Tatsat Chronicle
Tatsat Chronicle
  Letter from the Editor-in-Chief  
  Dear Subscriber,  
  Every time there is a crisis in the countryside, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), 2005, has come to the rescue of the rural poor. The 100 days of assured employment have not only saved some of the poorest in the country from starvation, it has also helped in building enduring community-level assets such as ponds, bunds (retaining walls), food grain storage, micro irrigation canals, among others.  
  The uniqueness of NREGA is that it’s a demand-driven employment scheme. It means that when the rural poor migrate to cities in search of better wages, the demand for such work comes down, which in turn brings down the expenditure. However, when there is a crisis such as that triggered by the Covid-19 lockdowns, which engineered reverse migration, the demand for NREGA work goes up, hence expenditure also goes up. There are several studies—both Indian and international—that acknowledge the role of the scheme in reducing rural poverty. More importantly, women have been the biggest beneficiaries of the scheme, since it allows them flexibility of working hours.  
  About a year ago, the government decided to introduce an app-based attendance system for payment of wages, using the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System (APBS). Though the idea of introducing a technology-based solution for better accountability might be laudable, its practicality is questionable. Given the poor mobile connectivity and low data speeds in rural India, uploading proof of work using the National Mobile Monitoring System through smartphones has become an onerous task. As a result, workers are not paid their wages owing to lack of attendance data and proof of work. When the gravity of the situation came to a head, NREGA workers from across India, under the banner of the NREGA Sangharsh Manch, launched a protest in the heart of Delhi at Jantar Mantar for their voices to be heard. The planned 100-day agitation is underway, though there are no indications yet of the government coming to the negotiating table to find an acceptable solution.  
  This month’s cover story gives voice to the NREGA workers and their demands, the increasing gap between expenditure and budgetary outlay, resulting in non-payment of wages by the states, and also the government’s outlook.  
  In this issue we have also attempted to initiate a discussion on other important issues such as the extensive crop damage due to unseasonal rains and its impact on food security and prices, the increasing consumption of coal despite the government’s clean energy thrust, and the problems of rising urban emissions.  
  Please browse through the round-up of Tatsat Chronicle newsletter till May 15, 2023.  
Top Story : The Great NREGA Muddle
Implementation of the compulsory app-based attendance rule for NREGA workers has created a minefield of problems for some of India’s poorest who depend on the scheme for eking out a basic livelihood. The successively lower allocation of funds...
Deep Dive : Flimsy Cover: The Inadequacy Of Crop Insurance
The heavy unseasonal rains and hailstorms in March destroyed vast swathes of standing crops that were ripe for harvesting, across India. Even as states collect data to determine the extent of damage, there is pressure on the Central and state governments...
Commentary : Cities Of Problems : The Question Of Urban Emissions
Ever-increasing urbanisation has a major role in India’s higher GHG emissions because cities are engines of economic growth but also contributors to ambient warming...
In Focus : Coal On Fire : The Rising Demand For The Most Environmentally Damaging Fuel
India’s hunger for the most damaging fossil fuel shows no signs of abating despite the world’s growing faith in renewable energy. Data indicates that demand for coal will reach 1.5 billion tonnes annually by 2030...
Feature : Devoted To Uplifting Human Lives: Paving Pathways For Livelihood
At a time of acute rural unemployment and declining wages, the Saahas Foundation has opted for a social entrepreneurship model that is not only imparting varied vocational skills to people from rural Uttarakhand but also providing...
CCPA issues orders to five e-commerce websites to stop the sale of seatbelt alarm stoppers
In view of violation of Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) under the Ministry of Commerce has issued orders against top five e-commerce platforms for selling car seatbelt alarm stopper clips...
Third cheetah death in 45 days at the Kuno National Park puts question mark on the project
A female cheetah called Daksha died at the Kuno National Park on May 9, making it the third big cat to suffer mortality in the past 45 days...
Meta bets on #MadeOnReels initiative to spur the growth of reels
Meta today announced the launch of #MadeonReels, a program designed to take the power of Reels Ads to brands across verticals in the country...
Internet users expected to rise to 900 million by 2025 from the current base of 759 million: Report
Fifty-two percent of Indians, over 759 million, are ‘active’ internet users, accessing the internet at least once a month and the number is expected to grow to 900 million by 2025, a new report says...
India’s Press Freedom Ranking slips to 161, down 11 places since 2022
India’s ranking in the global Press Freedom Index 2023 has slipped to 161 out of 180 countries, which is down 11 places from 150th place in 2022...
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