[op-ed of the day] Inappropriate template for a legitimate target

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Difference in Reforms in South east Asian Countries and India


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 at any cost.

CONTEXT

The recently-released Economic Survey either glosses over or ignores many acute challenges faced by the Indian economy — like the severe agrarian crisis; the troubles of loss-making and debt-ridden public sector units; and the issues plaguing public sector banks.

Issue of Private Investment

  • One issue that the Survey rightly underlines is the need for India to revive private investment if it is to achieve the magical $5-trillion economy status by 2024-25.
  • However, what is odd here is that to stress this, the document invokes the age-old comparison between India and East Asian countries.

How the NIEs (newly industrialised economies ) prospered

Here, a question that arises is: Can the East Asian model help revive India’s floundering investment rates? Some crucial reminders are worth underlining.

The East Asian model was largely a story driven by the newly industrialised economies (NIEs) of Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, and Japan earlier.

1.Raising gross savings rates –

  • Specifically, the prime goal in various NIEs from 1960s through to the 1990s (prior to the Asian Financial Crisis) was to raise gross savings rates.
  • While the rise in household savings was partly due to the positive demographic dividend, a variety of other factors, including macroeconomic stability, low inflation, lack of social safety nets, inability to leverage (due to a highly regulated banking system) and forced savings (fully-funded Provident Funds) also played a role.
  • State-owned enterprises had to operate with budget constraints.

2.Fiscal discipline – This, coupled with the fiscal discipline practised by the economies, ensured that the public sector did not crowd out private savings and, in some cases, actually added to national savings.

3.Integrating with formal financial system – Another goal was to ensure that the private savings were actually intermediated into the formal financial system, failing which the cost of capital would remain high and the availability of capital for investment would be low.

4.Public sector banking system –

To achieve this, importance was given to the establishment of a safe and secure public sector banking system (usually in the form of postal savings networks) where deposits were guaranteed by the central bank and interest incomes was taxed lightly, if at all.

The state-owned banks were tightly regulated as financial stability was the cornerstone of overall macroeconomic stability.

5.Financial inclusion

  • Financial inclusion was encouraged, though the focus was on actual use of the deposit accounts rather than just their opening.
  • While the manufacturing sector was viewed as a growth engine and open to export competition, the banking sector, in all economies apart from Hong Kong, remained tightly regulated and closed to foreign banks.
  • Even Singapore initially adopted a dual banking structure that sheltered the domestic economy largely from significant short-term bank flows.
  • It resorted to a calibrated policy to allow fully licensed foreign banks only in the late 1990s.

6.Tight financial oversight

  • So, while these economies were generally successful in encouraging savings, the cost of capital was rather high, not unlike the problem in India today.
  • To tackle this, the East Asian economies undertook financial repression — conventionally understood as a ceiling price keeping lending rates lower than market equilibrium.
  • This, in normal circumstances, would have led to disintermediation from the formal financial system, a consequent reduction in the quantity of financing and the creation of a shadow banking system.
  • However, central banks of these economies maintained tight oversight, and selective capital controls ensured that the low-yielding savings did not leave their countries of origin, while limited financial development forestalled the possibility of people looking for savings alternatives.

7.Sophisticated industrial policies

  • Along with these, the governments undertook sophisticated industrial policies to promote domestic investment, much of which was export-led (though not necessarily free-market based).
  • The governments understood that a vertical industrial policy (of ‘picking winners’) would not work without a sound horizontal industrial policy (dealing with labour and land reforms, bringing about basic literacy and raising women’s participation in the labour force).
  • Besides, incentives also had clear guidelines and sunset clauses and mechanisms were in place to phase out support.
  • Thus, winners prospered while losers were allowed to fail.

8.Embedded autonomy

  • In addition, the bureaucracies of these East Asian economies had what Berkeley sociologist Peter Evans referred to as “embedded autonomy”.
  • This allowed the state to be autonomous, yet embedded within the private sector and enabled the two to work together to develop policies or change course if the policies did not work.
  • This made industrial policy operate as a process of self-discovery, as emphasised by Harvard economist Dani Rodrik.
  • It is the lack of this embedded autonomy in the next-tier NIEs of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia that has been partly responsible for them being stuck in the ‘middle income trap’.

