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22 January, 2020

30 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Code of conduct for Ministers
India, Brazil to sign Strategic Action Plan International Relations
Tenth Schedule
World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020 report
GS-III Regulating Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Recession and Stagflation Economic Issues
Project 75I
Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT)
Paradip Port Miscellaneous
New Industrial Policy Economic Issues
GS-II :
Code of conduct for Ministers

Syllabus subtopic:

  • Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; Pressure Groups and Formal/Informal Associations and their Role in the Polity.

 

  • Probity in Governance: Concept of Public Service; Philosophical Basis of Governance and Probity; Information Sharing and Transparency in Government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work Culture, Quality of Service Delivery, Utilization of Public Funds, Challenges of Corruption.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the new code of conduct for Ministers at both national and state level: its need and significance

 

News: A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the possibility of enforceability ought to be explored if a new code of conduct is framed for Ministers at the Centre and in the States.

 

What is the SC examining?

  • The Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, is examining whether “greater restrictions” should be imposed on Ministers’ right to free speech.

 

  • The issue, which was referred to a Constitution Bench in April 2017, was based on a petition filed by the family members of the Bulandshahr rape case victim, who were enraged by then Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan’s statement that the case was part of a conspiracy against the Akhilesh Yadav government.

 

Way ahead

The government and the legislature should be asked by the court to formulate a voluntary code of conduct with respect to the personal and public lives of Ministers and to publish it after finalising the same based on due deliberations.

 

Arguments in favour of new code of conduct for ministers at both Centre and State level

  • Union Ministry of Home Affairs has already a code of conduct for Ministers, which essentially is concerned about financial discipline. Nothing is emanating from the code which addresses the private and public activities of the Ministers in general. This is too narrow and inadequate.

 

  • The code of conduct should reflect constitutional morality and values of good governance. The acts of the persons holding public offices can be thus subjected to better and meaningful public scrutiny, which in turn would ensure democratic accountability.

 

Note: to read more about the code of conduct for ministers at Union and State level, click on the link below

https://mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/CodeOfConduct-280513.pdf

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GS-II : International Relations
India, Brazil to sign Strategic Action Plan

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

Prelims and Mains focus: about the agreements to be signed during Brazilian President’s visit; about India-Brazil relations

News: India and Brazil will upgrade their strategic partnership with an “action plan” and sign a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visits as the Chief Guest of the Republic Day celebrations from 24-27.

 

About the agreements to be signed during the visit

  1. Strategic Action Plan: The Strategic Partnership Action Plan will serve as an “umbrella agreement”, for plans between the two countries to increase defence cooperation, technology sharing and a logistics agreement.

 

  1. The Bilateral Investment treaty will be one of the first that the Modi government will sign since 2015, when it decided to scrap all existing treaties with 83 countries, and brought in a new “Model BIT”.
  • Since then India has been able to sign BITs with Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, has concluded an agreement with Cambodia, and is negotiating treaties with about a dozen other countries.

 

  1. Of particular interest will be any discussion held on climate change cooperation between the leaders, given Mr. Modi’s stated commitment on combating global warming, and the Brazilian President’s stand rejecting scientific studies on climate change.
  • Last year, Mr. Bolsonaro decided not to host the COP-25 UN climate talks, and although Brazil joined the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA), it was done under his predecessor President Michel Temer.

 

  1. On January 27, he will also address the “India-Brazil Business Forum” and is expected to travel to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

 

  1. Among about 20 agreements set to be exchanged, are the Strategic Partnership Action Plan, along with the BIT, a Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAT) on crime, agreements on double taxation avoidance, bio-energy or ethanol production, cybersecurity, health, mining, oil and gas exploration and investment, and animal husbandry.

 

India-Brazil relations

  • The bilateral relations are based on a common global vision, shared democratic values, and a commitment to foster economic growth of both countries.

 

  • Bilateral relations were elevated to a Strategic Partnership in 2006, heralding a new phase in India-Brazil relations.

 

  • The two countries hope to take their partnership to “the next level” and build on the relationship between PM Modi and President Bolsonaro, who met twice in 2019.

