May 31, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 31, 2023
How does the window dressing of loans affect the banking industry and the corporates? What impact could it have on the economy if left unchecked?
Introduction: Explain the context of window dressing.
Body: Briefly explain the method and its effects on the banking industry and corporate.
Conclusion: Give a holistic conclusion involving corporate governance and forward-looking reforms
The window dressing of loans refers to the practice of manipulating financial statements or records to present a misleading or distorted picture of the true financial health of a bank or a corporate entity. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das raised red flags over banks adopting innovative methods for the evergreening of loans, covering up the real status of stressed loans of corporates to project an artificial clean image in cahoots with corporates.
Methods used by Banks and Corporates:
- Bringing two lenders together to evergreen each other’s loans by sale and buyback of loans or debt instruments.
- Good borrowers are being persuaded to enter into structured deals with a stressed borrower to conceal the stress.
- Use of internal or office accounts to adjust borrower’s repayment obligations.
- Renewal of loans or disbursement of new/additional loans to the stressed borrower or related entities closer to the repayment date of the earlier loans.
Affects the Banking Industry:
- False impression of asset quality: Window dressing of loans can make a bank's loan portfolio appear healthier than it is. By hiding non-performing loans or inflating the value of assets, banks may give the impression of having lower levels of risk. This can mislead investors, depositors, and regulators, potentially eroding trust in the banking system.
- Distorted risk assessment: When banks engage in window dressing, it becomes difficult to accurately assess the level of risk they are exposed to. This can lead to inadequate risk management practices and misallocation of capital, which can eventually undermine the stability of the banking industry.
- Weakened credit quality: If banks resort to window dressing, they may extend loans to borrowers with weak creditworthiness or engage in risky lending practices. the banking industry. Eg - After the RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan ordered an asset quality review in 2014, a host of concealed bad loans or NPAs surfaced
Affects the Corporates:
- Misleading investors and creditors: By manipulating financial statements, they can attract investors or obtain loans on more favorable terms. However, this misrepresentation can harm investors, creditors, and other stakeholders who rely on accurate financial information for decision-making.
- Impaired transparency: undermines the transparency and integrity of corporate financial reporting. This hampers the ability of stakeholders to make informed decisions, distorts market efficiency, and creates an unfair playing field for businesses.
- Increased systemic risk: If a significant number of corporates engage in window dressing, it can contribute to systemic risk in the economy. Financial institutions that rely on accurate information about corporates may be exposed to greater risk, potentially leading to financial contagion and instability in the broader economy.
Impact of window dressing on the economy:
- Market inefficiencies: Misleading financial statements can distort market prices and misallocate resources. Investors may make decisions based on inaccurate information, leading to mispricing of assets and inefficient capital allocation.
- Loss of confidence: Window dressing erodes trust in financial institutions, corporates, and the overall economic system. This loss of confidence can lead to reduced investment, decreased lending, and slower economic growth.
- Systemic risks: Prolonged and widespread window dressing can contribute to the build-up of systemic risks, such as the accumulation of bad loans and fragile financial institutions. This can increase the likelihood of financial crises and have severe consequences for the economy as a whole.
To mitigate the adverse effects, regulators play a crucial role in enforcing transparency, disclosure standards, and effective oversight mechanisms. Strengthening corporate governance, implementing stringent accounting standards, and promoting ethical practices are essential to prevent and detect window dressing. The RBI must ensure that the banks are subject to strict oversight and governance reforms so that such instances do not have a significant bearing on the Indian economy at large.
May 30, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 30, 2023
Discuss the challenges faced by Indian universities in ensuring quality education and the relevant measures taken by the government to address the issues ailing our higher education system.
Introduction: Give a brief overview of university-level education in our country while pressing on the need for reforms.
Body: While elaborating on the challenges, also discuss the relevant government measures to address the issues.
Conclusion: The importance of collaboration between various stakeholders to improve the quality of the higher education system.
India’s higher education has various structural issues. With a base of 900-plus universities in the world, only 15 higher education institutions from India are in the top 1,000. The latest ‘Wheebox India Skills Report 2023’ highlighted that only 50% of Indian graduates are employable.
Some prominent challenges faced by Indian universities in ensuring quality education and the relevant measures taken by the government to address the issues are:
- Inadequate Infrastructure including classrooms, laboratories, libraries, and sports facilities hampers the learning experience and restricts the scope of practical training. For example, a survey conducted by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 2019 revealed that more than 60% of engineering colleges in India lack basic infrastructure facilities.
- Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) 2013 aims to provide strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions. Under RUSA, emphasis is given to improving infrastructure like classrooms, laboratories, and research centres and creating new facilities to enhance the quality of education.
- Outdated Curriculum that fails to keep pace with industry requirements and technological advancements. This leads to a gap between the skills possessed by graduates and the needs of the job market. For example, a study conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) found that around 80% of engineering graduates in India are not employable due to a lack of relevant skills.
