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[Sansad TV] Perspective: Yoga- India’s Soft Power

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Recently, the world celebrated 8th edition of International Yoga day. Along with speeches about India’s ancient culture, the World Yoga Day inevitably invokes talk of India’s contemporary soft power.

In this article, we will analyse how Yoga is exemplifying India’s soft power.

“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grandmother of tradition”

Mark Twain.

What is Soft Power in diplomacy?

  • In politics (and particularly in international politics), soft power is the ability to co-opt rather than coerce (contrast hard power).
  • It is the capacity to attract and persuade others to do things they otherwise wouldn’t.
  • It involves shaping the preferences of others through appeal and attraction.
  • Soft power resources are the assets that produce attraction or centre of attraction in geopolitical arena.

Etymology of the word

  • Joseph Nye, a US foreign policy veteran, coined the phrase soft power in 1990.
  • He encourages readers of his book The Future of Power to think of soft power in terms of resources
  • Power is derived from resources, and soft power is no different.
  • Hard power rests on military resources like navy fleets, attack aircraft and a capacity to inflict harm.
  • Soft power rests on three primary resources:
  1. Culture,
  2. Political values and
  3. Foreign policy

How is Yoga a soft power?

India has a tremendous cultural power or civilizational shakti that has maintained a profound impact on the world for thousands of years.

  • The very fact that the celebration as an international day at all is itself considered an example of India’s soft power.
  • International Day of Yoga reflects yoga’s immense popularity worldwide, underscoring its richness as a soft power resource.
  • Since 2006, yoga gurus were trying to lobby the UN to declare a world yoga day. Now these yog gurus have got their due recognition.
  • After a vigorous diplomatic push from PM Modi in 2014, the United Nations General Assembly put the date in the calendar.
  • By exposing and familiarising citizens of a globalised world with its own historic-cultural customs, India will gain geopolitical muscle to flex.
  • Yoga is a highly secular physical activity. Though originated form a Vedas, it does not represent any political religion. Ex. OIC, Commonwealth of Nations
  • Cultural power is perhaps the main diplomatic power in this era of global travel and the global economy. It must form an integral part of any realistic foreign policy.

Major declared objectives of Yoga

  • Optimism: It involves building a positive self-concept in oneself. Having a positive outlook helps a person to value himself and life in all forms.
  • Compassion: Being Compassionate means having empathetic qualities such as love, kindness, friendliness and doing no harm to others.
  • Inner Peace: Inner Peace as a theme is concerned with resolution of one’s own psychological conflicts and problems and discovering peace of mind. It includes ways of understanding the self and the process of thought, controlling emotions such as anger, art of soothing the mind etc.
  • Self-realization: The concept ‘Be your true self’ means the strength of the character to be honest and direct in expressing one’s needs, feelings and thoughts without letting others down. The skills in such behaviour are necessary for resolving conflicts and effective social interaction.
  • Peaceful existence: People need to learn to work harmoniously in groups with others. The theme living together can accommodate such subtopics as sharing, mutual help, trust building, taking group responsibility, leading and following. Learning cooperation reduces egoistic competitive tendencies in human beings.
  • Scientific temperament: Critical thinking on the part of the citizens is a necessary feature of a democratic society. It involves analysis, syntheses, looking at the other sides of an issue, searching for alternatives and logical thinking.
  • Non-violent conflict resolution: It encompasses such skills necessary for conflict resolution as conflict analyses, negotiation, active listening, mediation, creative problem-solving and alternative solution seeking.
  • Respect for human dignity: Respect for human dignity is based on the concepts of human rights, duties and justice. It attempts to develop a consciousness that recognizes and respects one’s own and others’ rights.
  • Communal Harmony: Building peace in community means providing opportunities for its members to be open to social realities and understand people’s problems and work with them.
  • Care for the planet: The health of the planet has direct and immediate influence on the destiny of mankind. Values like peace with nature, preservation of nature, appreciation and admiration of natural environment, reuse, repair, recycling natural resources, etc. are included in this theme

Limitations of soft power

  • Soft power has been criticized as for being ineffective or less effective tool in diplomacy.
  • Actors in international relations respond to only two types of incentives: Economic incentives and Forceful coercion.
  • As a concept, it can be difficult to distinguish soft power from hard power.
  • Rising powers such as China, are creating new approaches to soft power ex. Debt Traps, thus using it defensively.
  • Soft power can backfire, leading to reputational damage or loss, or what has been termed ‘soft disempowerment’. Ex. India’s perception in Maldives.

Initiatives by India showcasing its soft power

  • Principle of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’
  • Non-Alignment Movement
  • ‘Neighborhood First’ Policy
  • Vaccine diplomacy
  • Aid to Sri Lanka
  • Developmental aids in Afghanistan
  • Humanitarian assistance for disaster relief (HADR) in neighborhood
  • Political sensitization of leaders e. Late foreign minister responding to Tweets

Major achievements

  • India has moral high ground at the world forum especially due to the non-violent manner in which we had achieved our independence.
  • International support for tough decisions like abrogation of article 370, and maintaining neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine War. 
  • It keeps India distant from world conflicts like recently in Syria, Sudan, Israel-Palestine issue. So India earns goodwill from all over the world.

Threats to India’s soft power

  • India’s older regimes and academia did little to encourage, protect or to benefit from Yoga.
  • Perhaps no other country in recent times has so ignored the potential value of its soft power.
  • There is a cultural battle occurring in the media and academia, in which India’s civilizational views are poorly represented.
  • India’s cultural diplomacy is often labeled by the left liberals as a Hindutva Politics.

Way forward

  • India should move beyond asanas and analysis and take action.
  • Having the Indian story merely out there, jostling with a hundred other stories, isn’t necessarily winning the war of narrative.
  • Our cultural outreach must be well-oiled, well-funded, and primed to produce geopolitical clout.
  • Our moves — whether they be hard-to-power thrusts or soft power maneuvers — must emanate from consistent strategy.
  • In the age of the internet, India must amplify its strengths and work rapidly to right the wrongs.

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[Sansad TV] Perspective: BRICS and India

Context

At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, PM Modi is attending the 14th BRICS Summit hosted by China in virtual format.

Discussions during the summit are expected to cover intra-BRICS cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, trade, health, traditional medicine, environment, IT and innovation, agriculture, technical and vocational training, and MSMEs.

Why in news?

  • China is keen for the grouping to explore expansion and include new developing country members.
  • Under the “BRICS Plus” format, the forthcoming summit is also expected to be attended by leaders of invited emerging countries.

What is BRICS?

  • BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • The BRICS Leaders’ Summit is convened annually. It does not exist in form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.

Its inception

  • On November 30, 2001, Jim O’Neill, a British economist who was then chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, coined the term ‘BRIC’ to describe the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
  • He made a case for BRIC on the basis of econometric analyses projecting that the four economies would individually and collectively occupy far greater economic space and become among the world’s largest economies in the next 50 years or so.

How it has formed?

  • The grouping was formalized during the first meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers on the margins of the UNGA in New York in September 2006.
  • The first BRIC Summit took place in 2009 in the Russian Federation and focused on issues such as reform of the global financial architecture.

Who are the members?

  • South Africa was invited to join BRIC in December 2010, after which the group adopted the acronym BRICS. South Africa subsequently attended the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, in March 2011.
  • The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • The importance of BRICS is self-evident: It represents 42% of the world’s population, 30% of the land area, 24% of global GDP and 16% of international trade.
  • The five BRICS countries are also members of G-20.

Salient features of BRICS

(1) New front against western dominance

  • The BRICS is group of countries having total population of approximately 3.6 billion which makes 40% of world population.
  • Also, the cumulative economy of the group members aggregate to around 17 trillion in nominal term which is 22% of world economy in current context.

(2) Future power centres of the world

  • India and China are today the fastest growing economies and they are considered as future super power of world.
  • The group also has Russia the former USSR as a member which was one of the two super power until 1991 when it was disintegrated for various political and economic reason but still retain the hegemony of western, US led military dominance.

(3) New global order

  • In subsequent summits since its inception the group has taken various initiatives which have changed the world economic order.
  • The group pledged a corpus of $75 billion to IMF on precondition of voting rights reform in June, 2012 which is not only the end of US hegemony in institution but also a start of more democratic world order.

(4) New Development Bank

  • During its fifth summit at Durban, South Africa in 2013, the member countries agreed to create a new global financial institution which finally came into existence as New Development Bank in 2015.
  • The bank is today considered as rival of World Bank and the bank’s primary focus is to lend for various development projects in member and other developing countries.

(5) Contingent Reserve Agreement

  • To save members from immediate economic shocks the group has also agreed to Contingent Reserve Agreement.
  • The agreement provide protection to member countries against global liquidity pressure as all the members are developing economies.
  • They are prone to increased economical volatility in current globalized scenario and is considered as rival of International Monetary Fund.

(6) A bridge between North and South

  • The grouping has gone through a reasonably productive journey. It strove to serve as a bridge between the Global North and Global South.

(7) Sustainable and inclusive growth and development

  • Structural imbalances caused by the global financial crisis of 2008 and new threats to the global economy posed by trade war and unilateral economic sanctions are yet to be resolved.
  • The growing contribution of the BRICS to the world economy and the rising importance of the economic relations between the BRICS and other Emerging Market and Developing Countries (EMDCs) create an opportunity for new initiatives.

Importance of BRICS for India

(1) Geo-Politics

  • Global geopolitics today represents the case of a tug of war and India finds itself in the middle of it.
  • This has made difficult for India to carve a middle path for balancing its strategic interests between the U.S and the Russia-China axis.
  • Therefore, BRICS platform provides an opportunity for India to balance Russia-China axis.

(2) Global Economic Order

  • BRICS countries shared a common objective of reforming the international financial and monetary system, with a strong desire to build a more just, and balanced international order.
  • To this end, BRICS community plays an important role in the G20, in shaping global economic policies and promoting financial stability.

(3) Voice of Developing Nations

  • As the western countries are raising challenges on issues ranging from World Trade Organization to climate change, the developing countries are crippling under the onslaught of these policies.
  • In recent period, BRICS has emerged as the voice of developing countries, or the global south and playing a significant role in protecting the rights of developing countries.

(4) Multilateral reforms

  • India is actively pursuing its membership for United Nation Security Council (UNSC) and Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG).
  • China forms the major roadblock in pursuing such goals.
  • Therefore, BRICS provides an opportunity to actively engage with China and resolve the mutual disputes. It also helps in garnering support of other partner countries.

What are the challenges with the BRICS?

(1) Heterogeneity

  • It is claimed by critics that heterogeneity (variable/diverse nature of countries) of the BRICS nations with its diverse interests possess a threat to the viability of the grouping.

(2) China Centric nature of the group

  • All the countries in BRICS grouping trade with China more than each other, therefore it is blamed that as a platform to promote China’s interest.
  • Balancing trade deficit with China is huge challenge for other partner nations.

(4) Regional model

  • Amidst, global slowdown, trade war and protectionism, the critical challenge for the BRICS consists in the development of a new global model of governance which should not be unipolar but inclusive and constructive.
  • The goal should be to avoid a negative scenario of unfolding globalization and to start a complicated merging of the global growing economies without distorting or breaking the single financial and economic continuum of the world.

(5) In-effective

  • The five-power combine has succeeded, albeit up to a point.
  • However, China’s economic rise has created a serious imbalance within BRICS.
  • Also the group has not done enough to assist the Global South to win their optimal support for their agenda.

(6) Hostile members

  • The future of the group seems little gloomy as the two biggest economy India and China of the group are having various contentious issues between them.
  • The two countries are often seen as rival on various global forums which degenerate the confidence between each other.

(7) Sanctions on Russia

  • In recent times the global slowdown, sanction on Russia since it annexed Crimea and political instability in Brazil has also added burden on BRICS economy.
  • Russian participation has been seen through lens of its recent invasion of Ukraine aslo.

Priorities/Immediate goals of BRICS

(1) Reform of multilateral institutions

  • The first is to pursue reform of multilateral institutions ranging from the United Nations, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the World Trade Organization and now even the World Health Organization.
  • This is not a new goal. BRICS has had very little success so far, although strengthening multilateralism serves as a strong bond as well as a beacon.

(2) Resolve to combat terrorism

  • Terrorism is an international phenomenon affecting Europe, Africa, Asia and other parts of the world.
  • Tragic developments concerning Afghanistan have helped to focus attention sharply on this overarching theme, stressing the need to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action.
  • China, for example, feels little hesitation in supporting clear-cut denunciations of terrorist groups, even as its backing of Pakistan, which is heavily enmeshed with a host of international terrorist groups, remains steadfast.

(3) Promoting technological and digital solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals

  • Digital tools have helped a world adversely hit by the pandemic, and India has been at the forefront of using new technological tools to improve governance.

(4) Expanding people-to-people cooperation

  • However, enhancing people-to-people cooperation will have to wait for international travel to revive.
  • Interactions through digital means are a poor substitute.

Way Forward

  • The BRICS needs to expand its agenda for increasing its relevance in the global order.
  • A close examination of India’s record in BRICS reveals that New Delhi has used its membership to make a substantial contribution to the global financial architecture.
  • India is not a free-rider in a system of global governance dominated by the West, and continues to provide a vision of global governance.
  • For BRICS to remain relevant over the next decade, each of its members must make a realistic assessment of the initiative’s opportunities and inherent limitations.
  • BRICS should promote comprehensive development of all states — both big and small — and enhanced mutually beneficial cooperation among them on the basis of shared interests.
  • Democratization of international issues i.e agreements on global agendas should be reached with the widest and equal participation of all stakeholders and be based on universally recognized legal norms.
  • The principle of respect for cultural and civilization diversity of the world should be a top priority.
  • BRICS nations should strive for peaceful and politico-diplomatic settlement of crisis and conflict in various regions of the world.

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[Yojana Archive] Safeguarding Children

May 2022

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Context

  • India has 2.96 crore orphaned or abandoned children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development reported in its annual report for 2020-21 that there were 2.56 lakh children living in 7,164 child care institutions (CCIs) across the country.
  • 1.45 lakh children were reunited with their birth families after the Supreme Court ordered states to investigate the possibility of reuniting these children in care institutions with their birth families as a pandemic precaution.

Adoption Laws in India

(A) The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA)

  • A Hindu parent or guardian can place a child for adoption with another Hindu parent under the Act.
  • A prospective parent can also adopt a male child if he has no other male children or grandchildren, or a female child if he has no other female children or grandchildren.
  • If the adoptive mother is a woman and the person being adopted is a man, she must be at least 21 years old.
  • After complying with all Act provisions, the adoption process is completed with a registered adoption deed through court.

