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  • 05 Aug 2020
  • 41 min read
Social Justice

UN Report on the Impact of Covid-19 on Children

Why in News

According to the recently released UN Report on the Impact of Covid-19 on Children, almost 24 million children could drop out or not have access to school next year due to the economic impact of Covid-19.

Key Points

  • Impact: The Covid-19 pandemic will impact the children all over the world in multiple ways:
    • Economic: An estimated 42-66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of pandemic
      • The economic loss might reach 16,000 USD of lost earnings over a student’s lifetime, translating over time into 10 trillion USD of lost earnings globally.
    • Learning: 188 countries have imposed countrywide school closures, affecting more than 1.5 billion children and youth.
      • More than two-thirds of countries have introduced a national distance learning platform, but among low-income countries the share of distance learning is only 30%.
      • Online learning is not accessible for poor children, children from remote and conflict areas and children with disabilities.
      • A loss of learning by one-third (equivalent to a three-month school closure) during Grade 3 might result in 72% of students falling so far behind that by Grade 10 they will have dropped out or will not be able to learn anything in school.
    • Survival: Economic hardship experienced by families as a result of the global economic downturn could result in hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020,
      • This will reverse the last 2 to 3 years of progress in reducing infant mortality within a single year.
    • Health: Rising malnutrition is expected as 368.5 million children across 143 countries rely on school meals for a reliable source of daily nutrition.
      • There is a reduced access to essential reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health interventions.
      • Suspension of all polio vaccination campaigns worldwide and measles immunization campaigns in at least 23 countries will set back the decades-long effort to eliminate these diseases.
      • The effects of physical distancing measures and movement restrictions on children’s mental health represent another cause for concern.
    • Safety: Lockdowns and shelter in place measures come with heightened risk of children witnessing or suffering violence and abuse.
      • Children’s reliance on online platforms for distance learning has also increased their risk of exposure to inappropriate content and online predators.
      • Susceptibility to child marriage, early pregnancy and gender-based violence will also increase.
  • Uneven Distribution of Impact: The Covid-19 Pandemic has increased the existing socioeconomic disparities.
    • During the second quarter of 2020, 86% of children at the primary level have been effectively out of school in poor countries, compared to just 20% in highly developed countries.
    • The Covid-19 crisis is likely to increase the financing gap between education budgets and the money available to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of quality education by up to one-third.
      • The low and middle incomes already faced a USD 148-billion of the said financial gap.
    • Apart from the poor children, other vulnerable groups of children like migrants, the displaced, refugees, minorities, slum-dwellers, children living with disabilities, children living in refugee settlements, and children in institutions are likely to face a more severe impact.
    • The impact of Covid-19 is going to be more damaging for girls than boys, widening gender inequality.
    • Earlier this year, the Global Education Monitoring Report, 2020 was released by UNESCO which highlighted that the Covid-19 had worsened the inequalities in education systems worldwide.

Suggestions

  • Immediate rollout or expansion of social assistance to families, preferably through the use of universal child grants to prevent extreme poverty.
  • Securing food supply chains and local food markets, to protect children from a food security crisis.
  • Urgent adaptation of standard physical distancing and lockdown strategies in low-income and high population density settings.
  • Prioritizing the continuity of child-centred services, schooling, nutrition programmes, immunization and other maternal and newborn care, and community-based child protection programmes with a particular focus on equity of access.
  • Putting in place specific protections for vulnerable children.
  • Providing practical support to parents and caregivers to support the mental health and learning of the children.
  • Ensuring that children, adolescents and young people have access to Covid- 19 testing, treatment and vaccines as and when they become available.

Way Forward

  • To avoid the outcome of the pandemic, progress on three fronts is required : Information, Solidarity and Action.
  • It is critical that education is at the heart of international solidarity efforts, from debt management and stimulus packages to global humanitarian appeals and official development assistance.
  • Now is the time to step up international solidarity for children and humanity— and to lay the foundations for a deeper transformation of the way we nurture and invest in our world’s youngest generation.
  • India as a lower-middle-income country needs to use education as an equalizer for its widespread socioeconomic inequalities. Focus on increasing education budget in New Education Policy budget and decreasing digital divide are welcome steps to achieve this goal.