- The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has emphasized the need for a flexible and multidisciplinary curriculum. It encourages universities to update their curriculum regularly to align it with industry requirements and promote interdisciplinary learning. The NEP also promotes the use of technology and online platforms for delivering quality education and updating course content.
- Lack of Qualified Faculty particularly in specialized fields. This affects the quality of teaching and research output. According to a report by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 2020, around 58% of faculty positions in higher educational institutions remained vacant.
- Initiatives like the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) and the Prime Minister's Research Fellowship (PMRF) program aim to attract renowned international faculty and provide financial incentives to talented researchers. Additionally, the government encourages universities to provide faculty development programs and promote research collaborations with industry and other institutions.
- Low Research Output Indian universities face a challenge in terms of low research output and limited contributions to knowledge creation. According to the Scopus database, in 2020, India ranked 4th in the world in terms of research output, but its research impact was relatively low.
- The government has established various funding agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR). These agencies provide financial support to researchers and encourage them to undertake high-quality research projects. The schemes like the Atal Innovation Mission and Start-up India foster an entrepreneurial culture and promote innovation in universities.
- Limited Industry Collaboration: Indian universities often struggle to establish strong ties with industries, which affects the relevance of the curriculum and restricts opportunities for internships and practical training. This gap between academia and industry needs to be bridged to enhance employability and ensure industry-relevant education.
- National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the All India Council for Technical Education's (AICTE) Industry-Institute Partnership Cell (IIPC) facilitate collaboration between universities and industries, leading to industry-specific curriculum design, faculty training, internships, and placement opportunities for students.
- Access and Affordability particularly for students from marginalized communities and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The limited availability of scholarships and financial aid restricts their ability to pursue higher education. According to the AISHE 2020-21 report, the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) for higher education in India stands at around 27.1%, indicating the need for increased access.
- The Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) students, the National Fellowship Scheme for Scheduled Tribe (ST) students, and the centrally-sponsored scholarship schemes provide financial assistance to deserving students. Additionally, initiatives like Digital India and the National Knowledge Network aim to bridge the digital divide and improve access to online education resources.
- Standardization and Accreditation - Maintaining quality standards across diverse universities and colleges is challenging. Variation in curriculum, teaching methodologies, and assessment practices impact the overall quality of education and creates disparities between institutions. The lack of accreditation mechanisms further exacerbates this issue.
- The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) evaluates higher education institutions based on several parameters, including teaching-learning resources, research output, industry collaboration, and overall performance. This ranking system helps identify top-performing institutions and encourages others to improve their quality standards.
- Brain Drain challenge where talented students and researchers seek opportunities abroad due to better infrastructure, funding, and career prospects. This exodus of talent affects the availability of qualified faculty and hinders research and innovation within the country.
- To tackle the brain drain, the "Study in India" program was launched by the Ministry of Education to promote India as a preferred destination for higher education among international students. Programs like the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) and the Prime Minister's Research Fellowship (PMRF) aim to attract and retain talented researchers by providing opportunities for international collaborations, exposure to cutting-edge research, and financial incentives. The emphasis on research and innovation in the NEP 2020 also aims to create a conducive environment for researchers, thereby reducing brain drain.
Indian universities face several challenges in ensuring quality education and these initiatives aim to improve infrastructure, update curriculum, attract qualified faculty, promote research and innovation, and foster industry collaboration, ultimately leading to a quality higher education system in India. However, continuous efforts and partnerships between government bodies, universities, and stakeholders are necessary to ensure sustained improvement in the quality of higher education in India.
May 29, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 29, 2023
Effectively addressing poverty in India requires not only implementing income-enhancing policies but also prioritising nutritional outcomes. Comment. Also, highlight the various initiatives taken by the government in this regard.
Introduction: Show the interrelationship between poverty, income, and nutrition. Provide some statistics on the current situation of poverty and nutrition in India.
Body: Discuss the nutritional outcomes that need to be prioritised. Highlight the various initiatives taken by the government in this regard
Conclusion: Suggest some recommendations for further action.
Poverty and malnutrition are closely interlinked, and individuals living in poverty are more likely to suffer from malnutrition due to inadequate access to food, healthcare, and other basic resources. Malnutrition, in turn, can exacerbate poverty by reducing productivity and increasing healthcare costs, leading to a vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition.
Millions of Indians suffer from multifaceted poverty. In 2019, 10.2% of the population was poor (World Bank). Income alone does not measure poverty because it does not include health, education, nutrition, and sanitation. Thus, to reduce poverty in India, policies must improve income opportunities and nutritional outcomes.
Micronutrient deficiencies, or "hidden hunger," are a major obstacle to improving nutrition. In 2019, 156.8 million Indians were undernourished, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 report.
Therefore, it is important to prioritise the following five nutritional outcomes that need to be addressed in India:
- Stunting: Stunting is the impaired growth and development of children due to chronic undernutrition. Stunting can have long-term effects on cognitive development, school performance, immune function and chronic disease risk.
