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Author: Arushi Pathak

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Triple talaq: Govt plans to make practice a punishable offence, likely to table Bill in winter session

Note4Students

Mains Paper2: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Talaq-e-bidat

Mains level:  The news card discusses the recent government move of framing a law to make practice of triple talaq a punishable offence.


News

Context

  1. Three months after the Supreme Court set aside the centuries-old practice of instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat in which Muslim men divorce their wives by uttering talaq three times in quick succession, the government has taken the first step to consider a legislation that will make triple talaq a criminal offence.
  2. A Bill to this effect is likely to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament.

The Committee

  1. A committee of ministers has been constituted to fine tune the legislation.
  2. The committee comprises Home Minister , External Affairs Minister, Finance Minister, Law Minister and Minority Affairs Minister.

Why such a law?

  1. In a landmark 3-2 verdict, three of five judges on a Constitution Bench called the practice un-Islamic and “arbitrary” and disagreed with the view that triple talaq was an integral part of religious practice.
  2. But the minority ruling while underlining the primacy of Muslim personal law, said the practice enjoyed constitutional protection and was beyond the scope of judicial scrutiny.
  3. They were of the view that Parliament should consider an “appropriate” law to deal with the issue of talaq-e-biddat.
  4. Sources said that recurrent reports of the practice continuing among Muslims despite the Supreme Court judgment spurred the decision to bring in a law with punitive measures.
  5. In spite of advisories to members of the community against this archaic practice, there seems to be no decline in the practice of divorce via talaq-e-biddat.

The impact of the proposed law

  1. The government suspects there may be many such unreported instances of instant triple talaq elsewhere in the country.
  2. Once a law is in place, the Muslim clergy will have no role in cases of talaq-e-biddat and women can directly approach police for redressal.  

Concerns

  1. While on the other hand some are of the view that there is no real reason to bring a law as the Supreme Court has already outlawed instant triple talaq.
  2. Others want more comprehensive law, like it is for personal affairs of Hindus and Christians is desired.
  3. Eight prominent citizens had submitted a draft ‘Progressive Uniform Civil Code’ to the Law Commission and according to them the announcement is welcome but insufficient.
  4. On the one hand is this government’s strange obsession with saving Muslim women.
  5. On the other is the complete indifference to issues which affect women across religions, gender and sexual orientation such as marital rape, rights of queer people to get married and raise children etc.

 

 

 

India’s sovereign rating: Moody’s justifies upgrade, says move based on reforms

Note4Students

                Mains Paper3 | Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth

Prelims: Debt/GDP, Moodys

Mains level: This news card talks about how Moodys has justified India’s rating upgrade.


News

Context

    1. Moody’s justified its upgrade of India’s sovereign rating, despite an economic slowdown in recent quarters and an expected rise in debt levels.
    2. It said the move was based on its assessment that a number of reforms by the government will combine to enhance the country’s structural credit strengths, including its strong growth potential, improving global competitiveness and its large and stable financing base for government debt.
  • Moody’s predicts a rebound in India’s growth to 7.5 per cent in 2018-19.

Why does Moodys predict a rebound in India’s growth story?

  1. India has a large and diversified economy and is improving its global competitiveness, this boosts economic strength.
  2. India’s economy’s shock absorption capacity, is “High (+)”, the fourth highest score on 15-rung sovereign factor score scale.
  3. While measures like demonetisation and the GST have undermined near-term growth, but as disruption fades, a rebound in real and nominal GDP growth is expected to sustained higher levels.
  4. It will lead to a gradual decline in the general government debt burden over the medium term.
  5. It also termed the government’s massive Rs 2.11 lakh-crore plan for recapitalisation of public banks credit positive.
  6. While the capital injection will modestly increase the government’s debt burden, it should enable banks to move forward with the resolution of NPLs through comprehensive write downs of impaired loans and will gradually increase lending.
  7. Therefore, India’s debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to rise,
  8. Recent reforms, combined with India’s structural strength, offer greater confidence that the high level of public indebtedness, which is India’s principal credit weakness, will not rise materially even in potential downside scenarios and will eventually decline gradually.

India’s Sovereign Rating

  1. Although India’s general government debt burden is higher than some of its emerging market peers, its liabilties have dropped in last fiscal.
  2. India’s sovereign rating is still much lower than peers’, including China’s, despite much better macro-economic fundamentals.

