Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

ADB raises India’s GDP growth forecast for FY25 to 7% from 6.7% earlier

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Asian Development Bank (ADB);

Mains level: Developments in Indian Subcontitnent; India's GDP growth projection by ADB;

Why in the News?

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) increased its GDP growth projection for India for the current fiscal year to 7%, up from its previous estimate of 6.7%.

Reason behind the increased India’s GDP growth projection by ADB:

  • Manufacturing Sector: The manufacturing sector growth of India in the 2023 fiscal year was robust, with the S&P Global India Manufacturing PMI rebounding to 56.0 in November 2023 from an eight-month low of 55.5 in October 2023.
  • Investment and Consumption Demand: Investment and Consumption demand are both expected to drive India’s economic growth in 2024 and FY25. Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE) grew at 3.5% in the December quarter of FY24.
  • Inflation Trend: Inflation in India is expected to continue its downward trend in tandem with global trends Inflation in India decreased to 5.09 percent in February 2024 from 5.10 percent in January 2024. India’s inflation rate is projected to trend around 4.30 percent in 2025, according to econometric models.
  • Monetary policy: The RBI has kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.5% for 2023-24, focusing on withdrawal of accommodation to ensure that inflation progressively aligns to the target while supporting growth.

Government Initiatives taken for Regional Development:

  • Regional Cooperation and Integration (RCI) Conference, 2023:
      • It was organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at Tbilisi, Georgia.
      • Theme: ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Integration through Economic Corridor Development (ECD)’.
      • Objective: To integrate spatial transformation and area-centric approach with the help of Economic Corridor Development.
      • In this Conference, India offered its indigenously developed GIS-based technology though knowledge sharing  to ADB and South Asia Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) countries for enhancing socio-economic planning and regional cooperation.
  • PM GatiShakti National Master Plan and Multi-modal Connectivity:
    • Basically, PM Gati Shakti is principled to bring socio-economic area-based development as part of regional connectivity.
    • It is being implemented to enhance connectivity with regional partners with the help of GIS-based technology. For Example: Indo-Nepal Haldia Access Controlled Corridor project.

BACK2BASIC:

About Asian Development Bank(ADB):

  • Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members-49 from the region. ADB’s five largest shareholders are Japan and the United States (each with 15.6% of total shares), the People’s Republic of China (6.4%), India (6.3%), and Australia (5.8%).
  • Headquarters: Manila, Philippines.
  • Objective: To foster social and economic development across Asia and the Pacific region.

 

Conclusion: Indian  government’s effort across the robust manufacturing growth, investment, working on consumption demand, decreasing inflation, and supportive monetary policy, aligning with its goal of promoting regional social and economic development are gaining some fruits.

Mains PYQ:

Q China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’, In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbor.(UPSC IAS/2017) 

Q India has recently signed to become founding member of New Development Bank (NDB) and also the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). How will the role of the two Banks be different? Discuss the strategic significance of these two Banks for India. (UPSC IAS/2014)

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Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Crafted in Indian labs, NexCAR19 takes India to next level in Cancer Care

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Science and Technology; Biotechnology; NexCAR19;

Mains level: Process and Significance of CAR T thearpy;

Why in the News? 

  • President Droupadi Murmu launched India’s first indigenously-developed CAR T-cell therapy, hailing it as a major breakthrough against cancer.
  • This therapy was developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and the Tata Memorial Centre, and it is known as ‘NexCAR19 CAR T-cell therapy’.

BACK2BASICS:

What is CAR T cell thearpy? 

CAR T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that involves modifying a patient’s T cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a crucial role in the immune system, to recognize and attack cancer cells. This therapy is designed to target specific proteins found on the surface of cancer cells, such as CD19, which is commonly found on B cells.

How are CAR-T cells made?

Significance of CAR T Thearpy:

  • Promising results:  This therapy has shown promising results in treating some types of blood cancers, including certain kinds of lymphoma, pediatric leukemia, and adult leukemia.  It has shown with approximately 70% of patients responding to the treatment.
  • Less time for treatment: CAR T-cell therapies are generally a single infusion with less than 2 weeks of inpatient care, while stem cell transplants and chemotherapy treatment regimens can take months to complete

Limitiations of CAR-T Therapy:

  • Risks of CAR-T Therapy: The efficacy of CAR-T therapy varies from person to person, and it is too early to declare it a complete cure. While it has shown remarkable progress in challenging cases, its effectiveness is not universal.
  • High Cost Therapy: NexCAR19 is priced at a fraction of its US counterpart, it remains relatively high for many Indians, ranging from ₹40 to 45 lakh.
  • It’s Side Effects includes:
    • Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS): CRS is the most common side effect of CAR-T therapy, triggering an ‘Inflammatory Response’ that leads to immune system hyperactivity.
    • Neurotoxicity: Although not observed in early-stage clinical trials, neurotoxicity is a common side effect of CAR-T therapy that can manifest as confusion, seizures, or difficulty speaking or walking.
    • Infections and Blood Cell Counts: Patients undergoing CAR-T therapy may experience infections and low blood cell counts as anticipated side effects.

Conclusion: India’s is moving towards heralding a breakthrough in Cancer Care Therapy. Despite cost challenges, Government efforts are aimed to enhance accessibility and better outputs in Healthcare Sector.

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Electoral Reforms In India

Is Transparency lacking in Candidate Disclosure?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Representation of the People Act, 1951;

Mains level: Election Issues; Judiciary; 244th Report of Law Commission; Accountability

Why in the news? 

The Supreme Court held that candidates need not to disclose every piece of Information and Possession in their Election Affidavit unless it is Substantial in Nature.

What are the Legal Provisions?

  • Nomination paper with Affidavit: Section 33 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act) read with rule 4A of election rules, requires every contesting candidate to file their nomination paper for elections along with an Affidavit in a ‘prescribed format’.
  • Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) Vs Union of India (2002): The Supreme Court held that voters have the right to know about the criminal antecedents, income and asset details of the candidate and his/her dependants and educational qualification of contesting candidates.
    • This judgement resulted in Section 33A being added to the RP Act that requires details of criminal antecedents to be part of the election affidavit.
  • Punishable Offence: Section 125A of the RP Act further provides that failure to furnish required information, giving false information or concealing any information in the nomination paper or affidavit shall be punishable with imprisonment up to six months or fine or both.

Present Dilemma of Accountability:

  • Candidates with Criminal Charges: The significant issue of candidates with serious criminal charges contesting elections raises questions about the integrity and suitability of such candidates for public office.
    • According to a report by ADR, 19% of candidates in the 2019 Lok Sabha election faced charges of rape, murder or kidnapping.
  • Circumvention of Disclosure Requirements: Some candidates attempted to circumvent disclosure requirements by leaving certain columns blank and filing incomplete affidavits, indicating loopholes in the electoral process.

Recommendations by Election Commission and Law Commission in its 244th report:

  • A conviction for filing a false affidavit should attract a punishment of a minimum of 2 years imprisonment and be a ground for disqualification.
  • The Trials in such cases must be conducted on a day-to-day basis.
  • Persons charged by a competent court with offences punishable by imprisonment of at least 5 years should be debarred from contesting in the elections provided the case is filed at least 6 months before the election in question.