- It affects 38.4% of children under 5 years of age in India, making it the country with the highest number of stunted children in the world.
- Wasting: Wasting is the low weight-for-height of children due to acute undernutrition. Wasting can increase the risk of mortality, infections and morbidity in children.
- It affects 21% of children under 5 years of age in India, making it one of the countries with the highest burden of wasting globally.
- Anaemia: Anaemia is the low level of haemoglobin in the blood due to iron deficiency or other causes. Anaemia can impair physical and mental development, productivity, immunity and maternal and child health outcomes.
- It affects 58.6% of children under 5 years of age, 53.1% of women of reproductive age and 22.7% of men in India.
- Overweight/obesity: Overweight/obesity is the excess weight-for-height or body mass index (BMI) due to excessive fat accumulation. Overweight/obesity can increase the risk of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
- It affects 20.7% of women and 18.6% of men in India, making it a growing public health concern.
- Micronutrient deficiency: Micronutrient deficiency is the lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet, such as vitamin A, iodine, zinc and folate. It affects a large proportion of the population in India, especially children and women. It can cause various health problems, such as blindness, goitre, diarrhoea, birth defects and neural tube defects.
- Drinking water: About 18 per cent of households do not have access to improved sources of drinking water such as piped water or protected wells. This exposes them to waterborne diseases such as cholera, hepatitis A and E and fluorosis.
The government of India has taken various initiatives to improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children, who are most vulnerable to malnutrition. Some of these initiatives include:
- National Nutrition Mission (NNM) also known as Poshan Abhiyaan, is launched in 2018 to reduce stunting, underweight, anaemia, and low birth weight among children and pregnant women. The mission aims to reach 100 million beneficiaries by 2022 through convergence, the use of technology, community mobilisation, and behavioural change communication.
- National Food Security Mission launched in 2007 provides subsidised food grains to 75% of the rural and 50% of the urban population under the National Food Security Act 2013. This will augment India’s nutrition needs by increasing the production and consumption of nutritious crops that are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other micronutrients.
- Zero Hunger Programme was initiated in 2017 in three districts of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030. It involves interventions such as crop diversification, biofortification, kitchen gardens, nutrition education and local food processing.
- Eat Right India Movement: This is a campaign launched in 2018 by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to promote healthy eating habits and reduce the consumption of salt, sugar and fat.
- Food Fortification: This is a process of adding micronutrients such as iron, iodine, zinc, and vitamins A and D to staple foods such as rice, wheat flour, oil, milk and salt to address micronutrient deficiencies in the population. The government has issued standards and guidelines for food fortification and supports its implementation through various schemes such as ICDS, mid-day meals and public distribution system.
The Economic Survey 2022-23 notes that "India's transition from food security to nutritional security is an ongoing process." The way ahead to improve nutritional outcomes in India could include increasing access to and availability of nutrient-rich foods, promoting education and awareness about nutrition, supporting programmes that provide supplementary feeding for vulnerable populations, and implementing policies to address food insecurity and malnutrition.
May 27, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 27, 2023
"If India wants to continue being the pharmacy of the world, then it needs to make its pharmaceutical industry robust, resilient, and responsive”. Elaborate.
Introduction: Briefly mention the status of India’s Pharmaceutical industry at the global level and how its robustness, resilience and responsiveness were put to the test during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Body: Bring out the state of India’s pharmaceutical industry & challenges it will face in retaining the tag of pharmacy of the world.
Conclusion: Give a way forward by suggesting the steps that need to be taken.
Although globally, India ranks 3rd in terms of pharmaceutical production by volume and 14th by value and its current market size is around USD 50 billion but when its robustness, resilience and responsiveness were put to test during the Covid-19 pandemic various challenges which this sector is witnessing were brought to light.
State of Indian Pharma Sector:
- India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally:
- 40% of generic demand in the U.S. and 25% of all medicine in the U.K.
- Presently, over 80% of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to combat AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are supplied by Indian pharmaceutical firms.
- Largest producer of vaccines: The Indian pharmaceutical industry meets over 50% of the global demand for various vaccines.
- Fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs are an innovation of India’s national pharmaceutical industry. FDC is being used in the treatment of diseases like HIV, Parkinson’s disease and contraceptive pills.
- Growth Potential: According to the Economic Survey 2021, the domestic market is expected to grow three times in the next decade from USD 42 billion in 2021 to USD 65 billion by 2024.
Challenges to India in retaining the tag of pharmacy of the world:
- Lack of Capabilities in Innovation Space: India is rich in its manpower and talent but still lags in innovation infrastructure as it has been slow to grow in the innovation space (e.g., new molecular entities, complex generics), due to a limited government-supported research ecosystem. As less than 1% of GDP is spent on R&D while China spends 2.1% of its GDP.
- Dependence on other nations for raw materials:- Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), also known as bulk drugs. Indian drug-makers import around 70% of their total bulk drug requirements from China. For example, during the Covid pandemic, India banned API from China to boycott China and became dependent on America but America banned the export of API to India as per their policy of “America First”.