Source: TH


Social Justice

Vitamin D Deficiency in India

Why in News

Researchers have claimed that vitamin D deficiency can negatively affect Covid-19 high-risk patients, particularly those who are diabetic, have heart conditions, pneumonia, obesity and those who smoke.

  • It is also associated with infections in the respiratory tract and lung injury.

Key Points

  • India has a large population suffering from vitamin D deficiency among the public irrespective of their location (urban or rural), age or gender, or whether they are poor or even rich.
    • This is despite India being a tropical nation getting abundant sunshine, which is a precursor to Vitamin D formation in the body.
  • According to an analysis published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2017, the level of vitamin D in people from different states of India ranged between 3.15 nanogram/millilitre to 52.9 ng/ml, which was considerably lower than the needed level of 30-100 ng/ml.
    • Vitamin D level among south Indians is 15.74–19.16 ng/ml.
    • Females showed consistently lower levels than males.
  • Vitamin D deficiency also occurs among people of the Indian sub-continental origin settled in Great Britain.
    • This suggests a correlation between genetics of people of this region and Vitamin D metabolism.
  • According to data by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) over the last 50 years, the calcium levels in average Indian populations has plummeted from 700 units per day to 300-400.
    • The normal, needed level of Calcium is 800-1,000 units per day. Vitamin D helps in absorption of Calcium by the body.
    • The body needs calcium to maintain strong bones. It is also needed for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part.
    • It also helps release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body.
    • This deficiency of Calcium stands in contrast to the fact that India produces the maximum amount of milk per day in the world which is a rich source of calcium.

Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is naturally present in very few foods like fatty fish, and fish liver oils, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
  • It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.
    • The sunlight triggers a chemical reaction to a cholesterol-based molecule, and converts it into calcidiol in the liver and into calcitriol in the kidney.
    • These molecules technically called 25-OHD are physiologically active.
  • Role:
    • Vitamin D maintains adequate calcium and phosphate concentrations in blood. It prevents weakening of bones.
    • Vitamin D has other roles in the body, including cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation.
  • Required Amount
    • The level of 25-OHD in the range 30-100 ng/ml is thought to be sufficient for a healthy body; levels between 21-29 ng/ml are considered insufficient, and levels below 20 ng/ml mean the individual is deficient in the vitamin.
  • Effects of Deficiency:
    • Rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of bones) in adults.
    • Bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen (Effects of deficiency).
    • Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
    • Bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen (osteoporosis) Vitamin D.

Nutrition in India

  • A major chunk of the population in India suffers from hidden hunger and malnutrition and nutrition deficiencies.
    • Hidden hunger occurs when the quality of food people eat does not meet their nutrient requirements, so the food is deficient in micronutrients such as the vitamins and minerals that they need for their growth and development.
  • Over 80% adolescents in India suffer from hidden hunger according to UNICEF's report, 'Adolescents, Diets and Nutrition: Growing Well in a Changing World, 2019’.
    • In India, 63% of children below 5 years in urban areas (72% in rural areas) are found to be anaemic and 55% of women and 24% of men are found to be anaemic.
  • The production, procurement and distribution system for food in India has still not been able to address the food security issues in India.
  • The balanced diet is still unaffordable for many Indians.

Government Initiatives

  • Mid-day meal scheme has helped in combating nutrition deficiencies in poor school-going children.
  • The feeding programmes for preschool children and pregnant women under the Integrated Child Development Services through anganwadis have been vital.
  • The government is trying to ensure the food requirement of the poor section of society through the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the Public Distribution System (PDS).
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan, launched in 2017-18, aims to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth weight babies through synergy and convergence among different programmes, better monitoring and improved community mobilisation.
  • Biofortification i.e improvement of the nutritional quality of food crops through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology is being promoted by the government for various crops like carrots (Madhuban Gajar), wheat (MACS 4028) etc. in order to ensure nutritional security.