Supreme Court’s Judgement to resolve this issues: 

  • In Public Interest Foundation Vs Union of India (2018) directed candidates as well as political parties to issue a declaration about criminal antecedents, at least three times before the election, in a newspaper in the locality and electronic media.

Way Forward:

  • Debarring from contesting elections : Debarring chargesheeted candidates from contesting elections is likely to be misused by various ruling parties.
  • Increasing Punishment for False Affidavits: Increasing punishment for filing false affidavits and making it a ground for disqualification need to be implemented.
  • Strict Implementation of SC order:The Supreme Court’s order to provide wide publicity of criminal records should also be strictly implemented.

Conclusion: Addressing challenges in candidate disclosure, enhancing electoral integrity can be achieved through measures such as imposing stricter penalties for false affidavits, enforcing disclosure laws rigorously, and ensuring widespread dissemination of candidates’ criminal records.

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Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

On Unemployment in Indian States

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Important reports in the News; Trends in unemployment

Mains level: Urbanisation and Unemployment;

Why in the news? 

A recent report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Institute for Human Development (IHD) revealed that two out of every three unemployed individuals were young graduates.

Unemployment across Indian States: 

  • Highest Unemployment Rate: At almost 10%, Goa’s unemployment rate is more than three times the national average of 3.17%.
    • Four of the top five states with high unemployment rates (Goa, Kerala, Haryana, and Punjab) are comparatively richer states.
  • Lower Unemployment Rates: Maharashtra and Gujarat, which are rich states in western India, experience unemployment rates far less than the national average.
  • Unemployment in Northern and Southern states: All northern states (Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh) and most southern states have unemployment rates higher than the national average, except Karnataka.
  • Unemployment below the National Average: Out of the 27 states considered, 12 states have unemployment rates less than the national average.
  • Lower unemployment rates in poorer states: Except for Maharashtra and Gujarat, most states with unemployment rates lower than the national average also have per capita incomes lesser than the national average.

What is the Relationship between Urbanisation and Unemployment? (ILO observations)

  • Relationship between Self-employment and Unemployment: The trend line shows a downward slope, indicating a negative relationship between self-employment and unemployment.
  • Informal self-employment mainly in Agriculture and Rural Economy: A significant portion of informal self-employment is in agriculture and the rural sector.

  • Relationship between Labor Force and Unemployment: Figure 3 illustrates a positive relationship between the urban share of the labor force and the unemployment rate. Highly urbanized states tend to have higher unemployment rates (Positive relationship).
  • High Unemployment and Urbanized states: States like Goa and Kerala, which are highly urbanized, experience high unemployment rates. This is attributed to the limited scope for informal jobs in urban settings compared to rural agriculture, which acts as a reserve for absorbing surplus labor.
  • Limited Informal Sectors: Although informal sectors exist and thrive in urban settings, they have limited capacity to absorb job-seekers compared to rural agriculture.
  • Exceptions states: Gujarat and Maharashtra, despite being highly urbanized, have lower unemployment rates compared to states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Nexus between Education and Employment:

  • Highly educated labor force and unemployment: Kerala, with a highly educated labor force (30% of graduates), faces high unemployment.
    • In contrast, Gujarat and Maharashtra have lower proportions of graduates in their labor force (14% and 20% respectively) and experience lower unemployment rates despite being richer and urbanized.
  • High unemployment among graduates: Graduates may lack the skills required for the growing modern sector, highlighting the need for improved teaching infrastructure and standards.
    • Graduates aspire to high-wage jobs that match their skills, leading to unemployment if the modern sector doesn’t expand enough to absorb them.

Conclusion: Addressing youth unemployment necessitates improving education quality to match job market demands, fostering skill development for the modern sector, promoting entrepreneurship, and enhancing rural employment opportunities. Policy interventions should target these areas for inclusive growth and employment generation.

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Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

The advent of a holistic approach to ‘one health’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National One Health Mission; Lumpy Skin disease;

Mains level: Healthcare in India; National One Health Mission;

Why in the news? 

In the past, we have seen that there is interdependence between humans, animals, and the environment has been made increasingly evident with the emergence of pandemics such as COVID-19.

  • It is not just humans who are affected by pandemics but also livestock — an example being the outbreak of lumpy skin disease that has spread across countries.

Why an integrated idea like the ‘One Health’ Mission is needed?

One Health is an interdisciplinary approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of human health, animal health, and environmental health. It emphasizes collaboration across various sectors, including medicine, veterinary science, ecology, and public health, to address health challenges comprehensively.

Key features of National One Health Mission:

  • Intersectoral Collaboration: The mission aims to coordinate, support, and integrate all existing One Health initiatives in the country, including the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Environment, and Science and Technology
  • Integrated Disease Surveillance: The mission implements integrated disease surveillance within and across human, animal, and environmental sectors to address communicable diseases, including zoonotic diseases, and improve overall pandemic preparedness and integrated disease control.
  • Consolidation of data: The mission creates an integrated, science-based environment where researchers from various disciplines can use laboratories as necessary and generate requisite inputs for One Health Science, including databases and models with a consolidated approach of ecologists, field biologists, epidemiologists, and other scientists.

 Challenges in National One Health Mission

  • Limited Database: There have been limited efforts to develop databases and models with a consolidated approach of ecologists, field biologists, epidemiologists, and other scientists to understand and respond to the drivers that threaten health and optimize the effectiveness of public health systems in achieving these goals within each sector.
  • Lack of Awareness and Understanding: The lack of awareness and understanding of the One Health concept among stakeholders hinders collaborative efforts required to address complex public health issues
  • Funding Constraints: Funding constraints are a significant barrier to implementing One Health interventions, especially in low- and middle-income countries that may need more resources to invest in One Health initiatives

Conclusion: To address challenges in the National One Health Mission, efforts must focus on enhancing data collection, raising awareness among the stakeholders, and securing adequate funding. These measures are essential for effective implementation and holistic health management.

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Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Corruption has risen over the past five years, say 55% of respondents

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: ARC report;

Why in the news? 

In the run-up to elections, political parties make allegations of corruption against their rivals to reach out to voters and influence voting patterns. So, let’s see about the corruption trend in India.

What is Corruption? 

Corruption refers to dishonest or unethical conduct by individuals or institutions, often involving the misuse of entrusted power or resources for personal gain. It can take various forms, including bribery, embezzlement, fraud, nepotism, cronyism, and favoritism. Corruption undermines the principles of fairness, integrity, and accountability in both public and private sectors.

Corruption in India (Pre-poll survey of 2024 compared with 2019 Survey):

  • Increase in Corruption: According to a pre-poll survey, more than half (55%) of respondents believe that corruption has increased in the past five years.
    • The proportion of respondents believing that corruption has decreased has declined significantly, from 37% in 2019 to 19% in 2024.
  • Causes for Corruption in India: A majority of respondents (56%) hold both Union and State governments responsible for the increase in corruption, with a higher proportion blaming the Union government specifically.
  • Across Spatial Consistency: Regardless of whether respondents live in villages, towns, or cities, the perception of increased corruption is widespread.
  • Opinion of Respondents: Both rich and poor respondents largely agree that corruption has increased, though there is a slight increase in the perception of decreased corruption among richer respondents.

What does the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) report say?