- Hostile competition: There is stiff competition from firms in countries like China, Israel and Japan. Hostile and negative lobbying by the big players who frequently accuse Indian firms of violating patent laws.
- Quality compliance inquiry: India has undergone the highest number of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspections since 2009; therefore, continuous investment in upgrading quality standards will distract the capital away from other areas of development and growth is reduced.
- Lack of Stable Pricing and Policy Environment:- Frequent changes in GoI’s Drug Price Control Order discourage the pharma industries from scaling up their production and from undertaking new investments. This was witnessed during the pandemic as well as the government regulated the pharma prices to ensure the availability of life-saving drugs and vaccines to all.
- Scalability: During the pandemic an adequate number of life-saving drugs like remdesivir, and hydroxychloroquine were not made available on time due to a lack of adequate infrastructure facilities like storage facilities.
Steps that need to be taken:
- Innovation Hubs to Accelerate Collaboration: There is a need for several at-scale innovation hubs co-locating academia, public R&D centres, industry, start-ups and incubators. In this regard, the GOI organized the first Global Innovation Summit of the pharmaceutical sector in November 2021.
- Revival of R&D and public sector API manufacturers is necessary - For example, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) should be promoted to invest in R&D. To encourage domestic production of APIs and drug intermediaries the government has launched the Production linked incentive (PLI) scheme.
- Harnessing global value-chain: Besides the volume share, India now needs to capture value share as well.
- Implement the Malshekar committee’s recommendation on drug regulation regarding setting up a National Drug Authority and strengthening the State Drug Control Organisations.
- Provide better Infrastructure facilities: Government has approved the establishment of three mega ‘Bulk Drug Parks’ to provide common facilities like solvent recovery, effluent treatment, distillation, etc. So, effective implementation of this scheme and the creation of more such bulk parks is required to enhance the robustness of this sector.
In recent times the world is witnessing a rise in zoonotic diseases and as there is an imminent threat of the rise of new diseases on account of climate change, we need to move towards the idea of “one health” along with strengthening our pharma sector by ensuring effective implementation of these above-given suggestions.
May 26, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 26, 2023
Project Cheetah contributes to wildlife conservation and biodiversity management in the country. In light of the statement, discuss the objectives and associated challenges with "Project Cheetah" initiated by the Government of India.
Introduction: Explain briefly Project Cheetah.
Body: Give Objectives and Potential Challenges of Project Cheetah.
Conclusion: Give a holistic conclusion while mentioning the benefits of the project.
Cheetahs were found in various parts of India, but they became extinct in the country in the 1940s due to hunting, habitat loss, and other factors. Therefore, Project Cheetah was initiated by the Government of India to reintroduce the African cheetah into suitable habitats within India to restore the ecological balance and improve upon the lost biodiversity. Eg: Reintroduction of Cheetah in Kuno National Park of Madhya Pradesh.
Objectives of Project Cheetah:
- Re-establish a viable population of the Asiatic cheetah in India, which is currently considered critically endangered and on the brink of extinction.
- By reintroducing this species, the project seeks to restore the ecological balance, enhance biodiversity, and conserve the unique genetic heritage of the cheetah.
- Potential to revive India's natural heritage and strengthen its commitment to wildlife conservation.
- Enhance India’s global standing as a responsible custodian of endangered species.
- The project could attract ecotourism, generating economic opportunities for local communities and promoting environmental awareness.
Potential challenges to Project Cheetah:
- Non-availability of suitable Habitats for the cheetah's re-introduction ie to match with the Savannah landscape of Africa.
- Lack of abundant areas with abundant prey, sufficient cover, and minimal human-wildlife conflicts.
- Non-availability of a safe environment, free from poaching and habitat destruction is essential for the cheetah's long-term survival.
- Genetic diversity in the Asiatic cheetah population is severely fragmented, with a limited gene pool. Maintaining genetic diversity during the reintroduction process is vital to avoid inbreeding depression and preserve the species' long-term viability.
- Poor adaptive management strategies, community participation and lack of effective monitoring to mitigate potential conflicts between humans and cheetahs.
Overall, Project Cheetah holds immense importance in terms of wildlife conservation and biodiversity management in India. Its successful implementation requires eliminating the challenges and can contribute to restoring keystone species, ecosystem balance, and preserving India's natural heritage. Its efforts are crucial for the long-term survival of this magnificent species and the overall health of ecosystems.
May 25, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 25, 2023
Discuss the key features of the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) scheme and its impact on the growth of the electric vehicle market in India.
Introduction: Mention briefly the FAME scheme and its objectives.
Body: Discuss the key features of the scheme including FAME II. Write about its impact and challenges.
Conclusion: Give a forward-looking optimistic conclusion.
The FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) India Scheme is a government initiative launched in 2015 to promote the adoption and manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicles in the country. It aims to reduce vehicular pollution, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and promote the use of indigenous technology for the manufacturing of electric vehicles.
