Daily GS Mains Notes or Mains Content Enrichment for Civil Services
- KVs unlikely to change medium of instruction
Why in news
The Union Cabinet has approved the new National Education Policy.
- One of the recommendations of the New Education Policy is that the medium of instruction will be in Home Language/Mother-tongue/Regional Language till at least Grade 5, and preferably till Grade 8 and beyond.
- The RTE Act 2009 also states that the medium of instruction, as far as practicable, shall be the mother tongue.
- The Centre is unlikely to implement the recommendations regarding the medium of instruction in Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) or in schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education.
- KVs are directly controlled by the Education Ministry.
- It is because the KVs and CBSE schools cater to the needs of people in transferable jobs and hence, it would not be practical to use students’ mother tongues or regional languages as the medium of instruction.
- It is up to the State governments to decide on how this would be implemented in schools under their jurisdiction.
- Education is a Concurrent Subject.
- In private unaided schools, parents’ choice with regard to the medium of instruction would prevail.
Contraction in Core Sector Industries
Why in News
The output of eight core industries contracted for the fourth consecutive month – shrinking by 15% in June 2020.
- The eight core sector industries are coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity.
- These eight industries account for 27% in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
Contraction in Total Output:
- During April-June 2020, the sector’s output dipped by 24.6% as compared to a positive growth of 3.4% in the same period previous year.
- However, 15% contraction in June 2020 implies some economic recovery as in May 2020, the industries’ output contracted by 22%.
- Economists expect the negative trend to continue for at least two more months.
- The fertiliser industry is the only one which saw actual growth in June, with output rising 4.2% in comparison to June 2019.
- Rest seven sectors – coal (-15.5%), crude oil (-6.0), natural gas (-12%), refinery products (-9%), steel (-33.8%), cement (-6.9%), and electricity (-11%) – recorded negative growth in June.
- The steel sector continues to remain the worst performer, with a 33% drop in production in comparison to the previous year.
Index of Industrial Production
- The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index that shows the growth rates in different industry groups of the economy in a fixed period of time.
- It is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
- IIP is a composite indicator that measures the growth rate of industry groups classified under:
- Broad sectors, namely, Mining, Manufacturing, and Electricity.
- Use-based sectors, namely Basic Goods, Capital Goods, and Intermediate Goods.
- The eight core sector industries represent about 40% of the weight of items that are included in the IIP.
- The eight core industries in decreasing order of their weightage:
- Refinery Products> Electricity> Steel> Coal> Crude Oil> Natural Gas> Cement> Fertilizers.
- Base Year for IIP calculation is 2011-2012.
- The positive impact from unlock is not as strong as the negative impact of the lockdown. The government needs to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on a priority to make economic recovery sustainable
- High Level Group on Agricultural Exports : Finance Commission
Why in News
Recently, the High Level Group (HLEG) on Agricultural Exports set up by the Fifteenth Finance Commission has submitted its report to the Commission.
- The HLEG was set up to recommend measurable performance incentives for states to encourage agricultural exports and to promote crops to enable high import
- The Finance Commission is a constitutional body, that determines the method and formula for distributing the tax proceeds between the Centre and states, and among the states as per the constitutional arrangement and present requirements.
- Under Article 280 of the Constitution, the President of India is required to constitute a Finance Commission at an interval of five years or earlier.
- Recently, the Ministry of Finance has released a part of grants-in-aid as a part of the Tied Grant as recommended by the 15 Finance Commission (FC) for the Financial Year (FY) 2020-2021.
Purpose to Constitute HLEG:
- To assess export & import substitution opportunities for Indian agricultural products (commodities, semi-processed, and processed) in the changing international trade scenario and suggest ways to step up exports sustainably and reduce import dependence.
- To recommend strategies and measures to increase farm productivity, enable higher value addition, ensure waste reduction, strengthen logistics infrastructure related to Indian agriculture, to improve the sector’s global competitiveness.
- To identify the impediments for private sector investments along the agricultural value chain and suggest policy measures and reforms that would help attract the required investments.
- To suggest appropriate performance-based incentives to the state governments for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26, to accelerate reforms in the agriculture sector as well as implement other policy measures in this regard.
Crop Value Chains:
- It emphasises to focus on 22 crop value chains with a demand driven approach.
- The demand driven approach refers to a development strategy where the people themselves are expected to take the initiative and the responsibility for improving supply situation rather than being passive recipients of the Government services.
- It also suggests to solve Value Chain Clusters (VCC) holistically with focus on value addition.
State-led Export Plan:
- It is a business plan for a crop value chain cluster.
- These plans will be action-oriented, time-bound and outcome-focused. Such plans should be collaboratively prepared with private sector players and Commodity Boards presenting participation of all stakeholders.
Participation of Private Sector:
- The private sector players need to play a pivotal role in ensuring demand orientation and focus on value addition.
Central Government’s Role:
- The Central government should act as an enabler. Thus, robust institutional mechanisms need to be enforced to fund and support implementation.