  • Lack of Transparency: The opacity of government processes and decision-making provides opportunities for corruption.
  • Regulatory Environment: Cumbersome and complex regulations create opportunities for rent-seeking behavior by officials and bureaucrats.
  • Political Interference: Politicization of administrative processes and appointments leads to patronage networks and favoritism, fostering corruption.
  • Lack of Whistleblower Protection: The absence of robust mechanisms to protect whistleblowers discourages individuals from reporting corruption. Fear of retaliation and inadequate legal safeguards inhibit the exposure of corrupt practices.
  • Weak Enforcement Mechanisms: Inadequate enforcement of laws and regulations allows corrupt practices to thrive.

Conclusion: To combat rising corruption in India, comprehensive measures including enhancing transparency, simplifying regulations, strengthening enforcement, depoliticizing administration, and implementing robust whistleblower protection are imperative for fostering integrity and accountability in governance.

 

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Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Understanding perspectives: Farmers’ Protests raise divisive opinions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Agriculture Sector and Farmers Protest;

Mains level: Farmer Demands and Government Initiatives;

Why in the news? 

A recent survey conducted by CSDS-Lokniti aimed to gather opinions regarding the ongoing farmer protests.

Opinion about the Farmer Protest:

The major key demands of Farmers in India include:

  • On Minimum Support Price (MSP): Farmers demand a legal guarantee for MSP for crops, which is a crucial lifeline for farmers facing market uncertainties.
  • On Electricity Act 2020: Farmers are demanding the repeal of the Electricity Act 2020, which they believe will negatively impact their income.
  • On Compensation: Farmers are demanding compensation for farmers who died during the previous agitation in Lakhimpur Kheri.
  • Withdrawal of Cases: Farmers are demanding the withdrawal of cases registered against farmers during the 2020-21 agitation.

Government Initiatives: 

  • Negotiations: The government has taken several steps to address the farmer agitation, including negotiations with protesting farmers, proposing the formation of a committee to provide statutory backing to the Minimum Support Price (MSP), and engaging in talks with farmer representatives.
  • Demands: Despite promises made to farmers in 2021, the government has not fully responded to their demands, leading to continued tensions and protests. The government’s reaction to the protest still appears to be focused on maintaining law and order rather than proactively addressing the underlying issues raised by the farmers

Conclusion: The CSDS-Lokniti 2024 pre-poll survey highlights divisive opinions on farmer protests, citing demands for an MSP guarantee, repeal of the Electricity Act, and compensation for fatalities. Despite negotiations, unresolved grievances persist, indicating a need for proactive governmental action and dialogue

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OBOR Initiative

What’s behind the latest US-China trade fight?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora, Indian Economy, and issues.

Why in the news? 

China’s burgeoning production of electric cars and other green technologies has become a flashpoint in a new US-China trade fight, highlighted by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during her five-day visit to China.

Context:  

  • According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, China has built a substantial car industry that accounts for 60% of global electric vehicle sales. Similar dynamics exist in other industries, such as solar panels, batteries, and steel.
  • China is now the world’s largest producer of solar cells.
  • Now the main concern is that the Chinese are building up a lot of capacity in many industries across the board, including these new technology sectors, and if domestic demand does not pick up, they are going to be looking for markets outside the country.

US-China Trade Dispute:

  • The US and China have been slugging it out since Trump slapped heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum items from China in March last year, and China responded by imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of American imports.
  • The IMF noted that the US-China trade tension was one factor that contributed to a “significantly weakened global expansion” late last year, as it cut its global growth forecast for 2019.

US-China Trade and Investment Facts:

  • US GOODS & SERVICES trade with China totalled an estimated $737.1 billion in 2018. Exports: $179.3 billion; imports: $557.9 billion; deficit: $378.6 billion
  • CHINA IS CURRENTLY the US’s largest goods trading partner with $659.8 billion in total (two-way) goods trade in 2018. Exports: $120.3 billion; imports: $539.5 billion; US goods trade deficit: $419.2 billion
  • US FDI IN CHINA (stock) was $107.6 billion in 2017, a 10.6% increase from 2016. US direct investment in China is led by manufacturing, wholesale trade, finance and insurance
  • CHINA FDI IN THE US (stock) was $39.5 billion in 2017, down 2.3% from 2016. China’s direct investment in the US is led by manufacturing, real estate, depository institutions

How does China’s Auto Industry pose an external threat to Indian Market?

  • Market Dominance: China is dominating the local market and threatening to dominate India’s traditional export markets, which could cause concern for the ‘Make in India‘ program.
  • Quality Concerns: The quality of auto parts coming from China is a major concern for the safety of vehicles in India. With increasing stakes by Chinese vendors, the situation is expected to become more challenging.
  • Cost Advantage: Chinese automakers have a cost advantage over North American and European brands, allowing them to undercut rivals. This cost advantage is due to Chinese manufacturers’ ability to produce EVs more efficiently and profitably than their Western counterparts.
  • Security concerns: Chinese automakers flooding foreign markets with their autos and the potential for these vehicles to be used for espionage, data collection, or sabotage.

How India can benefit from the ongoing US-China trade war?

  • Export Opportunities: India can tap export opportunities in both the US and China, particularly in areas such as garments, agriculture, automobile, machinery, apparel, and readymade garments
  • Export Growth: India’s exports to the US increased by 11.2% in 2018, and to China by 31.4% in the same year, indicating the potential for further growth
  • Product Opportunities: India can boost exports of around 350 products to the US and China, including items like copper ores, rubber, paper/paperboard, industrial valves, vulcanised rubber, carbon or graphite electrodes, and natural honey
  • Trade Deficit Reduction: Increasing exports would help India narrow the widening trade deficit with China, which stood at USD 50.12 billion during April-February 2018-19

Conclusion: The US-China trade fight intensifies over China’s dominance in green technology sectors like electric vehicles. India stands to benefit from increased exports to both nations, potentially narrowing its trade deficit with China while tapping into new markets.

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Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Karnataka Drought Relief: Let there not be a (Centre-state) contest, states coming to court, says SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF);

Mains level: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges about the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein;

Why in the News?

Recently, the SC called on the Centre and state governments to refrain from a “contest”, and noted that various state governments were approaching the court to seek relief against the Centre in matters related to the disbursal of funds.

  • The bench was hearing the Karnataka government’s plea seeking a direction to the Centre to release financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for drought management.

Background:

  • The Karnataka state submitted to the Central government, that 223 of the 236 talukas or sub-districts were declared drought-hit. (48 lakh hectares of land under cultivation)
  • An Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) also visited the state to inspect the damage in October 2023. During the monsoon season last year, the rainfall deficit was 56% in June (the third highest in 122 years) and 73% in August (the highest in 122 years).

Supreme Court’s role in this case:

  • Ensuring Accountability and Setting Legal Precedence: The plea before the SC involves significant questions concerning the interpretation of the Constitution, particularly regarding Article 293. It questions whether this article grants states a legally enforceable right to borrow from the Union government or other sources.
    • Additionally, the court is considering the extent to which the Union government can regulate such borrowing rights if they exist.
  • Interpreting the Constitution: There should be at least five judges to hear cases that involve ” a substantial question of law as to the interpretation” of the Constitution. (Article 145(3))
  • Promoting Fair resource allocation in federal structure: It also raises “various questions of significant importance impacting the federal structure of governance as embedded in our Constitution.

