – a technical committee, consisting of members from the NITI Aayog, concerned ministries and technical experts – was formed in February this year to evaluate how cash transfers would perform as opposed to take-home ration for pregnant and lactating mothers under the government’s flagship early childhood nutrition and education scheme, the Integrated Child Development Services. In the pilot, children below six years of age will get Rs. 8 per day and pregnant and lactating mothers are to get Rs. 9.5 per day. 


  • The second edition of the rural sanitation survey – Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2019 – was launched on 14th August by the Union Jal Shakti Minister, Gajendra Singh Shekawat. Touted to be about three times the scale of the first edition, this survey will be covering around 700 districts and more than 17,000 villages. With a focus on solid waste and plastic waste management, the survey will be a step towards implementing ODF plus initiatives.

Fiscal Federalism: 

  • As newly formed Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh may be ineligible for the 15th Finance Commission’s award. According to news reports, the terms of references (TOR) are only restricted to union-states, and the finances of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will now be handled by North Block directly. However, the union government has the option of expanding the Finance Commission’s mandate to include J & K and Ladakh. 


  • Abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A has substantially weakened India’s federal aspiration in two significant ways: federalism has now been positioned as an impediment to development and moral authority of regional parties to safeguard India’s federal system has been undermined, Yamini Aiyar (Founder, Accountability Initiative) opines in this piece

Highlights of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day Speech: 

In his sixth consecutive Independence Day speech, PM Modi talked about the welfare goals that his government aspires to achieve. This includes the importance of water policy in the coming years, welfare schemes for farmers, development of modern infrastructure, creation of new job opportunities, improving the standard of living of all citizens, and improving the public health infrastructure of the country. 

  • A transfer of about Rs. 90,000 crores to farmers’ bank accounts is being done for beneficiaries under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana. 
  • Pension schemes, whose beneficiaries will be farmers and small entrepreneurs are being chalked out. Farmers’ income should double by the 75th year of independence, he said, adding that every district of the country should be developed as an export hub. 
  • He emphasised the goal of housing for two crore poor people, drinking water supply to 15 crore rural households and 1.25 lakh km roads in rural areas, every family having an electricity connection and every village getting optical fibre network and broadband connectivity by the 75th Independence Day. In the coming days, 1.5 lakh wellness centers will be established in villages and there will be one medical college for three Lok Sabha constituencies.
  • Among the government’s focus areas will be the Jal Jeevan Mission (water security). The union government has announced an allocation of Rs 3.5 lakh crore for this. 
  • The PM urged citizens to pledge to make India free from single use plasticand called for municipalities and gram panchayats to come together to achieve this target. 
  • He re-emphasised the aspiration of the current government to reach USD 5 trillion economy in the next five years. An amount of Rs. 100 lakh crore will be spent on developing modern infrastructure, which will create more job opportunities and improve living standards.


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