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[op-ed of the day] Expanding India’s share in global space economy

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Missions of ISRO

Mains level : How to increase share of ISRO in international space sector


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss this at any cost.

CONTEXT

  • From a modest beginning in the 1960s, India’s space programme has grown steadily, achieving significant milestones. These include fabrication of satellites, space-launch vehicles, and a range of associated capabilities.
  • The draft Space Activities Bill introduced in 2017 has lapsed and the government now has an opportunity to give priority to a new Bill that can be welcomed by the private sector, both the larger players and the start-ups alike.

ISRO’s thrust areas

1.Satellite communication –

  • The first area was of satellite communication, with INSAT and GSAT as the backbones, to address the national needs for telecommunication, broadcasting and broadband infrastructure.
  •  About 200 transponders on Indian satellites provide services linked to areas like telecommunication, telemedicine, television, broadband, radio, disaster management and search and rescue services.
  • A second area of focus was earth observation and using space-based imagery for a slew of national demands, ranging from weather forecasting, disaster management and national resource mapping and planning.
  • These resources cover agriculture and watershed, land resource, and forestry managements.
  • With higher resolution and precise positioning, Geographical Information Systems’ applications today cover all aspects of rural and urban development and planning.
  • Beginning with the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) series in the 1980s, today the RISAT, Cartosat and Resourcesat series provide wide-field and multi-spectral high resolution data for land, ocean and atmospheric observations.

3.Navigation

  • The GPS-aided GEO augmented navigation (GAGAN), a joint project between ISRO and Airports Authority of India, augmented the GPS coverage of the region, improving the accuracy and integrity, primarily for civil aviation applications and better air traffic management over Indian airspace.
  • This was followed up with the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), a system based on seven satellites in geostationary and geosynchronous orbits.
  • It provides accurate positioning service, covering a region extending to 1,500 km beyond Indian borders, with an accuracy greater than 20 metres; higher accuracy positioning is available to the security agencies for their use.
  • In 2016, the system was renamed NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation).

4. Space science and exploration missions

  • With growing confidence, ISRO has also started to undertake more ambitious space science and exploration missions.
  • The most notable of these have been the Chandrayaan and the Mangalyaan missions, with a manned space mission, Gaganyaan, planned for its first test flight in 2021.

5. Launch-vehicle technology

  • Beginning with the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) and the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), ISRO has developed and refined the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) as its workhorse for placing satellites in low earth and sun synchronous orbits.
  • The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) programme is still developing with its MkIII variant, having undertaken three missions, and is capable of carrying a 3.5 MT payload into a geostationary orbit.

Share in international space market

  • Today, the value of the global space industry is estimated to be $350 billion and is likely to exceed $550 billion by 2025.
  • Despite ISRO’s impressive capabilities, India’s share is estimated at $7 billion (just 2% of the global market) covering broadband and Direct-to-Home television (accounting for two-thirds of the share), satellite imagery and navigation.
  • Already, over a third of transponders used for Indian services are leased from foreign satellites and this proportion will rise as the demand grows.

New Space

  • Developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data analytics has led to the emergence of ‘New Space’ — a disruptive dynamic based on using end-to-end efficiency concepts.
  • A parallel is how the independent app developers, given access to the Android and Apple platforms, revolutionised smartphone usage.
  • New Space entrepreneurship has emerged in India with about two dozen start-ups who are not enamoured of the traditional vendor/supplier model but see value in exploring end-to-end services in the Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer segments. 

‘New Space’ start-ups

  • The New Space start-ups discern a synergy with government’s flagship programmes like Digital India, Start-Up India, Skill India and schemes like Smart Cities Mission.
  • They see a role as a data-app builder between the data seller (ISRO/Antrix) and the end user, taking advantage of the talent pool, innovation competence and technology know-how.
  • They need an enabling ecosystem, a culture of accelerators, incubators, Venture Capitalists and mentors that exists in cities like Bengaluru which is where most New Space start-ups have mushroomed.