9.Heterodox policies, reforms

  • Thus, much of the investment and export acceleration in East Asian countries was due to heterodox policies and reforms that were carefully calibrated, well-sequenced and implemented at a time when the external environment was far less hostile than it is today.
  • These measures allowed the nations to benefit from their demographic dividends and transform themselves into developed economies in record time.

Problems with Indian Reforms

In contrast, due to political and other compulsions, India’s reforms since 1991 have been rather haphazard and of a ‘stop-and-go’ nature with perverse consequences, all of which has made it much more challenging for the country to take full advantage of its demographic dividend.

Conclusion

Though measures like reducing policy uncertainty; ensuring that the fiscal expenditures do not crowd out private savings and investment; enhancing the efficiency of financial intermediation; and dealing with land acquisition and environment clearances are all essential to reignite investment, we do not need to invoke the East Asian example to understand the importance of these.

Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

[op-ed snap] A reprieve: on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case

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 : Implications of ICJ ruling in Jadhav Case


CONTEXT

The judgment of the International Court of Justice at The Hague in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case has come as major relief for India, providing space and direction for Pakistan to reconsider the ill-formed process it pursued in convicting and sentencing to death the former naval officer.

Judgment

  • In its judgment, the ICJ ruled in favour of India’s petition on six counts, finding that Pakistan was in breach of its own commitments to the Vienna Convention on consular relations, and also rejecting its contention that the convention doesn’t apply to the charges of espionage and terrorism levelled against Mr. Jadhav.
  • Put plainly, the judgment castigates Pakistan’s legal process against Jadhav ab initio: from the initial failure to inform India of the arrest, besides the failure to inform him of his rights, to provide him legal representation, and to provide him an open and fair trial.
  • Pakistan’s leadership may choose to publicly rejoice over the fact that the ICJ didn’t annul the trial or direct a release, but the order should give it pause for thought, and allow saner minds within its establishment to order a comprehensive review of the trial process, if not a full retrial.

The precedent of the case

  • The ICJ has worked with precedents in the cases of Germany vs the United States (LaGrand)and Mexico vs the United States (Avena), both cases where it had ruled that the U.S. was in violation of the Vienna convention, and ordered a “review and reconsideration” of its process.
  • Pakistan must realise that it cannot now emulate the example of the U.S., which defied the ICJ’s ruling, and work instead in good faith to implement the ICJ’s detailed recommendations for an effective process of justice for Mr. Jadhav.
Connotations For India
  • Those recommendations, however, can only ensure a fair trial process for Mr. Jadhav in Pakistan, and not his release or eventual return home.
  • For its part, New Delhi must recognise that the verdict is only a breather, a window of opportunity in which to open talks with Islamabad, parallel to the trial review on Mr. Jadhav’s future.
  • Pakistan must recognise India’s resolve in securing the safety of its citizen, and any rash move to try and put his sentencing into effect will cause deep and lasting damage to its own attempts to restart bilateral talks.

Conclusion

  • This will be even more difficult to do than it was when Mr. Jadhav was arrested in March 2016, as at the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi had just visited Lahore, and despite the Pathankot attack the National Security Advisers had maintained their backchannel negotiations.
  • India had yet to call off its participation in the SAARC summit in Islamabad (which it did after the Uri attack in September 2016), and the Foreign Secretaries had met in Delhi to discuss the summit in April that year.
  • None of those avenues exists today, and new ones will need to be built, if not for the sake of a larger dialogue process, for the sake of Mr. Jadhav, who has secured a reprieve but still faces an uncertain future.

[op-ed snap] The threat of Ebola

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Ebola outbreak in Congo


The health emergency declared by the WHO can counter the risk of a global spread

Background

  • After holding itself back on three occasions, the World Health Organization has declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
  • The outbreak in Congo, officially declared on August 1, 2018, has killed nearly 1,700 people and made more than 2,500 people ill.
  • While cases in other areas are reducing, Beni is the new hotspot.
  • The announcement of the health emergency comes amid renewed concerns that the virus could spread to other countries.
  • A single imported case of Ebola in Goma, a city in Congo with two million people and with an international airport bordering Rwanda, served as a trigger to finally declare a global emergency.
  • Surprisingly, the spread to neighbouring Uganda last month did not seem to change the way the WHO assessed the situation.
  • Even when a handful of Ebola cases were confirmed in Uganda, all the infected people had travelled from Congo and there had been no local transmission or spread within Uganda — one of the criteria used by the WHO to assess if an outbreak is a global emergency.

