Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy & their effects on industrial growth
From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: E-commerce sector regulation in India
New guidelines for e-commerce
Tighter rules governing e-commerce platforms were notified by the government
They are designed to level the playing field for all vendors in an online marketplace
These impose restrictions on related-party transactions, preferential treatment to suppliers, and inventory dumping
All of these were market imperfections that had crept in since the government had announced the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy for the sector in 2016, during which US retail giants Amazon and Walmart came to occupy a commanding position in India’s $41-billion e-commerce industry
Reasons behind new rules
In March 2016, foreign investment up to 100% was allowed under the automatic route for e-com firms engaged in business-to-business transactions using the marketplace model — one where a firm sets up an enabling IT platform to facilitate trade between sellers and buyers
However, FDI was not allowed where the e-com player owned the inventory of goods to be sold, or for business-to-consumer purposes, barring a few exceptions
Indian brick-and-mortar retailers have grown restive, claiming online marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart have acquired the power to influence retail prices, in contravention of the policy that restricts FDI in business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, but not in business-to-business (B2B)
The government appears to have bought this argument
Earlier a single vendor or its group firms couldn’t account for over 25% of sales in a marketplace; now the rules bar sales by any entities where the e-com firm has an equity stake
A vendor’s inventory will be deemed to be controlled by the e-com player if more than 25% of its purchases are from the latter or related firms
Separately, any specialised back-end support for some sellers must now be extended to all vendors, while discounts, cash-backs and preferential subscription services have been made far trickier to implement
An e-commerce marketplace entity will not mandate any seller to offer a product exclusively on its platform under the new rules
The companies will now have to furnish reports to the Reserve Bank of India annually, adding another dimension to compliance and monitoring of the e-commerce industry
Implications of the new rules
The Centre’s curiously timed attempt to ‘clarify’ foreign direct investment norms for e-commerce players could end up scuttling investor interest in the sector that has attracted large foreign players and generated thousands of jobs
The fresh restrictions and the clarifications on certain operational aspects could reinforce investor complaints about India being unpredictable in terms of policies
Globally, India has been taking on protectionism has been emphasizing that free trade is essential so consumers get the best deal everywhere
The same consumer focus and non-protectionist tenets must be applied for internal trade
Mains Paper 2: Governance | Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Particulars of the draft bill
Mains level: Features of the proposed Commission
The Cabinet has approved the draft National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM) with a new body to ensure transparency.
Salient features of the Bill
The draft bill is aimed at bringing reforms in the medical education of Indian medicine sector in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine.
The draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Ayurveda, under Board of Ayurveda and Unani, Siddha & Sowarigpa under Board of Unaini, Siddha and Sowarigpa.
There are two common Boards namely, Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Indian systems of Medicine and Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Indian systems of medicine to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice under the proposed Commission.
It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam, which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses.
Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed in the Bill to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.
The proposed regulatory structure will enable transparency and accountability for protecting the interest of the general public.
The NCIM will promote availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country.
Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: UNFCCC Biennial Update Report
Mains level: India’s commitment towards climate change agreements
The Cabinet has approved submission of India’s second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the UNFCCC towards fulfillment of the reporting obligation under the convention.
Biennial Update Report (BUR)
India had submitted its first BUR in 2016.
As per the first report, the country had emitted 2,136.84 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases in 2010.
It said energy sector was the prime contributor to emissions and with 71 per cent of total emissions.
About the Report
The submission of India’s second BUR would fulfil the obligation of India to furnish information regarding implementation of the convention, being a party.
The BUR contains five major components:
National Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Mitigation Actions, Finance, Technology and Capacity Building Needs and Support Received and
Domestic Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV)
The BUR has been prepared based on a range of studies conducted at the national level.
2nd Biennial Update Report (BUR)
This year, India emitted around 2.607 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHGs in 2014, with the energy sector contributing over 70 per cent of the total.
In 2014, a total of 26,07,488 Gigagram (Gg) CC-2 equivalent (around 2.607 billion tonnes of CC-2 equivalent) of GHGs were emitted from all activities (excluding LULUCF) in India.
The net national GHG emissions after including LULUCF were 23,06,295 Gg COa equivalent at around 2.306 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
*(LULUCF stands for Land use, land-use change, and forestry)
Out of the total emissions, the energy sector accounted for 73 per cent, Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) 8 per cent, agriculture 16 per cent and waste sector 3 per cent.
About 12 per cent of emissions were offset by the carbon sink action of forest land, cropland and settlements.
India’s obligations to UNFCCC
India is a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Convention, in accordance with its Article 4.1 and 12.1, enjoins upon all Parties, both developed country Parties and developing country Parties to furnish information, in the form of a National Communication regarding implementation of the Convention.
The UNFCCC in COP-16 Cancun decided vide paragraph 60 (c) of decision 1 that developing countries, consistent with their capabilities and the level of support provided for reporting, should also submit biennial update reports .
Decision 2 of COP17, in paragraph 41 (f) states that Biennial Update Reports shall be submitted every two years.
Mains level: Role of individuals and organizations in Disaster Management in India
The Centre has instituted annual awards to recognise the excellent work done by individuals and institutions in the country in the field of disaster management.
Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar
Three eligible institutions and individuals will be given the aforesaid award every year with cash rewards ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 51 lakh by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
If the awardee is an institution, it will be given a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 51 lakh and the prize money will be utilised for disaster management-related activities only.
If the awardee is an individual, the person shall receive a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.
An application by an institution does not debar any individual from that institution to apply for the award in his individual capacity.
The applications has to be filed online on www.dmawards.ndma.gov.in
Criteria for the Award
Only Indian nationals and Indian institutions can apply for the award.
For institutional awards, voluntary organisations, corporate entities, academic, research institutions, response, uniformed forces or any other institution may apply for the award.
The applicant must have worked in the area of disaster management like prevention, mitigation, preparedness, rescue, response, relief, rehabilitation, research, innovation or early warning related work in India.
The application must be accompanied by details of the work done in disaster management and must highlight achievements in any one or more of the areas like saving human lives, reduction in impact of disasters on lives, livestock, livelihoods, property, society, economy, or environment.
Mobilisation and provision of resources for effective response during disasters, immediate relief work in disaster hit areas and communities, effective and innovative use of technology in any field of disaster management and disaster mitigation initiatives in hazard prone areas are some of the other criteria.