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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

30 Jan, 2021

63 Min Read

India – China ties

GS-II : International Relations Border disputes

India – China ties

  • China said it “appreciates” External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar emphasising the importance of India-China relations, but reiterated its calls for the boundary dispute to “not be linked with the overall bilateral relations”.
  • In a speech on Thursday, Mr. Jaishankar said the relationship needed to be built on “mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests”.
  • The Minister outlined eight propositions to take the ties forward after what he called a year of “exceptional stress”.
  • Mr. Jaishankar underlined India’s view that peace on the border was a prerequisite for the rest of the relationship to develop.
    China’s actions last year had “not only signalled a disregard for commitments about minimising troop levels”, but also “showed a willingness to breach the peace and tranquillity” on the border that had been the foundation of the relationship.
  • The advancement of ties, he added, was “predicated on ensuring that peace and tranquillity was not disturbed, and the Line of Actual Control [LAC] was both observed and respected by both sides”.
  • “He stressed the importance of India-China relations; it shows the Indian side attaches importance to the ties with China, we appreciate this,” Mr Zhao said.
  • “Meanwhile, we stress that the boundary issue shall not be linked with the overall bilateral relations. That is an important experience we have gathered through the country's many years of efforts to keep the ties moving forward. We hope the Indian side will work with us to properly manage differences, promote practical cooperation and bring bilateral relations back on track.”
  • China has in recent months hit out at India’s economic measures, such as the banning of apps and tightening the curbs on investment, saying events on the border should not be linked to other aspects of relations.
  • India has reiterated its view that such a proposition is untenable, and normal relations can’t be restored until there is peace on the border and a full restoration of the status quo, prior to last summer’s transgressions.
  • Mr. Jaishankar underlined that view in his speech, saying that any expectation that the events on the border “can be brushed aside and that life can carry on undisturbed despite the situation in the border is simply not realistic”.

Source: TH

Funding for NGOs

GS-III : Economic Issues Foreign investment

Funding for NGOs

  • The Union Home Ministry has laid down a charter for banks which says that “donations received in Indian rupees” by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and associations from “any foreign source even if that source is located in India at the time of such donation” should be treated as “foreign contribution”.
  • As per the existing rules, all banks have to report to the Central government within 48 hours the “receipt or utilisation of any foreign contribution” by any NGO, association or person whether or not they are registered or granted prior permission under the FCRA.
  • Last September, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, was amended by Parliament and a new provision that makes it mandatory for all NGOs to receive foreign funds in a designated bank account at the State Bank of India’s (SBI) New Delhi branch was inserted.
  • FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of the country.
  • All NGOs seeking foreign donations have to open a designated FCRA account at the SBI branch by March 31.
  • The NGOs can retain their existing FCRA account in any other bank but it will have to be mandatorily linked to the SBI branch in New Delhi.
  • The Ministry has laid out a series of guidelines and charter to make the NGOs and the banks comply with the new provisions.
  • The charter for the banks said, “It may be noted that foreign contribution has to be received only through banking channels and it has to be accounted for in the manner prescribed. Any violation by the NGO or by the bank may invite penal provisions of the FCRA, 2010.” It added that “donations given in Indian rupees (INR) by any foreigner/foreign source including foreigners of Indian origin like OCI or PIO cardholders” should also be treated as foreign contribution.

Source: TH

Novavax

GS-III : S&T COVID-19

Novavax

  • American company Novavax, whose COVID-19 vaccine is set to be made in large numbers by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), has reported that its vaccine has proved to have 89% efficacy in preventing the infection in some trial volunteers in the United Kingdom.
  • However, the efficacy dropped to 60% when it was tested in volunteers in South Africa, a likely consequence of a mutant coronavirus variant that is now deep-rooted there.
  • Since December, scientists have raised concerns over mutated variants, particularly those isolated in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil that harbour changes, allowing the virus to cheat the immune system.
  • These variants are being linked to renewed waves of the virus, but haven’t been shown to be more lethal. Researchers associated with the trial said 60% efficacy was good news as nearly 90% of those who participated were affected by the South African variant.

Source: TH

President Address to Parliament 2021

GS-III : Economic Issues Economic reforms

President’s Address to Parliament 2021

Honourable Members,

This joint sitting of Parliament which is being held during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic has great significance. It is the beginning of a new year and a new decade. We will also be entering the 75th year of India’s independence this year. All the Members of Parliament present here today embody the conviction held by every Indian that the toughest of challenges will deter neither us nor India.