Previous cases

  • This is the fifth time that the WHO has declared a global emergency. The earlier occasions were in February 2016 for Zika outbreaks in the Americas, August 2014 for Ebola outbreaks in western Africa, the spread of polio in May 2014, and the H1N1 pandemic in April 2009.
  • Declaring an event as a global emergency is meant to stop the spread of the pathogen to other countries and to ensure a coordinated international response.
Availability of a candidate vaccine
  • There have been several challenges in interrupting the virus transmission cycle and containing the spread — reluctance in the community, attacks on health workers, delays in case-detection and isolation, and challenges in contact-tracing.
  • But compared with the situation during 2014-2016, the availability of a candidate vaccine has greatly helped.
  • Though the vaccine has not been licensed in any country, the ring vaccination strategy where people who come into contact with infected people, as well as the contacts of those contacts are immunised, has helped .
  • Of the nearly 94,000 people at risk who were vaccinated till March 25, 2019, only 71 got infected compared with 880 unvaccinated who got infected.
  • The vaccine had 97.5% efficacy; a majority of those who got infected despite being vaccinated were high-risk contacts.

Shortage of Vaccine

  • Owing to vaccine shortage, the WHO’s expert group on immunisation has recommended reducing the individual dose to meet the demand.
  • What is equally important is for the G7 countries to fulfil their promise to the WHO to contain the spread.
  • The agency received only less than half of the $100 million that was requested to tackle the crisis. The global emergency now declared may probably bring in the funding.A
Zika Virus Outbreak

Explained: Why Assam is prone to floods and what’s the solution

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Controlling Floods


CONTEXT

Assam is in the grip of yet another flood, with 57 lakh people displaced, all 33 districts affected, and 36 people killed besides hundreds of animals. This is the first wave of floods this monsoon, and flood control experts expect at least two more.

Why are floods so destructive in Assam?

At the crux is the very nature of the river Brahmaputra —dynamic and unstable. Its 580,000 sq km basin spreads over four countries: China, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan, with diverse environments.

In terms of sediment yield, two spots along the Brahmaputa’s course were at second and third places in 2008, behind the Yellow River whose annual sediment yield is 1,403 tonnes per sq km.

The Brahmaputra’s annual sediment yield was 1,128 tonnes per sq km at Bahadurabad of Bangladesh, and 804 tonnes per sq km at Pandu of Guwahati.

Assam, Assam floods, Assam flood news, Assam weather, Assam news, Assam rain news, Assam floods army, Baksa, Baksa assam, Kaziranga National Park, indian express, latest news
Assam floods: The vast amount of sediment comes from Tibet, where the river originates.

How do these characteristics of the river relate to flooding?

  • The vast amount of sediment comes from Tibet, where the river originates. “That region is cold, arid and lacks plantation. Glaciers melt, soil erodes and all of it results in a highly sedimented river.
  • By the time the river enters Assam — a state comprising primarily floodplains surrounded by hills on all sides — it deposits vast amounts of this silt, leading to erosion and floods.
  • As the river comes from a high slope to a flat plain, its velocity decreases suddenly and this results in the river unloading the sediment.
  • Again, because of the earthquake-prone nature of the region, the river has not been able to acquire a stable character.
  • Following the devastating earthquake of 1950, the level of the Brahmaputra rose by two metres in Dibrugarh area in eastern Assam.
  • Besides these natural factors are the man-made ones — habitation, deforestation, population growth in catchment areas (including in China) — which lead to higher sedimentation.
  • For example, the sediment deposition itself creates temporary sandbars or river islands.
  • It is common for people to settle in such places, which restricts the space the river has to flow. When rainfall is heavy, it combines with all these factors and leads to destructive floods. This happens very frequently.

Has the government tried to address the factors that cause floods?