Small Satelite revolution

  •  Globally, 17,000 small satellites are expected to be launched between now and 2030. ISRO is developing a small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV) expected to be ready in 2019.
  • It is a prime candidate, along with the proven PSLV, to be farmed out to the private sector. This requires giving it responsibility for AIT activities.

Rural area revolution

  • Years ago, ISRO launched the idea of Village Resource Centres to work in collaboration with local panchayats and NGOs but only 460 pilots have begun.
  • Expanding this for rural areas is a formidable challenge but has the potential to transform rural India if properly conceived as a part of the India Stack and the Jan Dhan Yojana.

Conclusion

With the Ministry of Defence now setting up a Defence Space Agency and a Defence Space Research Organisation, ISRO should actively embrace an exclusively civilian identity. A new Space law for India should aim at facilitating growing India’s share of global space economy to 10% within a decade which requires a new kind of partnership between ISRO, the established private sector and the New Space entrepreneurs.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] On the edge of the big league

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : India to work on its soft powerd to have better standing at global forum.


 

History of alignments

Post world war

Post World War II, Japan, Germany and the UK were closely aligned to the US and other western European nations were also in the US camp through NATO. India’s non-alignment post Indira Gandhi became Soviet Union-leaning and the US moved closer to Pakistan as a check on the Soviets who had taken control of Afghanistan. One could have argued India made a bad choice, but frankly, we were not very exciting to the US and strong Soviet backing to India after the 1971 war allowed the liberation of Bangladesh.

Nineties Fashion

  • The collapse of the Soviet Union left us weak internationally and our economic policies had taken us into a major balance of payments crisis in 1991.
  • This was a blessing in disguise as it forced us to review both our economic policies and our global alignments.
  • With an IMF assisted structural adjustment programme, many parts of the economy were liberalised.
  • After the initial pain, we slowly moved away from the import substituting industry model we had followed and became a more market-friendly economy.

 

  • Two forces dominated the geopolitical context in the first decade of the 21 century — China and technology.
  • China became the second-largest economy in the world with its GDP going from $1 trillion to $10 trillion dollars in 15 years.
  • At the same time, the progress in technology was transformative on the back of massive computing power, ubiquitous high-speed connectivity, cheap and unlimited storage and the creation and capture of enough data to make machine learning intelligent and powerful.
  • As a result, technological power and cyber capabilities also became a superpower compulsion.
  • These two developments have led to a change in the basis of power and geopolitical alignment in today’s world. It has all happened in 15 years.

Evaluation of Power

  • Power now needs to be evaluated on four levels — military, economic, cyber and soft power.
  • Interestingly, now different countries lead in different areas, making alignment and geopolitics more complicated.
  • Militarily, it is still the the US and Russia in the lead.
  • China is a clear third.
  • In terms of economic power, the US leads followed by China, and Russia does not figure.
  •  Cyber power – In the cyber domain, five countries have established positions – the US, China, Russia, Israel and Iran and others are lagging. Consider the Russian attack on the US elections, the purported cyber-attack by the US on Iran, the banning of Huawei, Iranian cyber-attacks on the Saudis and China’s great strength in digital and artificial intelligence.
  • Soft Power – In soft power, the US leads but China and Russia don’t really feature. In fact, India has a play.

The multilayered strategy of India

  • If we just observe India’s actions, it is comforting to note we are following a multilayered strategy, walking a complicated tightrope.
  • We continue to ally with Russia on arms’ purchases with our purchase of the S-400 Air Missile System, despite the threat of American sanctions.
  • Economically, though, we are trying to get closer to the US and are not fighting their unilateral sanctions against Iran on oil, despite the substantial impact on our balance of payments.
  • It is both sad and ironic that despite our great capability in technology and our big presence in Silicon Valley, we lag in cyber preparedness at great risk to ourselves.
  • India’s movement on data localisation is needed. Even Europe has imposed the GDPR. But overall, we need to act fast.