About the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF):

  • It is a fund administered by the Central Government to cover costs associated with emergency response, relief, and rehabilitation in the face of potential disaster situations or actual disasters.
  • The NDRF is formed to bolster the finances of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) during significant disasters, ensuring support if sufficient funds are lacking in the SDRF.
  • Under the Disaster Management Act 2005, there is no definition of disasters. It can include any event arising from natural or man-made causes that can severely disrupt life for people, going beyond their coping capacity.
  • NDRF is mentioned in Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Provisions:

  • NDRF guidelines state that natural calamities of cyclones, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorms, landslides, avalanches, cloud bursts, pest attacks, and cold waves and frost are considered to be severe by the Government of India (GoI) and requiring expenditures by a state government over the balances available in its own SDRF will qualify for immediate relief assistance from NDRF.
  • The NDRF also covers man-made disasters such as terrorist attacks, chemical or biological disasters, or nuclear disasters as notified by the Central Government.
  • States have the State Disaster Relief Funds, where the Centre contributes 75% of the funds (and 90% for Himalayan and northeastern states) and states contribute the remainder.

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court, addressing Karnataka’s drought relief plea, emphasizes cooperation over conflict between the Centre and states, while also examining constitutional and federal structure implications, amid discussion on National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) utilization.

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Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Health Sector can’t ignore Telemedicine’s Green Gains, study shows

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Teleophthalmology

Mains level: Technology in News; Significance of teleophthalmology

Why in the news? 

Recently a study by researchers at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad, has found that around 70-80% of people who visit an Eye Hospital can benefit from teleconsultations because their problems aren’t serious enough to require attention at a hospital.

Key points as report:

  • Telemedicine in High-Income Countries: Studies in high-income countries have shown that telemedicine is both patient- and environment-friendly for delivering healthcare services.
  • Carbon Emissions from the Healthcare Sector: According to the International Comparison of Healthcare Carbon Footprints analysis, India’s healthcare sector emitted 74 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2014, around 3% of India’s total emissions of the gas that year.
  • Carbon Neutrality in Healthcare: The healthcare sector should aim for carbon neutrality to mitigate its environmental impact. Teleophthalmology is cited as an efficient and effective tool to help achieve this goal, as demonstrated by the lead author’s remarks.

The teleophthalmology process:

What are Telemedicine’s Green Gains?

  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Teleophthalmology significantly reduces the need for patients, especially those from rural areas, to travel long distances to access healthcare services. This leads to a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, contributing to environmental sustainability.
  • Economic Gains: Teleophthalmology results in significant cost savings for both patients and healthcare systems. Patients save money on travel expenses
  • Easy Accessibility: Teleophthalmology improves access to eye care services, especially for individuals living in remote or rural areas where access to healthcare facilities is limited. It allows patients to receive timely consultations without the need for extensive travel.
  • Targeted Care Gains: Teleophthalmology is particularly beneficial for patients with minor eye problems like mild refractive errors or regular preventive eye check-ups. It enables healthcare providers to target specific demographics and deliver personalized care more effectively.

Conclusion: The recent study highlights teleophthalmology’s potential in reducing carbon emissions and improving accessibility to eye care, emphasizing its role in achieving carbon neutrality and delivering cost-effective, targeted healthcare services, particularly for minor eye issues.

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Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

The ‘import restrictions’ on solar PV cells | Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ALMM list and its objective

Mains level: Why is it being re-implemented? and dependency of solar cell on import from china

Context:

The Finance Minister proposed the ₹19,500 crore PLI scheme in the Union Budget of 2022-23. 

  • This was to scale domestic manufacturing of the entire solar supply chain — from polysilicon to solar modules.
  • The government also introduced a steep 40% customs duty on PV modules and 25% on PV cells.

BACK2BASICS

What is the ALMM list?  

  • The Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) is a list of models and manufacturers of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules approved by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in India.
  • Objective: The ALMM is used to ensure the quality of solar panels and the manufacturer’s reliability for government projects, government-assisted projects, projects under government schemes and programs, and open access and net-metering projects.
  • It is being re-implemented to boost domestic solar manufacturing against China’s dominance in the supply value chain of solar PV.

Does India rely on Solar PV imports?

  • China’s Dominance in Imports: China is the leading supplier of solar cells and modules to India, accounting for a significant portion of India’s imports. As of January 2023-24, China accounted for 53% of India’s solar cell imports and 63% of solar PV module imports.
  • Manufacturing Capacity Disparity: China holds a dominant position in the manufacturing capacity for various components of solar panels, including polysilicon, wafers, cells, and modules. Rating agency ICRA estimates that China commands over 80% of the manufacturing capacity in these areas.

Government Initiatives:

  • Notification of ALMM Order: The government initiated efforts to address import dependency in the solar sector by notifying the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) order in January 2019.
  • Introduction of PLI Scheme: The Finance Ministry proposed the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme worth ₹19,500 crore in the Union Budget of 2022-23. This scheme was designed to incentivize domestic manufacturing across the entire solar supply chain, ranging from polysilicon to solar modules.
  • Imposition of Customs Duties on PV Modules and Cells: To further incentivize domestic manufacturing and curb imports, the government introduced steep customs duties on photovoltaic (PV) modules and cells. Initially, a 40% customs duty was imposed on PV modules, and a 25% duty was imposed on PV cells.

Why is China a leading exporter?

  • Cost-Competitive Manufacturing: China is recognized as the most cost-competitive location for manufacturing all components of the solar PV supply chain.
  • Low Cost of Power: The lower cost of power supplied to the solar PV industry significantly contributes to China’s competitiveness.
  • Growing Domestic Demand: The significant and rapidly growing domestic demand for solar PV products in China has played a crucial role in driving economies of scale.
  • Economies of Scale: China’s large-scale production capacity allows manufacturers to benefit from economies of scale.
  • Continuous Innovation: Chinese government support and the competitive market environment have fostered continuous innovation throughout the solar PV supply chain.

Future scope for Solar Energy in India:

  • Ambitious Targets:  The target of achieving 500 GW of installed capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030 underscores the significant role solar energy will play in India’s energy mix.
  • Fastest Growth Rate in Electricity Demand: India accounts for the fastest rate of growth in electricity demand among major economies, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
  • Abundant Solar Potential: India possesses abundant solar resources, with an estimated solar power potential of 748.99 GW.

Conclusion: The ALMM list, PLI scheme, and customs duties aim to boost domestic solar manufacturing in India to counter China’s dominance. With ambitious targets, fast-growing electricity demand, and abundant solar potential, solar energy holds significant promise for India’s energy transition.

Mains question for practice 

Q Discuss the initiatives undertaken by the Indian government to promote domestic manufacturing in the solar sector, particularly in light of China’s dominance.

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Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

Heat affects India’s aim to move from coal to renewables

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Heatwave;

Mains level: Climate Change; Heatwave;

Why in the News? 

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) recently said that India will have more than the ‘usual’ number of days with heat waves in this summer.

Increasing Temperature in India and its impact as per IMD:

  • Temperature Predictions: The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts “above-normal” temperatures for April-June 2024, with a probability of 55%-65% in one half of the country and over 65% in the other half. Few parts are expected to have normal or below-normal temperatures.
  • Effect of Heat on Agriculture: Higher heat negatively impacts crop yield, agricultural workers’ productivity, and water availability, varying in degree depending on the crop.
  • Consequences of Heat in Urban Area: Increased heat leads to higher power demand in urban and industrial centers, poses deadly risks for outdoor workers (such as at construction sites), overwhelms health service providers (especially affecting the very young and old), and highlights the importance of access to clean, cool water, indoor ventilation, and bathrooms.
  • Power Demand: The availability of power is crucial for addressing the effects of heat. A chart shows that in March 2024, the average evening peak-hour demand reached a new high of 190 GW.

Major challenges around the Energy Demand and Government Targets:

  • Government Targets: The government aims to achieve 500 GW of power generation capacity from renewable energy sources by 2030. Additionally, it has committed to producing 50% of its power from non-fossil fuel energy sources by the same year.
  • Heat increases power demand: Heat boosts power demand in cities and industries, heightens risks for outdoor labor, strains healthcare services for vulnerable groups, and underscores the necessity of clean water, ventilation, and bathrooms. Power availability is fundamental for addressing these challenges.
  • Focus on Solar Power: A substantial portion of the renewable energy addition will come from solar power. However, due to the intermittent nature of solar output and the ongoing establishment of power storage capacity, coal is still relied upon to meet peak demand.
  • Coal’s Dominance: Chart 3 (above) illustrates the gross electricity generated using coal in India and coal’s share in total electricity generation. The coal’s share has remained between 70-74% since at least FY16.
  • Commercially Viable Energy Storage: In India, the most commercially viable energy storage forms currently are battery-based and Pumped Hydro Storage (PHS).
  • Renewable Energy Generation: Chart 4 depicts the gross electricity generated using renewable sources in India and the share of renewable sources in total electricity generation. The share of renewables, including solar, hydro, wind, etc., has remained between 20-25% since at least FY16

Major Dilemma For India: Cannot ignore Coal immediately:

  • Coal is projected to continue as the backbone of the Indian energy system until the next two decades and its phase-down will require active policies on critical minerals, according to a report by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)- Ahmedabad.
  • The report, titled ‘Synchronising energy transitions towards a possible Net Zero for India: Affordable and Clean Energy for All,’ asserted that net zero is not possible without substantial nuclear power and renewable energy generation by 2070.
  • To achieve net-zero energy systems by 2070, the report mentioned that the electricity sector will need to decarbonize well before that.

 

Way Forward: 

  • NDC Goals: The remaining gaps in emissions will be offset through sequestration in forestry and tree cover as envisaged in our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • Need for Technological intervention: There is no silver bullet to achieve net zero. The transition needs multiple pathways to be adopted with the co-existence of myriad technologies in our energy basket.

 

Mains PYQ

Q Discuss the implications of heightened heat waves in India, as highlighted by recent statements from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

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Indian Army Updates

Marching ahead with technology absorption

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: What is Technology absorption in terms of disruptive technology (DT)?

Mains level: Challenges in Technology absorption

Why in the news? 

The Indian Army is observing the year 2024 as the ‘Year of Technology Absorption’.

  • The Indian military is moving in the right direction, but the challenge lies in sustaining technology absorption with a nuanced understanding of the requirements

What is Technology absorption in terms of disruptive technology (DT)?

It comprises Artificial intelligence, Autonomous Weapon Systems such as drones, sensors, robotics, space technology, and hypersonic weapon systems (also called Legacy Systems)

Challenges in Technology absorption:

  • Compatibility issues: Incorporating new technologies into existing structures or systems, known as legacy systems, can be challenging due to compatibility issues and the need for adaptation.
  • More time in Training and Skills Development: Ensuring that personnel are adequately trained to operate and maintain new technologies is crucial. The acquisition of technical skills and knowledge may require significant investment and time.
  • Lack of Resource: Limited resources, both financial and human, may constrain the absorption of technologies because need to require more funds to maintain preexisting military hardware. Due to this military has left very less amount of money to the absorption of technologies
  • Cybersecurity Concerns: With the integration of advanced technologies comes the risk of cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Safeguarding systems and networks against cyber-attacks becomes paramount.
  • Supply Chain Management: Dependence on external suppliers for critical components or technologies can introduce risks related to reliability, availability, and security of supply chains like fighter jet engine import from the USA

Technological Absorption needs to be governed organically:

  • Acknowledge the Sensitivity: Recognize existing vulnerabilities and sensitivities within the military structure and operations. Identify gaps between current capabilities and future needs.
  • Need to Understand Latest Technologies:  Understanding the latest advancements in technology and their potential applications in military operations. Understand the context in which these technologies can be effectively utilized.
  • Integrating at Unit-Level: Ensure that technology absorption is not limited to higher levels of command but is visibly manifested at the unit level. Democratize the use of technology to empower frontline personnel.
  • Macro-Level Aspects: Address macro-level aspects such as organizational restructuring, human resource management, cultivation of specialists at various levels, civil-military fusion, data integrity management, and procurement policies tailored for Defense Technologies (DTs).
  • Learn from Recent Wars: Analyze lessons learned from recent and ongoing conflicts to inform future planning and decision-making like the Russia Conflict

Mains question for practice 

Q Discuss the Challenges in Technology absorption in terms of disruptive technology (DT).And give suggestive measures to resolve the challenges

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Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

The citizen’s ‘climate rights’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Fundamental Rights; Article 14 and 21;

Mains level: Judiciary;

Why in the news? 

The Supreme Court recently held that people have a fundamental right to be free from the adverse effects of climate change while emphasizing that countries like India must uphold their international obligations for healthy and sustainable development [M K Ranjitsinh & Ors. vs Union of India].

 

Background of M K Ranjitsinh & Ors. vs Union of India Case:

    • The case was related to the conservation of the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB).
    • In 2021, a writ petition was filed by retired government official and conservationist M K Ranjitsinh, seeking protection for the GIB and the Lesser Florican, which are on the verge of extinction.
    • On April 19, 2021 order by SC was imposed restricting the setting up of overhead transmission lines in a territory of about 99,000 sq km in the GIB habitat in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • The Supreme Court has ruled that people have a “right to be free from the adverse effects of climate change”, which should be recognized by Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
  • This judgment was by a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.

The Recent Modification over Earlier Judgement given by the SC:

Who applied for modification of an earlier case?

  • The Ministry of Power, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had applied to modify the 2021 order on grounds that
  • It had adverse implications for India’s power sector, and undergrounding power lines was not possible
  • The Paris Climate Treaty (2015) is one of the key grounds for seeking a modification of the 2021 order.

What SC did say in this case?

  • Underground powerlines: The apex court modified its April 2021 order giving directions for underground high-voltage and low-voltage power lines, and directed experts to assess the feasibility of undergrounding power lines in specific areas after considering factors such as terrain, population density, and infrastructure requirements
  • The earlier direction was not feasible: The ruling acknowledged that its earlier directions, “besides not being feasible to implement, would also not result in achieving its stated purpose, i.e., the conservation of the GIB”.
  • Suitable relationship between FR and DPSP: The court emphasized that when addressing environmental concerns outlined in the Directive Principles of State Policy, they must be interpreted in conjunction with the right to life and personal liberty as enshrined in Article 21.

How have the Courts interpreted Article 21 earlier?

  • Article 21 as the Heart of Fundamental Rights: The Supreme Court (SC) recognizes Article 21 of the Constitution as central to fundamental rights, emphasizing that the right to life encompasses more than mere existence but includes all rights necessary for a meaningful and dignified life.
  • Inclusion of Environmental Rights within Article 21: In the 1980s, the SC expanded Article 21 to include the right to a clean environment, along with various other rights such as education, shelter, clean air, livelihood, and medical care.
  • Actualizing New Rights: Despite the recognition of these new rights, citizens often face challenges in exercising them, particularly in cases concerning environmental issues like clean air.

 

What are the implications of the judgment for environmental jurisprudence?

  • Strengthening Environmental and Climate Justice: The judgment emphasizes bolstering environmental and climate justice by recognizing the multifaceted impacts of climate change on various communities.
  • Expansion of Article 14 and Right to Life: The judgment expands the scope of Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law, to encompass environmental concerns.
  • Influence on Public Discourse and Government Policies: The judgment is expected to influence public discourse on environmental issues, shaping perceptions and priorities regarding environmental protection.
  • Establishment of Legal Precedent: By acknowledging the “right against adverse effects of climate change,” the judgment establishes a significant legal precedent.

Conclusion: The Supreme Court’s recognition of citizens’ “right to be free from adverse effects of climate change” expands constitutional protections, strengthens environmental justice, influences policy discourse, and sets a crucial legal precedent.

Mains PYQ 

Q Does the right to clean environment entail legal regulation on burning crackers during Diwali? Discus in the light of Article 21 of Indian Constitution and judgements of the apex in this regard.(UPSC IAS/2015) 

Q The most significant achievement of modern law in India is the constitutionalization of environmental problems by the Supreme Court.” Discuss this statement with the help of relevant case laws. (UPSC IAS/2022) 

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Why have ‘Madrasas’ been in the spotlight in Uttar Pradesh? | Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004

Mains level: Recent Judgement of Supreme court

Why in the news? 

Recently the three-judge Supreme Court Bench stayed a ruling of the Allahabad High Court on the U.P. Board of Madrasa Education Act 2004 calling it an infringement of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

  • Earlier, the HC had dubbed the U.P. Board of Madrasa Education Act “Unconstitutional and asked for immediate closure of the madrasas. It called for the relocation and integration of the madrasa students with regular schools.

Why are madrasas in the spotlight?

  • Uttar Pradesh has approximately 25,000 madrasas, out of which 16,500 are recognized by the U.P. Madrasa Education Board.
    • Only 560 madrasas receive grants from the government, leading to complaints of delayed payment and salary arrears.
    • Irregular madrasas, often lacking resources, provide only elementary learning.
  • In 2022, the U.P. Government ordered a survey to identify unrecognised or illegal madrasas.
  • A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed to investigate alleged foreign funding sources for the madrasas, claiming over ₹100 crore had been received from abroad over three years. However, evidence supporting these claims was not made public.

About Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004:

  • The Act sought to oversee and administer the operations of madrasas (Islamic educational institutions) in Uttar Pradesh, providing guidelines for their establishment, recognition, curriculum, and management.
  •  It led to the formation of the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education, tasked with regulating and supervising madrasa activities throughout the state.

Concerns Regarding the Act:

  • Limited Curriculum: Upon examination of madrasa syllabi, the High Court noted a curriculum heavily focused on Islamic studies, with limited emphasis on modern subjects.
  • Conflict with Higher Education Standards: The Act raised concerns regarding its conflict with Section 22 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956, which led to questions about its compliance with higher education norms

Conclusion: Madrasas in Uttar Pradesh are under scrutiny due to a recent Supreme Court stay on the Allahabad High Court ruling, citing infringement of fundamental rights. Concerns persist over grants, quality of education, and compatibility with higher education standards.

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Electronic System Design and Manufacturing Sector – M-SIPS, National Policy on Electronics, etc.

What is the technology behind manufacturing a semiconductor chip?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Science and Technology; Semiconductor, wafer and Transistor;

Mains level: India’s semiconductor ecosystem;

Why in the News? 

The Union Cabinet has sanctioned the setup of three semiconductor facilities as part of the initiative to develop semiconductor and display manufacturing ecosystems in the country. One is in Assam and the other two are in Gujarat.

Need for Semiconductor hub in India:

  • Right now, only a few countries in the world make computer chips. Due to the issues like COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions between countries, it’s become clear that we need more countries to manufacture these chips instead of Depending on the single country (Taiwan issue).
  • For example, the TATA Group, working with a company from Taiwan called Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (PSMC), is building a factory in Gujarat to make chips.

BACK2BASICS:

What is a Semiconductor chip? How is it manufactured?

It is a tiny electronic device made of semiconductor material (usually silicon or germanium) that serves as the basic building block of most electronic circuits. These chips can perform various functions, such as processing data, storing information, or controlling electronic devices.

What is a transistor?

A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is a fundamental building block of modern electronic devices and circuits. Transistors can be thought of as electronic switches that can be turned on or off, or can be used to amplify electrical signals.

What is fabrication technology?

Fabrication technology, often referred to as semiconductor fabrication technology or semiconductor manufacturing, is the process of creating electronic devices and integrated circuits (ICs) on semiconductor materials such as silicon. It involves a series of complex steps to build electronic components, including transistors, diodes, and resistors, as well as connecting them to create functional electronic circuits.

What is known as a wafer?

A wafer refers to a thin, flat slice of semiconductor material, typically made of silicon. Silicon wafers are the primary substrate used in the fabrication of integrated circuits (ICs) and other semiconductor devices.

 

Efforts made by the Indian Government to build Semiconductor Ecosystem:

  • India Semiconductor Mission (ISM): The Indian government is actively promoting semiconductor industry growth through initiatives and incentives, including the establishment of the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) and a significant financial package to boost semiconductor and display manufacturing.
  • Effort to boost Domestic manufacturing: India is also working to attract international investments to bolster domestic manufacturing. An example of this is Micron Technology’s planned Assembly, Test, Mark, and Pack (ATMP) facility in Gujarat, with a total investment of $2.75 billion, set to produce the first “Made in India” chip by the end of 2024
  • International Partnership: The US Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA) have decided to establish a partnership, with the US presently having a ‘Chip 4’ alliance with the world’s top semiconductor makers – Taiwan, Japan

Conclusion: India’s semiconductor ecosystem is proliferating, backed by government initiatives like the India Semiconductor Mission and partnerships with global players. Efforts to boost domestic manufacturing and international collaborations signify India’s emergence as a key player in the semiconductor industry.

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RBI Notifications

Why RBI has been wary of declaring an early victory over inflation?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Banking; RBI; The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC);

Mains level: Banking; RBI; Functions of the RBI;

Why in the news? 

Recently, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which met here from April 3 to 5, decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 6.5% and maintain the policy stance of ‘withdrawal of accommodation’ in the monetary policy.

  • Withdrawal of accommodation means reducing the money supply in the system which will rein in inflation further. (Temporary Provision)

Why the RBI has been wary of declaring an early victory over inflation?

  • Persistent Food Inflation: Despite expectations of moderation in inflation, food inflation has remained a concern, especially due to the high prices of food grains and vegetables. In February, food inflation was at 8.7%, with foodgrain inflation still high at 9.8%.
  • Inflation Gap between Bottom and Top of Urban Population: Food inflation disproportionately affects lower-income deciles more than higher ones. In February, the bottom 20% of the urban population faced 5.5% inflation compared to 4.7% for the top 20%. This pattern is similar in rural areas as well.
  • Management Issues: The RBI faces challenges in managing inflation while maintaining growth, especially when inflation persists due to Geopolitical conditions. While central bank policy moves cannot directly bring down supply shock-driven inflation, they can prevent high prices from spilling over.

 Why RBI has kept policy rates unchanged?

  • High Economic Growth: The RBI is focused on maintaining price and financial stability to sustain high growth. The central bank expects the Indian economy to grow at 7% in fiscal year 2024-25
  • Benign Core Inflation: Benign core inflation, which has declined steadily over the past months, indicates that strong growth has not been inflationary. The RBI finds comfort in the declining core inflation levels
  • Monetary Policy Stance associated with food inflation: The RBI is likely to maintain policy rates until October 2024 to assess evolving risks associated with food inflation. The central bank is cautious and prefers to adopt a risk-minimization mode to align inflation towards the target while supporting growth
  • Global Economic Conditions: The RBI is monitoring global economic trends and external factors that could impact domestic inflation and growth. The central bank is aware of the risks posed by geopolitical tensions, volatility in international financial markets, and geo-economic fragmentation

 

BACK2BASICS

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

  • It is a key body responsible for formulating the country’s monetary policy. It  is a statutory body constituted as per Section 45ZB under the RBI Act of 1934 by the Central Government
  •  It is a six-member committee established under the amended Reserve Bank of India Act, of 1934. The MPC’s primary objective is to determine the policy rate required to achieve the inflation target set by the government. The committee consists of the following members:
    • RBI Governor (ex officio chairperson)
    • Deputy Governor in charge of monetary policy
    • An officer of the Bank nominated by the Central Board
    • Three members appointed by the central government
  • The MPC meets at least four times a year, and decisions taken by the committee are binding on the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The committee’s composition ensures a mix of expertise in economics, banking, finance, and monetary policy to effectively manage the country’s Monetary Policy Framework.

 

Conclusion: The RBI has been cautious due to persistent food inflation impacting lower income groups, challenges in managing it, and the need to assess evolving risks. MPC’s unchanged policy rates reflect this caution amidst high growth and benign core inflation.

Mains pyq 

Q Do you agree with the view that steady GDP growth and low inflation have left the Indian economy in good shape? Give reasons in support of your arguments. (UPSC IAS/2019)

Source https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/why-rbi-wary-of-declaring-early-victory-over-inflation-9253330/

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Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Implementing Universal Health Coverage

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Government Schemes and Policies in News; National Health Policy, 2017;

Mains level: Social Issues and Justice; Health Issues in India; Government Schemes and Policies in News;

Why in the news?

On the eve of World Health Day (7th April), many countries aim to implement UHC (Universal Health Coverage) in the same way as India introduced its National Health Policy, in 2017. However, there exist challenges in India too for implementing it.

Background:

  • On December 12, 2012, the UN General Assembly unanimously endorsed a resolution urging countries to accelerate progress towards UHC.
  • In India, the high-level expert group report, submitted to the Planning Commission in 2011, outlined a government intent to increase public financing for health to 2.5% of India’s GDP during the 12th Plan (2012-17).

BACK2BASICS:

About National Health Policy, 2017:

It aims to achieve Universal Health Coverage and deliver quality healthcare services to all at an affordable cost. It focuses on improving health status through preventive, promotive, curative, palliative, and rehabilitative services with an emphasis on quality.

 

What are the challenges in the Implementation of UHC in India? 

  • Federal Issue: Health is a state subject in India, but UHC policy is envisaged at the national level. This can lead to challenges in coordination between the central government and state governments.
    • While the Directive Principles of State Policy provide a basis for the right to health, the absence of a specific constitutional guarantee may create challenges in ensuring consistent and enforceable healthcare rights.
  • Migrant Population and Urban Slums:  Due to issues such as overcrowding, poor sanitation, and limited infrastructure, a significant portion of the population living in urban slums face issues with the availability and accessibility of Primary Health Services is hard to provide.
  • Lack of Finance: Implementing UHC requires significant financial resources. Reducing out-of-pocket expenditure and strengthening primary healthcare services necessitate substantial investments, which may strain government budgets and require innovative financing mechanisms to ensure sustainability.
  • Lack of Healthcare Infrastructure and Human Resources:  India faces shortages in both infrastructure and human resources, particularly in rural and underserved areas, which hinders efforts to improve healthcare accessibility and quality.
  • The vicious cycle of poverty: The vicious cycle of poverty and poor health perpetuates inequality in various spheres of life which eventually leads to the accessibility of health services.

Suggestive Measures:

  • Addressing Urban Migrants’ Health Needs: Establishing mobile healthcare units or clinics that can reach migrant communities in urban and peri-urban areas, providing essential primary healthcare services.
  • Reducing Out-of-Pocket Expenditure: Simplifying the reimbursement process by digitizing healthcare payment systems and integrating them with government identification or mobile banking platforms to facilitate easy reimbursement for medical expenses.
  • Creating Inclusive Health Systems: Introducing multilingual and culturally sensitive health information materials and services to bridge language barriers and ensure accessibility for diverse urban populations.
  • Implementing Community-Based Primary Healthcare: Establishing community health centers or clinics in urban and peri-urban areas staffed by trained community health workers who can provide basic healthcare services and referrals.

Conclusion: Building Constitutional backing, enhancing coordination, and federal with fiscal consensus with adequate infrastructure in addressing urban health needs can improve the reach of the Universal Health Program in India.

Mains PYQ

Q Public health system has limitation in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that private sector can help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives do you suggest? (UPSC IAS/2015)

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Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Next government must urgently fix ‘unnecessarily complex’, counter-productive GST: 13th Finance Commission chair

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Taxation; GST;

Mains level: Recent Issues in Taxation;

Why in the news? 

Recently Vijay Kelkar (chaired 13th Finance Commission) attributes frauds in Indirect Tax regimes to high GST rates; Moots switched to a single 12% rate like most other countries.

Reason behind the need for a Single GST rate:

  • Simplification of the structure: A single GST rate would simplify the structure, making it easier for businesses to comply with the tax system and reducing the complexity of classification issues
  • Promotion of manufacturing and exports: A single GST rate could help promote manufacturing and exports by reducing the burden of multiple rates and making the tax system more predictable
  • Single GST rate in many countries: In many developed and emerging market economies, a single GST or VAT rate has been successful in optimizing tax revenue and minimizing tax disputes for example Singapore, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, and Japan, have opted for a single GST or VAT rate
  • Addressing GST frauds: High GST rates can make it lucrative for fraudsters to evade taxes. A single, lower GST rate could potentially reduce the incentive for tax evasion and make the system more transparent
  • Reducing litigation: A single GST rate could help reduce litigation related to classification issues and subjective interpretation of tax rates

How does the Indian GST model compare with GST in other countries?

Particulars India  Canada UK Singapore
Name of GST in the Country Goods and Service tax Federal Goods and Service Tax & Harmonized Sales Tax Value Added Tax Goods and Service Tax
Standard Rate 0% (for food staples), 5%, 12%, 18% and 28% (+cess on luxury items) GST 5% and HST varies from 0% to 15% 20 %Reduced rates- 5 %, exempt, zero rated 7% Reduced rates- Zero rated, exempt
Threeshold Exemption Limit Rs.40 lakh or Rs.20 lakh, depending on the state and supply Canadian $ 30,000 £ 85,000 Singapore $ 1 million
Liability arises on Accrual basis: Issue of invoice ORReceipt of payment-earlier Accrual basis: The date of issue of invoice OR the date of receiptof payment- earlier. Accrual Basis: Invoice OR PaymentOR Supply-earliestCash basis (T/O up to 1.35mn): Payment Accrual Basis: Issue of invoice OR Receipt of payment OR Supply – earliestCash basis: (T/O up to SGD$1mn): Payment
Reverse Charge Mechanism Applies on goods as well as services Reverse charge applies to the importation of services andintangible properties Applicable Reverse charge applies to the supply of services
Exempt Supplies Sale of land and completed buildings, certain healthcare and educational services, essential food items, etc. Real estate, financial services, rent (Residence), charities, health, education Medical, education, finance, insurance, postal services Real estate, Financial services, Residential rental

Significance of sharing GST with local bodies:

  • Promoting Co-operative Fiscal-federalism: Sharing GST revenues with local bodies could promote fiscal federalism by ensuring a fair distribution of tax revenues among all tiers of government.
  • Strengthening of their Fiscal base: Equitable sharing of GST with the third tier of government, i.e., local bodies, would strengthen their fiscal base and enable them to undertake investments for vital infrastructure and high-quality public goods
  • Building Fairness and appropriateness: GST is a consumption tax, and taxpayers should see direct benefits accruing from their payment of taxes. An arrangement for sharing GST revenues with local bodies would be fair and appropriate
  • Improves Local governance: Sharing GST revenues with local bodies would bolster the quality of governance provided by local governments, as citizens’ demand for quality public goods will grow louder.

BACK2BASICS:

About Goods and Services Tax:

  • GST was introduced through the 101st Constitution Amendment Act, 2016. It is one of the biggest indirect tax reforms in the country.
  • It was introduced with the slogan of ‘One Nation One Tax’.The GST has subsumed indirect taxes like excise duty, Value Added Tax (VAT), service tax, luxury tax etc.
  • It is essentially a consumption tax and is levied at the final consumption point.
  • Tax Structure:
  • Central GST to cover Excise duty, Service tax etc, State GST to cover VAT, luxury tax etc. and Integrated GST (IGST) to cover inter-state trade.
  • IGST per se is not a tax but a system to coordinate state and union taxes.
  • It has a 4-tier tax structure for all goods and services under the slabs- 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.

Conclusion: Implementing a single GST rate streamlines compliance, promotes economic growth, and curbs fraud. Sharing GST revenue with local bodies strengthens fiscal bases, fosters fairness, enhances governance, and supports fiscal federalism for equitable distribution.

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Forest Fires

Fighting forest fires with a plan and community cooperation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: trend in forest fires in states

Mains level: Region more prone to forest Fire and factores behind the forest fire

Why in the news? 

The forest staff across the Kerala State are on alert with the onslaught of summer, with temperatures reaching as high as 40-41 degrees Centigrade, unusual for this time.

Forest Fires in Kerala 

  • Kerala records relatively fewer forest fires compared to several other states in India, including Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, and Maharashtra.
  • Kerala’s forest cover, occupying 29.65% of the land, is dominated by deciduous and semi-deciduous woods that are drying up, especially on the forest periphery because of it Forest staff in Kerala are on alert
  •  Kerala reported 163 wildfire incidents since January, resulting in the burning of 230 hectares of forest, which is less compared to previous years.
  • Global Forest Watch data indicates 97 VIIRS(Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suit) fire alerts in Kerala between March 15 and 22, with only 5.2% of them classified as high-confidence alerts.Fires were responsible for 0.33% forest cover loss in Kerala between 2001 and 2022 according to Global Forest Watch.

What is the frequency of forest fires in India?

  •  Escalation Of forest Fire : Forest fire season in India typically spans from November to June, during which hundreds of thousands of small and large fires occur annually. The frequency of fires tends to escalate from February onwards as summer approaches.
  • forest Fires as per (ISFR) : In its 2021 report, the biennial India State of Forest Report (ISFR) released by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) indicates that 35.47% of the forest cover is classified as fire-prone areas.

Region more prone to forest Fire

  • Fires of severe magnitude occur frequently in dry deciduous forests, whereas evergreen, semi-evergreen, and montane temperate forests are relatively less susceptible to fires.
  • During the November to June period, the forests in Northeast India, Odisha, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand face the highest risk of fires.For example in 2021, a string of forest fires occurred in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, the Nagaland-Manipur border, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, including within wildlife sanctuaries.
  • In 2024 forest Fires: According to data from the Forest Survey of India (FSI), Mizoram reported the highest number of forest fires (3,738), followed by Manipur (1,702), Assam (1,652), Meghalaya (1,252), and Maharashtra (1,215).

Reason behind the forest fires in India 

The majority of forest fires in India are ignited by human activities, including:

  • Agricultural Burning: Farmers often use fire to clear land for cultivation or to manage crop residues, leading to accidental fires spreading into nearby forests.For example Jhum (slash and burn cultivation)
  • Intentional Arson: Deliberate setting of fires for various reasons, such as land grabbing, hunting, or retaliatory actions.
  • Carelessness: Unattended campfires, discarded cigarettes, or burning of waste materials can spark fires.
  • Climate Conditions: Dry and hot weather conditions during the summer months create favorable conditions for the rapid spread of fires. .For example forest fires has worsen due to climate change as per UNEP

Plan for Fighting forest Fires 

  • Early Detection: Implement systems for early detection of forest fires, such as fire watchtowers, aerial surveillance, and remote sensing technologies like drones and satellites.
  • Rapid Response: Develop well-trained and equipped firefighting teams capable of swift response to contain fires in their early stages before they escalate.
  • Controlled Burns: Conduct controlled burns during cooler and wetter months to remove excess vegetation and reduce the risk of large-scale wildfires during dry seasons.
  • Firebreaks: Create and maintain firebreaks by clearing vegetation along strategic points to halt the spread of fires.
  • Community Involvement: Educate local communities about fire prevention and train them in firefighting techniques. Encourage community participation in fire management efforts.
  • Equipment and Infrastructure: Ensure availability and proper maintenance of firefighting equipment such as hoses, pumps, bulldozers, and firefighting aircraft.

Conclusion 

Forest fires in India, exacerbated by climate conditions, pose significant threats. Kerala’s proactive measures and community involvement highlight effective strategies for prevention and control, crucial in mitigating the increasing frequency of fires nationwide.

 

 https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/natural-disasters/wildfires-will-be-more-frequent-larger-and-intense-due-to-climate-change-unep-81615

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