Suggestions

  • The Central and State governments need to consult nutrition experts and institutions to advise and suggest the type of nutritive items that can be added to the current ‘ration’ food given to the poor, and the meals given to school children.
    • The meals given to the poor or children should include vegetables like spinach and other green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, carrots, tomato, potato, milk/curd and fruits like bananas, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (and an egg).
  • Besides vitamin D and calcium, food rich in other micronutrients (such as B complex vitamins, plus Fe, Zn, I, Se, Zn) should be offered to the poor, so that immunity against any infection is ensured.
    • Such an addition takes care of what is called ‘hidden hunger’ in poorly nourished people.
  • The government can mass supply free-of-charge vitamin D, other vitamins and calcium, in consultation with medical and public health experts to the public.
    • Many indian pharmaceutical companies manufacture these. Procuring these supplements from indian companies will fall in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government.
  • The consumption of Seaweed can be very beneficial. Seaweeds are vegetarian, and rich in vitamins, minerals, iodine and omega 3 fatty acids. As India has a long coastline, these can be affordable nutritional supplements for Indians.
  • Schools can have their students stand in sunlight for 20-30 minutes daily, and encourage physical exercise and games for an hour per day.
  • Further, it is important to raise awareness about the importance of healthy eating and nutritional requirements of the human body.

Way Forward

Only when we ensure a healthy populace, we can imagine developing immunity to battle a pandemic like Covid-19. Dealing with Vitamin D and Calcium deficiency is the foremost step in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals of ending Hunger (SDG-2) and ensuring good health and well-being for all (SDG-3).

Source: TH


International Relations

Pakistan’s New Map

Why in News

Recently, Pakistan has released a new political map that includes all of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Sir Creek and Junagadh.

Key Points

  • The Map:
    • The map depicts entire Jammu & Kashmir as a disputed territory and does not show any borders in the east of Kashmir.
      • It has also renamed Kashmir Highway in Islamabad as Srinagar Highway.
    • It claims the Siachen, regions of Sir Creek and the erstwhile state of Junagadh in Gujarat as part of Pakistan’s territory.
      • This is not the first time Pakistan has tried to portray Junagadh as part of its territory. The 2012 Atlas of Pakistan also portrayed Junagadh as a Pakistan’s territory.
    • The map also shows the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as being part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
  • India’s Response:
    • India has called Pakistan's move as an exercise in political absurdity, which lays untenable claims to the Indian territories.
    • These assertions have neither legal validity nor international credibility and it only confirms the reality of Pakistan’s obsession with territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism.
  • Concerns for India:
    • This is the second time in the recent past where India’s neighbouring country has published a new map claiming India’s territories. Nepal was the first country to do so.
      • Nepal published its news map claiming the territories of the Kalapani region.
    • Closeness of Nepal, Pakistan towards China.
    • Recently, China also changed the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector in its favour.

Sir Creek

  • It is a 96 km long strip of water disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands.
  • The dispute lies in the interpretation of the maritime boundary line between Kutch and Sindh.
    • Pakistan claims the line to follow the eastern shore of the estuary while India claims a centerline (differing interpretations of paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Bombay Government Resolution of 1914 signed between the then Government of Sindh and Rao Maharaj of Kutch).
  • India insists the Sir Creek should be divided between the two countries according to thalweg principle. Under international law, a thalweg is the middle of the primary navigable channel of a waterway that defines the boundary line between states.
  • The International Boundary in the Sir Creek area and International Maritime Boundary line (IMBL) between India and Pakistan have not been demarcated.

Siachen Glacier

  • The Siachen Glacier is part of Ladakh which has now been converted into a Union Territory. It is the Second-Longest glacier in the World's Non-Polar areas.
  • It is located in the Eastern Karakoram range in the Himalayas, just northeast of Point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends.
  • It lies immediately south of the great drainage divide that separates the Eurasian Plate from the Indian subcontinent in the extensively glaciated portion of the Karakoram sometimes called the "Third Pole".
  • It is the world's highest battlefield.