India’s Soft power Vision

  • With soft power, India is doing better.
  • We are advancing with our music, food and Bollywood and are going beyond West Asia into the affluent Indian diaspora in the US and UK.
  • Getting the UN to recognise a World Yoga day has been a master stroke by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is a great first step but our inbound tourism still lags behind.

Conclusion

If we act, we are well positioned. Faster arms purchases, developing cyber capability and using technology to address major gaps in education and healthcare are needed. We have the opportunity but not the right to become a third major power. No one will give it to us.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Explained: Economic Survey 2019 — new ideas to policy prescriptions

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the Economic Survey

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

What is Economic Survey?

  • Each year, a day before the presentation of the full-fledged annual Union Budget, the country Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) releases the Economic Survey.
  • However, notwithstanding the close proximity of its release with the Union Budget, the Economic Survey is not exactly a predictor of the Budget proposals.
  • Still, it is a very important document because it provides an authoritative, detailed and official annual summary of the current state of play in the Indian economy.

What it consists of?

  • Beyond the summary, the ES paints a variety of future scenarios, highlighting likely challenges and pointing to possible solutions.
  • In the past few years, the ES has been presented in two volumes.
  • Volume 1 focussed on research and analysis about the challenges — both contemporary and long-term — facing the Indian economy.
  • Volume 2 provided the more descriptive review of the fiscal year, encompassing all the major sectors of the economy.

Importance of Economic Surveys

  • Apart from providing a comprehensive snapshot of the various sectors of the economy, the ES is also used as a sounding board for introducing new policy ideas and triggering fresh debates.
  • As the years have rolled by, successive CEAs have used every aspect of the Economic Survey to convey some key idea.
  • For instance, the colour of the 2018 Survey’s cover — pink — was chosen “as a symbol of support for the growing movement to end violence against women, which spans continents”.

Key takeaways from Economic Survey 2018-19

Slowest projection of growth

  • The ES has projected that economic growth in the current fiscal year could rise to 7% from the 6.8% in 2018-19 — the slowest rate of growth in five years.

Macroeconomic Indicators

  • The survey has flagged the challenges on the fiscal front following an economic slowdown impacting tax collections amid an expected surge in agri-spending.
  • It has underlined the need for India to shift gears to accelerate and sustain a real GDP growth rate of 8% in order to achieve the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025.
  • It flags the need for a “virtuous cycle” of savings, investment and exports to be catalyzed and supported by a favorable demographic phase required for sustainable growth.
  • Private investment has been highlighted as a key driver for demand, capacity, labor productivity, new technology, creative destruction and job creation.

Era for behavioral change

  • The Survey lays out an agenda for behavioral change by applying the principles of behavioral economics to several issues.
  • It includes gender equality, a healthy and beautiful India, savings, tax compliance and credit quality.
  • It highlights a transition from ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ to ‘BADLAV’ (Beti Aapki Dhan Lakshmi Aur Vijay Lakshmi), from ‘Swachh Bharat’ to ‘Sundar Bharat’, from ‘Give it up” for the LPG subsidy to ‘Think about the Subsidy’ and from ‘Tax evasion’ to ‘Tax compliance’.

Policy prescriptions

  • The Survey flags the case for intervention in the case of “dwarfs” (firms with less than 100 workers) despite being more than 10 years old, account for more than 50% of all organized firms in manufacturing by number.
  • In this context, it calls for a sunset clause of less than 10 years, with necessary grand-fathering, for all size-based incentives and deregulating labor law restrictions to create significantly more jobs.
  • It calls for a need to ramp up capacity in the lower judiciary, including a focus on delays in dispute resolution.
  • Contract enforcement biggest constraint to improve EODB ranking; much of the problem is concentrated in the lower courts.
  • It also calls for policy changes to lower overall lifetime ownership costs and make electric vehicles an attractive alternative to conventional vehicles.