The scheme has undergone several updates and revisions since its launch, including the recent FAME-II phase having the key features like:
- Financial Incentives: FAME II- subsidies are provided based on the battery capacity of the vehicle. Higher subsidies are offered for electric vehicles with larger battery capacities, encouraging the adoption of vehicles with longer ranges and greater efficiency.
- Charging Infrastructure Development: FAME II provides financial support for the establishment of charging stations, including both slow-charging and fast-charging facilities. The scheme encourages the setting up of charging infrastructure in public spaces, residential complexes, workplaces, and other suitable locations to enhance the accessibility and convenience of charging for electric vehicle owners.
- Demand Aggregation: It promotes demand aggregation to drive economies of scale and reduce the cost of electric vehicles. It encourages government organizations, public transportation agencies, and fleet operators to adopt electric vehicles in bulk.
- Pilot Projects and Demonstrations: It showcases the feasibility and benefits of electric vehicles in different sectors and regions. These projects help generate awareness, build confidence among consumers, and gather data on the performance and viability of electric vehicles in various use cases. The insights gained from such initiatives inform policy decisions and further promote electric vehicle adoption.
- Skill Development and Training: It emphasizes skill development and training programs for technicians, engineers, and other professionals involved in the electric vehicle ecosystem.
- Research and Development Support: It encourages innovation and indigenous development of electric vehicle technologies.
These features of the FAME scheme work together to create a supportive ecosystem for electric vehicles in India.
Impact of the FAME scheme on the growth of the electric vehicle market:
- Increase in Electric Vehicle Sales: According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), the sales of electric vehicles in India grew by 37% in the fiscal year 2020-2021. This growth can be attributed to the incentives and subsidies provided under the FAME scheme.
- Expansion of Charging Infrastructure: Under FAME II, the government has sanctioned the installation of 2,636 charging stations across 62 cities in India.
- Adoption in Public Transportation: Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) introduced electric buses under the FAME scheme, reducing pollution levels and providing a sustainable transport solution.
- Promotion of E-Rickshaws and E-Cycles: As a means of last-mile connectivity and short-distance transportation, these have not only provided livelihood opportunities for many individuals but have also reduced pollution levels. In Delhi, for example, the FAME scheme contributed to the adoption of over 1 lakh e-rickshaws, positively impacting air quality.
- Technological Advancements: It has incentivized research and development activities, leading to improvements in battery technology, range, and performance of electric vehicles. For instance, Ola Electric, an Indian electric mobility company, introduced the Ola Electric Scooter with a removable battery pack, promoting convenience and ease of use.
- Domestic Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles: For example, Tata Motors launched the Tata Nexon EV, an all-electric SUV manufactured in India, which has gained popularity among consumers.
Challenges associated with the FAME scheme:
- High Initial Cost: Electric vehicles typically have a higher upfront cost compared to conventional vehicles. This higher cost acts as a deterrent for price-sensitive consumers, limiting the adoption of electric vehicles.
- Limited Charging Infrastructure: It hampers the widespread adoption of electric vehicles as consumers may fear being stranded with no charging options.
- Range Anxiety: This range limitation makes potential buyers hesitant to opt for electric vehicles, particularly for inter-city or long-distance travel.
- Battery Technology and Cost: Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in electric vehicles, contribute to a significant portion of the vehicle's cost which itself is the costliest part of EVs.
- Limited Domestic Manufacturing: India relies on imports for a large portion of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. This reliance on imports hampers the development of a robust domestic manufacturing ecosystem and can impact the cost competitiveness of electric vehicles.
Addressing these challenges is crucial to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in India and ensure the long-term success of the FAME scheme. Recently, the government announced the slashing of subsidies for the electric 2-wheelers segment - a step which might drag India's EV revolution. A gradual transition with sustained subsidies would have been ideal to ensure market growth and reach the international benchmark of 20% EV adoption. Production-Linked Incentive schemes in automobile and battery cells can also help in bringing enhanced investments and cutting costs for manufacturers.
May 24, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 24, 2023
“Promulgation of the ordinance was meant to take immediate legislative action in the recess of the legislature. However, it has become a tool to bypass the ordinary legislative process and procedures.” Comment.
Introduction: Give an introduction about ordinance-making power.
Body: Give a few points on misuse of the ordinance. Give a few points on safeguards including judicial safeguards.
Conclusion: Give a holistic conclusion.
Article 123 of the Constitution grants the President certain law-making powers to issue ordinances during the recess of Parliament. They have the same legal force as Acts of Parliament but are temporary in nature. And are intended to address unforeseen or urgent situations.
Concerns: Misuse of ordinances -
- The power to issue ordinances infringes upon the principle of separation of powers, as lawmaking is primarily the role of the legislature. Instead of using the ordinance as a last resort, the executive is using it on a regular basis. e.g. the number of ordinances issued by the centre has increased from an average of 7.1 per year in the 1950s to 15 in 2020.