FATA

  • The Federally Administered Tribal Areas was a semi-autonomous tribal region in northwestern Pakistan that existed from 1947. In 2018 it was merged with the neighboring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Way Forward

  • Over the last one year, Pakistan has made several attempts to raise the change in Jammu and Kashmir’s status from a state to a union territory at several international fora but hasn’t been able to get much traction. Further, with Pakistan, India continues to maintain that terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand.
  • With Nepal turning hostile, Sri Lanka tilted towards China, Bangladesh miffed over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and India out of Iran’s Chabahar railway link project (which India was to have constructed), there is a relative decline in India’s sphere of influence, especially in its neighbourhood and the extended neighbourhood. This demands a deeper examination of the foreign policy.

Source: IE


Governance

24 States under One Nation-One Ration Card

Why in News

Recently, Manipur, Nagaland and Uttarakhand, along with the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir have been integrated with the One Nation-One Ration Card (ONORC) Scheme.

  • Now a total of 24 States/UTs are connected under the ONORC scheme.
  • The remaining states/UTs are targeted to be integrated into the scheme by March 2021.

Key Points

  • The ONORC Scheme:
    • It was started as an inter-State portability of ration cards in 2019.
    • It allows the migratory National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 beneficiaries to lift their entitled quota of food grains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice anywhere in the country.
      • This can be done by using their existing ration card with Aadhaar based authentication.
    • With 24 States/UTs connected under the scheme, about 65 crore beneficiaries, comprising 80% of the total beneficiaries covered under the NFSA, can now get their subsidised ration from anywhere in these 24 states and union territories.
  • Benefit of ONORC Scheme:
    • Transparency: It will bring more transparency and efficiency in the distribution of foodgrains.
    • Identification: It will improve the mechanism to identify fake/duplicate ration cards and provide the option to Public distribution system (PDS) beneficiaries to lift their entitled foodgrains from the Fair Price Shops of their choice at the national level.
    • Food Security: The scheme will ensure food security of migrant labourers who move to other states to seek better job opportunities.
    • SDG: This will help achieve the target set under Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDG) 2 of ending hunger by 2030.
      • Also, it will address the poor state of hunger in India, as highlighted by the Global Hunger Index, where India has been ranked 102 out of 117 countries in 2019.
  • Issues Involved:
    • Distribution of Ration: The distribution of ration had become an issue during the lockdown when migrant workers didn’t have ration cards in the states they were staying. This led the migrants to walk towards their villages amid lockdown.
    • Logistical Issues: An FPS receives the monthly quota of products strictly in accordance with the number of people assigned to it.
      • The ONORC, when fully operational, would disrupt this practice, as some FPSs may have to cater to more numbers of cards even as others cater to less, owing to migration of people.
    • Lack of Data: There is no exact data on the mobility of poor households migrating to work, locating intra- and inter-state destinations and sectors employing the workers.

Suggestions

  • The Unorganised Sector Social Security Act, 2008, had drawn up a system of documenting informal sector workers through a system of welfare boards.
    • In order to get credible data regarding the migrant workers, this must be implemented in letter and spirit.
  • A dedicated e-commerce platform ONORC may resolve the challenge of logistical issues.
  • Social auditing must be made mandatory to measure the performance of ONORC.
  • NFSA defines food security as nutritional security.
  • In the longer run, the PDS system may be replaced by a fool-proof food coupon system or direct benefit transfer, targeting the poor, wherein a Below Poverty Line family can buy rice, pulses, sugar and oil from any Kirana store at the market price, by either paying fully through the coupon or by cash.

Source: TH


Governance

Expansion of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme

Why in News

Recently, the government has expanded its Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) to cover loans given to larger firms as well as to self-employed people and professionals who have taken loans for business purposes.

  • ECLGS was rolled out in May 2020 as part of the Centre’s Aatmanirbhar package in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The objective was to support small businesses struggling to meet their operational liabilities due to the imposition of a nationwide lockdown.

Key Points

  • The ECLGS provides for the Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line (GECL) facility. The GECL is a loan for which 100% guarantee is provided by the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company (NCGTC) to Member Lending Institutions (MLIs) - banks, financial institutions and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).
  • The loans are extended in the form of additional working capital term loan facility in case of banks and additional term loan facility in case of NBFCs to eligible Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)/business enterprises and interested Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) borrowers.
    • First-time borrowers and Non-Performing Asset (NPA) accounts cannot raise funds under the scheme.
  • The tenor of loans provided under the GECL facility is four years from the date of disbursement.
    • A moratorium period of one year on the principal amount is provided.
  • Interest rates of banks and financial institutions have been capped at 9.25% per annum, while NBFCs can lend at a maximum of 14% per annum.
  • The Scheme is applicable to all loans sanctioned under the GECL facility during the period from, 23rd May 2020 to 31st October, 2020, or till an amount of Rs. 3 lakh crore is sanctioned under GECL, whichever is earlier.
  • The scheme has been expanded to cover:
    • Enterprises with a turnover up to Rs. 250 crore with outstanding loans up to Rs. 50 crore (as on 29th February, 2020).
      • The earlier limit was Rs. 100 crore and Rs 25 crore, respectively.
      • Credit under GECL is provided up to 20% of the borrower’s total outstanding credit up to Rs. 25 crore.
      • The expansion of the limits has increased the maximum amount of loans that can be availed under the Scheme to Rs. 10 crore (20% of 50 crore) from Rs. 5 crore (20% of 25 crore).
    • Individual beneficiaries including both professionals such as doctors, lawyers and chartered accountants, as well as self-employed people such as vendors or taxi drivers.
    • The changes in the ECLGS scheme are likely to make an additional Rs 1 lakh crore eligible.
  • Till now, a total of around Rs. 1.37 lakh crore has been sanctioned under the scheme by member lending institutions to around 40 lakh accounts, of which around Rs 87,000 crore has been disbursed.

National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Ltd

  • NCGTC is a private limited company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 in 2014, established by the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, as a wholly owned company of the Government of India, to act as a common trustee company for multiple credit guarantee funds.
    • Credit guarantee programmes are designed to share the lending risk of the lenders and in turn, facilitate access to finance for the prospective borrowers.

Source: TH


Science & Technology

RaTG13 Sarbecovirus

Why in News

According to a recent study published in Nature Microbiology, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has been circulating unnoticed in bats for decades.

  • Bats have been the ‘primary reservoirs’ for SARS-CoV-2, which is likely to have diverged from closely related bat viruses called the RaTG13 sarbecovirus, 40-70 years ago.

Key Points

  • The current study confirms an earlier Chinese study and also suggests the probable time of divergence of the two viruses.
    • According to that Chinese study, SARS-CoV-2 is most closely related to RaTG13, which was isolated from a horseshoe bat in Yunnan province in 2013.
    • Based on the nearly 96% genome sequence identity between SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13, it was held that an origin in bats is probable for the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • SARS-CoV-2 has not arisen from recombination of any sarbecovirus.
    • Recombination: It is a process by which pieces of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) are broken and recombined to produce new combinations of alleles (forms of a gene). This recombination process creates genetic diversity at the level of genes that reflects differences in the DNA sequences of different organisms.
  • The ability of the spike protein in the virus to bind to Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) human receptors had emerged within bats and is an ancestral trait shared with bat viruses and not one acquired recently via recombination.
  • The results of the study suggest the presence of a ‘single lineage’ circulating in bats with properties that allowed it to infect human cells.
    • This was also the case with the bat sarbecoviruses related to the 2002 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) lineage.
  • Methodology:
    • The researchers analysed the evolutionary history of SARS-CoV-2 using genomic data on sarbecoviruses.
    • They employed three approaches to identify regions in the virus that had not undergone recombination and that could be used to reconstruct its evolution.
    • All approaches suggest that RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2 share a single ancestral lineage and estimate that SARS-CoV-2 genetically diverged from related bat sarbecoviruses in 1948, 1969 and 1982.
  • Challenging Assumptions:
    • The study challenged the idea of pangolins serving as an intermediate host where the virus would have acquired its ability to infect human cells thus facilitating the jump into humans.
      • It is possible that pangolins could have been a medium for the transmission to humans, but there is no evidence that pangolins facilitated adaptation to humans by being an intermediate host.
      • Current evidence is consistent with the idea that the virus evolved in bats and enabled itself to replicate in the upper respiratory tract of both humans and pangolins.
    • Snakes were thought to have served as intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2 as well but the present study has found no evidence to support this hypothesis.
  • Concerns:
    • The long divergence period raises the possibility of other undocumented virus lineages circulating in horseshoe bats that have the potential to jump from bats to humans.
    • Different and yet unstudied bat sarbecoviruses that have descended from the SARS-CoV-2/RaTG13 common ancestor form a clade with properties to infect many different mammals, including humans.
    • Due to the lack of better sampling, it is impossible to estimate whether or how many of these additional lineages exist.
    • The diversity and dynamic process of recombination amongst lineages in the bat reservoir makes identifying viruses difficult.
    • Many species of bat harbour several viruses which can cross over to new hosts. With the disruptions of their habitats, humans will face more such threats.