 

 

 

Credit Suisse report: Networth of 92% Indians below Rs 6.50 lakh

Note4Students

Mains Paper3: Indian Economy | Issues relating growth and development.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Credit Suisse Report

Mains level: The points from the news card can be used as fodder material for the GS answers.


News

Context

  • There’s considerable wealth poverty in India with as many as 92 per cent of the adult population having a networth below $10,000 (around Rs 6.5 lakh), Swiss brokerage Credit Suisse said in a report.

The Report

  • In China, only 63 per cent of population have a networth below $10,000.
  • The report said just 0.5 per cent of Indians have a networth over $1,00,000 (Rs 65 lakh).

However, due to India’s large population, this translates into 4.2 million people.

The share of wealth

  1. The share of wealth fails to match the population share as the population share exceeds the wealth share by a factor of almost 10 in the country.
  2. The average wealth per adult here is estimated at $ 5,980 (Rs 3,88,700) in mid-2017.
  3. Personal wealth is dominated by property and other real assets, which make up 86 per cent of estimated household assets.
  4. Personal debt is estimated to be 9 per cent of gross assets, even when adjustments are made for under-reporting.

Comparison with USA

  1. But the country will see rapid growth in wealth, adding $2.1 trillion by 2022, an increase of 42 per cent over the present level of US dollar close to $5 trillion.
  2. Despite this and having four times the population of the US, India’s total wealth is comparable to the level for the US 90 years ago.

Other Statistics from the Report

  1. India would have 370,000 millionaires in 2022, up from 245,000 now, an increase of over 50 per cent.
  2. India saw a 9.9 per cent increase in household wealth.
  3. The aggregate global wealth rose by up 6.4 per cent.
  4. Also India has 340,000 adults in the top 1 per cent of global wealth holders, which is a 0.7 per cent share.
  5. But the overall household debt in the country as a proportion of assets is lower than in most of the developed countries.
  6. Globally, Switzerland, Australia and the US continue to occupy the first three positions.

 

 

 

Justice Dalveer Bhandari re-elected to ICJ, Sushma Swaraj tweets ‘Vande Matram’

Note4Students

Mains Paper2 | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: ICJ

Mains level: Nothing Much.


News

Context

Justice Dalveer Bhandari re-elected to ICJ

  1. India’s nominee to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Justice Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the last seat of the Hague-based world court ICJ after Britain withdrew its candidate Christopher Greenwood from the election.
  2. Justice Bhandari received 183-193 votes in the United Nations General Assembly and secured all 15 votes in the Security Council after separate and simultaneous elections were held at the UN headquarters in New York.
  3. The elections were held after the United Kingdom, in a dramatic turn of events, withdrew from the race, paving way for Bhandari’s re-election to the prestigious world court.

Back2basics

International Court of Justice (ICJ)

    1. It is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
    2. It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
  • The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
  1. Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
  2. The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
  3. Its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned.
  4. The ICJ consists of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council that vote simultaneously but separately.
  5. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies (UNSC and UNGA).

 

 

China draws 3-stage path for Myanmar, Bangladesh to resolve Rohingya crisis

Note4Students

Mains Paper2 | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: ASEM

Mains level: The news card discusses the 3 stage path China has drawn for Myanmar and Bangladesh to resolve Rohingya Crisis.


News

Context

China has proposed a three-phase plan for resolving the Rohingya crisis, starting with a ceasefire in Myanmar’s Rakhine State so that refugees can return from Bangladesh, China’s Foreign Ministry said ahead of meeting of European and Asian officials in Myanmar. 

Refugee crisis

  1. The refugee crisis erupted after the military launched a brutal counter-insurgency operations against the militants after attacks on an army base and dozens of police security posts in Rakhine on Aug. 25.
  2. Consequently, more than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya fled to Bangladesh .
  3. Myanmar’s military has said that all fighting against the Rohingya Islamist militants died out on Sept.5, but it remains on guard against incursions by fighters who had fled to Bangladesh with the refugees.
  4. The group behind those attacks, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), had declared a one-month ceasefire on Sept.10, which was rejected by the government. But there have been no serious clashes since.
  5. The refugees’ suffering has caused an international outcry.

Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

  • The foreign ministers Asia-Europe Meeting, or ASEM, opening in the Myanmar is an important multilateral diplomatic gathering which happens once every two years and is designed to discuss issues between Asia and Europe.

China’s 3 stage solution for Refugee crisis in Myanmar

    1. The first stage is to effect a ceasefire on the ground, to return to stability and order, so the people can enjoy peace and no longer be forced to flee.
  • According to Chinese official the first phase’s aim has already basically been achieved, and the key is to prevent a flare-up.
  1. Second stage is bilateral dialogue to find a workable solution.
  2. The third phase should be to work toward a long-term solution based on poverty alleviation as poverty was the root cause of the conflict.

Myanmar’s Increased Engagement with the World

  1. The United States and other Western countries have become more engaged with Myanmar since it began a transition to civilian government after nearly 50 years of military rule.
  2. China has close relations with both Myanmar and Bangladesh, and has long been a key player in lawless borderlands where rebel ethnic groups have fought Myanmar’s government for decades.
  3. The conflict in those border regions have occasionally pushed thousands of refugees to seek shelter in China.
  4. Since the Rohingya crisis, China has repeatedly expressed support for what it calls the Myanmar government’s efforts to protect stability.
  5. The international community and the United Nations Security Council are expected to give encouragement and support to Myanmar and Bangladesh to create the necessary conditions and a good environment.

 

 

 

Logistics sector given infra status, to help boost GDP: Govt

Note4Students

                  Mains Paper3 | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Prelims: Logistics Sector gets Infrastructure Status.

Mains level: Impact of the government’s decision to grant infrastructure status to logistics on Indian economy.


News

Context

  1. The logistics sector has been granted infrastructure status which will help it access loans on easier terms, encourage manufacturing in the country and help improve economic growth, the government said today.
  2. The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) has widened the category of infrastructure sub-sectors to transport and logistics from the earlier sub-head of transport.
  3. DEA has updated the ‘Harmonised Master List of Infrastructure Sub-sectors’.
  4. The list also includes

Logistics Sector

  1. It covers cold chain, warehousing facilities and multimodal parks comprising Inland Container Depot (ICD) subject to certain conditions.
  2. Roads and bridges, ports, shipyards, inland waterways, airports, railway tracks, tunnels, viaducts, terminal infrastructure including stations and adjoining commercial infrastructure are all part of the transport and logistics classification.

What was the need of guaranteeing Infrastructure status to Logistics sector?

  1. The cost of logistics in India is very high compared to developed countries and it reduces the competitiveness of Indian goods both in domestic as well as export market.
  2. The sector’s development will provide a boost to domestic as well as external demand, encouraging manufacturing and job creation.
  3. It will enable the logistics sector to avail infrastructure lending at easier terms with enhanced limits, access to larger amounts of funds as External Commercial Borrowings, access to longer tenor funds from insurance companies and pension funds.
  4. The sectoral players would also be eligible to borrow from India Infrastructure Financing Company Ltd (IIFCL).
  5. This will in turn be instrumental in improving country’s GDP.

 

 

China military sets up website to report leaks, fake news

Note4Students

Mains Paper3: Role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Nothing Much

Mains level: The news card highlights the steps taken by China to secure internet and maintain cyber sovereignity.


News

Context

Steps taken by China to secure Internet and maintain Strict Censorship

  1. Beijing has been ramping up measures to secure the internet and maintain strict censorship, a process that accelerated ahead of the party’s five-yearly National Congress that took place in October.
  2. China’s military launched a website inviting the public to report leaks and fake news, as well as illegal online activities by military personnel, the latest step in a push to ensure Communist Party control over the internet.
  3. Chinese President Xi Jinping has made China’s “cyber sovereignty” a top priority in his sweeping campaign to bolster security.

Website

  1. The new website is an effort to implement the guiding spirit of the Congress and will help maintain a “clear internet space” surrounding the military.
  2. Citizens are encouraged to use the platform to report online content that attacks the military’s absolute leadership and distorts the history of the military and the Communist Party.
  3. Cases of military personnel illegally opening online social accounts and publishing unauthorised information should also be reported, it said.

 

 

Former PM Manmohan Singh to get Indira Gandhi peace prize

Note4Students

Mains Paper2 | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Indira Gandhi Peace Prize

Mains level: Nothing Much.