 

  • Brazil and India will also exchange a Social Security Agreement (SSA), first signed in March 2017, to allow investments in each other’s pension funds, to help business processes and encourage the flow of investment.

 

  • In 2018 Indian investments in Brazil were around U.S.$ 6 billion and Brazilian investments in India are estimated at U.S.$ 1 billion and the bilateral trade stands at about $8 billion.

 

  • Brazil is the largest producer and exporter of sugar, and claims Indian subsidies are inconsistent with global trade rules.

 

  • While Mr. Bolsonaro is known internationally for other controversial “far-right” beliefs on gender and orientation, and rights for indigenous tribes, he could face protests in India over Brazil’s complaint at the World Trade Organisation against New Delhi’s subsidies to sugarcane farmers.
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GS-II :
Tenth Schedule

Syllabus subtopic: Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the SC judgement and concerns raised by it for timely disqualification of defecting MPs and MLAs; about the Tenth Schedule

News: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Parliament to amend the Constitution to strip Legislative Assembly Speakers of their exclusive power to decide whether legislators should be disqualified or not under the anti-defection law.

 

Context: On Tuesday, in a 31-page judgment, a three-judge Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman questioned why a Speaker, who is a member of a particular political party and an insider in the House, should be the “sole and final arbiter” in the disqualification of a political defector.

 

Background

  • This is the second time in as many months the court has highlighted the issue of taking away the disqualification power under the Tenth Schedule from Speakers.

 

  • In a 109-page judgment by a three-judge Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana in the Karnataka MLAs’ disqualification case, the court had held that a Speaker who cannot stay aloof from the pressures and wishes of his political party does not deserve to occupy his chair.

 

  • This judgment of November last, also urged Parliament to “reconsider strengthening certain aspects of the Tenth Schedule, so that such undemocratic practices are discouraged”.

 

  • The Tuesday judgment came on an appeal filed by Congress legislator Keisham Meghchandra Singh against the Manipur Assembly Speaker for the disqualification of Minister T. Shyamkumar, who after contesting in the Congress ticket, switched sides to favour the BJP.

 

  • The court asked the State Assembly Speaker to decide the disqualification petition in four weeks. The petitioners were given liberty to approach the Supreme Court in case the Speaker failed to comply.

 

Concerns highlighted by the SC

  • It is time Parliament had a rethink on whether disqualification petitions ought to be entrusted to a Speaker as a quasi-judicial authority when such Speaker continues to belong to a particular political party either de jure or de facto.

 

  • For that matter, it asked why disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) should be kept in-house and not be given to an “outside” authority. Even the final authority for removal of a judge is outside the judiciary and in Parliament, it reasoned.

 

  • Only swift and impartial disqualification of defectors would give “real teeth” to the Tenth Schedule. The anti-defection law was enacted in 1985 to weed out corruption and money power from politics. A person who had incurred disqualification for defection does not deserve to be an MP or an MLA even for a single day.

 

What did the court recommend?

  • Disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule should be adjudicated by a mechanism outside Parliament or the Legislative Assemblies. The court suggested a permanent tribunal headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a former High Court Chief Justice.

 

  • The court said the Speakers should decide Tenth Schedule disqualifications within a “reasonable period”. What was ‘reasonable’ would depend on the facts of each case. Unless there were “exceptional circumstances”, disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule should be decided by Speakers within three months. The court noted that this period was ‘reasonable’, as the ordinary life of the Lok Sabha or the Legislative Assemblies was merely five years.

 

About the Tenth Schedule

  • The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act.

 

  • It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.

 

  • The decision on question as to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.

 

  • The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.

 

Disqualification:

If a member of a house belonging to a political party:

  • Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
  • Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
  • If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  • If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

 

Exceptions under the law:

Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances. The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger. In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.

 

Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:

The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

 

Merits of anti-defection law:

  • Provides stability to the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance.
  • Ensures that candidates remain loyal to the party as well the citizens voting for him.
  • Promotes party discipline.
  • Facilitates merger of political parties without attracting the provisions of Anti-defection
  • Expected to reduce corruption at the political level.
  • Provides for punitive measures against a member who defects from one party to another.

