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18 Jan, 2020

19 Min Read

World Economic Situation and Prospects 2020 report


Syllabus subtopic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the key highlights of the report and its significance

News: The UN projects India's economy to grow by 5.7 per cent in the current fiscal year and expects it to rise to 6.6 per cent in the next.


UN's Chief Economist Elliott Harris presented a dire picture of the global economy last year when the world's gross product growth rate dropped to 2.3 per cent, the lowest in a decade.

He said that rising tariffs and rapid shift in trade policies were responsible for the lower growth rate with the United States-China trade disputes playing a significant part.

Key highlights of the report

  • The projection in the UN's World Economic Situation and Prospects report released on Thursday are higher than the 5 per cent made by the World Bank earlier this month.

  • The UN growth estimate for the current fiscal is drastically lower than the forecast of 7.6 per cent made in last year's report in January and 7 per cent in the May update.

  • According to the report, only China has a higher growth rate than India among the world's large economies with a 6 per cent forecast for the current calendar year.

  • In South Asia, Bangladesh’s forecast grow by 8.1 per cent this fiscal year and 7.8 in the next, while Pakistan's growth rate estimated at 3.3 per cent for 2019-20 is projected to slip to 2.1 per cent next year.

Reasons for slowdown highlighted in the report

  • Huge decline in investment and in private consumption were the major reasons for the economic slowdown in India.

  • External factors have also contributed to the lower growth.

  • Globally we have seen a large impact of trade tensions, particularly between the US and China, but also other major economies, that have affected growth rates across the globe and also, of course, India which is a very open economy, that has a lot to gain from international trade.

  • The labour markets are not performing optimally with high levels of informality and gender barriers that effectively limit the participation of women. In addition, a high number of youth are neither working nor undergoing training.

Green signals in the report

  • Although there has been a steep decline in growth, India was still one of the high performers globally.

  • Tt was expected to improve its growth rate in the coming year because of the steps being taken.

  • In India, the government has responded to those issues by announcing some stimulus steps. However, fiscal stimulus in itself will not be enough.

  • It mentioned two areas where India could do better: Labour and green energy.

What next?

Another barometer of economic growth in India and the world will be coming out on Monday when the International Monetary Fund releases its World Economic Outlook report.

Source: Indian Express

India-EU summit 2020

GS-II : International Relations Europe

India-EU summit 2020

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests

Prelims and Mains focus: about the India-EU summit and its significance; about Raisina Dialogue and its importance

News: PM Modi is likely to visit Brussels in March for the next India-European Union summit. While the dates have not been officially announced, the proposed date is likely to be March 13.


  • The March summit will take place against the backdrop of the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the government’s move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. In October, a group of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) — many of them from far-right parties in Europe — were taken to Kashmir.

  • The EU had said that it was not an official delegation, and these MEPs were visiting in their private capacity.

  • Earlier this month, when a group of 15 ambassadors went to Kashmir at the government’s invitation. The European Union envoys could not join them, as envoys from 27 EU countries wanted to go together. The envoys who were invited could not make it since it was too short a notice for them to get approvals from their Foreign ministries.

India-EU Summit 2017

  • The last India-EU summit took place in October 2017 in Delhi and both sides have had ambitious plans. But the Indian assessment that the relationship has not achieved its potential was articulated by External Affairs minister S Jaishankar during his remarks at the Raisina Dialogue earlier this week.

  • During the 2017 India-EU summit, PM Modi had led the Indian delegation and European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker led the EU side.

  • The leaders had held wide-ranging discussions on foreign and security policy, migration, trade, climate, research and innovation. A Joint Statement was adopted by the leaders which reflected common understanding on these areas and reaffirmed commitment to strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership.

  • The two sides are likely to prepare for the summit and pick up the threads from where they left.

About the Raisina Dialogue:

  • This is an annual geo-political event, organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

  • It is designed to explore prospects and opportunities for Asian integration as well as Asia’s integration with the larger world.

  • It is predicated on India’s vital role in the Indian Ocean Region and how India along with its partners can build a stable regional and world order.


The conference is a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral meeting involving policy and decision-makers, including but not limited to Foreign, Defence and Finance Ministers of different countries, high-level government officials and policy practitioners, leading personalities from business and industry, and members of the strategic community, media and academia.

Significance of the event:

The Raisina Dialogue was born in 2016, in the belief that the Asian century that the world was talking about was not about any exclusive geographical region. It was rather about the engagement of global actors with Asia and of Asia with the world. So this dialogue took birth as a platform, where the old and the new could work together, to discover their connections, their inter-dependence.

About European Union (EU)

  • The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.

  • The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993.

  • The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome.

  • The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.

  • For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished.

  • A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

Source: Indian Express



Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the satellite and its applications; about geostationary orbit

News: The nation's latest communication satellite, GSAT-30, was sent to space from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou at 2:35 a.m. IST on Friday.

About the launch

  • In a flight lasting over 38 minutes, European Ariane-5 space vehicle VA-251 released GSAT-30 in an initial elliptical geosynchronous orbit. The ISRO Master Control Facility picked up its signals immediately and found its systems healthy.