- The requirement for the President's satisfaction before promulgating an ordinance provides scope for potential misuse of this power.
- Avoiding debates, Deliberate bypassing of the legislature and discussions on contentious legislative proposals, which contradicts the principles of democracy. Eg: Ordinance on Land Acquisition, and Central farm laws which met with inescapable protest were at first brought through the Ordinance course.
- The re-promulgation of ordinances by State Governments has persistently avoided presenting them before the legislature. Eg: a series of ordinances were issued by the Bihar Governor in the late 1980s and early 1990s concerning the takeover of private Sanskrit schools by the state.
Safeguards to prevent misuse:
- President can promulgate an ordinance only when both houses are not in session or only one house is in session.
- Ordinances are subject to the same constitutional limitations as Acts of Parliament i.e., an ordinance may only be promulgated on issues over which the Parliament has legislative authority & it cannot abridge or take away any of the fundamental rights.
- The provision that every ordinance must be laid before the respective legislature within six weeks of its reassembly for approval, failing which it ceases to exist.
- The President can never issue an Ordinance to amend the Indian Constitution.
- RC Cooper vs. Union of India (1970) held that the President’s decision to promulgate an ordinance could be challenged on the grounds that ‘immediate action’ was not required, and the ordinance had been issued primarily to bypass debate and discussion in the legislature.
- DC Wadhwa vs. the State of Bihar (1987) that the legislative power of the executive to promulgate ordinances is to be used in exceptional circumstances and not as a substitute for the law-making power of the legislature.
- In Krishna Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar (2017), Supreme Court held that the power to issue ordinances is not absolute, but is conditional on the satisfaction of the existence of circumstances to take immediate action.
Thus, while the Constitution provides the President and the Governor with the power to issue ordinances in exceptional circumstances, the ordinance-making power should be exercised after appreciating the wisdom of RC Cooper and DC Wadhwa cases and should be used solely for unforeseen or urgent matters, rather than as a means to evade legislative scrutiny.
May 23, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 23, 2023
How does India balance its strategic interests and development assistance in its engagement with Pacific Island countries?
Introduction: Provide an overview of India's historical and current relations with the Pacific Island countries
Body: Analyse the factors influencing India's strategic interests and development assistance in the Pacific region. Evaluate how India balances her strategic interests and development assistance in the Pacific region
Conclusion: Conclude with recommendations for future policy directions.
India's relations with the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have evolved from historical and cultural ties to strategic and developmental partnerships. India established the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) in 2014 as a part of India’s Act East Policy and has held three summits with the Pacific Island countries since then, the latest one being in Papua New Guinea.
India considers the Pacific Island countries "large ocean countries and not small island states" and supports a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
Six main factors affect India's strategic interests and development assistance in the Pacific region:
- Geography: India is located at the centre of the Indian Ocean, which connects it to the Pacific Ocean through various maritime routes and chokepoints.
- India also has historical and cultural ties with many island nations in the Pacific, such as Fiji, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Maldives, which are part of its extended neighbourhood.
- Security: India faces multiple security challenges in the Indo-Pacific, ranging from
- traditional threats such as piracy, terrorism, a rising and assertive China and maritime disputes
- non-traditional threats such as climate change, natural disasters, and pandemics.
- Economy: India's need for trade, investment, energy, connectivity, and development drives its economic interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
- India is one of the largest trading partners in the region, with a total trade volume of over $200 billion in 2019–20.
- India is also a major source of remittances from its diaspora in countries such as Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
- India seeks to diversify its energy sources and routes by tapping into the hydrocarbon potential of the Indian Ocean and exploring renewable energy options in the Pacific islands.
How India balances its interests and assistance in the region:
- India views the Pacific region as an integral part of the Indo-Pacific, a concept that emphasises the interconnectedness and interdependence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
- India has been participating in the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) since 2014, a platform that brings together leaders and officials from India and 14 PICs to discuss various issues of mutual interest and cooperation.
- India's development assistance to the PICs covers healthcare, renewable energy, information technology, cybersecurity, disaster management, education, culture and capacity building.
- Some of the key initiatives announced by the PM at the FIPIC summit include establishing a super-speciality cardiology hospital in Fiji, providing sea ambulances and dialysis units to all PICs, etc
- India also aims to enhance its connectivity with the region through initiatives such as the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), and the Sagarmala project.
- India provides security assistance to smaller island states in the Pacific through capacity-building, training, joint patrols, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations..
- India also seeks to enhance its strategic presence and partnerships in the Pacific region, especially in the context of the growing influence and assertiveness of China. India supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the PICs and opposes any unilateral or coercive actions that undermine their interests.
- India's diplomatic engagement with the Indo-Pacific is based on its vision of a free, open, inclusive, and rules-based region that respects all nations' sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- India participates actively in various regional forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the East Asia Summit (EAS), etc.
- India also maintains close bilateral relations with key countries in the region, such as Australia, France, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.