India’s Estimated Agricultural Export Potential:
- India’s agricultural export has the potential to grow from USD 40 billion to USD 70 billion in a few years.
- The estimated investment in agricultural export could be to the tune of USD 8-10 billion across inputs, infrastructure, processing and demand enablers.
- Additional exports are likely to create an estimated 7-10 million jobs. It will also lead to higher farm productivity and farmer income.
- Contraction of Eurozone Economy
Why in News
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Eurozone reduced by 12.1% in the April- June 2020 quarter, compared to the previous quarter.
- The Eurozone consists of 19 members of European Union (EU), which uses the Euro as their official currency. 8 EU members (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Sweden) do not use the euro.
- The 27-country European Union saw a decline of 11.9% in its economy for the same period.
- This is the largest drop on record in the eurozone’s economy, as Covid-19 lockdowns shut businesses and hampered consumer spending.
- The European Union leaders have agreed on a 750 billion euro recovery fund backed by common borrowing to support their economy from 2021.
- The European Central Bank is pumping 35 trillion euro in newly printed money into the economy, a step which helps keep borrowing costs low.
- The European Central Bank is an official EU institution and the central bank of the Eurozone countries.
- Increased Fiscal Deficit
Why in News
As per the official data, the Centre’s fiscal deficit for the first three months of fiscal 2020-21 (April-June) was Rs. 6.62 lakh crore, which is 83% of the budgeted target for the year (Rs. 7.96 lakh crore).
- As per the economists, the fiscal deficit may end up as high as 8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), far exceeding the budget’s goal of 3.5%.
Fall in Income Component:
- The Union government has received Rs. 1.53 lakh crore (in terms of tax, non-tax revenue and loan recoveries) from April to June 2020.
- This is less than 7% of budget estimates for the full year.
- The Centre has also transferred Rs. 1.34 lakh crore to States as their share of taxes, which is 14,588 crore lower than the previous year.
Increase in Expenditure:
- The Centre’s total expenditure for April-June was Rs. 8.15 crore, almost 27% of budget estimates for the year.
- Due to spending on free food grains and rural job programmes for millions of migrant workers.
- There has been a 40% growth in the first quarter capital expenditure to Rs. 88,273 crore.
- Increased capital expenditure implies increased spending on creation of assets such as infrastructure.
- The reduced collections have forced the government to raise the amount it’s borrowing this fiscal to a record 12 lakh crore from earlier estimates of Rs. 7.8 lakh crore to meet spending needs.
- The government describes fiscal deficit of India as “the excess of total disbursements from the Consolidated Fund of India, excluding repayment of the debt, over total receipts into the Fund (excluding the debt receipts) during a financial year”.
- In simple words, it is a shortfall in a government’s income compared with its spending.
- The government that has a fiscal deficit is spending beyond its means. It is calculated as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or simply as total money spent in excess of income.
- In either case, the income figure includes only taxes and other revenues and excludes money borrowed to make up the shortfall.
- Fiscal Deficit = Total expenditure of the government (capital and revenue expenditure) – Total income of the government (Revenue receipts + recovery of loans + other receipts).
- The government in its Budget allocates funds for several works, including payments of salaries, pensions, etc. (revenue expenditure) and creation of assets such as infrastructure, development, etc.(capital expenditure).
- The income component is made of two variables, revenue generated from taxes levied by the Centre and the income generated from non-tax variables.
- Meanwhile, the non-taxable income comes from external grants, interest receipts, dividends and profits, receipts from Union Territories, among others.
- It is different from revenue deficit which is only related to revenue expenditure and revenue receipts of the government.
- The government meets the fiscal deficit by borrowing money.
- The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 provides that the Centre should take appropriate measures to limit the fiscal deficit upto 3% of the GDP by 31 March, 2021.
- The NK Singh committee (set up in 2016) recommended that the government should target a fiscal deficit of 3% of the GDP in years up to March 31, 2020 cut it to 2.8% in 2020-21 and to 2.5% by 2023.
- In the current scenario, the most important thing is to bring back confidence among consumers as well as businesses. This will help in fuelling the economic recovery.
- Investment to Reduce Plastic Waste in India
Why in News
A Singapore-based-NGO namely ‘Alliance to End Plastic Waste’ plans to invest between USD 70 million to 100 million in India over the next five years to reduce plastic waste.
Alliance to End Plastic Waste
- Alliance to End Plastic Waste was founded in 2019 as a nonprofit organisation to help solve this serious and complex issue – 8 million tons of plastic waste entering the ocean every year.
- Nearly fifty companies across the plastics value chain have joined the Alliance and together they have committed to invest USD 1.5 billion towards solutions that will prevent the leakage as well as recover and create value from plastic waste.
World Nature Conservation Day:
- The investment to end plastic waste in India was announced on the World Nature Conservation Day (28 July).
- It is celebrated every year to create and increase awareness about the importance of natural resources.
- The day also encourages people to save and protect Earth’s natural resources that are fast-depleting owing to over-exploitation and even misuse.