News

Context

  1. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will receive the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development this year for his leadership of the country between 2004 and 2014 and for enhancing India’s stature globally.
  2. According to a statement from the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, Singh was unanimously chosen for the award by an international jury chaired by ex-president Pranab Mukherjee.

Why Indira Gandhi Peace Prize is being awarded to Dr. Manmohan Singh?

  1. The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development is awarded to Manmohan Singh for his leadership of the country and his achievements during the momentous 10 years from 2004 to 2014.
  2. And for his contributions to the cause of economic and social development, for improving India’s stature in the world and its relationship with the neighbours and the leading nations of the world, and for his dedication to the security and well being of ordinary citizens regardless of their faith, caste, region or language.

Back2basics

Indira Gandhi Peace Prize

  1. The international award named after former prime minister Indira Gandhi was instituted in 1986.
  2. It is the prestigious award accorded annually by Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust to individuals or organisations in recognition of creative efforts toward promoting international peace, development and a new international economic order; ensuring that scientific discoveries are used for the larger good of humanity, and enlarging the scope of freedom.
  3. The prize carries a cash award of 2.5 million Indian rupees and a citation.
  4. The panel constituted by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust consists of prominent national and international personalities including previous recipients.
  5. The recipients are chosen from a pool of national and international nominees.
  6. The last two recipients have been the Indian Space Research Organisation and the UN High Commission for Refugees.

 

 

Ministry of Defence scraps $500 million Israeli missile deal, wants DRDO to make in India

Note4Students

Mains Paper3:  Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: SPIKE, MPATGM, DRDO

Mains level: It is important topic for Mains. This article talks about recent cancellation of deal with Israel by the government in order to give impetus to development of indigenous technology.


News

Context

  • The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to cancel the $500 million deal for Spike ATGM with Israel and has asked the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to indigenously develop and produce a Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) for the Army.

The Deal

  1. The deal was seen as another proof of growing Indo-Israel defence cooperation, was expected to be signed after price negotiations with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems of Israel were completed last year.
  2. In anticipation of this deal, Rafael had entered into a joint venture with Kalyani group for missile production in India. he missile sub-systems manufacturing facility , based near Hyderabad.
  3. After the prices were finalised in June 2016, then an experts committee to reviewed the evaluation report and explore the possibility of an indigenous missile system.
  4. There was divergence in the views of the DRDO representatives and Army representatives in the experts committee over the case.
  5. The matter was eventually resolved earlier this month with Army headquarters agreeing to retract the RFP( Request for Proposal) for ATGM launchers and missiles.

Why was the deal cancelled?

  1. The decision to cancel the deal was based on the consideration that importing a foreign ATGM at this stage would adversely impact the programme for indigenous development of the weapon system by DRDO.
  2. Earlier, India had also rejected an offer from US-based Raytheon-Lockheed Martin for Javelin ATGM in favour of the Israeli weapon system.

Will DRDO be able to develop indigenous MPATGM?

  1. DRDO has successfully produced the Nag and Anamika ATGMs.
  2. It is confident about providing the Army with an MPATGM of 3rd generation missile technology, at par with Spike, within three to four years.
  3. It won’t also need any transfer of technology.

Impact of the MoD decision

  1. The decision to retract the Request for Proposal (RFP) will be a setback to the modernisation programme of the Army.
  2. Also, the Army headquarters had highlighted the operational urgency of the equipment, arguing that the Spike gives a major capability impetus to troops deployed on the Line of Control, especially in the current operational scenario.

Which technology is Indian Army currently using?

  1. The Army is currently using 2nd generation ATGMs – Konkurs and Milan 2T which do not have night-fighting capabilities.
  2. Moreover, the Army currently has a shortage of around 68,000 missiles, with no missiles held as War Wastage Reserves against a government stipulation to build up stocks to last for at least 10 days of intense fighting.

What is SPIKE?

  1. Spike MR missile is a 3rd generation, fire and forget, top attack, ATGM with a range of 2.5 km, which can operate both during the day and night.

 

 

 

Right to life stands on higher pedestal than right to religion: Bombay HC

Note4Students

Mains Paper2: Indian Constitution historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Article 21 and Article 25

Mains level: This news card highlights the recent SC judgment in which it upheld that Right to Life under Article 21 stands on a higher pedestal than the Right of Religion that is, Article 25.