Whenever India has remained united, it has been able to attain even seemingly unattainable goals. This solidarity and Pujya Bapu’s inspiration had given us freedom from hundreds of years of colonial rule. Echoing the same spirit, Assam Kesari, Ambikagiri Raichaudhuri the nationalist poet, had said –

“Om tatsat Bharat Mahat, Ek chetonaat, Ek Dhyanot,

Ek Sadhonaat, Ek Avegot, Ek Hoi Jaa, Ek Hoi Jaa”

That is, India’s grandeur is the ultimate truth. In one single consciousness, one thought, one devotion, one inspiration, let us unite; let us unite.

This unity and dedication of Indians has enabled the country to overcome multiple adversities. Our country has faced every crisis with fortitude, be it the Coronavirus pandemic, floods, earthquakes or major cyclones in several States, locust attack or the bird flu. The recent past also saw an unprecedented escalation in tension along the border. The nation stood together, battled crises on multiple fronts and surmounted every challenge. During this period, we all have also witnessed the unparalleled courage, endurance, discipline and spirit of service of our countrymen.

In this fight against the pandemic, we have also suffered the untimely loss of life of a number of our countrymen. Our beloved former President and my predecessor Shri Pranab Mukherjee too passed away during the pandemic. The untimely demise of six Members of Parliament was also due to the coronavirus. I pay my heartfelt tribute to all of them.\

Honourable Members,

  • It has been said in our Shastras – “Kritam me dakshine haste jayo me savya aahitah”
  • That is, if we do our duty, success is assured. During the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected each individual and every country in the world, India has emerged on the global stage with renewed vigor.
  • It gives me satisfaction that due to timely and calibrated decisions taken by my Government, we were able to save lives of lakhs of our countrymen.
  • Today, there is a rapid decline in the number of new cases of coronavirus and at the same time there is a significant increase in the number of recoveries.

Honourable Members,

  • When we think of the preceding year, we are reminded of the twin challenges that faced us, of saving lives of the citizens and protecting the economy.
  • Besides announcing a record economic package for reviving the economy, my Government took care to ensure that no poor person went hungry.
  • Under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana’, 80 crore people were provided an additional 5 kg free food grains per month for 8 months.
  • The Government was also mindful of the plight of migrant labourers, workers and those who were away from their homes. Besides providing them with the facility of ‘One Nation- One Ration Card’, the Government made free food grains available and organized Shramik Special trains for them.
  • My Government also launched the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan in 6 states in order to provide employment to the returnee migrant labourers in their villages, during the pandemic.
  • As a result of this Abhiyan, 50 crore mandays of employment were generated. The Government also launched SVANidhi - a special scheme for street vendors and hawkers.
  • Further, an amount of approximately Rs 31,000 crore was directly transferred to the Jan Dhan accounts of poor women. D
  • uring this period, more than 14 crore gas cylinders were given free of cost throughout the country to poor women beneficiaries, under the Ujjwala scheme.
  • Through all its decisions, my Government has set an unprecedented example of the collective strength of federal structure. The collaboration between the Central and the State Governments has not only strengthened democracy but also enhanced the prestige of the Constitution.

Honourable Members,

Acharya Chanakya had said –

“Trinam laghu trinatoolam tooladapi cha yaachakah

Vayuna kim na neetosow mamayam yachayishyati”

A person who implores or begs is considered to be less valuable than even straw or cotton.

Even the wind that carries away cotton and straw will not take a person who begs, lest he starts demanding something from wind itself. In this way, everyone tries to avoid a beggar.

  • This implies that in order to enhance our relevance or importance, we must minimise our dependence on others and become self-reliant.
  • The dream of an empowered and free India, which our freedom fighters had envisioned, was also based on the idea of self-reliance of the country.
  • Under the circumstances that emerged during the coronavirus pandemic, when each country was prioritizing their own requirements, we were reminded of the significance of developing a self-reliant India.
  • During this period, India has demonstrated its scientific capabilities, technical expertise & strength of its start-up ecosystem by developing a network of over 2200 laboratories in a short time span, manufacturing thousands of ventilators, PPE kits and test kits thereby, attaining self-reliance.
  • It is a matter of immense pride that India is conducting the world’s largest vaccination programme. Both the vaccines rolled out under this programme are produced indigenously.
  • By making lakhs of corona vaccine doses available to several countries India has fulfilled its obligation towards humanity in these times of difficulty.
  • The accolades being showered on India globally for this work along with the essence of our age-old cultural tradition of ‘Sarve Santu Niramayaha’ and endeavor to work for human welfare is imparting strength to our efforts.