 

Various Recommendations to overcome the challenges posed by the law:

  1. Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms:  Disqualification should be limited to following cases:
  • A member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party
  • A member abstains from voting, or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence. Political parties could issue whips only when the government was in danger.

 

  1. Law Commission (170th Report)
  • Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification to be deleted.
  • Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection
  • Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.

 

  1. Election Commission:
  • Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.
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GS-II :
World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020 report

Syllabus subtopic: Important International Institutions, agencies and fora - their Structure, Mandate

Prelims and Mains focus: about the report and its key highlights; About ILO and its other reports

News: UN's International Labour Organization released its report, The World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020 (WESO) on Monday,

 

About the report

The annual WESO Trends report analyses key labour market issues, including unemployment, labour underutilisation, working poverty, income inequality, labour income share and factors that exclude people from decent work.

 

Key highlights of the report

  • Global unemployment is projected to increase by around 2.5 million in 2020 and almost half a billion people are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work.

 

  • Global unemployment has been roughly stable for the last nine years but slowing global economic growth means that, as the global labour force increases, not enough new jobs are being generated to absorb new entrants to the labour market.

 

  • In addition, 165 million people do not have enough paid work, and 120 million have either given up actively searching for work or otherwise lack access to the labour market. In total, more than 470 million people worldwide are affected.

 

  • Many African countries are experiencing a drop in real incomes and a rise in poverty.

 

  • Moderate or extreme working poverty is expected to edge up in 2020-21 in developing countries, increasing the obstacles to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1 on eradicating poverty everywhere by 2030. Currently working poverty (defined as earning less than USD 3.20 per day in purchasing power parity terms) affects more than 630 million workers, or one in five of the global working population.

 

  • Inequalities related to gender, age and geographical location continue to plague the job market, with the report showing that these factors limit both individual opportunity and economic growth.

 

  • Some 267 million young people aged 15-24 are not in employment, education or training, and many more endure substandard working condition.

 

  • The rise in trade restrictions and protectionism, which could have a significant impact on employment, is seen as a potentially worrying trend, as is the significant drop in the share of national income in the form of wages, compared to other forms of production. Labour underutilisation and poor-quality jobs mean our economies and societies are missing out on the potential benefits of a huge pool of human talent.

 

What does the report recommend?

  • Countries must ensure that economic growth and development occurs in a way that leads to the reduction of poverty and better working conditions in low-income countries, through structural transformation, technological upgrading and diversi?cation.

 

  • We will only find a sustainable, inclusive path of development if we tackle labour market inequalities and gaps in access to decent work.

 

 

About International Labour Organisation (ILO)

  • The ILO is a UN agency whose mandate is to advance social justice and promote decent work by setting international labour standards.
  • Established in 1919
  • HQ : Geneva, Switzerland
  • India is a founder member of ILO
  • The ILO registers complaints against entities that are violating international rules; however, it does not impose sanctions on governments
  • The ILO has 187 member states: 186 of the 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands are members of the ILO.
  • In 1969, the organisation received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving peace among classes, pursuing decent work and justice for workers, and providing technical assistance to other developing nations.

 

Reports published by ILO

  1. World Employment and Social Outlook report
  2. Global Wage Report
  3. World Social Protection Report
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GS-III :
Regulating Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Syllabus subtopic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the need for regulating AI; about AI and its applications

News: One of the most powerful men in tech, Sundar Pichai, has backed regulations for artificial intelligence (AI). While Pichai isn’t the first big tech executive to say so publicly, his voice matters, given that Google is arguably the world’s largest AI company.

 

2019 AI Readiness Index

India ranks 17 on the 2019 AI Readiness Index that tracks how “well-placed” governments are to take advantage of the benefits of AI in delivering public services. Singapore is the most well-prepared, while China rounds out the top 20.

 

 

Why is there a need to regulate the use of AI?

AI depends on the gathering of data, automatically making it an issue that needs regulation. Any organization will require large amounts of data to train an AI software, so how it acquires the data must be regulated.

When AI is put to use practically, it becomes an even more direct threat to privacy. For example, facial recognition can be used for mass surveillance. AI algorithms are usually built for specific tasks, but if left unchecked they can deviate from their desirable behaviour. For example, two Facebook chatbots created their own language when they were allowed to interface with each other in any way they wanted.