Problem areas

  • While the investment rate was expected to pick up following improvement in consumer demand and bank lending, the GST, farm schemes will all pose challenges on the fiscal front.
  • Fiscal deficit has been pegged at 3.4% of GDP for 2018-19.
  • There are apprehensions of slowing growth, which will have implications for revenue collections.
  • Crude oil prices are projected to decline in 2019-20, which could push consumption.
  • Flags need to gear up for ageing population; necessitating more healthcare investment, increasing retirement age in a phased manner.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

Explained: Privilege Motion

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Privileges Motion

Mains level : Breach of Privileges of Parliamentarians


News

  • A MP from West Bengal has moved a breach of privilege motion in the Lok Sabha against a private news channel and its editor.

What is a privilege motion?

  • Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can “effectively discharge their functions”.
  • When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament.
  • A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege.
  • Each House also claims the right to punish as contempt actions which, while not breach of any specific privilege, are offences against its authority and dignity.

What are the rules governing privilege?

  • Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook govern privilege.
  • It says that a member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a committee thereof.
  • The rules however mandate that any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House.
  • Notices have to be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson.

What is the role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair?

  • The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion.
  • The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament.
  • If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.

What is the privileges committee?

  • In the Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates a committee of privileges consisting of 15 members as per respective party strengths.
  • A report is then presented to the House for its consideration. The Speaker may permit a half-hour debate while considering the report.
  • The Speaker may then pass final orders or direct that the report be tabled before the House.
  • A resolution may then be moved relating to the breach of privilege that has to be unanimously passed.
  • In the Rajya Sabha, the deputy chairperson heads the committee of privileges, that consists of 10 members.
Panchayati Raj Institutions: Issues and Challenges

Central Welfare Database of Citizens

Mains Paper 2 : E-Governance |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the database

Mains level : Need for a centralized welfare database



News

Central Welfare Database of Citizens

  • The Economic Survey 2018-19 pitched for setting up a central welfare database of citizens — by merging different data maintained by separate Ministries and departments.
  • These recommendations come at a time when India is working on finalising its personal data protection policy.
  • The principle is that most data are generated by the people, of the people and should be used for the people.
  • This database can be tapped for enhancing ease of living for citizens, particularly the poor.

Data to be included

  • The datasets talked about inclusion of administrative data such as birth and death records, pensions, tax records, marriage records; survey data such as census data, national sample survey data; transactions data such as e-national agriculture market data, UPI data, institutional data and public hospital data on patients.

Why such centralized database?

  • The governments already held a rich repository of administrative, survey, institutional and transactions data about citizens, but these data were scattered across numerous government bodies.
  • Merging these distinct datasets would generate multiple benefits with the applications being limitless.
  • The government could utilise the information embedded in these distinct datasets to enhance ease of living for citizens, enable truly evidence-based policy, improve targeting in welfare schemes, uncover unmet needs, and integrate fragmented markets.
  • This will bring greater accountability in public services and generate greater citizen participation in governance, etc.

Need for stringent safeguards

  • It also recommended granting access to select database to private sector for a fee, given that stringent technological mechanisms exist to safeguard data privacy.
  • The Survey noted that there had been some discussions around the “linking” of datasets, primarily through the seeding of an Aadhaar number across databases such as PAN database, bank accounts and mobile numbers.
  • However, it clarified that the linking is “one-way.” For example, banks can use the tokenized Aadhaar number to combine duplicate records and weed out benami accounts.
  • This does not mean that the UIDAI or government can read the bank account information or other data related to the individual.