Honourable Members,

  • The gains from the work done by my Government in the healthcare sector in the past 6 years were visible during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • During these years, emphasis has been placed not only on modernizing the healthcare systems but also on prevention of diseases.
  • Programmes such as Rashtriya Poshan Abhiyaan, Fit India Movement and Khelo India Abhiyan have helped in creating awareness about health within the country.
  • We have also witnessed the beneficial impact of the efforts made by my Government to promote Ayurveda and Yoga.
  • As a result of the efforts of my Government, the poor are now able to avail the benefits of healthcare facilities with ease and their expenditure on treatment of diseases is progressively reducing.
  • Under the Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, 1.5 crore poor people in the country have received free treatment of up to Rs 5 lakh.
  • As a result, the poor have been able to save over Rs 30,000 crore. Today, benefits of Ayushman Bharat Yojana can be availed at more than 24,000 hospitals across the country.
  • Similarly, under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Yojana, the poor are getting medicines at extremely affordable rates from 7000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras across the country.
  • Lakhs of patients are purchasing medicines from these Kendras daily and due to their reasonable prices, are able to save Rs 3600 crore annually.

Honourable Members,

  • In order to develop healthcare facilities across the country commensurate expansion in medical education is equally important.
  • In 2014, there were only 387 medical colleges, but today there are 562 medical colleges in the country.
  • In the last 6 years, there has been an increase of over 50,000 seats at the under-graduate and post graduate levels in medical education.
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, the Government has also sanctioned 22 new AIIMS.
  • The Central Government has laid the foundation for historic reforms in the field of medical education by establishing the National Medical Commission along with 4 Autonomous Boards.
  • The decades’ old Medical Council of India has been replaced with the National Medical Commission as a part of these reforms.

Honourable Members,

  • Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is not just confined to manufacturing in India, but is also a campaign aimed at elevating the standard of living of every Indian as well as boosting the self-confidence of the country.
  • Our goal of an Atmanirbhar Bharat will be further strengthened by self-reliance in agriculture.
  • With this idea, the Government has, over the last 6 years, attempted to bring positive transformation in the ‘Seed to Market’ system so that Indian agriculture is modernized and also sees growth.
  • In pursuance of these efforts, my Government decided to implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee report and increased the MSP to at least 1.5 times of the cost of production.
  • Today my Government is not only purchasing record quantities at the MSP, but is also increasing the number of procurement centres.
  • Widespread improvements are being brought in various sources of irrigation. Following the mantra of ‘Per Drop More Crop’, the Government is not only completing the pending irrigation projects, but is also delivering modern irrigation techniques to the farmers.
  • In 2013-14, only 42 lakh hectares of land was under micro-irrigation whereas today, more than 56 lakh hectares of land has been brought under micro-irrigation.

I am happy to say that through their hard work, our farmers are augmenting the efforts of the Government. Today, the food grain availability in the country is at a record high. In 2008-09, the food grain production in the country was 234 million tonnes, whereas in 2019-20, the production has increased to 296 million tonnes. During the same period, the production of fruits and vegetables has also increased from 215 million tonnes to 320 million tonnes. I congratulate the farmers of the country for these achievements.

Honourable Members,

  • In the agricultural sector, the need of the hour is to focus our attention on the small and marginal farmers who own only 1 or 2 hectares of land. More than 80% of the farmers in the country numbering over 10 crore fall under this category.
  • My Government accords priority to these small and marginal farmers too. In order to provide expenditure support to these farmers, almost Rs 1,13,000 crore have been directly transferred to their bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi.
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has also benefitted small farmers of this country. Under this scheme in the last 5 years, about Rs 90,000 crore has been paid as compensation to the farmers against a premium of Rs 17,000 crore.
  • The mission for setting up 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations by bringing together small farmers of the country is also an impactful step.
  • This has ensured access of small farmers to better technology, additional credit, post-harvesting processing and marketing facilities and insurance coverage during natural calamities, on the same footing as the rich farmers.
  • This has also provided an alternative to farmers for securing remunerative prices for their produce and generating greater savings.