 

Who else has called for regulation of AI?

Pichai is not the first big name in tech to have sought regulations on AI. Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk has been vocal about the need for regulating AI several times in the past. Musk even said that “by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late”.

Microsoft president Brad Smith is another prominent person in tech who has called for regulation of AI. Pichai, in his editorial, advocated for AI to be regulated keeping in mind both the harm and societal benefits that the technology can be used for. He also said that governments must be aligned on regulations around AI for “making global standards work”.

 

Which fields are using the technology at present?

AI is a buzzword in almost every field. Smartphone makers are marketing AI- driven cameras, while governments have been looking to reap the benefits of AI in various areas. Regulation has to take into account all the use cases. The use of AI in governance, healthcare, law enforcement, etc. is more intrusive than, say, enhancing a phone camera’s imaging capabilities.

 

What is the status on regulation of AI?

Pichai’s editorial came soon after reports that the European Union was planning to ban the use of facial recognition in public areas for up to five years. This would give regulators time to figure out ways to avoid the abuse of such AI technologies. The US proposed certain principles for AI regulation earlier this month, which were more lenient than the EU’s proposed policy. In May, 42 countries had adopted the inter-governmental policy guidelines on AI by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

 

Where does India stand on regulations?

While India has been vocal about the use of AI in various sectors, it is far from regulating it. A 2018 NITI Aayog paper proposed five areas where AI can be useful. In that paper, the think tank also noted the lack of regulation around AI as a major weakness for India. While presenting the 2019 Union budget, then interim finance minister Piyush Goyal had said the Centre was planning to launch a national programme on AI. While India’s startup ecosystem has built several products using AI, we do not yet have principles for regulating it.

 

 

What is AI?

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence.

 

  • AI is an interdisciplinary science with multiple approaches, but advancements in machine learning and deep learning are creating a paradigm shift in virtually every sector of the tech industry.

 

AI examples

  • Smart assistants (like Siri and Alexa)
  • Disease mapping and prediction tools
  • Manufacturing and drone robots
  • Optimized, personalized healthcare treatment recommendations
  • Conversational bots for marketing and customer service
  • Robo-advisors for stock trading
  • Spam filters on email
  • Social media monitoring tools for dangerous content or false news
  • Song or TV show recommendations from Spotify and Netflix

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Recession and Stagflation

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the two terms and their significance in determining the status of the economy

 

News: The Indian economy is going through tough times with the advance estimates for the rate of growth for real gross domestic product (GDP) for 2019-20 being pegged at 5% compared to 6.9% in 2018-19.

 

What have been the trend so far?

  • The GDP growth for the second quarter of 2019-20 came in at 4.5% as against 7.1% in the second quarter in 2018-19 and 5% in the first quarter of 2019-20.

 

  • Inflation, on the other hand, showed an upward trend with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rising 7.35% in December 2019 with November and October numbers coming in at 5.54% and 4.62%, respectively.

 

Does the combination of slowdown in the rate of growth of the economy and higher inflation mean that the economy is in recession or going through a period of stagflation?

 

  1. Recession
  • There is no standard definition for recession but a rule of thumb used by most economists and analysts is that an economy that is seeing negative growth rate or shrinking GDP for two consecutive quarters may be considered to be in a recessionary phase.

 

  • Sometimes a period of contraction is followed by periods of growth before it turns negative again. The data on the fall in GDP is seen in conjunction with other indicators such as increasing unemployment, falling real income and fall in economic activity such as manufacturing and sales to confirm a recession in the economy.

 

  • A recession may be the outcome of tight monetary and fiscal policies aimed at controlling inflation or a result of over-leveraging by companies and individuals and the cutback in consumption and investment as they try to meet their obligations.

 

  • A recession may be V-shaped where the economy sees a sharp decline followed by a strong recovery, or it may be W-shaped where there is a marginal recovery in the middle followed by a decline before the economy eventually recovers. Sometimes recessions are L-shaped where the economy goes down and then stagnates there.

 

  • When recession is severe in terms of the contraction in GDP and extends over a longer period of time, it turns into a depression.