India and Pacific Ocean nations should cooperate more closely on issues such as maritime security, climate change, trade, and development. India can play a leading role in the Indo-Pacific region by enhancing its diplomatic, economic, and military engagement with its partners. Pacific Ocean nations can benefit from India's support in addressing their challenges and aspirations. A more inclusive and balanced approach to regional cooperation would foster peace, stability, and prosperity for all.
May 22, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 22, 2023
“Although the Net-Zero emission strategy is a step in the right direction, on account of implementational challenges it is turning out to be ineffective in addressing the menace of climate change.” Comment. Also, bring out the steps that are being taken globally in this direction.
Introduction: Define the Net-Zero emission strategy & also Highlight the need for this strategy in the current scenario.
Body: Mention the issues that we are witnessing with regard to the Net-Zero emission strategy and also mention the steps that different nations are taking in this regard.
Conclusion: Mention what more needs to be done.
Net-Zero emission means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests for instance. It calls for a complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about.
A series of recent studies and reports (i.e., by the IPCC, UN & WMO etc.) have pointed out that the situation is worsening rapidly with respect to climate change and the window of opportunity for effective action is narrowing faster than ever before. In this regard, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that the global atmospheric temperature would rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius before 2040 if, at a global scale, we fail to attain net zero by 2050.
But on account of certain implementational issues, we are unable to reap the benefits of this strategy.
Challenges in the implementation of the Net-Zero emission strategy:
- Common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR): Developing countries like India have time and again pointed out that this net-zero strategy does not reflect the principle of CBDR. As historically it has been the developed nations that have majorly contributed to climate change through large-scale CO2 emissions during the industrial revolution. Even today China, USA & EU are the largest C02 emitters.
- Climate Finance: The developed nation has not provided the developing nations with the requisite climate finance that they had pledged under the Paris Agreement i.e., $ 100 Billion a year. This is severely impacting the ability of the developing nation to move in the direction of Net-Zero emissions.
- Different goals: Different nations have decided to turn Net-Zero at different dates. E.g., The G7 reiterated its commitment to turn net zero by 2050 and has asked all ‘major economies’ to attain net-zero status by that year but China has said it would turn Net-Zero only in 2060, while India has set 2070 as the target and other big emitters like Russia and Saudi Arabia, have set 2060 as their net-zero targets.
- Issues with this concept: According to IPCC, cumulative emissions rather than reaching net zero is the determining factor in achieving the Paris Agreement. According to Oxfam, these net zero carbon targets may be a distraction from the priority of cutting carbon emissions.
- Net-zero targets are vaguely defined: For e.g. The G7 countries have not come up with any deadline to end the use of fossil fuels, rather they have only stated that they are committed to accelerating the phase-out of “unabated fossil fuels”, however, “Unabated” is not clearly defined. They also said that they would eliminate “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” by 2025 or earlier, without defining “inefficient subsidies”.
- Issues with the methods: As it relies on virtually unproven new technologies i.e. carbon capture and storage, which is still at its nascent stage of development, or on a level of land use (mainly afforestation) that is completely impossible as the total amount of land required for planned carbon removal could potentially be five times the size of India.
Steps that are being taken globally in this direction -
- Race To Zero: It is a global campaign to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonized economy, where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement. This will send governments a resounding signal that businesses, cities, regions and investors are united in meeting the Paris goals and creating a more inclusive and resilient economy.
- Net-Zero targets: More than 70 countries have promised to become Net Zero by the middle of the century i.e., by 2050. Other nations like China & India have committed that they will turn Net-Zero by 2060 and 2070 respectively.
- Mission Innovation: Mission Innovation is an international initiative of 24 countries and the European Union which intends to accelerate global clean energy innovation, by developing Carbon capture & storage technologies, clean energy materials & renewable and clean hydrogen.
- Changes to Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE): LiFE is India’s call for citizens, communities, industry leaders, and policymakers of the world to make simple yet effective sustainable choices, industries and markets to scale these, and government policies to support them.
- Increased transparency and accountability: The United Nations on 31 March 2022, established a High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State entities to develop stronger and clearer standards for net-zero emissions pledges by non-State entities – including businesses, investors, cities, and regions – and speed up their implementation. The Secretary-General also called on non-State entities to put forward credible and transparent transition plans and to submit them before the end of this year.
- Steps taken by India: India has declared its Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy at the 27th Conference of Parties of UNFCCC in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Being guided by this strategy India has launched the National Hydrogen Mission, today, India is the world's third largest producer of renewable energy, with 40% of its installed electricity capacity coming from non-fossil fuel sources and has also launched various adaptation and mitigation projects etc.
So, in order to ensure an effective & timely transition towards Net-zero targets at a global level, different nations should clearly define their Net-Zero targets, should significantly strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and should improve their implementation. Also, the developed nations need to provide the developing nations with requisite climate finance and technology in order to ensure the timely transition of all the nations towards Net-Zero targets.