News

Context

  1. Observing that the right to life contemplated as a fundamental right under the Constitution stands on a “higher pedestal than the right of religion”, the Bombay High Court recently granted the custody of a minor girl child to her maternal grandmother.
  2. The father of the child is Muslim while the mother, who was a Hindu, had converted to Islam after marriage.
  3. The child’s paternal and maternal grandmothers were contesting for her custody since her mother has died and her father is accused of killing her and is on a death row in the UAE.

What the court said?

    1. The right to live with dignity, the right to preserve childhood and the human rights of the child are contemplated within the Fundamental Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Though the Constitution grants the Right to Religion under Article 25, under such circumstances, Article 21 stands on a higher pedestal than the Right of Religion.
  1. According to the SCall the religions have noble principles and thoughts wherein human dignity is revered.
  2. And no religion teaches that the child be exposed to vices, dishonesty and falsity.

 

 

Moody’s India rating upgrade: Concerns over NPAs, private funds persist

Note4Students

Mains Paper3 | Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth

Prelims: Debt/GDP, Fiscal glide path

Mains level: This news card talks about the India’s rating upgrade and fear of downgrade due to economic scenario prevailing in the country.


News

Context

  1. With Moody’s Investors Services issuing a clear warning, that India’s rating upgrade could be downgraded if its fiscal metrics and the outlook for general government fiscal consolidation deteriorates materially.
  2. High debt/GDP ratio is likely to increase in the next two years on slower growth.
  3. More worrying will be how the deficit of states plays out in the wake of GST.

Why is Fiscal Deficit likely to increase?

  1. Burgeoning bad loans,
  2. Fresh uncertainty on the revenue projections from the GST front,
  3. Slack private investments and subdued non-tax revenue trends.
  4. Due to problem areas like power and telecom, farm loan waivers and Rs 2.11 lakh crore bank recapitalisation (to be funded by recap bonds).
  5. So the actual fiscal deficit could turn out to be much larger.
  6. Therefore, the government’s fiscal deficit target of 3.2 per cent of the GDP may come at a cost of over Rs 70,000-crore cut in capital expenditure, according to an SBI research report.

Fiscal Glide Path

  1. The government hopes to maintain its fiscal glide path.
  2. But many analysts are not a convinced, according to them even as reform measures will reduce the risk of sharp rise in debt but near-term concerns persist in terms of government adhering to its fiscal glide path especially in the light of the incremental spending undertaken to boost economic growth

Why rating agency is upgrade surprising and seems to be at wrong time?

  1. The upgrade has come after India’s economic growth unexpectedly slowed to 5.7 per cent in the June quarter, the slowest in three years, amid the disruption caused by the rollout of the GST and demonetisation shock.
  2. The removal of a number of commodities from the two highest tax brackets to lower brackets is unlikely to help matters on the revenue front.
  3. The first volume of the Economic Survey released in January had projected growth in the range of 6.75-7.5 per cent in 2017-18 against 7.1 per cent in 2016-17.
  4. The Index for Industrial Production (IIP) growth fell to 2.5 per cent in first six months of 2017-18 as against 5.8 per cent in same period of last year.
  5. Given the evident pressures on the fiscal front and the likelihood that the government may not even meet this year’s and next year’s fiscal target, the rating upgrade seems to have come at a wrong time.
  6. Markets should worry that the government, now having received the rating upgrade, may actually slacken and relax its commitment to reducing fiscal deficit, as per the stated plan.

 

Aadhaar relief for NRIs, PIOs & OCIs; UIDAI says identity be sought only from those eligible

Note4Students

Mains Paper2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: The Aadhar Act, 2016

Mains level:  The news card discusses the recent government announcement that allows government agencies to exempt NRIs, PIOs, and OCIs from furnishing Aadhaar identity for availing services as they are not eligible for enrolling for the unique ID.


News

Context

The Governments Announcement

  1. Bringing relief to millions of Non Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs), the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has said that Aadhaar as an identity document should be sought only from those who are eligible for the unique ID as per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.
  2. This means that government agencies can now exempt those belonging to these categories from furnishing Aadhaar identity for availing services as they are not eligible for enrolling for the unique ID.
  3. The circular stated that the Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules, 2017 and the Income Tax Act, 1961 clearly stipulate that the linking of Bank Accounts and PAN respectively is for those persons who are eligible to enrol for Aadhaar as per the Aadhaar Act, 2016.
  4. And individuals who were not assigned Aadhaar numbers shall be offered alternate and viable means of delivery of subsidy, benefit or service.