 

  1. Stagflation
  • Stagflation is another fear that comes up when inflation is high in a period of slow economic growth. The combination is unnatural because inflation is not a condition that is generally seen when the economy is slowing or stagnant and unemployment is high.

 

  • Typically, costs push inflation, caused by supply side issues, or excessive liquidity in the system cause inflationary conditions in such a situation. The high prices are likely to lead to a slowing demand that can further aggravate the economic slowdown. High prices even in one segment, say, food, can affect demand in other segments because the disposable income in the hands of the consumer comes down. High prices in a commodity like oil will have a cascading effect on the prices of other products, too, since transportation costs go up.

 

  • Policy prescriptions in a situation of stagflation can be tricky since increasing interest rates to control inflation will make it difficult for the economy facing slowing growth to recover. At the same time, keeping rates low to support recovery may exacerbate the inflationary situation.

 

The data is considered over a period of time and not just at one point or a few months for a contraction to be called an economy in recession or stagflation.

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GS-III :
Project 75I

Syllabus subtopic: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the decisions taken in the DAC meeting; about project 75I and its significance; about iDEX scheme

News: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday cleared Mazgaon Docks Limited (MDL) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) as the Indian partners in the Navy’s tender for six advanced submarines under Project-75I worth over Rs 45,000 crore.

 

  • This was the first DAC meeting after the constitution of the Chief of Defence Staff and was attended by Gen. Bipin Rawat.

 

Decisions taken in the meeting

  • The DAC approved deals worth Rs 5,100 crore, which includes electronic warfare systems for the Army to be developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured locally by the Indian industry.

 

  • The DAC approved shortlisting of Indian Strategic Partners (SP) and the potential Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that would collaborate with SPs to construct six conventional submarines in India.

 

  • The DAC also approved prototype testing of trawl assemblies designed by DRDO for T-72 and T-90 tanks providing an important indigenous de-mining capability to the Army.

 

  • In addition, DAC accorded approval for inclusion of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) scheme in the Defence Procurement Procedure which would provide opportunities in capital procurement to start ups and innovators working for iDEX.

 

About Project 75I (called “Project-75 India (P-75I)”)

  • The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarines for the Indian Navy.

 

  • Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire six diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced air-independent propulsion systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range.

 

  • All six submarines are expected to be constructed in Indian shipyards.

 

  • This project, under the Strategic Partnership (SP) model, aims to promote the role of the Indian industry in defence manufacturing and build a defence industrial ecosystem. With this there are now two Indian SPs and five OEMS in the shortlisted pool for the project. The Request For Proposal (RFP) would be issued to the Indian partners who would tie up with an OEM and submit a bid. The five OEMs are Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) (South Korea), Naval Group (France), Navantia (Spain), Rosoboronexport (Russia) and TKMS (Germany).

 

  • The P75I project is part of a 30-year submarine building plan that ends in 2030. As part of this plan, India was to build 24 submarines — 18 conventional submarines and six nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) — as an effective deterrent against China and Pakistan.

 

  • Of the 14 conventional submarines India currently possesses, including the Scorpene, only half are operational at any given point of time. India also has two nuclear-powered submarinesINS Arihant (SSBN, a ballistic missile submarine) and INS Chakra (SSN, a nuclear-powered one) leased from Russia.

 

About Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) Scheme:

  • It was launched by the Government in April 2018; primarily aims at creation of an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace.

 

  • It aims at engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia for defence technology to be made and fostered in India.

 

  • It will provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.

 

  • iDEX is funded and managed by a ‘Defence Innovation Organization (DIO)’ which has been formed as a ‘not for profit’ company as per Section 8 of the Companies Act 2013 for this purpose.

 

  • DIO has been created by the two founder members i.e. Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) - HAL & BEL.

 

  • iDEX functions as the executive arm of DIO, carrying out all the required activities while DIO will provide high level policy guidance to iDEX.

 

Key Functions of iDex:

  • Co-Innovation/co-creation
  • Piloting of candidate technologies in important platforms
  • Indigenization of various defence and aerospace related platforms being manufactured in the country based on ToT.

 

Defence India Start Up Challenge:

  • Taking the iDEX initiative further, Defence India Startup Challenge "has been launched by Defence Ministry in partnership with Atal Innovation Mission.

 

  • It aims at supporting Startups/MSMEs/Innovators to create prototypes and/or commercialize products/solutions in the area of National Defence and Security.

 

The vision of the Challenge is two-fold:

  • Help create functional prototypes of products/technologies relevant for national security (prototyping), and spur fast-moving innovation in the India defence sector
  • Help new tech products/technologies find a market and early customer (commercialization) in the form of the Indian Defence Establishment.
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GS-III :
Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT)

Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the telescope and its applications; roadblocks in its construction

 

News: India, a partner in the construction of one of the largest telescopes in the world, has said it wants the project to be moved out of the proposed site at Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii.

 

About the Telescope and its applications

  • The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a new class of extremely large telescopes that will allow us to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity.
  • With its 30 m prime mirror diameter, TMT will be three times as wide, with nine times more area, than the largest currently existing visible-light telescope in the world. This will provide unparalleled resolution with TMT images more than 12 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • When operational, TMT will provide new observational opportunities in essentially every field of astronomy and astrophysics.
  • The TMT will enable scientists to study fainter objects far away from us in the universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the universe. Also, it will give us finer details of not-so-far-away objects like undiscovered planets and other objects in the Solar System and planets around other stars.

 

Countries involved in its construction:

The $2 billion project is a joint venture (JV) involving five countries:

  1. USA (California Institute of Technology)
  2. Japan (National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan),
  3. China (National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences)
  4. India (the Department of Science and Technology)
  5. Canada (National Research Council)

 

Why does India wants the project side to be shifted to an alternate site?

  • The project has been marred by protests for over a decade. The proposed site is considered sacred to indigenous Hawaiians, and also has too many observatories for one more such massive establishment to come up.

 

  • The difficulty is that even if construction in Mauna Kea were to go ahead, there could be future agitations.

 

  • Protests at the site last year saw scientists unable to access other telescope facilities in Mauna Kea. The project has been delayed by nearly five years and should have begun operations by 2025.

 

  • India has committed $200 million, which is about a tenth of the proposed cost. The telescope needs 492 precisely polished mirrors and India is to contribute 83 of them. The project delay has meant that these manufacturing contracts have also been delayed.

 

  • The level of contribution determines the amount of viewing time, or slots, that the member-countries’ scientists get on the machine. Thus India, in a given year, stands to get 10% of the available slots; any downtime could potentially eat into those.

 

Where is the proposed alternate site?

  • The next best site to locate the telescope is the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain.

 

  • Hanle, in Ladakh, was also in the running to host the TMT, but lost out to Mauna Kea, which is considered a superior site due to the imaging possibilities it offers, its stable weather, and also because it has the necessary infrastructure to manage telescopes, already being host to several telescopes.

 

Roadblocks in its construction

  • The TMT has been a litigious site since 2014. In 2018, the Supreme Court of Hawaii gave permission for construction to proceed but the project’s proponents have not made progress because they were obstructed twice, in 2015 and 2019, respectively, from construction.

 

  • Representatives from member countries are expected to convene in Los Angeles in February to decide on project modalities.

 

  • India too has its problems with hosting ambitious science projects. The Indian Neutrino Observatory, proposed to come up in Theni, Tamil Nadu, has also been stalled due to protests against the project in the State.
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GS-III : Miscellaneous
Paradip Port

Syllabus subtopic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the details of the project and its significance; Ports of India, About National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)

News: An inter-ministerial panel has approved a Ministry of Shipping proposal for deepening and optimisation of inner harbour facilities of the Paradip Port Trust.

 

Details of the project

  • A panel chaired by Department of Economic Affairs Secretary, after consultations with the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Shipping and NITI Aayog, recently gave in-principle approval to this project. The project will be taken up on a common user basis after clearing of financial and technical bids.

 

  • The total project cost is estimated at Rs 3,025 crore and the project will be executed in the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.

 

  • Prospective bidders will need to have minimum net worth of 50 per cent of the project cost to qualify for bidding.