(B) Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

  • The JJ Act also permits the adoption of same-sex children, allowing biological or adopted parents to adopt a child of the same gender.
  • Prospective parents can adopt their relatives’ children whether they live in India or abroad. A single or divorced person can adopt under the JJ Act, but a single male cannot adopt a girl child.
  • A home study is conducted by the Specialised Adoption Agency (SAS) to determine if a person is eligible to adopt a child, and the process ends with an adoption order.
  • SAS and the Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency (AFAA) are required to follow up with the adoptive family for two years after the adoption.

Reasons for low adoption in India

  • Parent-centrism: The current adoption approach is very parent-centred, but parents must make it child-centred.
  • Age of child: Most Indian parents also want a child between the ages of zero and two, believing that this is when the parent-child bond is formed.
  • Institutional issues: Because the ratio of abandoned children to children in institutionalised care is lopsided, there are not enough children available for adoption.
  • Lineage discrimination: Most Indians have a distorted view of adoption because they want their genes, blood, and lineage to be passed down to their children.
  • Red-tapism: Child adoption is also not so easy task after the Juvenile Justice Rules of 2016 and the Adoption Regulations of 2017 were launched.

Government Initiatives  

(1) Mission Vatsalya:  

  • Mission Vatsalya shall include Child Protection Services and Child Welfare Services. It brings together services and structures to help children in distress.

(2) Mission POSHAN 2.0:  

  • Mission POSHAN 2.0 shall include Umbrella Integrated Child Development Scheme – Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, and National Creche Scheme.

(3) Mission Shakti:

  • Mission Shakti envisions a unified citizen-centric lifecycle support system for women that includes integrated care, safety, protection, rehabilitation, and empowerment to free women as they move through different stages of life.
  • ‘Sambal’ and ‘Samarthya’ are two sub-schemes of Mission Shakti.
  • The “Sambal” sub-scheme is for women’s safety and security, while the “Samarthya” sub-scheme is for women’s empowerment.

(4) PM CARES for Children Scheme:

  • The government announced a special “PM CARES for Children” program for all children orphaned by Covid-19 who lost their parents or single parents or legal guardians or adoptive parents due to Covid-19.
  • These children can also receive support through scholarships or education loans equivalent to tuition fees during their higher education, and the loan interest is paid by the PM CARES Fund.

(5) CARA

  • Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is an autonomous and statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It was set up in 1990.
  • It functions as the nodal body for the adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
  • CARA is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, ratified India in 2003.
  • It primarily deals with the adoption of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated and recognized adoption agencies.

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[Sansad TV] Diplomatic Dispatch: India-Myanmar Relations

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Context

  • In this article, we will examine India’s ties with Myanmar which has been in turmoil since February, 2021.
  • The military had seized control of the country in a coup and detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of her Parliament.

Myanmar: A backgrounder

  • Myanmar, also known as Burma, is in South East Asia and neighbours Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, China and India.
  • The biggest city is Yangon (Rangoon) but the capital is Nay Pyi Taw.
  • The main religion is Buddhism. There are many ethnic groups in the country, including Rohingya Muslims.
  • The country gained independence from Britain in 1948. It was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until 2011, when a new government began ushering in a return to civilian rule.

Myanmar under Suu Kyi

  • Aung San Suu Kyi became world-famous in the 1990s for campaigning to restore democracy.
  • She spent nearly 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010 after organising rallies calling for democratic reform and free elections.
  • She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest in 1991.
  • In 2015, she led the NLD to victory in Myanmar’s first openly contested election in 25 years.

Myanmar in recent timeline:

(1) Crackdown on Rohingyas

  • Suu Kyi’s international reputation has suffered greatly as a result of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya minority.
  • Myanmar considers them illegal immigrants and denies them citizenship. Over decades, many have fled the country to escape persecution.
  • Thousands of Rohingya were killed and more than 700,000 fled to Bangladesh following an army crackdown in 2017.

(2) Military Coup

  • The military is now backing in charge and has declared a year-long state of emergency.
  • It seized control following a general election which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.
  • The armed forces had backed the opposition, who were demanding a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud.
  • The election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims.
  • Suu Kyi is thought to be under house arrest. Several charges have been filed against her, including breaching import and export laws and possession of unlawful communication devices.

How does the world see Myanmar today?

  • Many western liberal democracies have condemned the military takeover.
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres said it was a “serious blow to democratic reforms”.
  • US President Joe Biden has threatened to reinstate sanctions.
  • However, the issue has now faded from the geopolitical discourse.

Chinese pleasure over Myanmar Coup

China neither condemned nor expressed any concern. It just said that reconciliation is needed between the civilian set-up and Myanmar military or Tatmadaw.

  • China blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the coup.
  • The country, which has previously opposed international intervention in Myanmar, urged all sides to “resolve differences”.
  • Its Xinhua news agency described the changes as a “cabinet reshuffle”.
  • Neighbours including Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines, have said it is an “internal matter”.

An analysis: India-Myanmar Relations

  • India-Myanmar relations are rooted in shared historical, ethnic, cultural and religious ties.
  • As the land of Lord Buddha, India is a country of pilgrimage for the people of Myanmar.
  • The geographical proximity of the two countries has helped develop and sustain cordial relations and facilitated people-to- people contact.
  • Both share a long land border of over 1600 km (approx.) and a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

A large population of Indian origin (according to some estimates about 2.5 million) lives in Myanmar. India and Myanmar signed a Treaty of Friendship in 1951.

India’s interests

  • India needs a good working relationship with the Myanmar government for its diplomatic and strategic initiatives.
  • This is especially due to China’s nefarious designs in Myanmar, which wants to develop it as a geopolitical base against India.
  • Despite Myanmar being ruled by military junta over the years, India has developed close ties and shares a good relationship with Tatmadaw.

(a) Strategic relations

  • The geographically strategic location of Myanmar makes it a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
  • Last year, despite facing shortage of its own, India handed over INS Sindhuvir, a submarine, to the Myanmar Navy.
  • Tatmadaw responded well to Indian overtures and even allowed India to conduct counter-interagency operations against Indian insurgents groups in Myanmar border areas.
  • Both nations seek to cooperate to counteract drug trafficking and insurgent groups operating in the border areas.

(b) Economic Relations

(c) Humanitarian Assistance

  • India responded promptly and effectively in rendering assistance after natural disaster in Myanmar such as the earthquake in Shan state (2010) Cyclone Mora (2017), and Komen (2015).
  • India offered to help in capacity building in disaster risk mitigation as well as strengthening Myanmar’s National Disaster Response Mechanism.

What defines China-Myanmar relations?

China has its own designs and wants to use Myanmar as another base in its ‘string of pearl’ strategy against India. Through the string of pearls approach, China intends to encircle India by developing military bases in India’s neighbouring countries and Myanmar has long been on China’s radar.

(a) Debt trap diplomacy

  • Burdening Myanmar under Chinese debt trap is the first step of the plan.
  • Under China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is funding and developing many big projects in Myanmar that can be used as military bases in future.
  • These infrastructure projects have put Myanmar in massive Chinese debt trap, and accounts for over 40 per cent of the current $10 billion national debt.

(b) Political interference

  • The second Chinese step was to control the political machinery.
  • Like in Nepal, where China maneuvered to install a pro-Beijing and anti-India group government, Myanmar is expected to witness the same thing with military coup.
  • Geostrategic experts say China instigated Nepal to start the border dispute with India.

(c) Trade dependence

  • With this second step done, the third step comes into play: making a country your economically held scapegoat.
  • When it comes to bilateral trade with India, it stood at just $1.5 billion dollars in 2019-20, nowhere near that of China.  With China, the bilateral trade is worth $12 billion dollars.
  • But if we go by an official Chinese report quoting the Ministry of Commerce of China, export and import between China and Myanmar was worth $168 billion dollars in 2019.
  • That is huge for a small country like Myanmar.

Through the prism of Coup

(a) Impact on India

While the coup invited international condemnation, not much has changed for India as it has built ties with the Tatmadaw over the years.

  • The handing over late last year of INS Sindhuvir, a kilo-class submarine of the Indian Navy, to the Myanmar Navy, was the most recent sign of the deepening ties between New Delhi and the Tatmadaw.
  • India and China have been competing for influence in Myanmar.
  • If India hadn’t agreed to help Myanmar meet its naval requirements, it would have meant a greater Chinese presence in the Bay of Bengal.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (behind this coup) has made multiple visits to India over the last few years, most recently in 2019, when he met our PM.

(b) Impact on China

  • India was the largest supplier of weapons and other military equipment to Myanmar in 2019, the last year for which records are available in the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database.
  • Tatmadaw exported military hardware worth $100 million from India that year while it spent only $47 million on Chinese military equipment the same year.
  • This is significant because China has been the largest supplier of weapons to the Southeast Asian country over the decades.
  • The General has also been critical of China, accusing Beijing of providing support to certain insurgent groups in the country, including the Arakan Army in Rakhine state, which the Tatmadaw has been fighting.

Many rebel groups in Myanmar have been using Chinese-made weapons against the military. This, experts say, rules out a tight embrace of China in the near term.

Repercussions of the Coup

  • Diplomatic isolation: And with over 50 years of military rule and an isolated status in the world, it seems that most of the relations are held by China alone.
  • Sanctions and embargoes: If the US goes ahead with its threat of sanctions because of the coup, Myanmar will have to turn to Beijing as a shield.
  • New puppet of China: In a nutshell, Myanmar’s economy is largely dependent on China, and with a pro-Beijing government in place, Myanmar may well fall finally into Chinese debt trap by allowing China funded BRI projects.
  • Hostility in India’s neighbourhood: If that happens, Myanmar will be reducing to a mere economic scapegoat of its largest trading partner China, and a hostile neighbour for India’s geopolitical interests.
  • Deterrence in Indo-Pacific: This in turn will emerge as a deterrent in the global vision of Indo-Pacific.

It may be often tempting to describe India’s Myanmar policy as suffering from a dilemma between values and interest.

Wait….. India never acts blindfolded

India’s interest in Myanmar has always been guided strategically by the centrality of democracy to ensure deeper ties.

India has also learned to accept that “the liberal democratic paradigm will not automatically come about” in Myanmar, nor in any other part of India’s politically volatile neighbourhood.

So while Indian policymakers have always been clear about their democratic endgame in Myanmar, they also recognise that pragmatic adjustments are sometimes necessary to engage with the military, which remains the ultimate guarantor of internal stability and order.

Since Nehruvian times….

60 years ago, the Burmese armed forces, the Tatmadaw, first took over power to end a decade of democratic reforms in the 1950s.

  • The coup of March 1962 was a severe setback for India’s investment in a federal, democratic Burma under the leadership of Nehru’s great friend U Nu.
  • However, with the democratic regime in deep crisis, it made sense to engage General Ne Win to protect Indian interests, including cross-border insurgencies, China’s influence and the safety of the larger Indian diaspora.
  • Despite his personal distress at the imprisonment of his friend and the end of democracy, Nehru gave the green light for India to become one of the first countries to recognise the military regime, even before China.
  • For the time being, India will push for democracy in public domain but in private it will pivot to engage with Myanmar’s new military regime.

The road to democracy in Myanmar lies through its military

  • Sixty years later, the situation is strikingly similar.
  • This marks a return to India’s dual policy of the 2000s, when it built a relationship of high-level trust with the Myanmar military while also nudging and supporting the Generals to embrace democratic reforms.
  • This approach was first crafted in the late 1990s by Shyam Saran, then India’s ambassador in Yangon, and executed in 2000 with a rare display of successful defence diplomacy led by Army chief VP Malik.
  • This was no easy task. Western analysts criticised India for blindly engaging Myanmar.
  • At the UN India came under attack for not supporting sanctions and condemnatory resolutions, especially during the failed 2007 democratic uprising.

Despite such pressure, India stood firm and also paid a price for it. PM Manmohan Singh, for example, declined two invitations and only visited Myanmar in 2012, after the democratic opening.  

Way forward

  • The carefully calibrated policy of the 2000s will serve India well today, where circumstances are even more favourable.
  • Thanks to the rise of China, the US and the EU are now more wary of isolating Myanmar.
  • And the Tatmadaw is now also less enamored of China and keen to deepen relations with India.
  • But New Delhi will still have to work hard to pursue its democratic realist policy in Myanmar.

For India to play a role

(a) Domestically

  • The first challenge will be to preserve trust with the Generals even while keeping up the pressure to restore a democratic order.
  • Delhi will have to keep the relationship going at the highest level to ensure that the Generals respect India’s core concerns.
  • This includes the Naga peace process, keeping an eye on China’s activities, and cross-border connectivity initiatives.

(b) Internationally

  • The second challenge will be for India to coordinate its position internationally and buy itself manoeuvering space to engage Myanmar.
  • The US and the EU are still likely to be less understanding of India’s position than the Association of South-East Asian Nations and Japan.
  • Especially at the UN Security Council, India could play an important role to bridge differences and develop a common platform to nudge Myanmar back on to the democratic track.

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[Sansad TV] Mudda Aapka: Agnipath Scheme

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Context

  • The violence and arson marked the fourth consecutive day of protests against the Agnipath recruitment scheme for the armed forces.
  • The students’ outrage turned ugly as a group of protestors resorted to vandalism and set a train ablaze to register their anger against the move.

What is Agnipath Scheme?

  • This will be the only form of recruitment of soldiers into the three defence services from now.
  • Recruits under the scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.
  • After completing the four-year service, they can apply for regular employment in the armed forces.
  • They may be given priority over others for various jobs in other government departments.
  • The move is expected to decrease the average age profile of armed forces personnel from the current 32 to 24-26 years over a period of time.

Working of the scheme

  • The process of recruitment will commence in 90 days with a planned intake of 46,000 young men and women this year.
  • Enrolment to all three services will be through a centralized online system, with special rallies and campus interviews at recognized technical institutes.
  • Recruitment will be carried out on an “All India All Class” basis with the eligibility age ranging from 17.5 to 21, with medical and physical fitness standards in accordance with existing norms.

Payouts of the Agniveers

  • The ‘Agniveers’ will receive an annual package of ₹4.76 lakh in the first year to ₹6.92 lakh in the fourth year, apart from risk and hardship and other allowances as applicable.
  • Under the ‘Seva Nidhi’ package, they will receive about ₹11.71 lakh, including contribution and interest, on completion of service.
  • The recruits will have to contribute 30% of their monthly emoluments to Seva Nidhi, with a matching contribution made by the government.
  • There will be no entitlement to gratuity and pension benefits under the scheme.
  • However, the ‘Agniveers’ will be provided a non-contributory life insurance cover of ₹48 lakh during their service.

Why are aspirants protesting?