What was the need for this announcement?

  1. What made the situation tricky for NRIs, PIOs and OCIs is that the Act as it stands today, allows only “residents” of India to enroll for the unique identity.
  2. The circular said the UIDAI had received several representations from these sections, informing about difficulties faced by them as various authorities demanded Aadhaar from them in respect of various services/benefits etc like maintaining existing NRE and NRO bank accounts and appearance by students in different exams in India.

The Provisions of the Aadhar Act, 2016

  1. The Act says every resident shall be entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number by submitting his demographic information and biometric information by undergoing the process of enrolment.
  2. Who is a resident is further defined as an individual who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to one hundred and eighty-two days or more in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.

 

 

MoUs worth $11 billion to be signed in food & agri sector

Note4Students

 Mains Paper 3| Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance

Prelims: Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana, World Food India

Mains level: This article is important for mains as it gives a lot of fodder points for GS mains answers regarding why India offers immense scope for food processing sector. It also talks about the potential of World Food India event to offer promising outcomes.


News

Context

World Food India

  1. World Food India, a three-day event organised by the food processing ministry in the national capital will see businesses signing memorandums of understanding worth $11 billion.
  2. Inaugurating the event, Prime Minister  said the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana, the flagship scheme of the food processing ministry, is expected to catalyse investments of $5 billion, benefit two million farmers and generate more than half a million jobs over the next three years, apart from creating world-class food processing infrastructure.
  3. As many as 60 top executives of large multi-national attended the event.
  4. Around 7,000 stakeholders from 60 nations, 8,000 exhibitors and 75 policy makers of various countries participated the first such event on food processing.
  5. It will facilitate some 5,000 business-to-business and business-to-government meetings.
  6. The food processing ministry has already forecast FDI inflows of $10 billion over three years.

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana

  1. Sampada is an umbrella programme that has incorporated certain ongoing and new schemes and aims at the development of modern infrastructure to encourage entrepreneurs to set up food processing units.

Why India offers great scope for food processing industry?

    1. It is a priority sector in our Make in India programme.
    2. 100 per cent FDI is now permitted, for trading, including via e-commerce, of food products manufactured in India.
    3. A single-window facilitation cell provides handholding for foreign investors.
    4. There are attractive fiscal incentives from the Union and state governments. Loans to food and agro-based processing units, and cold chains, are classified under priority sector lending, making them easier and cheaper to obtain.
    5. The unique portal  Nivesh Bandhu  or investor’s friend  that we have just launched, brings together information on Central and state government policies, and incentives provided for the food processing sector.
    6. It maps resources up to the local level, with processing requirements.
    7. It is also a platform for business networking, for farmers, processors, traders, and logistics operators
    8. India plans to link villages through broadband connectivity, within a clear time frame. And is digitising land records, and providing various services to the people on mobile platforms
  • India is the world’s second-largest producer of rice, wheat, fish, fruits and vegetables and the largest producer of milk and it offers great scope for food processing.
    1. Its horticulture sector has shown an average growth rate of 5.5 per cent annually over the last ten years, much higher than its overall farm and allied sector growth.
  • The increasing urbanisation and a growing middle class are driving up demand for processed food.
    1. Citing an example, Prime Minister said over a million Indians travel by train everyday and are therefore potential customer of processed food.
    2. Simple, home-based techniques, like fermentation, have resulted in creation of our famous pickles, papads, chutneys and murabbas that excite both the elite and the masses across the world
  • India is the world’s sixth-largest grocery market, worth over $600 billion, where demand for such items is expected to double in the next five years
  1. Since the current processing level is just 10 per cent of its production, there is immense scope for improvement.

The Indian Scenario

  1. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world
  2. India has jumped 30 ranks this year in the World Bank Doing Business rankings.
  3. India was ranked number 1 in the world in 2016 in greenfield investment.
  4. India is also rapidly progressing on the Global Innovation Index, Global Logistics Index and Global Competitiveness Index.

                                                                                                                                                                                                   

To check flying coal dust hazard, Railways looking at covering its wagons: Piyush Goyal

Note4Students

 Mains Paper 3| Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Prelims: Nothing Much

Mains level: This article talks about the environmental damage due to transportation of the coal by the use of BOXN wagon which are coverless. It also highlights the steps that Indian Railways are planning to take to address this issue.


