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10 September, 2019

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A minor win for India at WTO.

GS-II: A minor win for India at WTO


A WTO panel in June accepted India’s claim in a dispute concerning U.S. regulations on the domestic content requirement in the production of renewable energy.

The dispute and the Verdict:

The dispute revolved around certain States in the U.S. that give incentives to local producers in the form of tax rebates, refunds, and credits when they produce renewable energy using locally manufactured products.

Article III of the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) requires that countries do not provide less favorable treatment to ‘like products’ originating from other nations.

A solar PVC manufactured in the U.S. should be liable to the same amount of tax as one made anywhere else in the world.

WTO’s determine whether an item is a ‘like product’ based on a product’s end-use, composition, substitutability, consumer preferences, and tariff classifications.

In this case, the U.S. conceded that the import from India was a ‘like product’.

But the U.S. argued that the figures quoted by India showing growth in the number of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed in Washington State between 2005 and 2015 do not support the argument that additional incentives have induced wide-scale adoption of locally made renewable energy products.

WTO panel rejected this argument, stating that Washington State’s additional incentive accords an advantage on the use of local products not available for ‘like imported products’.


  • India had earlier lost a similar dispute over its own domestic content requirements.
  • The U.S. imported 44% of the Indian solar module exports in the 2018-2019 period.
  • This dispute could have been easily avoided had the two countries settled their differences beforehand.


There are various other disputes pending between the countries at the WTO involving the export promotion scheme brought in by India and the imposition of excess customs duty on steel and aluminium by the U.S.

Source: The Hindu

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India’s vape ban only deprives smokers of safer options.

GS-II: India’s vape ban only deprives smokers of safer options


The world has embraced electronic cigarettes, commonly known as vapes, and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) as harm-reduction alternatives to combustible tobacco used in cigarettes.


  • Globally, several tobacco control researchers have concluded that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less hazardous than combustible cigarettes.
  • Studies by Public Health England show that the risk of passive smoking associated with them is also extremely low, as they do not produce tobacco fumes.

India – Tobacco

  • The country bears 12% of the global burden of tobacco users, has 40% of its adults exposed to passive smoking.
  • We have shown the lowest quit rate among all countries surveyed in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2.
  • Since there is empirical evidence to suggest that countries, which have regulated ENDS, have witnessed a decline in smoking rates, India needs to take note and reconsider its stance on the matter.

Global Exprience:

  • According to a study conducted by The British Medical Journal, as many as 68 countries, including the UK, US, Canada, France, and Japan, are using a range of regulatory mechanisms to enhance the discretionary power of their adult citizens.
  • These include laws that prohibit sales of ENDS to minors, regulate advertising and promotion, impose limits on nicotine concentration, and place checks on product quality and battery standards.
  • New Zealand is promoting ENDS by launching a website called Vaping Facts to clarify myths and make the country smoking-free by 2025.
  • Canada, the UAE, and Seychelles have reversed their bans to regulate the product and allow access to adult smokers.


A ban on a widely accepted alternative to smoking regular cigarettes not only prevents consumers from making a less harmful choice, but it may also result in an illicit trade turning rampant. We need to check the entry of dangerous counterfeits and deny vulnerable groups access to these products via the black market.

Source: Live Mint

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UN Peacekeeping

GS-III: UN Peacekeeping


India has told the UN Security Council that peacekeeping currently is in a “no-man’s land” and called for next generation of reforms in peacekeeping based on incentivisation, innovation and institutionalization.

UN Peacekeeping

  • Peacekeeping by the United Nations is a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace.
  • It is distinguished from peace building, peacemaking, and peace enforcement although the UN does acknowledge that all activities are “mutually reinforcing” and that overlap between them is frequent in practice.
  • Peacekeepers monitor and observe peace processes in post-conflict areas and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they may have signed.
  • UN peacekeepers often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.

Need for reforms

  • UN peacekeeping is a unique innovation of multilateralism to respond to threats to international peace and security.
  • However, at the current stage, peacekeeping is in a “no-man’s land, between trying to keep the peace in fragile environments and trying to enforce the maintenance of peace, where there is none to keep.

Need of hour: Institutionalization

  • The institutionalization of an approach where all key actors, especially Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs), are associated in a consistent and predictable manner in the decision-making matrix has been now discussed for decades.
  • However, in practice, there is not effective improvement of the cooperation between TCCs, the Security Council and the Secretariat.


  • Innovation in capacity building of peacekeepers needs to be a priority, if nations are to move away from a culture of caveats that bedevils peacekeeping into a segmented activity.
  • Innovative options such as co-deployment of peacekeepers from different countries engenders a genuine spirit of partnership for peace and needs to be promoted.