  • Contractualisation of armed forces: The foundation of this scheme is a four-year contract.
  • Jobs for the majority: States such as Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, are where the bulk of the Army recruitment takes place.
  • Perks and benefits: Many of these people value job stability, which includes retirement benefits and pensions over competitive salaries.
  • Uncertainty after end of commission: Most of them will be forced to leave the job within four years, which doesn’t fit into their hopes and aspirations.
  • Casualization of Training: It reportedly takes two to three years to train a member of the army, but as a part of the Agnipath, soldiers will only be trained for six months.
  • Threats to national security: Defence analysts have allegedly pointed out that the Russian soldiers who were trained for a limited amount of time before they went to war have performed disastrously.
  • Conflicts of interest: Apprehensions have been voiced against how the new recruits will be adjusted in the existing system under which most of the Army units are region, caste or class-based.

Reasons behind aspirants’ frustration

  • Unemployment: Analysts always cite the crunch of gazetted officers in the Armed forces and there has been no recruitment for the last two years.
  • Pandemic impact: Many aspirants lost their chance to join the Armed forces as they are now overage.’
  • Unanticipated reforms: In guise of a push for “major defence policy reform”, the scheme is a fuss.
  • Coaching mafias: Coaching mafias have played a significant role in sparking and provoking protesters.  

Need for the Scheme: Official explanation

  • Budgetary efficiency: With the largest volunteer army in the world, paying an increased salary and pension bill, given rising incomes all around, has steadily eroded the capital side of the defence budget.
  • Preferential treatment: For job-seekers, the government has already said they will get priority in the Central Armed Police Forces.
  • Promotional avenues: One significant advantage of this scheme would be the much lower age profile of the service. It will increase the promotional avenues of the permanent cadre.
  • Diverse career options: Once retired, aspirants will be free to pursue other careers, with several departments and governments.
  • Selective skilling: Aspirants will get preference, educational credits, skill certificates, to help them rehabilitate in other fields.
  • Financial assistance: Those wishing to be entrepreneurs will get a financial package and bank loans and those wishing to study further will be given 12 class equivalent certificate.

Way forward

  • Longer contract term: Make the period of the contract for new recruits longer than four years. The present clarification fails to address this issue.
  • Continuance of the commission: Relook the 25 per cent re-enlistment at the end of the contractual period. Ideally, it should be over 50 per cent retention for long-term posts.
  • Policy commitment for reabsorption: For those leaving after their short service, do obtain a binding commitment from CAPFs, states’ police forces and other organisations that they are willing to absorb this trained military manpower.
  • Gradual shift in recruitment policy: Continue with existing regular enrolment, in reduced numbers, and gradually shift to the Tour of Duty once it stabilizes after five to ten years.

Conclusion

  • A nation should never compromise with the personnel who make up the fighting sinews of its armed forces.
  • The best way to prevent such an impression is to look upon them not as a burden to the exchequer, but as rough diamonds, to be cut and polished to their maximum capabilities and then deployed in the defence of the nation.
  • A diamond is forever, our future men and women in uniform too deserve to serve to their maximum for the betterment of the nation and their own lives. 
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Yojana/Sansad TV

[Yojana Archive] Empowering Divyangjan

May 2022

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Who are the Divyangjans?

  • In India, people with disabilities are known as Divyangjan.
  • Divyang is a Hindi word that means “divine body part.”
  • The Hon’ble PM gave the term ‘Divyangjan’ to the Persons with Disabilities and launched the Accessible India Campaign in 2015.

Various government initiatives

  • Department of Divyangjan:  The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment’s Department of Persons with Disabilities is renamed the Divyangjan Sashaktikaran Vibhag.
  • Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016: Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 promotes and protects the rights and dignity of people with disabilities in educational, social, legal, economic, cultural and political spheres.
  • Accessible India Campaign: The government launched the “Accessible India Campaign” (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) which seeks to make government buildings “fully accessible” for the disabled.
  • TV Viewing: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has formulated the standards for accessible TV viewing for persons with hearing impairment which provides for closed captioning, subtitling and designing of special devices.
  • Sugamya Bharat App: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s Department of Disability Empowerment has launched the ‘Sugamya Bharat App’ to address accessibility issues faced by differently-abled people in buildings and transportation systems.
  • Accessibility in Education Sector: Under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, provision has been made for in-service training of teachers, and training for special educators. The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 aims to provide barrier-free access to education for all children with disabilities.
  • Divya Kala Shakti: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment hosted the first-ever colourful cultural event in the western region, “Divya Kala Shakti: Witnessing the Abilities in Disabilities”.
  • Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP): The ADIP Scheme has been in operation since 1981 with the main objective to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation.
  • Deen Dayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: Under DDDRS, the Central Government has been providing grant-in-aid to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for projects relating to the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.
  • National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR):  This is a Central Autonomous Institute under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan). It is a federally funded institute that focuses on mental health rehabilitation.

Policy measures for Divyangjan

  • Inclusion of Divyangjan: Disability inclusion refers to including people with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to take on roles similar to their peers who do not have disabilities.
  • Disability Certificate: A disability certificate is provided to a person with a disability of more than 40% in order to be eligible for any of the available schemes’ facilities, benefits, or concessions.
  • Unique Disability Identity Project: Unique ID for Persons with Disabilities project is being implemented with a view to creating a National Database of PwDs.
  • Accessibility in Cross-Disability Early Intervention Centres: In order to provide rehabilitative services for children with various types of disabilities, Early Intervention Centres (EICs) with a cross-disability focus were established across India in 2021. Accessible features include accessible parking, routes, ramps, accessible reception counters, accessible toilets and drinking water points, staircases, and appropriate instructional and directional signage.
  • Accessible Means of Communication: Indian Sign Language (ISL): The Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), in collaboration with NCERT, is converting NCERT textbooks and other educational materials into ISL digital format to assist people with hearing impairment.
  • Psychological disability (mental illness):  As per the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights, and Full Participation) Act, 1995, mental illness is recognised as one of the disabilities. The Act defines “mental illness” as any mental disorder other than mental retardation. In 2001, a Committee was formed to establish guidelines for the evaluation and assessment of mental illness, as well as the certification procedure.
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Yojana/Sansad TV

[Sansad TV] Perspective: India – Vietnam Relations

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Context

  • Defence Minister Rajnath was on a three day official visit to Vietnam.
  • Wide-ranging discussions were held between both sides on effective and practical initiatives to further expand bilateral defense engagements and regional & global issues.
  • The two Defence Ministers also signed the 20 Year ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030’.
  • An MoU on Mutual Logistics Support was also signed and both sides also agreed to early finalization of the Defence Line of Credit worth 500 million US dollars extended to Vietnam.

India – Vietnam Relations: A Backgrounder

  • India and Vietnam share traditionally close and cordial bilateral relations.
  • India chaired the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC), which was formed pursuant to the Geneva Accord of 1954 to facilitate the peace process in Vietnam.
  • India initially maintained Consulate-level relations with the then North and South Vietnams and later established full diplomatic relations with unified Vietnam on 7 January 1972.
  • Relations between the two countries were elevated to the level of “Strategic Partnership” during the visit of Vietnam’s PM Nguyen Tan Dung to India in July 2007
  • In September 2016, during PM Modi’s visit to Vietnam, bilateral relations were further elevated to the level of “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”.

Areas of Cooperation

(1) Economic

  • During FY April 2020 – March 2021, bilateral trade between India and Vietnam reached US$11.12 billion with India being a net importer.
  • India granted “Most Favoured Nation” status to Vietnam in 1975 and both nations signed a bilateral trade agreement in 1978.
  • Vietnam is also keen for India to expand its presence in oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea and has firmly maintained that the areas fall well within Vietnam’s economic zone.

(2) Development partnership

  • Under the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) framework, India has been taking up various projects in different provinces of Vietnam for development of community infrastructure.
  • The MGC initiative comprising six countries — India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam — was launched in 2000 to boost cooperation in a range of areas including connectivity, tourism and culture.

(3) Defence

  • Vietnam is an important partner in India’s Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision.
  • Vietnam is interested in India’s Akash surface-to-air systems and Dhruv advanced light helicopters and Brahmos Missiles.
  • India recently handed over 12 high-speed guard boatstoVietnam, in reflection of the growing congruence in maritime security.

Vietnam’s Importance for India

  • Vietnam is an important element of India’s Act East Policy, which aims to re-invigorate its historical ties with countries in Southeast and East Asia.
  • There are ample opportunities for closer connectivity between India and Vietnam via Myanmar and existing transit routes in Cambodia and Laos.
  • India’s growing economy needs energy resources and Vietnam has rich hydrocarbon reserves.
  • India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC Videsh) has been searching for oil in disputed waters off Vietnam.
  • Also Vietnam lies at a centrestage of the “Necklace of Diamonds Strategy” that aims at garlanding China or in simple words, the counter encirclement strategy.
  • India is expanding its naval bases and is also improving relations with strategically placed countries to counter China’s strategies.

India’s significance to Vietnam

  • For Vietnam, India could be a bulwark against the dominance of any single country in the region.
  • Hanoi has a long-festering territorial dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea, which has worsened since 2014.
  • In the past, India has additionally conducted capacity-building programs for Vietnamese defence personnel.
  • Besides, there are numerous opportunities to increase trade between the two countries.
  • Indian companies can infuse much needed capital and technology into the Vietnamese market to bring it to par with its East Asian counterparts.
  • Then there is the strong cultural aspect to the relationship, with Buddhism seeping into Vietnam from the land of its birth in India.

China Factor in bilateral ties

  • China factor also weighs heavily in the respective strategic calculus of India and Vietnam.
  • Both countries had fought wars with China and both have border problems with that country.
  • China aggressively continues to encroach in the territories of the two countries.
  • Hence, it is natural for both the countries to come closer with a view to restrain China from its aggressive actions.

Areas for improvement

  • India’s cultural presence in Vietnam is modest.
  • Rarely are Indian films and television shows broadcast on television channels.
  • Films depicting ancient traditions do not impact the youths and send mixed signals on India’s development.

Way forward

  • By enhancing ties with Hanoi, India can incorporate the same template in engaging with other Southeast Asian states such as the Philippines.
  • The close relationship between the two countries is significant for maintaining strategic balance in South East Asia which is witnessing aggressive Chinese activities.
  • Both Countries need to leverage the economic opportunities left out of anti-China sentiments and several manufacturing firms deciding to shift from China.
  • Both Countries should expedite the process of negotiations for finalisation of defence deals.
  • Moreover, India can learn from Vietnam’s open trade policy, due to which Vietnam’s exports have grown by about 240% in the past eight years.

Conclusion

  • India must show greater commitment in the region if it seeks to enhance its strategic position there.
  • By illustrating its desire and willingness to pay attention to the security issues that the states of Southeast Asia currently face, India will be able to signal its positive intentions.

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[Sansad TV] Perspective: Remote Voting Facility

The Election Commission of India has decided to set up a committee to explore the possibility of allowing migrant workers to vote remotely on a pilot basis.

Voting facilitation for Migrant Workers

  • According to an ECI, there needs to be a concerted effort to see problems faced by migrant workers in exercising their franchise.
  • ECI had set up a four-member panel in 2020 to assess the technology landscape to enable remote voting.
  • The panel has presented a concept plan to the ECI to enable a two-way transfer of vote and ballot.
  • Currently, postal ballots are meant only for service voters such as army personnel who cannot return to vote.

So what is remote voting, how will it work on the ground and what are the challenges in the implementation of this process.

What is Remote Voting?

  • Remote voting means facilitating voting to those who are migrated to somewhere else for earning, they can’t return even to their respective home Village for mere voting.

ECI’s Proposals to use Blockchain

  • IIT-Madras who is among the ECI panel is developing a system for two-way remote voting in a controlled environment using blockchain technology.

Goals to be achieved

  1. More inclusive democracy and political process
  2. No voter to be left behind

How would it work?

  • It would entail:
  • Voter identification and authorisation on the Electoral Registration Officer Network (ERO Net
  • Use of biometric data and web cameras for authentication
  • Blockchain-based e-ballot generation, which would convert into a vote once the hash code would be generated on its execution
  • The encrypted remote votes cast would once again be validated at the pre-counting stage to ensure that they have neither been decrypted nor tampered with or replaced.

Why need Remote Voting?

  • Migrant population: According to the 2011 census, there are 45 crore internal migrants who accounted for 37% of the population. There are nearly 10 million migrant workers as per e-SHRAM portal.
  • Flexiblity for voters: The individual can cast his/her vote from multiple locations and not solely from one registered polling station.
  • Increasing voting turnout: It will ensure more eligible voters cast their votes which will help in including more voters.
  • Preventing transparency: It will provide enhanced efficiency in counting votes. It will be promoting security towards the recording of votes as opposed to physical tampering.
  • Voter Authencity: It will help in minimising errors and easing the overall process for the voter by utilising basic features such as Facial recognition technology (FRTs) and biometric identification protocols.
  • Elections and weather: Voting calendar is very random. It is never held in convenient months.  

Apprehensions regarding remote voting

  • Mapping of migrant laborers: Mapping of migrant labourers is a mammoth exercise that the administration has to take up.
  • Voter-list reforms: There are a set of reforms pending in Indian. For example, Aadhaar-linking for de-duplication and a single electoral roll.
  • Privacy concerns:  It saves users’ biometrics and other data which can be misused by hackers and other parties that would undermine the right to privacy.

Conclusion

  • Voting is the most important aspect of democracy and for its feasibility it’s persistence and timely improvement is utmost important.
  • The ECI is working to find a system where these people can also vote to their desired candidate from any corner of the country.

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[Sansad TV] Perspective: Uniform Civil Code

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Context

  • Recently, a mega congregation organized by a community at Deoband in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, passed a resolution against the proposed Uniform Civil Code.
  • It went on to say that it would be in contravention of not only the Constitution of India but also Shariayat, which is the religious law regulating the particular society in the country.

What is the news?

  • The resolution claimed that their religious laws on issues like marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. have not been created by some society, community, group or person… but they are heavenly orders.
  • They are part of their religious directive, and any changes to them or attempts to stop someone from following them is a clear interference with the religion.
  • This would go against the guarantee of freedom to practice and propagate religion given in section 25 of the Constitution.

The question is: The subject has been a matter of debate for years, but whether it is feasible in India or not? Given the diversity India is known for, how doable is the idea of bringing about uniformity? What are the challenges in doing so?

What is a Uniform Civil Code?

  • A Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is one that would provide for one personal civil law for the entire country.
  • This would be applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc.

Basis for UCC

  • Article 44, one of the Directive Principles of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a UCC for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
  • These, as defined in Article 37, are not justiciable (not enforceable by any court) but the principles laid down therein are fundamental in governance.

Personal Laws And Uniform Civil Code: Timeline

# British period
During the British Raj, Personal laws were first framed mainly for Hindu and Muslims citizens.

# Start of 20th Century
In the beginning of the twentieth century, the demand for a uniform civil code was first put forward by the women activists. The objective behind this demand was the women’s rights, equality and secularism.

# 1940 – The Idea of Uniform Civil Code is born
The idea of Uniform Civil Code was tabled by the National Planning Commission (NPC) appointed by the Congress. There was a subcommittee who was to examine women’s status and recommends reforms of personal law for gender equality.

# 1947 – Question of UCC as a Fundamental Right
UCC was sought to be enshrined in the Constitution of India as a fundamental right by Minoo Masani, Hansa Mehta, Amrit Kaur and Dr. B.R Ambedkar.

# 1948 – Constitution Assembly debated UCC
Article 44 of the Indian Constitution i.e. Directive Principles of State Policy sets implementation of uniform civil laws which is the duty of the state under Part IV.

# 1950 – Reformist Bill passed
Reformist bills were passed which gave the Hindu women the right to divorce and inherit property. Bigamy and child marriages are outlawed. Such reforms were resisted by Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

# 1951 – Dr. Ambedkar Resigns
Dr. Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet in 1951 when his draft of the Hindu Code Bill was stalled by the Parliament.

# 1985 – Shah Bano Case
In this case, a divorced Muslim woman was brought within the ambit of Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 by the Supreme Court in which it was declared by the Apex court that she was entitled for maintenance even after the completion ofiddatperiod.

# 1995- Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India
In this case, Justice Kuldip Singh reiterated the need for the Parliament to frame a Uniform Civil Code, which would help the cause of national integration by removing contradictions based on ideologies. Therefore, the responsibility entrusted on the State under Article 44 of the Constitution whereby a Uniform Civil Code must be secured has been urged by the Supreme Court repeatedly as a matter of urgency.

# 2000 – Supreme Court advocates UCC
The case of Lily Thomas v. Union of India (2000),where the Supreme Court said it could not direct the centre to introduce a UCC.

# 2015 – The Debate lives through
The apex court refused to direct the government to take a decision on having a UCC.

# 2016 – Triple Talaq Debate
When PM asked the Law Commission to examine the issue.

# 2017 – Ruling of the Triple Talaq case
Triple Talaq (Talaq -e- biddat) was declared unconstitutional on August 22, 2017.

UCC vs. Right to Freedom of Religion

  1. Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion
  2. Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”
  3. Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture

Reasonable restrictions on the Freedom of Religion

  • An individual’s freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to “public order, health, morality” and other provisions relating to FRs, but a group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subjected to other FRs.
  • In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting UCC in the fundamental rights chapter. The matter was settled by a vote.
  • By a 5:4 majority, the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Patel held that the provision was outside the scope of FRs and therefore the UCC was made less important.

Minority Opinion in the Constituent Assembly

  • Some members sought to immunize Muslim Personal Law from state regulation.
  • Mohammed Ismail, who thrice tried unsuccessfully to get Muslim Personal Law exempted from Article 44, said a secular state should not interfere with the personal law of people.
  • B Pocker Saheb said he had received representations against a common civil code from various organisations, including Hindu organisations.
  • Hussain Imam questioned whether there could ever be uniformity of personal laws in a diverse country like India.
  • B R Ambedkar said “no government can use its provisions in a way that would force the Muslims to revolt”.
  • Alladi Krishnaswami, who was in favour of a UCC, conceded that it would be unwise to enact UCC ignoring strong opposition from any community.
  • Gender justice was never discussed in these debates.

Enacting and Enforcing UCC

  • Fundamental rights are enforceable in a court of law.
  • While Article 44 uses the words “state shall endeavour”, other Articles in the ‘Directive Principles’ chapter use words such as “in particular strive”; “shall in particular direct its policy”; “shall be obligation of the state” etc.
  • Article 43 mentions “state shall endeavour by suitable legislation” while the phrase “by suitable legislation” is absent in Article 44.
  • All this implies that the duty of the state is greater in other directive principles than in Article 44.

What are more important — fundamental rights or directive principles?

  • There is no doubt that fundamental rights are more important.
  • The Supreme Court held in Minerva Mills (1980): Indian Constitution is founded on the bed-rock of the balance between Parts III (Fundamental Rights) and IV (Directive Principles).
  • To give absolute primacy to one over the other is to disturb the harmony of the Constitution.
  • Article 31C inserted by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, however, lays down that if a law is made to implement any directive principle, it cannot be challenged on the ground of being violative of the FRs under Articles 14 and 19.

What about Personal Laws?

  • Citizens belonging to different religions and denominations follow different property and matrimonial laws which are an affront to the nation’s unity.
  • If the framers of the Constitution had intended to have a UCC, they would have given exclusive jurisdiction to Parliament in respect of personal laws, by including this subject in the Union List.
  • “Personal Laws” are mentioned in the Concurrent List.

Various customary laws

  • All Hindus of the country are not governed by one law, nor are all Muslims or all Christians.
  • Muslims of Kashmir were governed by a customary law, which in many ways was at variance with Muslim Personal Law in the rest of the country and was, in fact, closer to Hindu law.
  • Even on registration of marriage among Muslims, laws differ from place to place.
  • In the Northeast, there are more than 200 tribes with their own varied customary laws.
  • The Constitution itself protects local customs in Nagaland. Similar protections are enjoyed by Meghalaya and Mizoram.
  • Even reformed Hindu law, in spite of codification, protects customary practices.

 Why need UCC?

  • UCC would provide equal status to all citizens
  • It would promote gender parity in Indian society.
  • UCC would accommodate the aspirations of the young population who imbibe liberal ideology.
  • Its implementation would thus support the national integration.

Hurdles to UCC implementation

  • There are practical difficulties due to religious and cultural diversity in India.
  • The UCC is often perceived by the minorities as an encroachment of religious freedom.
  • It is often regarded as interference of the state in personal matters of the minorities.
  • Experts often argue that the time is not ripe for Indian society to embrace such UCC.

These questions need to be addressed which are being completely ignored in the present din around UCC.

  1. Firstly, how can uniformity in personal laws are brought without disturbing the distinct essence of each and every component of the society.
  2. Secondly, what makes us believe that practices of one community are backward and unjust?
  3. Thirdly, has other uniformities been able to eradicate inequalities which diminish the status of our society as a whole?

Way forward

  • It should be the duty of the religious intelligentia to educate the community about its rights and obligations based on modern liberal interpretations.
  • A good environment for the UCC must be prepared by the government by explaining the contents and significance of Article 44 taking all into confidence.
  • Social reforms are not overnight but gradual phenomenon. They are often vulnerable to media evils such as fake news and disinformation.
  • Social harmony and cultural fabric of our nation must be the priority.

Conclusion

  • The purpose behind UCC is to strengthen the object of “Secular Democratic Republic” as enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.
  • This provision is provided to effect the integration of India by bringing communities on a common platform on matters which are at present governed by diverse personal laws.
  • Hence UCC should be enforced taking into confidence all the sections of Indian society.

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[Sansad TV] Perspective: Record FDI Inflow

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Context

  • India rapidly emerges as a preferred investment destination with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows increasing 20-fold in the last 20 years.
  • Highest ever annual FDI inflow of 83.57 billion US Dollars were recorded in the Financial Year 2021-22.
  • This figure stood at 45.15 billion US Dollars.

Major feats achieved this year

  • In terms of investor countries of FDI Equity inflow, Singapore is at the top with 27%, followed by the US with 18% and Mauritius with 16% for the FY 2021-22.
  • Computer Software & Hardware’ has emerged as the top recipient sector of FDI Equity inflow during this period with around 25% share followed by Services Sector and Automobile Industry with 12% each.
  • With 53 % Karnataka has received the majority share of FDI equity in the `Computer Software & Hardware’ sector.

Significance of rising FDI

  • This is a testament of India’s status among global investors.
  • It also signifies political, economic and social stability

What is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)?

  • An FDI is an investment in the form of a controlling ownership in a business in one country by an entity based in another country.
  • It is thus distinguished from a foreign portfolio investment by a notion of direct control.
  • FDI may be made either “inorganically” by buying a company in the target country or “organically” by expanding the operations of an existing business in that country.
  • Broadly, FDI includes “mergers and acquisitions, building new facilities, reinvesting profits earned from overseas operations, and intra company loans”.
  • In a narrow sense, it refers just to building a new facility, and lasting management interest.

Features of FDI

  • Any investment from an individual or firm that is located in a foreign country into a country is FDI.
  • Generally, FDI is when a foreign entity acquires ownership or controlling stake in the shares of a company in one country, or establishes businesses there.
  • It is different from foreign portfolio investment where the foreign entity merely buys equity shares of a company.
  • In FDI, the foreign entity has a say in the day-to-day operations of the company.
  • FDI is not just the inflow of money, but also the inflow of technology, knowledge, skills and expertise.
  • It is a major source of non-debt financial resources for the economic development of a country.

FDI in India

  • Foreign investment was introduced in 1991 under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), driven by then FM Manmohan Singh.
  • Economic liberalisation started in India in the wake of the 1991 crisis and since then, FDI has steadily increased in the country.
  • India, today is a part of top 100-club on Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) and globally ranks number 1 in the Greenfield FDI ranking.

There are two routes by which India gets FDI.

1) Automatic route: By this route, FDI is allowed without prior approval by Government or RBI.

2) Government route: Prior approval by the government is needed via this route. The application needs to be made through Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal, which will facilitate the single-window clearance of FDI application under Approval Route.

  • India imposes a cap on equity holding by foreign investors in various sectors, current FDI in aviation and insurance sectors is limited to a maximum of 49%.
  • In 2015 India overtook China and the US as the top destination for the Foreign Direct Investment.

Sectors that come under the ‘ 100% Automatic Route’ category are

  • Agriculture & Animal Husbandry, Air-Transport Services (non-scheduled and other services under civil aviation sector)
  • Airports (Greenfield + Brownfield),
  • Asset Reconstruction Companies,
  • Auto-components, Automobiles,
  • Biotechnology (Greenfield),
  • Broadcast Content Services (Up-linking & down-linking of TV channels, Broadcasting Carriage Services,
  • Capital Goods, Cash & Carry Wholesale Trading (including sourcing from MSEs), Chemicals, Coal & Lignite, Construction Development,
  • Construction of Hospitals,
  • E-commerce Activities, Electronic Systems,
  • Food Processing, Gems & Jewellery, Healthcare, Industrial Parks, IT & BPM, Leather, Manufacturing, Mining & Exploration of metals & non-metal ores, Other Financial Services,
  • Pharmaceuticals, Plantation sector
  • Ports & Shipping, Railway Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Roads & Highways,
  • Single Brand Retail Trading, Textiles & Garments,
  • Thermal Power,
  • Tourism & Hospitality and
  • White Label ATM Operations.

Sectors that come under up to 100% Automatic Route’ category are

  • Infrastructure Company in the Securities Market: 49%
  • Insurance: up to 49%
  • Medical Devices:up to 100%
  • Pension: 49%
  • Petroleum Refining (By PSUs): 49%
  • Power Exchanges: 49%

Sectors that come under the ‘up to 100% Government Route’ category are– 

  • Banking & Public sector: 20%
  • Broadcasting Content Services: 49%
  • Core Investment Company: 100%
  • Food Products Retail Trading: 100%
  • Mining & Minerals separations of titanium bearing minerals and ores: 100%
  • Multi-Brand Retail Trading: 51%
  • Print Media (publications/ printing of scientific and technical magazines/ specialty journals/ periodicals and facsimile edition of foreign newspapers): 100%
  • Print Media (publishing of newspaper, periodicals and Indian editions of foreign magazines dealing with news & current affairs): 26%
  • Satellite (Establishment and operations): 100%

FDI prohibition

There are a few industries where FDI is strictly prohibited under any route. These industries are

  • Atomic Energy Generation
  • Any Gambling or Betting businesses
  • Lotteries (online, private, government, etc.)
  • Investment in Chit Funds
  • Nidhi Company
  • Agricultural or Plantation Activities (although there are many exceptions like horticulture, fisheries, tea plantations, Pisciculture, animal husbandry, etc.)
  • Housing and Real Estate (except townships, commercial projects, etc.)
  • Trading in TDR’s
  • Cigars, Cigarettes, or any related tobacco industry

Benefits offered by FDI

  • Employment generation: FDI boosts the manufacturing and services sector which results in the creation of jobs and helps to reduce unemployment rates in the country.
  • Economic growth: Increased employment translates to higher incomes and equips the population with more buying powers, boosting the overall economy of a country.
  • Human capital development: Skills that employees gain through training and experience can boost the education and human capital of a specific country. Through a ripple effect, it can train human resources in other sectors and companies.
  • Technology boost: The introduction of newer and enhanced technologies results in company’s distribution into the local economy, resulting in enhanced efficiency and effectiveness of the industry.
  • Increase in exports: Many goods produced by FDI have global markets, not solely domestic consumption. The creation of 100% export oriented units help to assist FDI investors in boosting exports from other countries.
  • Exchange rate stability: The flow of FDI into a country translates into a continuous flow of foreign exchange, helping a country’s Central Bank maintain a prosperous reserve of foreign exchange which results in stable exchange rates.
  • Improved Capital Flow: Inflow of capital is particularly beneficial for countries with limited domestic resources, as well as for nations with restricted opportunities to raise funds in global capital markets.
  • Creation of a Competitive Market: By facilitating the entry of foreign organizations into the domestic marketplace, FDI helps create a competitive environment, as well as break domestic monopolies.  
  • Climate mitigation: The United Nations has also promoted the use of FDI around the globe to help combat climate change

Limitations created by FDI

  • Hindrance of domestic investment: Sometimes FDI can hinder domestic investment. Because of FDI, countries’ local companies start losing interest to invest in their domestic products.
  • Risk from political changes: Other countries’ political movements can be changed constantly which could hamper the investors.
  • Negative exchange rates: FDI can sometimes affect exchange rates to the advantage of one country and the detriment of another.
  • Higher costs: When investors invest in foreign counties, they might notice that it is more expensive than when goods are exported. Oftentimes, more money is invested into machinery and intellectual property than in wages for local employees.
  • Economic non-viability: Considering that FDI may be capital-intensive from the point of view of the investor, it can sometimes be very risky or economically non-viable.
  • Expropriation: Constant political changes can lead to expropriation. In this case, those countries’ governments will have control over investors’ property and assets.
  • Modern-day economic colonialism: Many third-world countries, or at least those with a history of colonialism, worry that foreign direct investment would result in some kind of modern-day economic colonialism, which exposes host countries and leave them vulnerable to foreign companies’ exploitation.
  • Poor performance: Multinationals have been criticized for poor working conditions in foreign factories.

Recent amendments in 2020

  • The govt. has amended para 3.1.1 of extant FDI policy as contained in Consolidated FDI Policy, 2017.
  • In the event of the transfer of ownership of any existing or future FDI in an entity in India, directly or indirectly, resulting in the beneficial ownership, such subsequent change in beneficial ownership will also require Government approval.

The present position and revised position in the matters will be as under:

Present Position

  • A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI Policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited.
  • However, a citizen of Bangladesh or an entity incorporated in Bangladesh can invest only under the Government route.
  • Further, a citizen of Pakistan or an entity incorporated in Pakistan can invest, only under the Government route, in sectors/activities other than defence, space, atomic energy and sectors/activities prohibited for foreign investment.

Revised Position

  • A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI Policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited.

[spot the difference]

  • However, an entity of a country, which shares a land border with India or where the beneficial owner of investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the Government route.
  • Further, a citizen of Pakistan or an entity incorporated in Pakistan can invest, only under the Government route, in sectors/activities other than defence, space, atomic energy and sectors/activities prohibited for foreign investment.

Various policy initiatives

The government has taken plenty of initiatives to attract FDI in India:

  • The government has amended rules of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), allowing up to 20% FDI in the insurance company LIC through the automatic route.
  • The Government of India is considering easing scrutiny on certain FDI from countries that share a border with India.
  • The implementation of measures like PM Gati Shakti, single window clearance and GIS-mapped land bank are expected to push FDI inflows in 2022.
  • The government is likely to introduce at least three policies as part of the Space Activity Bill in 2022. This Bill is expected to clearly define the scope of foreign FDI in the Indian space sector.
  • In September 2021, the Union Cabinet announced that to boost the telecom sector, they’ll allow 100% FDI via the automatic route in, up from the previous 49%.
  • In August 2021, the government amended the Foreign Exchange Management (non-debt instruments) Rules, 2019, to allow the 74% increase in FDI limit in the insurance sector.
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[Sansad TV] Mudda Aapka: Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)

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Context

  • India agreed to be a part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), a US-led economic grouping comprising 12 countries.
  • The recent Quad meet in Tokyo initiated the path for negotiations among the ‘founding members.’

What is IPEF?

  • It is a US-led framework for participating countries to solidify their relationships and engage in crucial economic and trade matters that concern the region, such as building resilient supply chains battered by the pandemic.
  • It is not a free trade agreement. No market access or tariff reductions have been outlined, although experts say it can pave the way to trade deals. 

Members of IPEF

  • The member nations include Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • It includes seven out of 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), all four Quad countries, and New Zealand.
  • Together, these countries account for 40 per cent of the global GDP. 

Four pillars of IPEF

  1. Trade that will include digital economy and emerging technology, labor commitments, the environment, trade facilitation, transparency and good regulatory practices, and corporate accountability, standards on cross-border data flow and data localisations;
  2. Supply chain resilience to develop “a first-of-its-kind supply chain agreement” that would anticipate and prevent disruptions;
  3. Clean energy and decarbonization that will include agreements on “high-ambition commitments” such as renewable energy targets, carbon removal purchasing commitments, energy efficiency standards, and new measures to combat methane emissions; and
  4. Tax and anti-corruption, with commitments to enact and enforce “effective tax, anti-money laundering, anti-bribery schemes in line with [American] values”.

How do members participate?  

  • Countries are free to join (or not join) initiatives under any of the stipulated pillars but are expected to adhere to all commitments once they enrol.
  • Negotiations are meant to determine and list the provisions under each pillar and open the floor for countries to choose their ‘commitments’.
  • The framework would be open to other countries willing to join in the future provided they are willing to adhere to the stipulated goals and other necessary obligations.

Reasons for the creation of IPEF

  • US regaining lost credibility: IPEF is also seen as a means by which the US is trying to regain credibility in the region after Trump pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership TPP).
  • Rising Chinese influence: Since then, there has been concern over the absence of a credible US economic and trade strategy to counter China’s economic influence in the region.
  • Competing RCEP: It is also in the 14-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, of which the US is not a member (India withdrew from RCEP).
  • “Pivot to Asia” strategy: US has intensified its engagement with the wider Asia-Pacific region to advance its economic and geopolitical interests.

India’s perception of IPEF

  • PM Modi described the grouping as born from a collective desire to make the Indo-Pacific region an engine of global economic growth.
  • India has called for common and creative solutions to tackle economic challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

What does it have to do with China?  

  • The US strategists believe the US lacks an economic and trade strategy to counter China’s increasing economic influence in the region since 2017.
  • US companies are looking to move away from manufacturing in China.
  • IPEF would therefore offer an advantage to participating countries, allowing them to bring those businesses into their territory.
  • However, it officially excluded Taiwan despite its willingness and economic merit to join.
  • This exhibits Washington’s geopolitical caution.

Reactions from the opponents

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticized the initiative as an attempt to further economic decoupling from China.
  • He argued that the initiative, and the US Indo-Pacific strategy as a whole, created divisions and incited confrontation. It is destined to be ultimately be a failure.
  • Taiwan was excluded in order to appease key “fence-sitter” countries such as Indonesia whose governments feared angering China.

Issues with IPEF framework

  • IPEF would neither constitute a ‘free trade agreement,’ nor a forum to discuss tariff reductions or increasing market access.
  • Unlike a traditional trade agreement, the US administration will not need congressional approval to act under the IPEF. Hence its legal status is questionable.
  • This also raises doubts among potential participants about their reluctance to offer significant concessions under the agreement.
  • The volatility of US domestic politics has raised concerns about IPEF’s durability.
  • Unlike traditional FTAs, the IPEF does not subscribe to the single undertaking principle, where all items on the agenda are negotiated simultaneously.

Given the divisive nature of American politics, it is unclear whether the IPEF will survive past the Biden administration.

Way forward

  • The IPEF’s launch in Tokyo was symbolic in nature; bringing the IPEF to fruition will involve significant domestic and international challenges.
  • Without ratification by Congress, the IPEF’s fortunes will remain in limbo.
  • Going forward, the US and the founding partners need to develop the process and criteria by which other countries from the region will be invited to join the negotiations on the IPEF.

Conclusion

  • The Quad’s plan would take several years to ultimately fructify but it is moving in the right direction.
  • There is no doubt these plans will extend to the new economic alliance as many of its members are powerhouses in the technology sector.

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[Sansad TV] Perspective: Cluttered Space

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Context

  • Four spherical metal balls fell from the sky in some villages of Gujarat over the past few days.
  • Some experts say they are most likely the debris of a Chinese rocket Chang Zheng 3B or fuel storage tanks of space launch vehicles.
  • With more & more space launches and events like space tourism kicking off, the space above Earth is overcrowded – calling for urgent attention from countries to declutter it.
https://spacenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/chinese-rocket-debris-in-Indian-village-2022-04-02.jpeg

What is Space Junk?

  • Space junk, or space debris, is any piece of machinery or debris left by humans in space.
  • It can refer to big objects such as dead satellites that have failed or been left in orbit at the end of their mission.
  • It can also refer to smaller things, like bits of debris or paint flecks that have fallen off a rocket.
  • Space debris encompasses both natural meteoroid and artificial (human-made) orbital debris.
  • Meteoroids are in orbit about the sun, while most artificial debris is in orbit about the Earth (hence the term “orbital” debris).

How are they generated?

  • All space junk is the result of us launching objects from Earth, and it remains in orbit until it re-enters the atmosphere.
  • Some objects in lower orbits of a few hundred kilometres can return quickly.
  • They often re-enter the atmosphere after a few years and, for the most part, they’ll burn up – so they don’t reach the ground.
  • But debris or satellites left at higher altitudes of 36,000 kilometres – where communications and weather satellites are often placed in geostationary orbits – can continue to circle Earth for hundreds or even thousands of years.
  • Some space junk results from collisions or anti-satellite tests in orbit.

How much space junk is there?

  • While there are about 2,000 active satellites orbiting Earth at the moment, there are also 3,000 dead ones littering space.
  • What’s more, there are around 34,000 pieces of space junk bigger than 10 centimetres in size and millions of smaller pieces that could nonetheless prove disastrous if they hit something else.

What risks does space junk pose to space exploration?

Fortunately, at the moment, space junk doesn’t pose a huge risk to our exploration efforts.

  • Collisions:  Collisions could cause significant damage to the space properties of the countries. Upon collision, the debris disables the satellites’ onboard electronics and may disrupt the services provided by the space assets.
  • Collateral damage: The biggest danger it poses is to other satellites in orbit. These satellites have to move out of the way of all this incoming space junk to make sure they don’t get hit and potentially damaged or destroyed.
  • High momentum strikes: As these debris travel at high speeds in the low earth orbit, they risk colliding with functional satellites or even the space station. Given that these particles travel at speeds of 8 metres per second, even a 100g object could create an impact comparable to a 30-kg stone travelling at 100kmph.
  • Usability of space: This debris orbit the earth several times a day. As the mass of space junk continues to grow, parts of the space may become unusable.  
  • Kessler Syndrome: It refers to a theoretical scenario in which the amount of space debris becomes so high that a single collision or destruction event could lead to a snowballing cascade of space debris- like a domino effect.

India and Space Debris

  • India had 103 spacecraft, including active and defunct satellites, and 114 space debris objects, including spent rocket bodies orbiting the earth.
  • So, the country has a total of 217 space objects orbiting the earth.
  • Presently, the ISRO has taken up research activities to study the feasibility and technologies required to undertake active debris removal (ADR).
  • ADR was one of the active methods suggested by the Space Debris Research Community to contain the growth of space debris objects.

Mechanism against damage

Space is beyond national jurisdiction and falls under the ambit of international law:

  • Under the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, countries can claim compensation from other countries for damages incurred from space debris.
  • The Outer Space Treaty, 1967 and the like outline the guidelines for the countries’ activities in space.
  • All space objects, including the defunct space debris, are under the jurisdiction of the ‘State of Registry’.
  • If something goes wrong during such manoeuvres, a liability regime under the applicable international law applies to not only the launching country but also other countries involved in the launch.
  • The UN Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS) is tasked with space governance and there are already accepted guidelines for space debris mitigation and sustainability of space activities.

Efforts for space debris removal

There are four techniques that can move debris from heavily trafficked orbits:

  1. Deorbiting (the deliberate, forced re-entry of a space object into the Earth’s atmosphere by application of a retarding force, usually via a propulsion system)
  2. Orbital lifetime reduction (accelerating the natural decay of spacecraft and other space objects to reduce the time that they remain in orbit)
  3. Disposal orbits– Moving objects into less populated “disposal” orbits at the end of their functional lifetime
  4. Active removal of debris from orbit

Global efforts

  • NASA undertakes DAMs or Debris Avoidance Manoeuvres, which are navigation manoeuvres that take the space station away from its normal trajectory to avoid collisions, are undertaken based on the probability of collision.
  • NORAD, or the North American Aerospace Defence Command, is an initiative of the U.S. and Canada that shares selective debris data with many countries.
  • Clearspace-1 (of European Space Agency), which is scheduled to launch in 2025, will be the first space mission to eliminate debris from orbit.

India’s efforts: Project NETRA

  • NETRA stands for Network for Space Objects Tracking and Analysis (NETRA) project.
  • Project NETRA is an early warning system in space to detect debris and other hazards to Indian satellites.
  • In this pursuit, space debris tracking radar with a range of 1,500 km and an optical telescope will be inducted as part of establishing an effective surveillance and tracking network under NETRA.

Way forward

  • Space junk is no one country’s responsibility, but the responsibility of every spacefaring country.
  • Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations.
  • High-accuracy assessment and prediction tools are essential for reducing risk to current systems and future launches.
  • Space traffic management is a crucial area that requires attention since the satellites in orbit can come in the way of each other.

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[Sansad TV] Perspective: Judicial Reforms

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Context

  • Chief Ministers of States and Chief Justices of High Courts (CMCJs) participated in a joint conference in the national capital to discuss various aspects of the justice delivery system.
  • Participating in the inaugural session PM Modi said that judicial reform is not merely a policy matter and Human sensitivities should be kept in the centre of all the deliberations on this issue.

Key takeaways from the CMCJ summit

  • PM stressed on the importance of Mediation as an important tool for the settlement of pending cases in the courts, especially at the local level.
  • CJI N V Ramanna in his remarks said a National Judicial Infrastructure Authority should be created for the standardization and improvement of judicial infrastructure which currently needs urgent attention.
  • Both CJI and Prime Minister also highlighted the need to promote local languages in the courts so that people of the country feel connected with the judicial process.

The main subjects that were discussed, are as under:

  • Infrastructure of Subordinate Courts
  • Performance of Morning/Evening and Holiday Courts
  • Conditions of Jails with particular reference to under trial prisoners
  • Implementation of Information and Communication Technology
  • Strengthening the Legal-Aid Programmes
  • Strengthening of Juvenile Justice System
  • Utilization of grants
  • Review of Quality Legal Education Programmes in the States
  • Post-Retirement benefits to Judges
  • Model Courts and the Establishment of Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division High Courts
  • Filling up vacancies in the High Courts

Indian Judiciary: A Backgrounder

  • Our Judicial system has been the nation’s moral conscience keeper.
  • It speaks truth to political power, upholds the rights of citizens, mediates between Centre-state conflicts, provides justice to the rich and poor alike, and on several momentous occasions, saved democracy itself.
  • Despite its achievements, a gap between the ideal and reality has been becoming clear over the years.
  • The justice delivery is slow, the appointment of judges is mired in controversy, disciplinary mechanisms scarcely work, hierarchy rather than merit is preferred, women are severely under-represented, and constitutional matters often languish in the Supreme Court for years.
  • As Justice Chelameswar said in his dissent in the NJAC judgment, the courts must reform, so that they can preserve.

Challenges to the judicial system

  • Lack of infrastructure of courts
  • High vacancy of judges in the district judiciary
  • Pendency of Cases
  • Ineffective planning in the functioning of the courts
  • Delay in the delivery of judgements
  • Lack of transparency in appointment and transfers.
  • Corruption
  • Undertrials serving Jail
  • Outdated laws ex. Section 124A IPC

What led to under-performance of Indian Judiciary?

The primary factors contributing to docket explosion and arrears as highlighted by Justice Malimath Committee report are as follows:

  • Population explosion
  • Litigation explosion
  • Hasty and imperfect drafting of legislation
  • Plurality and accumulation of appeals (Multiple appeals for the same issue)
  • Inadequacy of judge strength
  • Failure to provide adequate forums of appeal against quasi-judicial orders
  • Lack of priority for disposal of old cases (due to the improper constitution of benches)

Recent developments:

Proposal for the creation of National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC)

  • The CJI has pitched to set up a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC) to develop judicial infrastructure in trial courts.
  • He indicated a substantial gap in infrastructure and availability of basic amenities in the lower judiciary.
  • There is a dearth of court halls, residential accommodation, and waiting room for litigants in trial courts, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.
  • Experience shows that budgetary allocation for state judiciary often lapses since there is no independent body to supervise and execute such works.
  • NJIC is expected to fill this vacuum and overcome problems related to infrastructure.

Way forward

  • Creating NJIC: It will bring a revolutionary change in the judicial functioning provided the proposed body is given financial and executive powers to operate independently of the Union and the State governments.
  • Appointment reforms: There are many experts who advocate the need to appoint more judges with unquestionable transparency in such appointments.
  • Creating All Indian Judiciary Services: It would be a landmark move to create a pan-India Service that would result in a wide pool of qualified and committed judges entering the system.
  • Technology infusion: The ethical and responsible use of AI and ML for the advancement of efficiency-enhancing can be increasingly embedded in legal and judicial processes. Ex. SUPACE.
  • Legal education: This should be in alignment with the evolving dynamics of the law must be propagated in trial and constitutional courts. This will improve the competence of the judicial system.
  • Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR): ADR mechanisms should be promoted for out-of-court settlements. Primary courts of appeal should be set up.
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[Sansad TV] Mudda Aapka: India’s Pharma Exports Boom

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Context

  • India is a significant player in the global medicines industry.
  • Indian pharma exports witnessed a growth of 103% since 2013-14, from Rs. 90, 415 Crores in 2013-14 to Rs. 183,422 Crores in 2021-22.

Feats achieved by India’s Pharma Sector

  • Surplus trade: The Pharma trade balance continues to be in India’s favour. 
  • Worldwide production: India ranks 3rd worldwide for Pharmaceutical production by volume and 14th by value. The current market size is around USD 50 billion. 
  • High competitiveness: Indian pharma companies enabled by their price competitiveness and good quality have made a global mark with 60% of the world’s vaccines and 20% of generic medicines coming from India.   
  • Major destinations: India’s top 5 pharma export destinations are the USA, UK, South Africa, Russia and Nigeria.
  • Regulatory compliance: Around 55 % of our pharma exports from India cater to highly regulated markets. For instance, the largest number of FDA approved plants outside the US is in India.

India’s Pharma Sector: A Backgrounder

  • India enjoys an important position in the global pharmaceuticals sector.
  • The country has a large pool of scientists and engineers with the potential to steer the industry ahead to greater heights.
  • Presently, over 80% of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to combat AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are supplied by Indian pharmaceutical firms.

Its evolution

Over the last few decades, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has experienced rapid expansion, which may be divided into four stages:

  1. Foreign domination: The time before 1970 is considered as the first stage of the pharma industry. At that time, the Indian market was dominated by foreign companies.
  2. Rise of domestic companies: The second stage covers 1970 to 1990 when several domestic companies began operations.
  3. LPG reforms: 1990 to 2010 is the third stage, where liberalization led Indian components to launch operations in foreign countries.
  4. Patent assisted boom: The introduction of the patent bill was one of the first advancements in the pharma industry. It allowed the Indian pharmaceutical sector to become less reliant on intellectual property laws in the US.
  5. Rise of OTC drugs: Over-the-counter drugs (bought without prescriptions) constitute the next biggest segment with 21% of the market segment.

Market Size

  • According to the Indian Economic Survey 2021, the domestic market is expected to grow 3x in the next decade.
  • India’s domestic pharmaceutical market is at US$ 42 billion in 2021 and likely to reach US$ 65 billion by 2024 and further expand to reach ~US$ 120-130 billion by 2030.
  • India’s biotechnology industry comprises biopharmaceuticals, bio-services, bio-agriculture, bio-industry, and bioinformatics.

Who regulates Indian Pharma Sector?

  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 was the central legislation that regulates India’s drug and cosmetic import, manufacture, distribution and sale.
  • The Act clearly defines the spurious drugs, adulterated drugs and mis-branded drugs.
  • This also established the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).
  • The Act establishes the regulatory control over the manufacture and sale of drugs.
  • State Health department has to regulate the manufacturing, sales and distribution of drugs.
  • Drug Inspectors will control the implementation at ground level.

What made India the world’s pharmacy?

  • Low manufacturing costs: Compared to other nations, the cost of manufacturing pharmaceutical goods in India is much lower and more effective.
  • Skilled workforce: India now has a highly-skilled workforce as a result of technological advancements.
  • R&D: India’s pharma industrial sector is also robust. Most pharma labs has turned incubators.
  • Marketing benefits: With economic liberalization, India’s marketing and distribution system are likewise on the higher side. The sector is additionally strengthened by its diversified ecosystem.
  • Focus on generics: The companies broke into the worldwide market by exploring generic alternatives to costly proprietary medications.

Various govt. policies

  • FDI relaxation: The government has allowed 100% FDI in Greenfield pharmaceutical projects and 74% FDI in brownfield pharmaceutical projects.   
  • PM Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana: The government had launched this scheme to supply low-cost pharma drugs to the economically weaker sections.
  • Bulk Drug Parks: In March 2020, the centre approved the establishment of mega ‘Bulk Drug Parks’ to provide common facilities like solvent recovery, effluent treatment, distillation, etc.
  • PLI scheme: The Cabinet also approved the ‘Production Linked Incentive Scheme’ for encouraging domestic manufacturing of drug intermediaries.
  • SPI Scheme: In March 2022, under the Strengthening of Pharmaceutical Industry (SPI) Scheme, a total financial outlay of Rs. 500 crore (US$ 665.5 million) for the period FY 21-22 to FY 25-26 were announced.

Various challenges

  • FDA mandate in US: The US accounts for more than a quarter of Indian pharmaceutical exports. Every medicine sold in the United States is subject to FDA monitoring and site visits by Indian businesses.
  • Hostile competition: There is stiff competition from firms in countries like China, Israel and Japan. Hostile and negative lobbying by the big players who frequently accuse Indian firms of violating patent laws.
  • Over-dependence on China: The industry is highly dependent on China for pharmaceutical raw materials. Indian drug-makers import around 70% of their total Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) / bulk drug requirements from China.
  • Hollowing out: India today is preferred low-cost producer and exporter of simpler off-patent formulations, the road taken is ‘hollowing out’ manufacturing in raw material: API.
  • Plagiarism: Fake versions of high value and/or high volume brands of the pharma companies are adversely affecting their business performance. It can also create a health hazard.
  • Domestic drug price control: The GoI’s Drug Price Control Order put excessive pressure on product pricing, affecting pharmaceutical companies’ profitability. Small businesses face a danger from the new MRP-based excise duty structure.
  • Low spending on R&D: India’s current public expenditure on R&D consistently remains low, at less than 1% of gross domestic product (GDP).  
  • Burden of new diseases: New diseases, curbing costs, medical infrastructure, and foreign regulations are some of the challenges being faced by the pharma industry.
  • Regulatory lacunae: Many states have an inadequate number of drug inspectors – sometimes even as high as 53% vacancies like in Karnataka. The CDSCO itself suffers from insufficient personnel with 22% vacancies.

Major contribution of Pharma Sector: Medical Diplomacy

  • Medical diplomacy is the state’s use of essential medicines’ trade and medical personnel’s dispatch to affected countries to improve its international relations.
  • India’s vaccine diplomacy during the pandemic also reaped huge praises all across the world.
  • India has been supplying essential drugs like hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol to different categories of countries ranging from USA, Russia, France and UK to African and Latin American countries like Zambia, Uganda, Niger, Kenya, Colombia and Uruguay.
  • In the neighbourhood, the drugs are being supplied to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
  • While some of these countries received the drugs on a commercial basis, others received it as grants from India.

Way forward

  • Harnessing global value-chain: Besides the volume share, India now needs to capture value share as well.  
  • R&D boost: India will need to make exponential investments in R&D, manufacturing and digital transformations to become a global pharmaceutical innovation hub.
  • Incentivization: The government needs to urgently explore mechanisms to incentivize investment in R&D and evaluate various funding mechanisms that can help co-research.
  • Focus on API: This is also an opportunity to bring a much larger proportion of manufacturing of APIs back into India, so that the country is not dependent on imports of critical inputs.
  • Rational drug pricing: India needs to rationalize drug price control. Pharma companies must not be loaded with the cost public health.
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[Sansad TV] Perspective: Right to Repair

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Context

  • Apple recently announced that consumers will have the right to purchase spare components of their products.
  • Google also announced plans to expand access to the parts and tools that consumers need to fix their own devices.
  • These announcements by big-tech companies follow widespread calls for Right To Repair reforms.

In this article, we will analyze what is the Right to Repair, how it helps consumers like you and me and how will these reforms help in protecting the environment.

Right to Repair Movement: A Backgrounder

What is Right to Repair?

  • It refers to proposed government legislation that would allow consumers the ability to repair and modify their own consumer products (e.g. electronic, automotive devices).
  • The idea behind “right to repair” is in the name: If you own something, you should be able to repair it yourself or take it to a technician of your choice.
  • People are pretty used to this concept when it comes to older cars and appliances, but right-to-repair advocates argue that modern tech, especially anything with a computer chip inside, is rarely repairable.

The Right to Repair movement aims for:

  1. Easy repair: The device should be constructed and designed in a manner that allows easy repairs
  2. Access to critical components: End users and independent repair providers should be able to access original spare parts and tools (software as well as physical tools) needed to repair the device at fair market conditions
  3. No technical barriers: Repairs should by design be possible and not hindered by software programming
  4. Proper communication: The repairability of a device should be clearly communicated by the manufacturer.

How did it came to existence?

  • The average consumer purchases an electronic gadget, knowing that it will very quickly become obsolete as its manufacturer releases newer and more amped up version.
  • As your device grows older, issues start to crop up — your smartphone may slow down to a point where it is almost unusable, or your gaming console may require one too many hard resets.
  • When this happens, more often than not, you are left at the mercy of manufacturers who make repairs inaccessible and an inordinately expensive affair.

Why is such right significant?

  • Lifespan enhancement: The goal of the movement is to increase the lifespan of products and to keep them from ending up in landfills.
  • Against planned obsolescence: The electronic manufacturers are encouraging such culture so that devices are designed specifically to last a limited amount of time and to be replaced.
  • Scarcity of natural resources: Obsolescence leads to immense pressure on the environment and wasted natural resources.
  • Mitigating climate change: Manufacturing an electronic device is a highly polluting process. It makes use of polluting sources of energy, such as fossil fuel.
  • Boost to repair economy: Right to repair advocates also argue that this will help boost business for small repair shops, which are an important part of local economies.

Issues with obsolete devices

  • Unfair trade practice:  For manufacturers, either of these options is a win-win case, because high-priced repairs, as well as new sales, mean more profits.
  • High cost to consumers: This often led to higher consumer costs or drive consumers to replace devices instead of repairing them.
  • Generation of E-waste: The global community is concerned over the continuously growing size of the e-waste stream.
  • Recyclability: Up to 95% of raw materials used to produce electronic devices can be recycled, while the vast majority of newly produced devices use little to none recycled material due to the higher cost.

Why do electronic manufacturers oppose this movement?

Large tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla, have been lobbying against the right to repair.

  • IPR violations through reverse engineering: Their argument is that opening up their intellectual property to third party repair services.
  • Threats to device safety: Amateur repairers could lead to exploitation and impact the safety and security of their devices.
  • Personal data security: Tesla, for instance, has fought against right to repair advocacy, stating that such initiatives threaten data security and cyber security.
  • Sheer casualization: Tech giant has allowed repairs of its devices only by authorised technicians and not providing spare parts or DIY manuals on how to fix its products.

Successful implementation of the Right to Repair

(I) United States

  • In his executive order to promote economic competition, President Biden called to force tech companies to allow consumers to fix their own electronic devices — either themselves or using a technician of their choice.
  • He specifically called out cell phone and tractor manufacturers in the White House’s fact sheet.
  • With this, some believe manufacturers of electronic devices may even start making their products more durable and long lasting.

(II) Europe

  • Earlier this month, the UK government introduced right-to-repair rules with the aim of extending the lifespan of products by up to 10 years.
  • Manufacturers of products like washing machines, TVs and refrigerators are required to make spare parts available to people purchasing electrical appliances.
  • The new legislation gives manufacturers a two-year window to make the necessary changes to abide by the new legislation.

Right to Repair in India

The ‘right to repair’ is not recognised as a statutory right in India, but certain pronouncements within the antitrust landscape have tacitly recognized the right.

  • Necessary consumer right: Monopoly on repair processes infringes the customer’s’ “right to choose” recognised by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • Acknowledgement by agencies: Consumer disputes jurisprudence in the country has also partially acknowledged the right to repair.
  • Upholding Competition: In Shamsher Kataria v Honda Siel Cars India Ltd (2017), for instance, the Competition Commission of India ruled that restricting the access of independent automobile repair units to spare parts as anti-competitive.
  • Part of consumer welfare: The CCI observed that the practice was detrimental to consumer welfare.
  • Laws for recycle: The e-waste (management and handling) rules addresses not only to handle the waste in an environmentally friendly manner, but also has laid down rules about its transportation, storage and recycling.

These regulations have had little impact and a strict law is needed for proper implementation.

Way forward

  • If people want to fix things in a timely, safe and cost-effective way, whether by doing it themselves or taking it to a service centre of their choice, providing access to spare parts and information is imperative.
  • Well-drafted legislation will not only uphold the right to repair but may aid in striking a much-needed balance between intellectual property and competition laws in the country.

Conclusion

  • The Right to Repair is necessarily a battle between the customer and the manufacturer. The right to repair can apply to any industry.
  • It’s a win-win situation for consumers if the proposed laws help in ending monopoly and make the repair information available in the public domain.

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[Sansad TV] Perspective: Semiconductor Industry & India

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Context

  • Semiconductors are essential to almost all sectors of the economy including aerospace, automobiles, communications, clean energy, information technology and medical devices etc.
  • Demand for these critical components has outstripped supply, creating a global chip shortage and resulting in lost growth and jobs in the economy.
  • The shortage has exposed vulnerabilities in the semiconductor supply chain and highlighted the need for increasing domestic manufacturing capacity.

India is now aiming to become the global hub for Semiconductor Design, Manufacturing and Technology Development. In this article, we shall study all aspects of the issue and roadmap for India’s ambitious target.

What are Semiconductors?

  • A semiconductor sits between a conductor and an insulator and is commonly used in the development of electronic chips, computing components, and devices.
  • It’s generally created using silicon, germanium, or other pure elements.
  • Semiconductors are created by adding impurities to the element.

Why are they important?

  • Semiconductors such as memory, processors chips are a backbone and a prerequisite for any endeavours in emerging technologies.
  • From Artificial intelligence (AI) reliant smartphones to the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, or the automotive sector- nothing has been left untouched by the semiconductors.
  • Semiconductors or the chip is used to power technologies that enrich the lives of consumers and make businesses run smarter, faster, and more efficiently.
  • India’s own consumption of semiconductors is expected to cross $80 billion by 2026 and $110 billion by 2030.