  • Over the coming weeks MCF engineers will gradually adjust it into a final circular orbit 36,000 km from earth and apparently fixed at 83° East longitude over the country.

  • ISRO hired a foreign launcher as GSAT-30 is much heavier than the 2,000-kg lifting capacity of its geostationary launch vehicle GSLV-MkII.

  • As for the newer and more powerful GSLV-MkIII that can lift up to 4,000 kg, the space agency plans to save the two or three upcoming MkIIIs mainly for its first human space flight Gaganyaan of 2022 and two preceding crew-less trials. The first Indian crew-less test flight is planned later this year.

  • A European communication satellite called EUTELSAT KONNECT was the co-passenger of GSAT-30.

About GSAT-30 satellite

  • The 3,357-kg satellite will replace INSAT-4A which was launched in 2005 and marks the first mission of the year for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

  • The high-power satellite is equipped with 12 normal C band and 12 Ku band transponders.


  • GSAT-30 will provide DTH (direct to home) television services, connectivity to VSATs (that support working of banks') ATMs, stock exchange, television uplinking and teleport services, digital satellite news gathering and e-governance applications.

  • The satellite will also be used for bulk data transfer for a host of emerging telecommunication applications.

  • Its unique configuration provides flexible frequency segments and flexible coverage. The satellite will provide communication services to Indian mainland and islands through the Ku band and wide coverage over Gulf countries, a large number of Asian countries and Australia through the C band.

About Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation is the space agency of the Government of India and has its headquarters in the city of Bengaluru.

  • Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research & planetary exploration".

  • The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was established in the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1962, with the urging of scientist Vikram Sarabhai recognizing the need in space research.

  • INCOSPAR grew and became ISRO in 1969, also under the DAE.

  • In 1972, Government of India had setup a Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS), bringing ISRO under the DOS. The establishment of ISRO thus institutionalized space research activities in India.

  • It is managed by the DOS, which reports to the Prime Minister of India.

Source: The Hindu

Waste treatment


Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Prelims and Mains focus: about the judgement of the NGT Bench and concerns raised on waste treatment

News: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has warned that local bodies will be liable to pay a compensation for failure in waste treatment.

Concerns raised by NGT

  • While observing that there was a huge gap in the amount of waste generated and treated, the Bench said that the current processing of waste generated and collected is also not taking place on a regular basis. For any person travelling by train, hot spots of scattered garbage and overflowing sewage are common sights.

  • Satisfactory sewage management also remains a far cry. This unsatisfactory state of affairs must be remedied at the earliest and in a time- bound manner by initiative at the highest level. Accountability needs to be fixed and consequences for failure clearly provided and enforced.

About the NGT judgement

  • The local bodies will be liable to pay a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh per month for a population of above 10 lakh if there was continued failure to treat generated waste.

  • The Bench also directed that an ‘environment monitoring cell’ has to be set in the offices of Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories.

  • The financial burden may be shared with the State governments in case the local bodies are unable to bear cost for remedial action.

  • Apart from compensation, adverse entries must be made in annual confidential reports of CEO of the said local bodies and other senior functionaries in department of urban development, etc. who are responsible for compliance of orders of the Tribunal.

  • The Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Chandigarh were also directed to be present before the Tribunal on August 24.

Note: click on the link below to read about the topic in detail


Source: The Hindu

Illegal Extraction of Groundwater


Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Prelims and Mains focus: about the NGT order regarding groundwater extraction; about the groundwater situation in India; about CGWA

News: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday pulled up the State governments of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh over inaction towards large- scale illegal extraction of groundwater in “critical” and “semi-critical” areas.

What did the NGT Bench direct them to do?

  • The NGT Bench directed both the States to take remedial action and ensure that prior approval is sought from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).

  • Before any such permission is granted, the CGWA may ensure actual compliance of conditions of replenishment of groundwater with regard to the water table in areas so that there is no further deterioration of critical, semi-critical and over- exploited areas in terms of groundwater availability.

  • The Tribunal also specified that approvals should be granted based on a study of the availability of groundwater and periodical report that the replenishment had resulted in improvement in ground situation.

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), along with the two State governments, were also directed to ensure recovery of compensation from violators by taking appropriate coercive measures.

India’s groundwater situation

About Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA)

Central Ground Water Authority has been constituted under Section 3 (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to regulate and control development and management of ground water resources in the country.

Powers & Functions:

The Authority has been conferred with the following powers:

  1. Exercise of powers under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for issuing directions and taking such measures in respect of all the matters referred to in sub-section(2) of section 3 of the said Act.

  1. To resort to penal provisions contained in sections 15 to 21 of the said Act.???????

  1. To regulate and control, management and development of ground water in the country and to issue necessary regulatory directions for the purpose.

  1. Exercise of powers under section 4 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for the appointment of officers.