News

Context

    1. Indian Railways, the country’s largest freight mover, has started exploring a design change in its rolling stock to see if coal and other minerals can be carried in covered wagons instead of open ones to prevent coal dust from flying into the environment and also to expand the use of wagons.
  • An ongoing investigation by The Indian Express has revealed that transport of coal, at the rate of 25 tonnes per minute, by rail and road, has left in its wake environmental damage across Goa.
  1. And that much more coal is on the way that is, an estimated 51 million tonnes every year by 2030.

BOXN Wagons

  1. Being the largest mover of coal in India, Railways has deployed around 72,000 wagons or around 65 per cent of its freight rolling stock to move coal across India since it occupies the top spot in terms of volumes and earnings among all kinds of material it transports.
  2. It accounts for around 40 per cent of railway earnings.
  3. Known as BOXN wagons, these open-to-sky boxes on wheels are used for coal-carriage for operational efficiency as they can be loaded and unloaded faster, owing to being coverless.
  4. They are typically overturned for unloading faster.
  5. Loading too is easier in BOXN in mines, as well as in ports where imported coals are loaded from silos.
  6. To prevent coal dust from flying into the environment, water is sprinkled on the coal at the loading point, and in many cases like in Goa, the wagons are covered with tarpaulin.
  7. But this solution is far from foolproof.

Way Forward

  • Now, the Railway Board has started exploring the option if these wagons have to be fitted with a hard-top cover without compromising the operations efficiency of freight movement.
  1. Indian railways have suggested that the new design should not decrease the coal-carrying capacity of each wagon because that hurts revenue.
  2. And from an operational point of view, it should enable tippling
  3. “Tippling” is the technical term used for mechanised overturning of wagons for unloading and loading by special wagon tipplers.
  4. There is more benefit in covered wagons than protecting the environment.
  5. Covered wagons will make them more multipurpose, to carry anything from cement to salt — commodities which are difficult to move in open-to-elements wagons.

                                                                                                                                                                        

Global report shows biggest change in India, lauds vaccination drive

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2| Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Prelims: Mission Indradhanush

Mains level: This article talks about the success of India’s Mission Indradhanush which has helped India improve its incidence of pneumonia and diarrhea in the global report card published by the International Vaccine Access Center and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


News

Context

  1. India’s Mission Indradhanush has come in for high praise in a global report card analysing the progress of 15 countries that have the highest incidence of pneumonia and diarrhoea which are the two biggest killers of children aged less than five years.
  2. The report is brought out annually by the International Vaccine Access Center, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, to assess the progress made in these countries in tackling the two diseases.

The Report shows that-

  1. India has showed the largest positive change among the 15 countries evaluated in the report, with a seven-point increase in Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) score.
  2. This is largely due to changes in coverage of measles vaccine (MCV1) (+1%), Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine (Hib) (+35%), three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTP3) (+1%) and rotavirus vaccine (RVV) (+4%).
  3. In India, these percentages translate to a substantial increase in the number of vaccinated children.
  4. The report harboured high hopes for the intensified Mission Indradhanush that was launched recently.
  5. The 15 countries that have been assessed include India, Bangladesh, Angola, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chad, China, Niger Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia.
  6. Last year’s report, on the occasion of World Pneumonia Day, had pointed out that in India one child dies every two minutes of either pneumonia or diarrhoea.

Mission Indradhanush (MI)

  1. Mission Indradhanush — the vaccination programme launched in December 2014 to ensure full coverage of all children and improve the tardy rate of increase of vaccine coverage has been given credit for the turnaround.
  2. The original aim of MI was to immunise all children under the age of 2 years against seven vaccine preventable diseases, a number that has expanded as new vaccines are added to the UIP.
  3. With MI, India actualises its vision towards equitable immunisation and demonstrates its commitment to the nation’s health.
  4. Over its first four phases, MI has vaccinated about 25 million children in over 500 districts (30).
  5. Along with the introduction and scale-up of new and underutilised vaccines in the UIP, MI has helped drive the increases in immunisation coverage captured in India’s 2017 GAPPD score.
  6. The government recently recalibrated the target deadline to December 2018 rather than 2020.

                                                                                                                                                                                              

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