Source: The Hindu

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India Iodine Survey 2018-19 Report

GS-II: India Iodine Survey 2018-19 Report


Tamil Nadu has the lowest consumption of iodized salt despite being the third biggest producer of salt in the country, according to a first-of-its-kind national survey to measure the coverage of iodised salt.

Highlights of the Survey

  • The study shows that 76.3% of Indian households consumed adequately iodised salt, which is salt with at least 15 parts per million of iodine.
  • The five worst performers were Tamil Nadu (61.9%), Andhra Pradesh (63.9%), Rajasthan (65.5%), Odisha (65.8%) and Jharkhand (68.8%).
  • The survey was conducted by Nutrition International in collaboration with the AIIMS and the Indian Coalition for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD).
  • The survey tested the iodine content in samples of cooking salt from households to estimate the coverage of iodised salt.
  • The survey revealed that 13 out of 36 States have already achieved Universal Salt Iodisation or have 90% of households with access to adequately iodised salt.

Salt production in India

  • Rajasthan, which is the second largest producer of salt, also figured among the five worst covered States.
  • Gujarat produces 71% of salt in the country, followed by Rajasthan at 17% and Tamil Nadu at 11%.
  • The rest of the country accounts for a mere 1% of salt produced.

Significance of Iodised Salt

  • Iodine is a vital micro-nutrient for optimal mental and physical development of human beings.
  • Deficiency of iodine can result in a range of disabilities and disorders such as goitre, hypothyroidism, cretinism, abortion, still births, mental retardation and psychomotor defects.
  • Children born in iodine deficient areas may have up to 13.5 IQ points less than those born in iodine sufficient areas.

Key recommendations

The key recommendation of the study is to sustain the momentum so that iodine coverage does not fall below current levels.

It also recommends that the States and the Centre work together to address the current gaps and look into issues that vary from one State to another, leading to adequately iodised salt not being produced.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II : Economic Issues Industry
Registration of steel and iron imports.

GS-III: Registration of steel and iron imports.


In a bid to clamp down on the dumping of iron and steel imports and also the over and under invoicing of these products the government has removed these items from the ;free category and has made it mandatory for importers to apply in advance for registration of their import.

Import and Export of Iron & Steel

  • Although India started exporting steel way back in 1964, exports were not regulated and depended largely on domestic surpluses. However, in the years following economic liberalisation, export of steel recorded a quantum jump.
  • Subsequently, the rapid growth of domestic steel demand has led to a decline in the rate of growth of steel exports from India to ensure that domestic requirements are adequately met. India is currently a net importer of total finished steel.
  • Iron & steel are freely importable and freely exportable.

Steel Prices:

Price regulation of iron & steel was abolished on January 16, 1992. Since then steel prices are determined by the interplay of market forces.

Domestic steel prices are influenced by trends in raw material prices, demand – supply, conditions in the market, and international price trends among others.

As a facilitator, the Government monitors the steel market conditions and adopts fiscal and other policy measures based on its assessment. Currently, GST of 18% is applicable on steel and there is no export duty on steel items.

A Steel Price Monitoring Committee has been constituted by the Government with the aim to monitor price rationalization, analyze price fluctuations and advise all concerned regarding any irrational price behaviour of steel commodity.

To avoid any distortion in prices in view of ad-hoc and rising imports, the Government had taken several steps including raising import duty and imposed a gamut of measures including anti-dumping and safeguard duties on a host of applicable iron and steel items.

Problems of Iron and Steel Industry:

  • Poor demand, price slump, competition from cheaper imports and delays in project execution are major problems in Indian steel industry.
  • Inadequate supply of power and coal, Inefficiency of public sector units and under- utilisation of capacity are other challenging issues.
  • Indian banks are grappling with bad loans (NPA) and at the same time the industry which has a long gestation period, needed huge investment.
  • Raw material and infrastructure bottlenecks issues are also there.
  • Obsolete technology in PSUs led to inferior quality products.

Way Forward

The Indian steel industry has entered into a new development stage, post de-regulation, riding high on the resurgent economy and rising demand for steel.

Huge scope for growth is offered by India’s comparatively low per capita steel consumption and the expected rise in consumption due to increased infrastructure construction and the thriving automobile and railways sectors.

The New Industrial Policy Regime provides opportunities for growth of Iron and Steel in private sector.

The Government has also announced a policy for providing preference to domestically manufactured Iron & Steel products in Government procurement.

Source: The Hindu

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