Regulatory measures:

  • The Central Ground Water Authority is regulating withdrawal of ground water by industries/ projects in 802 Over-exploited and 169 Critical Assessment Units. List of these critical areas has been circulated to the State Pollution Control Boards and Ministry of Environment & Forests which refer the new industries/ projects to CGWA for obtaining permission.

  • CGWA has notified 162 critical/ overexploited areas in parts of NCT Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, MP, Gujarat, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, UT of Puducherry and UT of Diu for control and regulation of development of ground water resources. For enforcement of the regulatory measures in these areas, concerned Deputy Commissioners/ District Magistrates have been directed under Section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to regulate ground water development in these notified areas.

  • Construction of new ground water structures is prohibited in the notified areas. Permission of drilling tubewells is being granted only to the Govt. agencies responsible for drinking water supply.

Source: The Hindu

Surge in Solar imports


Syllabus subtopic:

  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the rise in imports of solar equipments and the reasons for govt. failure to curb it; about solar power scenario in India; about PV cell

News: Five years of a concerted solar power push, a key policy thrust area for the NDA government, has come at a cost — the value of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules imported since FY’14 adds up to $12.93 billion, or Rs 90,000 crore.

Import cost too high?

  • An estimated 85 per cent of this equipment has been imported from three countries — primarily China, alongside Vietnam and Malaysia — with a surge coinciding with the rollout of the Centre’s ‘Make-in-India’ programme.

  • The amount spent on imports of PV cells and modules in the last five years works out to nearly three times the cumulative Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of $4.83 billion that flowed into the entire renewable energy sector. It is also well over six times the budgetary allocation made by the Centre to the renewable energy sector in the five years since FY’14.

  • The high import levels came despite safeguard duties being slapped by the government in the last 24 months, alongside multiple red flags being raised on the quality of solar equipment and material reaching the country.

Reasons for lack of domestic production of PV panels & modules

  • India has an installed manufacturing capacity of around 3 GW (giga watts, or 3000 mega watts) for fabricating solar PV cells and around 10 GW for modules. But it does not have any commercial production for upstream stages of solar PV manufacturing, such as wafers, ingots and polysilicon. The official reason is the energy and capital intensive nature of the process.

  • The lack of an integrated set-up and the economies of scale — despite the government having allowed 100 per cent FDI in the renewable energy sector through the automatic route — translates into higher cost of domestic production.

  • This is despite the government extending a raft of sops for the production of solar PV cells and modules. This includes support through the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) of Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology that offers a 20-25 per cent subsidy for investments in capital expenditure for setting up a manufacturing facility.

  • Riding on equipment imports, the solar generation sector cornered the bulk of FDI inflows in the power sector in the last five years, also accounting for the bulk of capacity addition during this period. At the same time, thermal capacity addition recorded a progressive downward trend.

  • The problem pertaining to the quality of material used in solar projects is another fallout of the excessive import dependency by project developers.

  • There is a trend wherein developers taking up solar projects import use sub-standard equipment to set it up, with the result that capacity starts to report a decline in output after about a year.

  • Most of these developers then end up selling the project to a buyer, generally after around a year. It generally takes about three years to ascertain the actual solar efficiencies of a project.

Measures taken by the govt.

  • Following a number of such cases coming to light, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy changed rules to ensure that developers will not be allowed to dispose of a project before three years, as against a one-year stipulation earlier.

  • This condition has now been put to ensure quality standard, alongside the stipulation of a minimum efficiency of 21 per cent.

  • There have been some trade interventions to stymie equipment imports, but they have largely been ineffectual and had resulted in protests from developers.

  • Based on the findings of Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR), following investigations concerning safeguard duty on imports of solar cells and modules, the government had slapped duties on imports of solar cells (on assembled modules or panels) of between 15 per cent and 25 per cent since July 2018.

  • Industry players, however, maintain that the duties have failed to stem the tide, with the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association contending that Chinese manufacturers have, in turn, reduced their prices.

India’s solar power ambition

The government has a target of 175 GW of installed clean energy capacity by March 2022, of which 100 GW is expected to be solar. Over the last five years, solar power has seen its installed capacity grow around 12 times to over 31 GW, according to Central Electricity Authority data.

About Photovoltaic (PV) cell

A photovoltaic (PV) cell, commonly called a solar cell, is a non- mechanical device that converts sunlight directly into electricity. Some PV cells can convert artificial light into electricity.

Solar photovoltaic cells are grouped in panels (modules), and panels can be grouped into arrays of different sizes to produce small to large amounts of electricity, such as for powering water pumps for livestock water, for providing electricity for homes, or for utility-scale electricity generation.

Applications of photovoltaic systems

The smallest photovoltaic systems power calculators and wristwatches. Larger systems can provide electricity to pump water, to power communications equipment, to supply electricity for a single home or business, or to form large arrays that supply electricity to thousands of electricity consumers.

Some advantages of PV systems are:

  • PV systems can supply electricity in locations where electricity distribution systems (power lines) do not exist, and they can also supply electricity to an electric power grid.
  • PV arrays can be installed quickly and can be any size.
  • The environmental effects of PV systems located on buildings is minimal.

Source: Indian Express

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