 

  • The Paradip Port Trust will invite bids from private players for execution of the project, which will enable construction of Western dock captive berths to handle capesize vessels.
  • The project will also facilitate import of coking coal for steel sector and other industries.

 

About the Paradip Port

  • Located in Odisha, the deepwater Paradip Port handles various cargo like crude oil, iron ore, thermal coal, coking coal, limestone, manganese and fertilisers among others.

 

  • The port handled total traffic of 109.27 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2018-19, as against 102.01 MMT in 2017-18.

 

  • The proposed deepening and optimisation of the inner harbour facilities will add annual handling capacity of another 25 MMT to the port’s overall capacity. Post completion of the inner harbour facilities, Paradip Port Trust plans to take up construction of outer harbour project at an estimated cost of Rs 10,000 crore.

 

Initiatives taken by the govt. in Infrastructure sector

  • As part of the National Infrastructure Pipeline prepared by the Finance Ministry for next five years, the Centre is working to approve all projects where financing can be tied up quickly and which are ready to be executed.

 

  • Apart from infrastructure projects in the PPP mode, the Finance Ministry is also working on clearing infra projects that will be implemented by the Central government as well as states.

 

  • The Finance Ministry, last month, unveiled Rs 102 lakh crore of infrastructure projects that will be implemented during fiscal year 2020 and 2025, with the Centre contributing nearly 39 per cent towards these projects, states accounting for another 39 per cent and the private sector 22 per cent.

 

  • Of the total project capital expenditure during fiscals 2020 to 2025, sectors such as energy (24 per cent), urban (16 per cent), railways (13 per cent) and roads (19 per cent) are estimated to account for over 70 per cent of the projected infrastructure investments in India.

 

  • Port sector is estimated to attract investments of Rs 1.01 lakh crore during this period, including an estimated investment of Rs 16,128 crore in the next fiscal year, as per the Finance Ministry.

 

About National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)

It is estimated that India would need to spend $4.5 trillion on infrastructure by 2030 to sustain its growth rate. The endeavour of the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), is to make this happen in an efficient manner.

 

Funding: The central government and state governments would have an equal share of 39% each in the NIP. The private sector, on the other hand, would have 22% share which the government expects to increase to 30% by 2025.

  • National Infrastructure Pipeline will ensure that infrastructure projects are adequately prepared and launched.
  • Each Ministry/ Department would be responsible for the monitoringof projects so as to ensure their timely and within-cost implementation.
  • It will help in stepping-up annual infrastructure investment to achieve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $5 trillion by 2024-25.

 

Need for infrastructure funding:

  • Availability of quality infrastructure is a pre-requisite to achieve broad-based and inclusive growth on a sustainable basis.
  • Investment in infrastructure is also necessary for sustaining the high growth rate of India.

 

Seaports in India

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GS-III : Economic Issues
New Industrial Policy

Syllabus subtopic: Effects of Liberalization on the Economy, Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the new industrial policy and its key objectives

News: With the government aiming to finalise the new industrial policy within the current financial year, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is seeking specific inputs from ministries and states on focus areas to boost manufacturing and private investment.

 

Background

Last week, the government organised an inter-ministerial workshop on 14 priority sectors that would need a fillip to boost manufacturing to $1 trillion, including capital goods, electronics, food processing, metals and mining, tourism and renewable energy.

 

About the new policy

  • The new industrial policy, which will come over two decades after the last policy was implemented in 1991, has a “wider” focus, especially since manufacturing is expected to account for 20 per cent of India’s $5-trillion economy target.

 

  • The broad goal is to give a boost to manufacturing, which has many complexities. It is now embedded in the services sector and manufacturing is also getting more automated. Therefore the govt. also need to keep employment in mind.

 

  • This industrial policy is still in the making. It is still in an infancy stage. A lot of material has been collected and a lot of consultations have been held, but there is still more to be done.

 

  • The government is looking to resolve issues related to ease of doing business, including developing clusters for backward and forward linkages in the supply chain.

 

Way ahead

  • Work is on to understand how to bring in more policy incentives to attract investment, how to make the process easier for these sectors and how to make credit available to them at an affordable rate.

 

  • The idea is to bring more private sector investment in all these priority sectors.
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