05/11/2019 The Hindu Editorials Notes-Mains Sure Shot
Note – Also go through the article of 31st October for better understanding of FTAs.
Question – Discuss what is RCEP? Why has India decided to opt out of the deal? ( 250 words)
Context – India opting out of RCEP.
What is RCEP?
- RCEP stands for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
- It is a proposed Free Trade Agreement between 16 countries- the 10 members of the ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and six countries with which the ASEAN block already has free trade agreements (India, Australia, China, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand).
- The negotiations about the deal between these countries are going on since 2013. It is supposed to be finalised by this November.
What is Free Trade Agreement?
- It is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.
What is RCEP FTA?
- The RCEP Free Trade Agreement proposes to create an “integrated market” comprising the markets of the 16 nations that are a part of the negotiation.
- This will lead to 1) lowering of trade barriers and 2) improve the market access for goods and services produced in these countries because it will create an integrated market.
- The negotiations are focussed on areas like trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement, e-commerce, and small and medium enterprises.
Why is RCEP important?
- If the RCEP comes into effect, it will be the “largest” regional trading agreement ever because these countries account for almost half of the world’s population, contribute over a quarter of world exports, and make up around 30% of global Gross Domestic Product.
The present status:
- Of the 25 chapters in the deal, 21 have been finalised. Chapters on investment, e-commerce, rules of origin, and trade remedies are yet to be settled, and ministerial guidance is being sought at the ongoing meeting in Bangkok.
- But India has decided not to join the RCEP due to some concerns.
- Through the FTA might look like a great opportunity to tap more access to markets, but India’s has raised concern about the fact that there was no credible assurance for India on market access and non-tariff barriers. There were no assurances on getting access to markets like China while the trade pact would have opened up India’s market.
- There is fear that some domestic sectors may be hit by cheaper alternatives from other RCEP countries. Apprehensions have been expressed that cheaper Chinese products would “flood” India. For example, Industries like dairy and steel have demanded protection. The textile industry, which has already raised concerns about growing competition from neighbouring countries with cheaper and more efficient processes.
- Critics are also not confident that India would be able to take advantage of the deal, given its poor track record of extracting benefits from the FTAs with these countries. India’s trade gap with these countries may widen if it signs the RCEP deal.
Sectors that might gain from the deal:
- The pharmaceutical and cotton yarn sector and the services industry are confident of gains and new opportunities if India joins RCEP because for them being a part of the RCEP would allow them to tap into the huge market
- The Indian economy is already in the middle of a slowdown, our export is not so competitive and needs more polishing and boost. So in order to protect the small industries and farmers, the government should be in no hurry to join the pact. It should evaluate all the aspects before taking a final decision.
- We need to work on increasing our export. It is only then that we will be able to make the most of any FTAs, else we will end up opening our market to others but not gaining much by exporting to them. It might lead to no gain except putting the domestic industries under more pressure.
Question – Comment on AYUSH and state the steps that can be taken to revive it.(150 words)
Context – Government’s efforts to revive the Indian system of medicine.
What is AYUSH?
- Aush refers to Indian traditional forms of medicine i.e. Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.
- It revival was one of the sub-themes (or one of the ways/forms) of reasserting cultural nationalism in the early 20th century against the imperialistic British rule. Because it is through the revival of the progressive traditions of the past that the nationalists tried to revive the sense of pride among the people who had started thinking that the British were superior to them and had higher degree of civilisation.
- At present the government is keen to revive the Indian systems of medicine (AYUSH).
- In this context a number of initiatives have been taken like:
- Ministry of AYUSH was established in 2014 to ensure the development and propagation of AYUSH system of medicine and healthcare; creating AYUSH wings in defence and railway hospitals; giving soft loans and subsidies for the establishment of private AYUSH hospitals and clinics; and building institutes of excellence in teaching and research in AYUSH.
- Also 12,500 dedicated AYUSH health and wellness centres are already planned to be set up under the Ayushman Bharat Mission.
- But in spite of these measures there is something that the government seems to overlook which is having a negative impact on the scheme.
- Primarily it is the perception that the cause of AYUSH not being as popular among the people is less AYUSH centres. As a result of this perception the government’s ambition of integrating AYUSH in the health-care system has been largely confined to building more AYUSH centres.
- While the reality is that they are doing so not because of these reasons but the ideas associated with it i.e. the quackery of by AYUSH practitioners, ridicule of AYUSH treatments and procedures by many, mindless cosmetisation and export promotion of AYUSH products.
What can be done?
- There is a need of concrete harmonising strategy i.e. cross-learning has to be promoted between modern medicine and AYUSH learning. So there should be collaboration between the modern and traditional systems on equal terms. This is the only option to address the subservient (subordinate) status of AYUSH and to foster its legitimate inclusion into mainstream health.
- Having said this, the Chinese experience of integrating traditional Chinese Medicine with Western medicine is a good example to learn from.
- An Indian parallel of this integration of education, research and practice of both the systems at all levels through various steps like training AYUSH practitioners in modern medicine through curriculum changes and vice versa.
- An integrated framework of the two will help build a strong traditional medical evidence corpus, delineating the relative strengths, weaknesses and role of each system, negotiating the philosophical and conceptual divergences between these two systems; standardise and regulating the AYUSH practices and qualifications; and addressing the unique issues associated with research into AYUSH techniques.
- Then what can be done is presenting evidence before the people about the efficiency of AYUSH treatment.
- Addressing the unique issues associated with AYUSH practices.the recommendations of the Chopra committee (1948) has to be kept in mind while taking decisions.
Why opposition to integrating/ synthesis of the two systems of learning (Ayush teachings and modern medicine teachings)?
- Recently the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, was passed. It stressed on integration and synthesis. But it had to face fierce opposition from othodox medical community.
- It is primarily because AYUSH lobby fears the loss of identity if any such integration is done. And the allopathic lobby says that the standards of medical care would be diluted.
- The promotion and integration of AYUSH can contribute significantly to universal health-care in India.
- So any kind of attitude that promotes isolationist approach and goes against the idea of synthesis and integration of the two needs to be checked.
- An integrated framework will create middle path – fusing the two systems. So a long-term plan for smooth integration should be developed, especially to cover the universal-healthcare mission.