Way Forward

To identify the viruses and their lineages, there is a need for a global network of real-time human disease surveillance systems for pathogen identification and characterisation so that pandemic-like situations can be avoided.

Source: TH


Biodiversity & Environment

Dhole Conservation

Why in News

Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh rank high in the conservation of the endangered Dhole in India, according to a new study.

  • This study was conducted by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society-India, the University of Florida, the Wildlife Conservation Trust, and the National Centre for Biological Sciences.

Key Points

  • In this study, the scientists explored the conservation tenets of retention, recovery and restoration of dholes in India.
  • Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh were found to be adequately equipped for consolidating forest habitats and recovering populations of Dhole by increasing prey density and reducing the pressure on forests.
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana and Goa are suggested to increase financial investments in the forest and wildlife sectors, and reduce the ease of granting forest clearances for infrastructure projects.
  • Improving habitat conditions and prey densities in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha would strengthen the link between dhole populations in the Western Ghats and central India.

Dhole

  • About: Dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a wild carnivorous animal belonging to the canine family, found in Central, South, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.
    • They are also known as Asian wild dogs.
  • Ecological role: Dholes play an important role as apex predators in forest ecosystems.
  • Conservation Status: It is under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ‘endangered’ category.
  • Threats:
    • Ongoing habitat loss: Due to deforestation and fragmentation of forest corridors.
    • Depletion of prey base: Ungulates are main prey of dholes whose population is rapidly decreasing due to excessive hunting and habitat loss.
    • Persecution due to livestock predation and disease transfer from domestic and feral dogs.

Source: TH


Governance

Thenzawl Golf Resort in Mizoram

Why in News

Recently, the Thenzawl Golf Resort Project in Mizoram has been virtually inaugurated.

  • The project was implemented under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.

Key Points

  • The project was sanctioned under the Integrated Development of New Eco-Tourism under Swadesh Darshan-North East Circuit at Thenzawl and South Zote, District Serchhip and Reiek, Mizoram.
    • Eco-Tourism has been broadly defined as tourism which is ecologically sustainable.
  • A total amount of Rs. 92.25 crore was sanctioned for it, out of which Rs. 64.48 crore was sanctioned for various components at Thenzawl including the golf course which is designed to have facilities of international standards.
    • The competitive advantage of Thenzawl Golf Course is that it will provide quality golfing experience at a fair price.
  • Golf Tourism in India:
    • Currently, India has more than 230 golf courses in all out of which several are of international standards and golf events held there attract domestic and international tourists.
    • Golf tourism has a strong potential in India because the climatic condition is more favourable here as compared to most countries.
    • India’s picturesque landscapes and exceptional hospitality services add to the enhanced experience.
    • The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India endeavours to work as a catalyst and active supporter for the development of golf tourism in the country.
      • For that, it is creating a comprehensive and coordinated framework for promoting golf tourism in India as a niche tourism product.

Swadesh Darshan Scheme

  • It was launched in 2014-15 for integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country.
    • Currently, there are 15 theme based circuits - Buddhist, Coastal, Desert, Eco, Heritage, Himalayan, Krishna, North-east, Ramayana, Rural, Spiritual, Sufi, Tirthankara, Tribal and Wildlife.
    • Theme-based tourist circuits are developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.
  • It is a Central Sector Scheme.
  • Under the scheme, the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for infrastructure development of circuits.
  • This scheme is envisioned to synergise with other schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, Make in India, etc. with the idea of positioning the tourism sector as a major engine for job creation, driving force for economic growth, building synergy with various sectors to enable tourism to realise its potential.

Source: PIB


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