  • In its master plan on the river in 1982, the Brahmaputra Board had suggested that dams and reservoirs be built to mitigate floods.
  • The idea of dams, however, has traditionally been a double-edged sword. While one of their objectives is to regulate the release of flood waters, the release when it comes can sometimes be beyond the capacity of the channels downstream.
  • In the Brahmaputra basin, locals and environmentalists protested against dam-building plans on grounds of displacement and destruction of evology, preventing the plans from moving forward.

Building embankments

  • As such, the government has been using only one approach towards floods: building embankments on the river. “Embankments were proposed only as an interim and ad hoc measure for short-term mitigation,” said Aaranyak’s Das. Their lack of durability has often been on display.
  • “Most embankments built in the 1980s are not strong enough.
  • Since they were temporary measures, the government did not spend on high-specification embankments. These are weak and are regularly breached.

Dredging

The government also considered dredging, basically digging up the riverbed and making the river “deeper”. However, experts have strongly advised against this simply because the Brahmaputra sediment yield is among the highest in the world.

But, is there a long-term solution?

  •  For a sustainable solution, there needs to be “a basin-wide approach” to the problem.
  • An “integrated basin management” system that should ideally bring in all the basin-sharing countries on board
  • Addressing the issues only in Assam when the flood strikes isn’t the solution — one needs the countries to come to an understanding about taking measures in the catchment areas.
  •  For that, interstate relationships, political cooperation and the role of the government are important.
  • Flood-plain zoning, which is done the US. “Depending on the vulnerability of the area, you divide them into categories, and accordingly ban certain activities on it: like farming, building a house etc,”
  • That is one option. We can’t help the rain but we can certainly control the damage caused by floods.”
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

‘Paramarsh’ Scheme

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Scheme

Mains level : Nothing Much


CONTEXT

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” launched Paramarsh’ – a University Grants Commission (UGC) scheme for Mentoring National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) Accreditation Aspirant Institutions to promote Quality Assurance in Higher Education.

Aim of Scheme

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said the scheme will be a paradigm shift in the concept of mentoring of institution by another well performing institution to upgrade their academic performance and enable them to get accredited by focusing in the area of curricular aspects, teaching-learning & evaluation, research, innovation, institutional values & practices etc.

The scheme is expected to have a major impact in addressing a national challenge of improving the quality of Higher Education in India.

Hub and Spoke Model

  • The Minister informed that the Scheme will be operationalized through a “Hub & Spoke” model wherein the Mentor Institution, called the “Hub” is centralized and will have the responsibility of guiding the Mentee institution through the secondary branches the “Spoke” through the services provided to the mentee for self improvement.
  • This allows a centralized control over operational efficiency, resource utilization to attain overall development of the mentee institution.

Mentee Institutions

  • He further informed that scheme will lead to enhancement of overall quality of the Mentee Institutions and enhance its profile as a result of improved quality of research, teaching and learning methodologies.
  • Mentee Institution will also have increased exposure and speedier adaptation to best practices. “Paramarsh” scheme will also facilitate sharing of knowledge, information and opportunities for research collaboration and faculty development in Mentee Institutions.

Conclusion

This “Paramarsh” scheme will target 1000 Higher Education Institutions for mentoring with a specific focus on quality as enumerated in the UGC “Quality Mandate”. Mentor-Mentee relationship will not only benefit both the institutions but also provide quality education to the 3.6 crore students who are enrolling to Indian Higher Education system at present.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Go Tribal Campaign

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Scheme

Mains level : Nothing Much


CONTEXT

TRIFED, a Multi-State Co-operative Society under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has launched the “Go Tribal” campaign.

Campaign 

  • Products available under Tribes India brand & outlets can also be procured through Online retailers like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. with whom TRIFED has entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
  • TRIFED has not introduced Khadi Kurtas and Jackets in collaboration with “I Am Khadi” foundation.
  • However, in order to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Father of Nation, Tribes India/TRIFED is promoting Khadi based products made by tribal artisans.

Minor Forest Produces

  • Besides continuing the existing schemes for tribal welfare, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs under its scheme of ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Development of Value Chain for MFP’ has included 26 additional Minor Forest Produces for which Minimum Support Price has been notified in December 2018/ January 2019.
  • Also better facilities for skill upgradation and value addition for MFPs in the form of Van Dhan Kendras for providing better monitory return to the MFP gatherers have also been included.
Tribal Development
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