Ongoing Initiatives in India:
- Currently, ‘Alliance to End Plastic Waste’ is working on the Project Aviral which aims to reduce plastic waste in the Ganga river.
- Aviral seeks to pilot an approach to address waste management challenges. In particular, it will focus on strengthening an integrated plastic waste management system.
UN-Habitat Waste Wise Cities (WWC):
- Alliance to End Plastic Waste is also collaborating with the UN-Habitat to implement solutions toward a circular economy, creating business and livelihood opportunities while enhancing resource recovery.
- It intends to use the UN-Habitat Waste Wise Cities (WWC) Tool to map waste flows and assess potential plastic leakage from waste management systems.
- The collaboration supports the WWC Challenge to clean up and establish sustainable waste management in 20 cities around the world by 2022.
Zero Plastic Waste Cities Initiative:
- It is also implementing the Zero Plastic Waste Cities initiative in India and Vietnam
- The two initial cities involved in this project are Puducherry in India and Tan An in the Mekong Delta region of
Plastic Waste Global Scenario:
- Over 3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since 1950, and about 60% of that has ended up in landfills or in the natural environment.
- Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled and about 12% has been incinerated, while the remaining 79% has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.
- By 2050, the amount of plastic in seas and oceans across the world will weigh more than the fish.
- India currently generates around 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day and over 10,000 tonnes of which is not collected.
- India’s per capita plastic consumption of less than 11 kg, is nearly a tenth of the United States of America (109 kg).
- For India, bringing plastic waste back into the supply chain could bring annual benefits of Rs.40 lakh crore in 2050.
Global as well as Indian Government’s Interventions:
- The Group of 20 (G20) environment ministers, agreed to adopt a new implementation framework for actions to tackle the issue of marine plastic waste on a global scale.
- Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 state that every local body has to be responsible for setting up infrastructure for segregation, collection, processing, and disposal of plastic waste.
- Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 introduced the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
- EPR is a policy approach under which producers are given a significant financial and physical responsibility (with respect to segregation and collection of waste at the source) for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products.
- A new national framework on plastic waste management is in the works, which will introduce third-party audits as part of the monitoring mechanism.
- Government has to look into it with a very holistic perspective while forming policies to take all aspects into consideration and ensure strict implementation of
- Economically affordable and ecologically viable alternatives which will not burden the resources are needed and their prices will also come down with time and increase in demand. Citizens have to bring behavioural change.
Category: India and its neighborhood / international relations
- 1947 Tripartite Agreement on Gurkha soldiers
Why in News
Recently, the Nepal’s Foreign Minister has said that the 1947 Tripartite Agreement between India, Nepal and the United Kingdom (that deals with the military service of Gurkha soldiers from Nepal) has become redundant.
He also said that Nepal would prefer to handle the matter bilaterally with India and the United Kingdom.
The Tripartite Agreement:
- In 1947, when India became independent, it was decided to split Gurkha regiments between the British and Indian armies.
- From the first quarter of the 19 century, Gurkhas had served under the British,
- East India Company first recruited Gurkhas after suffering heavy casualties during the Anglo-Nepalese War also known as the Gurkha War. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816.
- It ensured that Gurkhas in British and Indian service would enjoy broadly the same conditions of service as that of British and Indian citizens.
- The objection from Nepal regarding the Gurkhas serving in the Indian military has become prominent in the backdrop of Nepal-India territorial dispute over the Kalapani region of Pithoragarh district that Nepal claims as its own.
- Nepal has responded by publishing a new map that included the disputed territories of Kalapani region.
- The issue became a talking point after Indian Army Chief remarked that Nepal’s strong protest against Indian road construction in the Limpiadora-Kalapani-Lipulekh area was at the behest of a third party (China).
- The Napalese people believe that Indian Army Chief, who is granted the honorary post of a General in the Nepal Army has hurt the sentiments of the Nepali Gurkha Army personnel who lay down their lives to protect India.
- Also the Gurkha veterans have been alleging that the United Kingdom has been discriminating against them in terms of pay, pension and other facilities.
- The British government started providing equal pay and pension to Gurkhas in 2007.
Gurkhas in British Army
- After the 1947 Tripartite Agreement, the British Army amalgamated the Gurkha regiment into combined Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR).
- Currently, the Gurkhas comprise up to 3% of the British Army. In 2015 they completed 200 years of service in British Army.
- Queen Elizabeth II of Britain is guarded by two personal Gurkha officers. The Gurkhas are recruited every year at the British Gurkha camp at Pokhara in Nepal. The camp enlists fresh recruits not only for the British Army, but also for the counter-terror arm of the Singapore Police Force.
- Their signature weapon of Gurkhas, Khukri, forms part of the Gurkha regimental insignia in Britain as well as in India.
- India has strong cultural ties with Nepal. Both countries share open borders and recognize the citizens of each other country as a national citizen. However, the bilateral relations which have soured in the recent past over border disputes, need to be strengthened through diplomatic relations.