May 20, 2023
Mains Daily Question
May 20, 2023
Strengthening disaster preparedness and prevention measures rather than relying on post-disaster relief and recovery will be sustainable for India. Discuss.
Introduction: Define disaster preparedness and prevention measures, and contrast them with relief and recovery. Explain why they are important for India
Body: Discuss the benefits of disaster preparedness and prevention measures for India. Provide examples of successful initiatives or best practices in this regard.
Also discuss the challenges of disaster preparedness and prevention measures, and the way forward in this regard.
Conclusion: Give some recommendations or suggestions for further action or research on this topic.
Disaster preparedness and prevention measures are actions taken before a disaster occurs to reduce its impact and enhance the capacity of people and systems to cope with it. Examples of such measures are early warning systems, risk assessments, etc. Disaster relief and recovery measures are actions taken after a disaster occurs to provide immediate assistance to the affected people and restore essential services and infrastructure. Examples of such measures are search and rescue, emergency shelter, etc.
The importance of preparedness and prevention can be manifested in National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) finding that 27 out of 29 states and seven union territories in India are exposed to recurrent natural hazards.
The benefits of disaster preparedness and prevention measures, and their examples are:
- Saving lives and reducing injuries: such measures can help protect people from the immediate dangers of disasters, such as collapsing buildings, floods, landslides, fires, etc.
- the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has conducted mock drills and awareness campaigns on various hazards across the country.
- Protecting livelihoods and assets: they can also help minimize the loss of livelihoods and assets, such as crops, livestock, houses, infrastructure, etc.
- the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) has constructed cyclone shelters, roads, bridges and early warning systems in coastal areas.
- Reducing health risks and malnutrition: these measures can ensure the availability and accessibility of health services, water, sanitation and nutrition for the affected population.
- UNICEF India has supported the government in strengthening health systems, immunization, nutrition surveillance and water quality monitoring in disaster-prone areas.
- Enhancing education and learning opportunities: this can prevent the disruption of education and learning opportunities for children and youth.
- the School Safety Programme (SSP) has promoted disaster risk reduction education and school safety audits in Indian schools.
- Promoting social cohesion and peace: such measures can foster social cohesion and peace among different groups and communities by enhancing trust, cooperation and solidarity.
- the Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) approach has empowered local communities to participate in disaster risk reduction planning and implementation.
- Supporting sustainable development: these measures can support sustainable development by reducing the environmental degradation, economic losses and social inequalities caused by disasters.
- the Disaster Management Act 2005 has integrated disaster risk reduction into the development planning process at all levels.
Disaster preparedness and prevention measures are essential to reduce the impact of natural and human-made hazards in India. However, they also face many challenges, such as:
- Lack of coordination among various agencies.
- For example, during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, there was a lack of coordination between the state and central governments, the army, the air force, and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), resulting in duplication of efforts and wastage of resources.
- Funding constraints and their utilisation in disaster management require significant financial investments, which can sometimes be a challenge for a developing country like India.
- According to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, only 7% of the funds allocated for disaster management were utilized between 2010 and 2015.
- Inadequate infrastructure like communication networks, early warning systems, and evacuation facilities, can exacerbate the impact of disasters.
- During the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, many coastal areas did not receive timely warnings or evacuation orders, leading to high casualties.
- Socioeconomic inequalities in India make it difficult to reach marginal and vulnerable communities, which are often the most affected by disasters.
- The 2016 Chennai floods saw many slum dwellers being left stranded without food and water, while the affluent areas of Chennai received more relief and attention.
- Climate change: India is facing the impacts of climate change, resulting in more frequent and severe natural disasters.
- According to a study by the IITM (Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology), the frequency of extreme rainfall events increased by 75% between 1950 and 2015.
- Political constraints: Political interference and bureaucratic hurdles can slow down the implementation of disaster preparedness and prevention measures.
- According to Transparency International India (TII), corruption and nepotism is rampant in Indian disaster management agencies.
- increasing the absorptive capacity to effectively utilise resources allocated for disaster risk mitigation and strengthening the coordination and collaboration among various stakeholders at different levels of governance.
- promoting a culture of disaster risk awareness and education among the public and integrating disaster risk reduction into development planning and policies.
- Increasing the role of India as a leader and partner in promoting disaster risk reduction at the regional and international levels, especially in Asia and Africa.
- it is important to have effective recovery measures following disasters to reduce the impact and build resilience like creating national disaster response reserves, and strengthening disaster management governance systems and institutions, integrating risk reduction strategies into various sectors, and involving children and communities in disaster risk reduction.
- India has also called for reforming the United Nations Security Council to make it more representative and responsive to the emerging challenges of disaster risk assessment and mitigation of the 21st century.
India has made some progress in this regard, such as access to $6 billion for disaster risk mitigation for state and local governments, $23 billion for disaster preparedness, response and recovery; and participating in global initiatives such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. By investing in disaster preparedness and prevention measures, India can not only save lives and livelihoods but also enhance its economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability