June 2018
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[op-ed snap] China’s growing role in Asian trade and its impact

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy & their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Trade Organization, Trade in Value-added (TiVA) database, Onshoring, Backward & forward participation

Mains level: China’s increasing participation in global trade and its implications on India as well as Asia


Context

Ongoing trade dispute between the US and China

  1. The ongoing trade dispute between the US and China is of particular concern for emerging Asian economies
  2. These economies have prospered by being active participants in regional and global value chains (GVCs)

Dependence of Asia on triad & China’s role

  1. Trade in Asia over the past 30 years has been shaped by GVCs
  2. Asia’s dependence on the triad (the US, Europe and Japan) as sources of technology, management and organization expertise—which are embodied in multinationals from these countries—as well as final export markets remains critical
  3. China has become a key assembling hub in many Asian supply chains and has played a major role in ensuring that manufactured exports from Asia have remained cost-competitive globally
  4. China has emerged as an export powerhouse and a key player in both intra-regional and extra-regional trade

China’s impact on Asian trade

  1. China has assumed an increasingly prominent role in the intra-regional trade landscape, especially after it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001
  2. China’s trade performance has had a major impact on Asia’s intra-regional trade as a whole
  3. The recent trade slowdown in Asia has been driven in part by the stagnation and contraction of rest of Asia (ROA)’s exports to China between 2012 and 2016

Backward & forward participation

  1. Backward participation is measured by the share of foreign value-added content in total gross exports
  2. East and South-East Asian economies averaged almost 30% based on the WTO’s Trade in Value-added (TiVA) database in terms of backward participation
  3. Forward participation captures the domestic value-added content embodied in the exports of other economies

Rising prospects of China

  1. With a rapid growth in per capita domestic incomes, the country is emerging as an important destination for final exports
  2. It is experiencing a transition from investment to consumption and manufacturing to services
  3. Progress in China’s technological sophistication has enabled the economy to utilize an increasing share of domestic capital and intermediate goods in export production (onshoring)

Implications for India

  1. India has not been able to fit prominently into the Asian GVCs
  2. The initial expectation was that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would be the catalyst for this to happen
  3. But it is believed that such trade agreements have been the cause of and may be part of the reason of the limited success of the much-touted “Make in India” scheme
  4. India’s anemic manufacturing performance and the inability of India to plug effectively into regional global supply chains can be attributed to the sustained supply-side distortions and rigidities as well as relatively high trade costs in India

Way forward

  1. The fourth industrial revolution appears to be disrupting and shortening GVCs
  2. India should focus on leapfrogging and getting prepared for this Industry 4.0
Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

[op-ed snap] The missing tiers

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | devolution of powers & finances up to local levels & challenges therein

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 73rd and the 74th Constitutional Amendments, Smart Cities mission, parastatal agencies

Mains level: Conflicts amongst various levels of government and its impact on governance


Context

Status of urban local government

  1. Twenty-five years ago, the Constitution underwent what is arguably its most significant transformation with the passage of the 73rd (mandating the creation of panchayats) and the 74th (creation of municipalities) Constitutional Amendments
  2. As the Central Government’s Smart Cities mission completes three years this month, it’s the right time to examine India’s tryst with municipal governance

Concerns in the constitutional design of urban local governments 

The disempowerment and depoliticisation has happened in multiple ways

  1. First, elected representatives at the city-level are rendered powerless by making them subservient to the State government
  2. In most municipal corporations, while the mayor is the ceremonial head, the executive powers of the corporation are vested with the State government-appointed commissioner
  3. Municipal corporations are further denied their political role by the continued operation of various parastatal agencies created by the State government
  4. These agencies, which function with a certain autonomy, are accountable only to the State government, not the local government
  5. Even urban planning and land-use regulation (globally a quintessential local government function) is with State government-controlled development authorities

Inherent limitations in 74th amendment

  1. Many of its key provisions are not mandatory for the State government
  2. The functions listed under the 12th Schedule — which a State government is expected to devolve to the local government — do not include essential civic issues such as urban transportation, housing or urban commons
  3. The 74th Amendment also contains an industrial township exception whereby a municipality need not be constituted in areas which are declared as industrial townships

Ward committees not a solution

  1. Civic activism has often been focussed on the creation of two bodies mandated by the 74th Amendment — ward committees and metropolitan planning committees
  2. Civil society’s fixation with nominating its members into ward committees can further depoliticise local governments and make them captive to the interests of certain elite resident welfare associations

Way forward

  1. Indian cities have grown exponentially over the last 25 years, with some crossing the 10 million population mark
  2. As cities struggle to meet the basic needs of their inhabitants, we must re-examine the existing modes of organising power in urban India
  3. While urban governance reforms can take multiple shapes, they must be foregrounded in the political empowerment of local government that furthers local democratic accountability
Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

New norms for college teachers

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: University Grants Commission, Swayam

Mains level: Higher education governance in India and reforms required


News

Change in UGC regulations

  1. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has brought out a new set of regulations to alter the conditions for recruitment and promotion of college and university teachers
  2. This is done to make universities more focussed on research and colleges on the teaching-learning process

New norms

  1. Research will no longer be mandatory for college teachers for promotion
  2. College teachers will be graded on teaching rather than research
  3. They can earn grades for other activities too — like social work, helping in adoption of a village, helping students in extra-curricular activities, contributing teaching material to Swayam, the MOOCS platform for online material
  4. The regulations also make teaching hours flexible
  5. Indians who had been awarded a doctoral degree from any of the top 500 global universities would be eligible to teach in Indian universities without the requirement of any equivalence certificate or NET as soon as the regulations are notified

Back2Basics

University Grants Commission (UGC)

  1. The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development
  2. It is charged with coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of higher education
  3. It provides recognition to universities in India and disburses funds to such recognized universities and colleges
  4. UGC, along with CSIR currently conducts NET for appointments of teachers in colleges and universities
  5. It has made NET qualification mandatory for teaching at Graduation level and at Post Graduation level since July 2009
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Sulabh founder bags Nikkei Asia Prize

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community,

Mains level: Contribution of various individuals and NGOs in ensuring better sanitation facilities in urban as well as rural areas


News

Award for tackling poor hygiene and discrimination

  1. Noted social reformer and founder of Sulabh International Bindeshwar Pathak was honored with Japan’s prestigious ‘Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community’
  2. The award was given to him for his significant work in tackling poor hygiene and discrimination
  3. Mr. Pathak’s two-pit pour-flush ecological compost toilets have provided cheap and environment-friendly toilets to millions

Back2Basics

Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community

  1. The Nikkei Asia Prize is an award which recognizes the achievements of people and organizations that have improved the lives of people throughout Asia
  2. The awards were created and presented by Nikkei Inc, one of the largest media corporations in Japan
  3. Launched in 1996, the program honors people in Asia who have made significant contributions in one of the three areas: regional growth; science, technology and innovation; and culture
  4. Former PM Manmohan Singh and Infosys Chairman Narayan Murti are among the few Indians who have won the prize in the past
Swachh Bharat Mission

[pib] Cabinet approves proposal for enactment of Dam Safety Bill, 2018

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the draft Bill

Mains level:  The newscard talks about addressing the issue of Dam safety and unresolved points of issues between the states which share dam territory.


Context

  1. There are over 5200 large dams in India and about 450 are under construction. Plus there are thousands of medium and small dams.
  2. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern
  3. Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.
  4. The draft bill seeks to address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals.

Benefits

  1. It will help all the States and UTs to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams.
  2. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.
  3. A case in point is the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala, which is a perennial flashpoint between the State and neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
  4. The Chennai floods of 2015 due to unusually heavy rain were thought to have been compounded by an unprecedented release of water from the Chembarambakkam dam into the Adyar.

Key Propositions

  1. The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
  2. This provides for the establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
  3. The Bill also provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.

 National Dam Safety Authority

  • It shall maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSO) and the owners of dams for standardization of dam safety-related data and practices;
  • It shall provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and SDSO
  • It shall maintain a national level database of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures;
  • It shall examine the cause of any major dam failure;
  • It shall accord recognition or accreditations to the organizations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams;
  • It will also look into unresolved points of issue between two states

State Committee on Dam Safety

  1. It will ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in that State and ensure their safe functioning.
  2. It further provides that every State shall establish a “State Dam Safety Organisation“, which will be manned by officers from the field dam safety preferably from the areas of dam-designs, hydro-mechanical engineering, hydrology, geotechnical investigation, instrumentation and dam-rehabilitation.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] Cabinet approves Repositioning of North Eastern Council

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NEC

Mains level: Development of North Eastern Region


News

  1. The Union Cabinet chaired by the PM has approved the proposal of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).
  2. It held the nomination of Union Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman of North Eastern Council (NEC) – a statutory body with Governors and Chief Ministers of all the eight North Eastern States as its Member.
  3. The Cabinet also approved that Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of DoNER would serve as Vice Chairman of the Council.

Impact of  this Restructuring

  1. NEC implements various projects through the State and Central agencies.
  2. This change would provide a forum for discussing inter-state matters more comprehensively and also consider common approaches to be taken in future.
  3. NEC can now also perform the tasks undertaken by the various Zonal Councils to discuss such inter-State issues as drug trafficking, smuggling of arms and ammunition, boundary disputes etc.

Back2Basics

North Eastern Council

  1. North Eastern Council (NEC) was constituted as a statutory advisory body under the NEC Act 1971 and came into being on the 7th November 1972 at Shillong.
  2. NEC was established under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971 as an apex level body for securing balanced and coordinated development and facilitating coordination with the States.
  3. Sikkim was added to the council in the year 2002
  4. Subsequent to the Amendment of 2002, NEC has been mandated to function as a regional planning body for the North Eastern
  5. While formulating a regional plan for this area, shall give priority to the schemes and projects benefiting two or more states.
  6. In case of Sikkim, the Council shall formulate specific projects and schemes for that
North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[pib] Cashless Ticketing through ‘UTSonMobile’ App developed by CRIS

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Features of the App

Mains level: Measure towards cashless and paper-less ticketing


News

A wallet for daily commuters

  1. Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) has developed a mobile application for Unreserved Ticketing.
  2. This app will help daily commuters by reducing time spent in queues.

Features of “UTS on Mobile App”

  1. The ‘utsonmobile’ application enables booking and cancellation of unreserved tickets, issue and renewal of season and platform tickets, check and load R-wallet balance and helps maintain user profile management and booking history.
  2. The app is very handy, free and is available for both Android and Windows smart phone. Users can download this app from Google Play Store or Windows store free of cost.
  3. Upon successful registration, Railway Wallet (R-Wallet) will be created automatically with zero balance to the passenger. There will be no extra cost for creating R-Wallet.
  4. The R-Wallet can be recharged either at any of the UTS counter or through recharge option available in the website.
  5. No advance ticket booking is allowed. (i.e.) the journey date will always be current date.
Cashless Society – Digital Payments, Demonetization, etc.

[pib] NITI Aayog to launch Composite Water Management Index

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Components of Composite Water Management Index

Mains level: Need for sustainable use of water


Composite Water Management Index

  1. NITI Aayog has come up with the Composite Water Management Index as a useful tool to assess and improve the performance in efficient management of water resources.
  2. This index is an attempt to inspire States and UTs towards efficient and optimal utilization of water, and recycling thereof with a sense of urgency.
  3. The index would provide useful information for the States and also for the concerned Central Ministries/Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.

Sectors Prioritized for Water Management Index

  • Restoration of Water Bodies– Source Augmentation
  • Groundwater– Source Augmentation
  • Major and Medium Irrigation – Supply Side Management
  • Watershed Development – Supply Side Management
  • Participatory Irrigation Practices – Demand Side Management
  • Sustainable on-farm Water Use Practices – Demand Side Management
  • Rural Drinking Water
  • Urban Water Supply and Sanitation
  • Policy and Governance

Managing Water Resources

  1. In view of limitations on availability of water resources and rising demand for water, sustainable management of water resources has acquired critical importance.
  2. The index can be utilized to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.