Various chips and their uses

  • Memory Chips: From the perspective of functionality, semiconductor memory chips store data and programs on computers and data storage devices. Ex. RAM, ROM
  • Microprocessors: They contain one or more central processing units (CPUs). Computer servers, personal computers (PCs), tablets, and smartphones may each have multiple CPUs.
  • Graphic Processing Units (GPUs): It is capable of rendering graphics for display on an electronic device.
  • Integrated circuits (ICs): An IC is a small chip of a semiconductor material that mounts an entire circuit on itself. It is very small when compared to the standard circuits, which are made of independent circuit components.

Global semiconductors manufacturing: Understanding the value chain

  • The semiconductor industry is not evenly distributed and is dominated by a few countries, mainly U.S., Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, China, and Europe.
  • There is no single region with the entire production stack in its territory.
  • Companies across the semiconductor value chain operate in different processes and technologies (like design, fabrication, and assembly) in pursuit of economic efficiency.
  • However, no region has achieved strategic autonomy in the industry. The US companies rely on foundries in Taiwan to manufacture the chips.
  • Thus, the technological complexity and need for scale have led to the emergence of a large number of players with business models focused on a specific layer of the semiconductor value chain

Disruptions in the semiconductor market

Semiconductor manufacturing is a complex global intertwined ecosystem, which has led to a supply chain that is vulnerable to macroeconomics, geopolitics and natural disasters.

  • Demand hike: During COVID-19, with people stuck at home and with work from home becoming a norm, demand for consumer electronics such as laptops zoomed.
  • Global scramble: As the economies opened up, other industries, where chips are also used commonly, such as automobiles, began to scramble for the same raw material. 
  • Production bottlenecks: As demand soared and the supply of semiconductor chips could not catch up, what was unheard of during the pre-pandemic times – a shortage of consumer durables and vehicles – ensued.
  • Supply-chain constraints: Palladium and neon are two resources that are key to the production of semiconductor chips. Russia supplies over 40 per cent of world’s palladium and Ukraine produces 70 percent of neon.
  • Geopolitical tensions: Taiwan accounts for 92% of advanced semiconductors. The current trade tensions between the US and China has impacted chip production in Taiwan.

Despite the current uncertainty, the semiconductor industry is poised for additional growth, as more and more products and services become increasingly digitized.

Various challenges

  • Huge Investments involved: Semiconductor Fabrication facility requires many expensive devices to function.Complex tools and equipment are required to test quality and move silicon from location to location within the ultra-clean confines of the plant.
  • Economy of scale:   In semiconductor fabrication, a high volume production is required to be maintain so as to meet the increasing demand of the marketplace, at the same time, a strong financial backing as Indian market is very much uncertain about financial fluctuations. 
  • Requirement highly skilled labour:   Semiconductor fabrication is a multiple-step sequence of photolithographic and chemical processing steps during which electronic circuits are gradually created on a wafer made of pure semiconducting material. This actually requires high skills.
  • Scarcity of raw materials: From a value-chain perspective, it needs silicon, Germanium & Gallium arsenide and Silicon carbide which are not available in India and needs to be imported.
  • Uncertain Indian market: A semiconductor fabrication facility in India cannot independently rely on Indian customers for their entire sales structure. They have to maintain overseas customer base to balance inflections from Indian market due to market trends, government policies etc.
  • Disposal of hazardous waste: Many toxic materials are used in the fabrication process such as arsenic, antimony, and phosphorus. Hazardous impact on the environment by the industry may act as an impediment to India’s commitment to mitigate climate change.

Policy initiatives in India

  • Make in India: This aims to transform India into a global hub for Electronic System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM).
  • PLI scheme: In December 2021 the Centre sanctioned ₹76,000 crore under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to encourage the manufacturing of various semiconductor goods within India.
  • DLI scheme: It offers financial incentives, design infrastructure support across various stages of development and deployment of semiconductor design for Integrated Circuits (ICs), Chipsets, System on Chips (SoCs), Systems & IP Cores and semiconductor linked design.
  • Digital RISC-V (DIR-V) program: It intends to enable the production of microprocessors in India in the upcoming days achieving industry-grade silicon and design wins by December 2023. 
  • India Semiconductor Mission (ISM): The vision is to build a vibrant semiconductor and display design and innovation ecosystem to enable India’s emergence as a global hub for electronics manufacturing and design

Way forward

To ensure greater resilience in a volatile world, India needs to undertake following measures to sustain the domestic and global semiconductor demand:

  • Policy framework: As foundry setup is highly Capital intensive, it must be supported with a solid long term plan and financial backing. This backing is required from the entrepreneur & the government both.
  • Fiscal sustenance: In text of Indian Government as tax holiday, subsidy, zero duty, financial investment etc. will play an important role in promoting the Fab along with the semiconductor industry in India; this will put further pressure on already large Fiscal Deficit.
  • Support Infrastructure: World class, sustainable infrastructure, as required by a modern Fab be provided, with swift transportation, large quantity of pure water, uninterrupted electricity, communication, pollutant free environment etc.

Conclusion

Overall, setting up semiconductor production units would be just the beginning.

  • Successfully running them would require good quality public institutions and a stable policy environment.
  • Setting up a thriving ecosystem takes time and by the time the incentives get translated into actual production and revenues, it may be difficult to withdraw the financial support after six years, as currently planned. 
  • In sum, as the policymakers are aware, a holistic approach to the development of the semiconductor industry would be required if we are to become a world-class hub that the latest policy envisages.

The central and state governments’ co-operation on the policy priorities and execution would be central to achieve it. 

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[Yojana Archive] Fintech Beyond Boundaries

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April 2022

Context

FinTech is rapidly changing the face of the banking industry, as several banks are now switching to digitization as well as paperless and cashless processes.

Fintech in India: A backgrounder

  • With the establishment of two institutions in 2009, India’s fintech journey began.
  • The National Payments Corporation of India was the first to take over ATM networks in India in order to modernize retail payments and settlements.
  • The second step was the establishment of India’s Unique Identification Authority.

What are fintechs?

  • Fintech, the word, is a combination of “financial technology”. 
  • Financial technology (Fintech) is used to describe new tech that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. ​​​
  • At its core, fintech is utilized to help companies, business owners and consumers better manage their financial operations, processes, and lives by utilizing specialized software and algorithms.

Key fintech products

  • Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI): DPI refers to digital solutions that enable basic functions such as collaboration, commerce, and governance, which are critical for public and private service delivery.
  • Digital Public Goods (DPGs): DPGs refer to open source software, open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable best practices.  They’re an important tool for constructing infrastructure in ways that avoid some of the drawbacks of proprietary software-based solutions.

Why in news?

  • India is one of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world with more than 2100 fintechs.
  • It has the third largest fintech ecosystem in line after the US and China.
  • As of December 2021, India has over 17 fintech companies which have gained Unicorn status with a valuation of over USD 1 billion.

FinTech industry in India: A closer look

  • Banks have conventionally served as the gateway to payment services in India.
  • However, with the rapid advancement of technology, this no longer appears to be the case, as the monopoly of banks in this area is gradually weakening.
  • In recent years, India’s payments infrastructure has seen substantial improvements, particularly with the introduction of new payment mechanisms and interfaces such as Immediate Payments Service (IMPS), Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), and others.
  • The government’s “Make in India” and “Digital India” projects also played a significant role in accelerating the adoption of Fintech.
  • It is commendable that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also pushed the growing use of electronic payments to establish a truly cashless society in recent years.

Key initiatives: India Stack

  • The India Stack is a set of APIs that allow the government and private sector to deploy cashless and paperless technology.
  • Although the owners of these APIs are responsible for their upkeep, the India Stack encourages developers to use them by hosting events.

Components of the India Stack

  • Unique Identification Number: The UIDAI makes up the India Stack, also known as the Aadhaar Stack. This is the individual’s unique identification number, which is linked to their biometric readings.
  • E-KYC: The e-KYC project allows businesses to obtain instant customer verification.
  • AEPS: AEPS expands financial inclusion by allowing government entitlements and bank-to-bank transfers to be disbursed at retail outlets that can go cashless.
  • UPI: A payment request and a customer can use the Unified Payment Interface to send funds to a beneficiary and collect payment requests from customers.
  • E-Sign: eSign is enabled through an API that facilitates an Aadhaar cardholder to electronically sign documents. This is authenticated through biometric readings and through an OTP.
  • DigiLocker: DigiLocker is used as a Government of India repository for documents.
  • Digital Signature: Digital Signature provides the capability that allows individuals to electronically sign contracts with any entity without a pen or paper.

FSCA – The Governing Body

  • The IFSCA was established under the International Financial Services Centres Authority Act of 2019.
  • In India, the IFSCA is the single body in charge of the creation and regulation of financial goods, financial services, and financial institutions.
  • India’s first international financial services centre is the GIFT IFSC.
  • IFSC serves as a unified authority for the development and regulation of financial products, financial services, and financial institutions.

Data and standards

  • People and small businesses can now retrieve and use their data thanks to digitised infrastructure.
  • To make this open-banking system work, a standard language will be needed, similar to how UPI created a payment protocol.
  • The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is launching an Open Credit Enablement Network (OCEN) to connect lenders and marketplaces.

Challenges to FinTech in India

  • Despite being a vastly diversified and populated country, a huge portion of India remains underbanked, underserved and subject to a constantly changing regulatory environment.
  • And for these very reasons, the nation’s financial landscape and unsolved challenges are no easy hurdles to overcome.
  • This is where Fintech enters the equation, with its ability and power to fundamentally alter and transform India’s financial and banking services sector.

Conclusion

  • FinTech companies’ growing partnerships with traditional banking, insurance, and retail sectors, where they are actively catering to evolving customer needs, will further accelerate FinTech’s expansion in India.
  • All these factors indicate a positive shift towards FinTech and present a huge growth potential for the industry, with the country gearing towards massive adoption.
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[Sansad TV] Perspective: 70 Years of India-Japan Relations

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Context

  • India and Japan are celebrating 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
  • This seven decade long journey has witnessed significant milestones and shared visions for the future.

The recent visit to India by Japanese PM Fumio Kishida for the annual summit laid out a roadmap for deepening the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries in a post-COVID world.

Background of India-Japan Ties

[I] Ancient times

  • The friendship between India and Japan has a long history rooted in spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilization ties dating back to the visit of Indian monk Bodhisena in 752 AD.
  • The people of India and Japan have engaged in cultural exchanges, primarily as a result of Buddhism, which spread indirectly from India to Japan, via China and Korea.

[II] India’s freedom movement

  • Independence movement: The leader of the Indian Independence Movement, Rash Behari Bose was instrumental in forging India–Japan relations during India’s independence movement.
  • During World War II, The British occupiers of India and Japan were enemies during World War II.  Subhas Chandra Bose used Japanese sponsorship to form the Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army (INA).

[III] Present times

  • Pokhran nuclear test: In 1998, Japan imposed sanctions on India following the Pokhran-II, an Indian nuclear weapons test, which included the suspension of all political exchanges and the cutting off of economic assistance. These sanctions were lifted three years later.
  • Both nations share core values of democracy, peace, the rule of law, tolerance, and respect for the environment in realising pluralistic and inclusive growth of the region

Post-cold war relations

  • The end of cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the inauguration of economic reforms in India seemed to mark the beginning of a new era in Indo-Japanese relationship.
  • India’s “Look East Policy” posited Japan as a key partner.
  • Japan being the only victim of nuclear holocaust, Pokhran –II tests of India in May 1998 brought bitterness in the bilateral relations where Japan asked India to sign NNPT.
  • Tokyo’s relation with India showed signs of an upswing when Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori came on an official 5 day visit to India in August 2000.

Recent developments in India-Japan Relationship

 (1) 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

  • The 2+2 ministerial dialogue is seen as an upgrade of the meeting between foreign and defense secretaries of the two countries, the first round of which took place in 2010.
  • The ministerial level meeting was held after a decision to institute a Foreign and Defense Ministerial Dialogue was taken during the 13th India-Japan Annual Summit held in Japan in 2018.
  • 2+2 meeting aimed to give further momentum to their special strategic partnership, particularly in the maritime domain.

(2) Supply Chain Resilience Initiative

  • Recently India, Australia and Japan formally launched the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative. The initiative was launched to counter the dominance of China in the Global Supply Chain.
  • It aims to prevent disruptions in the supply chain as seen during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The initiative will mainly focus on diversification of investment and digital technology adoption.

(3) Other MEA led-bilateral dialogues

  • The Act East Forum, established in 2017, aims to provide a platform for India-Japan collaboration under the rubric of India’s “Act East Policy” and Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision”.
  • At the Second meeting of the Act East forum, both sides agreed to focus on expanding of Japanese language in North East, training of caregivers under Technical Intern Training Program (TITP), capacity building in area of bamboo value chain development and Disaster Management.
  • The inaugural India-Japan Space Dialogue was held in Delhi for enhancing bilateral cooperation in outer space and information exchange on the respective space policies.

(4) Currency Swap Agreement

  • Japan and India have entered into a $75-billion currency swap arrangement that will bolster the country’s firepower as it battles a steep drop in the rupee’s value.
  • A currency swap is an agreement between two parties to exchange a series of cash flows denominated in one currency for those denominated in another for a predetermined period of time.
  • The deal will help the two countries to swap their currencies for U.S. dollars to stabilise the rupee which has witnessed the steepest fall in recent years.

Areas of Cooperation

(1) Economic and Commercial relations

  • India’s bilateral trade with Japan stood at US$ 16.95 billion in FY 2019-20. India’s imports during this period were US$ 12.43 billion and exports were US$ 4.52 billion.
  • From 2000 until September 2020, the Japanese investments in India cumulatively stands at around US$ 34.152 billion (Japan ranks fifth among the largest source of investment).
  • The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail, Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) with twelve industrial townships, Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) are some mega project with Japanese cooperation on the anvil.

(2) Security and Defence

  • QUAD: Formed in 2007 and revived in 2017 The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD, also known as the Quad) is an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
  • Exercise Malabar: The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar.
  • In spite of the pandemic, complex exercises in all domains were conducted including Japan India maritime exercise (JIMEX 2020) and PASSEX, showcasing the trust and interoperability between the navies.

(3) Strategic

  • 2+2 dialogue: It is taking place between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries to deepen the global partnership.
  • Collaboration with the US: It is also agreed to establish the India–Japan–United States trilateral dialogue on regional and global issues of shared interest.
  • Global institutional reforms: Both countries also reiterated their determination to work together under the UNFCCC, WTO, etc. They are working together to realize the reform of UNSC Security Council at the earliest.
  • Indo-Pacific: There is a beginning of India-Japan-Australia trilateral dialogue to evolve an open, inclusive, stable and transparent economic, political and security architecture in the indo-pacific region.

(4) Others

  • Disaster management: An Agreement on joint research in the field of Earthquake Disaster Prevention was signed between Fujita Corporation and Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT-R).
  • Skilling and HRD: India-Japan MoC signed in 2016 to train 30,000 shop floor leaders over 10 years thereby also contributing to India’s flagship initiatives such as “Skill India” and “Make in India”.
  • Health-care: In view of the similarities and synergies between the goals and objectives of India’s AYUSHMAN Bharat Programme and Japan’s AHWIN, both sides consulted with each other to identify projects to build the narrative of AHWIN for AYUSHMAN Bharat.
  • Nuclear Energy: In 2015, India and Japan reached on substantive Agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. India becomes the first non NPT signed country to do so.

What lies at the fulcrum of ties?

  • Japan is the most mature economy: In terms of maturity, sophistication, and experience in international economic engagements, Japan excels every other country of the Indo-Pacific region, excluding the US.
  • Technological development: Its technological marvels, business strategies, and management skills are second to none.
  • Political neutrality: Japan rarely hits the international headlines and it is actually Japan’s feebleness in the world of political advertisements.
  • Key player in Indo-Pacific: Japan sooner than later will be a leading player in the political economy as well as security fields of the Indo-Pacific region.

Why Japan needs India?

  • Worrisome ageing population: Its aging population is a major concern and Japan very well acknowledges this fact. While increasing the domestic birth rate will always be important, it is a position to devise a new immigration policy that would largely benefit Indians.
  • Japan has never been an adversary of India: The current global as well as regional distribution of power and strategic scenario necessitate a deeper and expansive Indo-Japan strategic teamwork.
  • India as a net security provider: The US and Japan need India as a stabilising force. India has the potential as a security provider in Southeast Asia for geo-strategic reasons.
  • India’s naval assets: India possesses enough naval capability to be projected as a strong naval power in the future.  
  • Filling strategic vacuum: India can only fill the power vacuum created due to the declining US power. Japan and ASEAN alone do not have enough power to fill the power vacuum.

Why India needs Japan?

For India, developing a strategic relationship with other Asia-Pacific powers such as Japan might appear to be a no-brainer.

  • US needs Japan – India cooperation: The US needs an “ally” to maintain military balance in Asia because their naval power is declining and China’s naval power is rising.
  • Countering China: China has been expanding and intensifying its activities in its surrounding waters. This has caused a worry in Japan.
  • Uniting the IndoPacific: The Indo-pacific is not an integrated region. Most countries have been expanding while others are falling prey to China.
  • Infrastructure development: Japan has the distinction of being the only foreign power that has been allowed to undertake infrastructure and other projects in India’s sensitive northeast.

Limitations to bilateral ties

  • Geographical limitations: The two countries are too far apart to be meaningful partners in any confrontation between one of them and China.
  • China is too big to defeat: No partnership have the military muscle or diplomatic heft to achieve its objectives in countering China.
  • Lesser say at UNSC: At the diplomatic level, neither pulls the kind of power that can counter Beijing and this is not just because they are not UNSC members, unlike China.
  • Japan lacks military technology: Japan obviously has a very advanced high-technology industrial sector, its military industry is insignificant. It’s better not to invoke the DRDO.

Way forward

  • People to people contact: Although the Covid-19 situation remains challenging, people-to-people exchanges between two countries are also being advanced.
  • Cooperation in security: Cooperation has also taken great strides in the area of security, including joint exercises between the Japan Self-Defence Forces and the Indian Armed Forces.
  • Reaping the benefits of natural alliance: Taking advantage of its considerable assets — the world’s third-largest economy, substantial high-tech skills, Japan is largely perceived as a natural ally to India.
  • Looking East: If Japan and India continue to add concrete security content to their relationship, their strategic partnership could potentially be a game-changer in Asia.
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[Sansad TV] Mudda Aapka: Sports as a Fundamental Right

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Context

  • The Supreme Court has sought the opinion of the Centre and state governments on a suggestion that physical literacy or sports be recognised as a fundamental right.
  • It goes on to say that all education boards be asked to ensure at least 90 minutes of every school day to be dedicated to “free play and games”.

Sports as a FR: A Backgrounder

  • India is a vibrant country that has always carried a fevered pitch and fervent excitement for sports.
  • The Supreme Court decision in the Bombay Dyeing case (2006) is emblematic of our vision for sport.
  • The Court, in August 2018, had asked for responses of the Centre and state governments in a public interest litigation filed by Kanishka Pandey, a sports researcher.
  • Subsequently, the court had appointed Sankarnarayanan as an amicus in April 2019 to assist it and suggest measures to deal with the issue.

Key recommendations in recent plea

  • Sports as FR under Article 21A: As part of a plea before the Supreme Court seeking to declare playing sports as a fundamental right, a report has been submitted by amicus curiae. It suggested that the broad term “physical literacy” be adopted instead of sports.
  • 90 minutes of physical activity: Also, all education boards must be asked to ensure at least 90 minutes of every school day be dedicated to “free play and games”.
  • Sports be transferred to concurrent list: The petition also seeks to transfer sports to the concurrent list and to form an independent Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth Empowerment at union and state levels.
  • Sports as a part of education policy: The plea also asks for directions to governments to amend education policies to promote sports and make facilities available to enhance the opportunities to play sports.
  • National Physical Literacy Mission: The report makes a number of suggestions in this regard – from asking the government to establish a National Physical Literacy Mission.

Another striking feature: National Physical Literacy Mission

  • The report also proposed for all registered and unregistered private and public education institutions to have, publish and disseminate to all parents/guardians a Physical Literacy Policy.
  • The Policy would acknowledge the institution’s legal commitment to integrate physical literacy in all aspects of its curriculum.
  • This is to ensure that physical literacy is a part of the overall curriculum and syllabus for national and state school boards, in particular the National Curricular Framework for School Education 2020-21.

Why must we consider the fundamental right to physical literacy?

  • Physical activity is fundamental to human beings:  The report states that having a fundamental right to literacy would mean identifying the intrinsic value of physical activity to human living.
  • Part of elementary education: It would mean not seeing physical activity as an end in itself, and the establishment of physical activity/ physical education as a core component of the education curriculum.
  • Supportive to other FRs: A fundamental right to physical literacy would actualise and enhance the enjoyment of other fundamental rights. It would go a long way in enhancing the opportunities and freedom to express oneself.
  • Enhancing life quality: A physically literate individual would have a more fulfilling life of higher quality than one who is not.  Physical literacy, as a building block, would go a long way in the promotion and realisation of the right to health and the right to education.
  • Religion as a barriers: Some sports like swimming and athletics require attire that does not fully cover a woman’s body and are against the laws of some religions. They are often debated in light of modesty of the sportspersons beings violated.
  • Associated social reforms: Many women perceive sports as an opportunity to escape the confines of a highly regulated life. They use it as a tool to show their potential and tackle the patriarchal mindset. Further success of sportspersons like Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, etc. have played a pivotal role in curbing the problems of child marriage and son meta preference.

Why need such a policy?

  • Poor performance in competitions: India has the worst population to medals ratio at the Olympics. We find our medal tally at the Olympics to be hopelessly out of sync with our 1.3 billion population.
  • Regressive attitude towards sports: Our attitude towards sport and physical well-being is another debilitating factor. Traditionally, India has not been a sports nation where many deserving candidates are discouraged right at the starting level.
  • Economic divide: It hard reality which we consistently refuse to acknowledge. Athletes are not generated from the comfortable classes, they invariably come often from the middle and lower economic strata.
  • Incentivization: There is more focus on post-success incentivization rather than pre-success support in India. For instance, the Haryana Government announced a 6 crore reward after Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal in Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Significance of physical education and sports

  • Physical development: Fitness, Health
  • Mental development: It improves decision making and collective action. It also acts as stress buster.
  • Character/ personality development: It instils confidence, team spirit, team coordination, group work)

Benefits of augmenting sports career

  • Alternative career development: For those for whom opportunities are few, and jobs are scarce, sport becomes a powerful mobility device. A strong sports sector encourages an average/ poor academic student to make a career in sports.   
  • Reaping demographic dividend: India is having a very young population and is soon going to become the world’s youngest country. In such a scenario, a robust sports sector can help in reaping the potential demographic dividend. 
  • Revenue generation: Developing robust sports infrastructure in the country will allow India to host a greater number of international events. Such hosting boosts tourism in the country and results in enhancing the revenue and employment in the region. Ex. IPL
  • Promotes the spirit of Unity in Diversity: People cheer for the Indian athletes and Indian teams at international events. An improvement in sports automatically fosters the spirit of brotherhood amongst the people of diverse nations. For instance, the Pan India support enjoyed by Indian cricket team enhances belongingness between India’s north and south. 

Reasons for India’s poor performance

India’s below-par performance in sports can be attributed to the combination of all the factors discussed below:

  • Lack of facilities: We have thousands of education centres all over the country, but there are very few schools and colleges which have adequate facilities for any sport.
  • Regional discrepancies: The spending of money is concentrated in major cities where facilities do exist, but the broad-based structure to tap and develop talent is missing. The facilities wherever they are created are confined to a few popular games like cricket, hockey, football, tennis, etc.
  • Burden of ill-health: Mother and child health is an all-time contested issue in India. This may well be attributed to weather conditions, poor economic condition generally-due to which nutrition is not available to most of our children.
  • Narrow perception: The parents are keen that their kids should do well studies to get a degree and ultimately fetch a good job. Playing for long hours regularly is considered a waste of time.
  • Lesser academia for physical education: There are few Sports Colleges which are genuinely making efforts to produce national-level sportsmen, but their number is so small that no perceptible impact is seen due to their existence.
  • Lack of training: Another reason for our poor performance in sports is the lack of required number of trainers, coaches and psychotherapists. There is also a dearth of quality coaching or the qualified coaches.
  • Non-interest: The west often accuse that Indians lack the killer’s instinct. The zest and enthusiasm necessary to win over the opponent is naturally absent in the Indian psyche.
  • Obsession for few sports: There is no doubt that cricket and hockey plays a major unifying role in India. However, other sports and sportsperson are often discouraged due to such obsessions.
  • Performance anxiety: A high degree of pressure is inflicted upon a sportsperson to perform or else be prepared to live a vulnerable life. This sometimes creates excessive mental stress in them or induces them to resort to unethical means like doping.

Various initiatives for sports promotion

The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports has formulated the following schemes to promote sports in the country, including in rural, tribal and backward areas:

  1. Khelo India Scheme
  2. Assistance to National Sports Federations
  3. Special Awards to Winners in International sports events and their Coaches
  4. National Sports Awards, Pension to Meritorious Sports Persons
  5. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay National Sports Welfare Fund
  6. National Sports Development Fund; and
  7. Running Sports Training Centres through Sports Authority of India

Way forward

  • Sports is a state subject and therefore uniformity in sports specific activities of various states in India is extremely important for providing equal sporting opportunities to all the citizens of the country.
  • We have to take collective action to create a system and a proper environment whereby the young talent is spotted and developed in right earnest.
  • Integration of sports with education to introduce sports culture in India is the need of the hour.
  • The allocation of funds to sport, as a percentage of budget, can be increased for broad-basing sports in this country.
  • There is also a need to develop a culture in whole country by spreading awareness in society by telling benefit of sports in life.
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Yojana/Sansad TV

[Sansad TV] Perspective: Dollar Dominance: Under threat?

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Context

As per IMF’s first deputy managing director Gita Gopinath, financial sanctions imposed on Russia threaten to gradually dilute the dominance of the U.S. dollar and could result in a more fragmented international monetary system.

To understand more on this and related risks to the dominance of the dollar in view of the prevailing global situation and what it means for the international financial market.

Russia- Ukraine War and USD

  • The Russia-Ukraine conflict conveys no signal of coming to an end or any tendency towards a peaceful settlement.
  • This has disrupted the global supply chain and has caused a major blow to the global economy.
  • The World Bank has reduced its annual global growth forecast for 2022 by nearly a full percentage point, from 4.1% down to 3.2%.
  • The financial sanctions imposed on Russia by the major Western powers have prompted changes in the international financial order driven by USD.
  • The United States has to some extent weaponized the dollar against Russia.
  • Countries are concerned that the money it holds in dollars would be worthless if dollar inflation set in.

How US Dollar became the global currency?

  • The U.S. dollar has been the world’s dominant currency since the end of World War II.
  • Roughly half of international trade, international loans, and global debt securities are denominated in USD.
  • The USD became the official reserve currency of the world in 1944. The decision was made by a delegation from 44 Allied countries called the Bretton Woods Agreement.
  • Despite the challenges faced by the US economy due to fiscal and external deficits of the 1980s, the dollar’s share of global reserves remained steady and reserves even grew as time progressed.
  • The dominance of the dollar is backed by strong and highly credible institutions, deep markets and the fact that it is freely convertible.
  • Almost 40% of the world’s debt is issued in dollars. As a result, foreign banks need a lot of dollars to conduct business. This became evident during the 2008 financial crisis.

Implications of USD led inflation

  • The dollar’s role as the world’s “reserve currency” is a cornerstone of the global economy and global finance as well as geopolitics.
  • Most of the transactions are dollar-dominated, currency depreciation is rather unlikely to increase exports.
  • A depreciation in the currency relative to the dollar leads to an increase in the price of imported goods which means high pressures on inflation.

Challenges to USD

  • In the 1990s the dollar’s role started diminishing and the US became a net debtor to the world.
  • With the emerging global value chains, China’s integration into the world economy has been an impediment to the economic growth of the US.
  • A considerable decline in the dollar’s share can be attributed to the greater use of the Chinese renminbi.
  • It was notified by the IMF official that the dollar’s share of international reserves had fallen from 70% to 60% over a period of time with the growing trading currencies led by the Australian dollar.

Calls for a one world currency

  • In March 2009, China and Russia called for a new global currency.
  • China is a huge player in world trade, which you might think would make people want to hold a lot of yuan assets.
  • They wanted the world to create a reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run.
  • They thus want to remove the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.
  • In the fourth quarter of 2016, the Chinese renminbi became another one of the world’s reserve currencies.
  • China wants its currency to be fully traded on the global foreign exchange markets. It would like the Yuan to replace the dollar as the global currency.

What lies ahead?

  • For many years, undermining the dollar’s dominance has been the dream of governments that have looked uneasily at US global primacy, and formed coalitions.
  • Some experts also advocate that either China’s or Russia’s threat to the dollar hegemony will remain a fantasy.
  • It is predicted that the sanctions against Russia will not foreshadow the decline of the dollar as the reserve currency.
  • The Russia-Ukraine Conflict will definitely slow down the global economy but will not cause a global recession.