As part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, the government announced insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per health worker, Rs 500 per month to 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders, free gas cylinders to 8 crore families, increase in wage under Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 from Rs 182 to Rs 202 per day, and ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 to 3 crore poor senior citizens and widows
After extending the free foodgrain distribution scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) till November, the government is planning to extend the scheme on a month-to-month basis.
"The situation hasn't completely improved yet. And it's difficult to predict by when normalcy would return. So, the scheme might get extended on an evolving basis," a senior government official told Moneycontrol.
As the country went into a lockdown on March 25 to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre launched PMGKAY for the April-June period to support economically vulnerable sections. Under this scheme, the government provides 5 kg of free food grain to nearly 814 million beneficiaries. This is in addition to their monthly entitlement of 5 kg rice or wheat at subsidised prices.
"It (the scheme) has been largely helpful to those who needed it the most during the lockdown. The economy is opening up, but there are social distancing norms and other rules for resumption of production. So, obviously, employment will take a hit. The idea is to make basics available," the official said.
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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The scheme would cost Rs 1.49 lakh crore and is expected to increase Food Corporation of India’s debt that stood at Rs 3.3 lakh crore at the start of FY21.
Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which provides 5 kg foodgrains per person per month to the economically weaker sections at highly subsidised rates, the government pays a subsidy of about Rs 1.70 lakh crore annually.
As part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat package to tackle the economic fallout of the pandemic, the Centre had announced a Rs 1.70 lakh crore relief package for the poor.
As part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, the government announced an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per health worker, Rs 500 per month to 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders, free gas cylinders to 8 crore families, increase in wage under Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 from Rs 182 to Rs 202 per day, and ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 to three crore poor senior citizens and widows.The Centre had also written to all state governments and Union Territories to provide subsidised foodgrains to all eligible disabled persons under National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.