Way Forward

  • The Survey pointed out that governments can create data as a public good within the legal framework of data privacy.
  • Care must also be taken not to impose the “elite’s preference of privacy on the poor, who care for a better quality of living the most.
Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

New Code on Wages Bill

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Minimum Wages. MGNREGS

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

New Code on Wages Bill

  • The Union Cabinet has cleared the new version of Code on Wages Bill, which seeks to define the norms for fixing minimum wages.
  • It will be applicable to workers of organised and unorganised sectors, except government employees and MNREGA workers.
  • It will amalgamate the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

New determining factors of wages

  • As per the Bill, minimum wages will be linked only to factors such as skills and geographical regions.
  • At present, minimum wages are fixed on the basis of categories such as skilled, unskilled, semi-skilled, high skilled, geographical regions, and nature of work such as mining.
  • These are applicable for 45 scheduled employments in the central sphere and 1709 scheduled employments in states.
  • This is expected to effectively reduce the number of minimum wage rates across the country to 300 from about 2,500 minimum wage rates at present.

Floor Wage

  • A National Floor Level Minimum Wage will be set by the Centre to be revised every five years, while states will fix minimum wages for their regions, which cannot be lower than the floor wage.
  • The current floor wage, which was fixed in 2017, is at Rs 176 a day, but some states have minimum wages lower than it such as Andhra Pradesh (Rs 69) and Telangana (Rs 69).

Importance

  • An effective minimum wage policy is a potential tool not only for the protection of low paid workers but is also an inclusive mechanism for more resilient and sustainable economic development.
  • A simple, coherent and enforceable Minimum Wage System should be designed with the aid of technology as minimum wages push wages up and reduce wage inequality without significantly affecting employment.
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[pib] Parliament passes the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the bill, President's assent

Mains level : Particulars of the Bill


News

  • The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019 has been passed by both the houses of Parliament.
  • The Bill will now be sent for President’s assent.

About the Bill

  • The Bill replaces the “The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Ordinance, 2019”.
  • The new bill considers the University/College as one unit restoring earlier reservation system based on 200 point roster.
  • No longer will ‘Department/Subject’ be treated as one unit.
  • This decision will:
  1. Allow up of more than 7000 existing vacancies in Central Educational Institutions and pave the way for filling up 3 lakh vacancies in the Government (Central and State) Educational institutions by direct recruitment in Teacher’s Cadre.
  2. Ensure compliance of the Constitutional Provisions of Articles 14, 16 and 21.
  3. Ensure full representation of the Scheduled Castes/ the Scheduled Tribes, the socially and Educationally Backward Classes and Economically Weaker Sections in direct recruitment in teachers’ cadres.
  • This decision is also expected to improve the teaching standards in the higher educational institutions by attracting all eligible talented candidates belonging SCs/STs/SEBCs/EWS.
  • It will also ensure providing of 10% reservation to EWS.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

India pledges to contribute $ 5 million to UN Palestine refugee agency

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNRWA

Mains level : Refugees issue across the world


News

India contributes for Palestine

  • India has pledged to contribute USD 5 million in 2019 to the UN Palestine refugee agency.
  • India voiced concern over the agency’s difficult financial situation due to voluntary contributions from a limited donor base and called for ensuring sustained fiscal support for its work.
  • This contribution is a mark of India’s solidarity with the Palestine refugees.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

  • Created in December 1949, the UNRWA for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a relief and human development agency which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees.
  • These along with their patrilineal descendants were fled or expelled from their homes during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War as well as those who fled or were expelled during and following the 1967 Six Day war.
  • Originally intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief, today UNRWA provides education, health care, and social services to the population it supports.
  • Aid is provided in five areas of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; aid for Palestinian refugees outside these five areas is provided by UNHCR.
  • The Agency currently serves 5.4 million Palestinian refugees 20 per cent of the world’s refugees.

How is UNRWA different from UNHCR?

  • UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR.
  • Formed in 1950, UNHCR is the main UN refugee agency, which is responsible for aiding other refugees all over the world.
  • Unlike UNRWA, UNHCR has a specific mandate to aid its refugees to eliminate their refugee status by local integration in current country, resettlement in a third country or repatriation when possible.
  • UNRWA allows refugee status to be inherited by descendants of male refugee, including legally adopted children.
Human Rights Issues