Honourable Members,

  • After extensive consultation the Parliament approved 3 important farm reform bills 7 months ago, namely, The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.
  • The benefits of these three important farm reforms, have started reaching more than 10 crore small farmers instantly.
  • Appreciating the advantages that these reforms would bring to the small farmers, several political parties too had, from time to time, expressed their support.
  • The discussions over these farm reforms in every part of the country for over 2 decades and the demand for these reforms at different fora were also reflected during the deliberations in the House.
  • Presently, the Apex Court has stayed the implementation of these laws. My Government respects the decision of the Apex Court and shall abide by it.
  • My Government holds in high esteem the values of democracy and sanctity of the Constitution. It is continuously making efforts to dispel the misunderstanding created in the context of these laws.
  • My Government has always respected freedom of expression and holding of peaceful agitations in a democratic set up.
  • However, the recent acts of dishonouring the National Flag and showing disrespect to the auspicious occasion of the Republic Day are unfortunate.
  • While the Constitution gives us the right to freedom of expression it is also expected that we abide by the laws and rules with equal sincerity.
  • My Government wants to make it clear that the rights and facilities available under the system prevailing before the enactment of the three new laws are not affected in any way.
  • Rather, through these agricultural reforms, the Government has provided new facilities to the farmers and has empowered them.

Honourable Members,

  • In order to enhance the profitability of agriculture, my Government is also placing emphasis on creating modern agricultural infrastructure.
  • The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund for Rs 1,00,000 crore has also been started for this purpose.
  • The Kisan Rail, started throughout the country, is helping chart a new course by increasing the access of Indian farmers to new markets. This rail is like a mobile cold storage.
  • So far, over 100 Kisan Rails have been started which have enabled the farmers to transport over 38,000 tonnes of food grains and fruits & vegetables from one region to the other.

Honourable Members,

  • In order to increase the income of farmers, my Government has also focused on development of livestock as a source of income.
  • As a result, the livestock of the country has been increasing at an annual rate of 8.2 % over the last 5 years.
  • The Government has also set up the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund for Rs 15,000 crore for creating basic infrastructure and encouraging investment in dairy sector.
  • My Government has also extended the facility of Kisan Credit Cards to animal husbandry and fishery sectors.
  • Efforts have been undertaken to increase the income of fishermen through the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana. In this sector, an investment of about Rs 20,000 crore has been planned over the next 5 years.
  • In order to increase the income of the farmers, the Government has also launched a campaign to turn the ‘Annadata’ into ‘Urjadata’. 20 lakh solar pumps are being provided to farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kusum Yojana.
  • Government is also encouraging production of ethanol from sugarcane, maize and paddy. Due to the affirmative policies of the Government, over the past 6 years, the annual ethanol production has increased from 38 crore litres to 190 crore litres. The production is expected to reach 320 crore litres this year. Ethanol is emerging as a major source for augmenting the income of farmers.

Honourable Members,

  • Pujya Bapu had envisioned the development of self-reliant ‘Adarsh Gram’. Carrying this idea forward, my Government has been working relentlessly for multi-faceted development of villages.
  • Raising the standard of living of the villagers is a priority for my Government. This is best exemplified by the 2 crore houses built since 2014 for the poor families living in villages.
  • The implementation of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana has also been expedited to ensure a pucca roof for every poor person by 2022.
  • Under the SVAMITVA scheme launched by my Government, villagers are now acquiring legal rights over their property.
  • With ownership rights, the villagers can now easily avail bank loans and housing loans against the collateral of their properties and economic activities are expected to gain momentum in the rural areas.
  • Small entrepreneurs, people associated with cottage industries and small farmers would be especially benefitted under the scheme.

Honourable Members,

  • Baba Saheb Ambedkar was not only the principal architect of the Indian Constitution but also guided the development of the country’s Water Policy.
  • On 8th November 1945, during a conference in Cuttack, he had said – “Water is Wealth. Water being the wealth of the people and its distribution being uncertain, the correct approach is not to complain against nature but to conserve water”.
  • Drawing inspiration from Baba Saheb, my Government is working on the ambitious scheme of ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’.
  • Besides delivering water to every household (Har Ghar Jal), work on water conservation is also progressing at a rapid pace. I am happy to say that under this scheme, 3 crore families have been connected with piped water supply so far.
  • Under this scheme, water connection is being provided on priority to brothers and sisters belonging to the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes as well as other deprived sections of the society.

Honourable Members,

  • Keeping in mind the requirements of the 21st century and with a view to improving the connectivity of our villages, my Government has made commendable progress in expanding the network of rural roads.
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, construction of 6.42 lakh km of road network has been completed in rural areas of the country.
  • In the third phase of this scheme, 1.25 lakh km roads connecting the settlements, schools, markets and hospitals in rural areas will also be upgraded. Along with roads, internet connectivity is equally important in the rural areas.
  • After ensuring electrification of every village, my Government is implementing a mission to connect over 6 lakh villages of the country through optical fibre.

Honourable Members,

  • Our small scale industries, cottage industries and MSMEs spread across the villages and small towns are the backbone of our economy.
  • These small scale industries have immense potential of making India self-reliant.
  • This sector accounts for about 50% of India’s total exports.
  • Several steps have been taken to enhance the role of MSMEs in the mission aimed at developing an Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • Development of small and cottage industries has received the requisite impetus through measures like modification in the definition of MSMEs, increase in the investment limit or priority in government procurement.
  • Initiatives such as Emergency Credit Guarantee Scheme for Rs 3,00,000 crore, special scheme of Rs 20,000 crore for MSMEs in distress and Fund of Funds have benefitted lakhs of small scale industries.
  • Besides ushering in greater transparency, the GeM portal has facilitated increased participation of the MSMEs even in far flung and remote areas in Government procurement.
  • It is a constant endeavour of my Government to ensure that benefits of entrepreneurship are availed by every section in the country.
  • Under schemes like Hunar Haat and USTTAD, not only the skills of lakhs of crafts persons are being developed but employment opportunities are also being generated.
  • Under these schemes, women crafts persons comprise more than half of the beneficiaries. These crafts persons are being connected to the global market through e-haat.
  • Women entrepreneurs have a vital role to play in building a self-reliant India. My Government has taken several steps to provide new opportunities for self-employment to women.
  • Under the MUDRA scheme, more than 25 crore loans have been sanctioned so far, of which nearly 70% have been given to women entrepreneurs.
  • Under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - Rashtriya Grameen Ajeevika Mission, more than 7 crore women entrepreneurs have become a part of the network of nearly 66 lakh Self Help Groups in the country. These women groups have been provided bank loans worth Rs 3,40,000 crore in the last 6 years.
  • Keeping in mind the health concerns of working women in rural areas of the country, the Government is implementing the ‘Suvidha’ scheme under which sanitary napkins are made available at a nominal cost of Re 1.
  • My Government is relentlessly working towards protecting the health of infants and pregnant women through various initiatives like Rashtriya Poshan Abhiyaan, free check-ups and financial assistance to pregnant women.
  • As a result of this, the Maternal Mortality Rate has declined from 130 per lakh in 2014 to 113.
  • The Under 5 Child Mortality Rate has also reduced to 36 for the first time, which is less than the world average rate of 39.
  • As my Government considers it important to ensure equal participation by women, it is providing new opportunities for our sisters and daughters in various fields.
  • My Government has taken several decisions in this direction, such as appointing women in the Fighter stream of the Indian Air Force and the Military Police for the first time, as well as allowing women to work in underground and open cast mines during the night shift.
  • Keeping in mind the safety of the women, work on several initiatives such as setting up One Stop Centres, National Database of criminals, Emergency Response Support System and Fast Track Courts across the country is progressing at a rapid pace.

Honourable Members,

  • Keeping in mind the global requirements and challenges of the 21st century, the Government has announced the National Education Policy.
  • For the first time students have been given the freedom to opt for the subjects of their choice under the National Education Policy.
  • Students have also been provided the option of changing their subjects or streams in the middle of a course.
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri e-Vidya, my Government has developed the Diksha online portal as One Nation, One Digital Platform for school education.
  • Ever sensitive towards safeguarding the interests of the students, my Government has also successfully conducted the JEE and NEET examinations in order to prevent the loss of an academic year.

Honourable Members,

  • My Government believes that the journey of the most deprived sections towards social and economic development begins with access to quality education.
  • More than 3 crore 20 lakh such students are benefitting from various scholarship schemes of the Government.
  • These include students belonging to the scheduled castes, backward classes, forest-dwellers and tribal community and minority communities.
  • It is the endeavour of the Government to ensure that maximum number of eligible and needy students are able to avail the benefit of the scholarships.
  • Along with this, the Central Government's share in the funding of post matric scholarship scheme for scheduled castes students is also being enhanced.
  • Similarly, the network of Ekalavya Model Residential Schools is being expanded to cover every tribal dominated block to facilitate the education of tribal students. So far, more than 550 such schools have been sanctioned.
  • Along with improvements in education, the emphasis of my Government is also on simplifying and streamlining the recruitment process for jobs.
  • The youth have benefited greatly from discontinuation of interviews for recruitment to Group C and Group D posts.
  • By setting up the National Recruitment Agency, the Government has freed the youth from the inconvenience of appearing for multiple examinations.

Honourable Members,

  • Following the mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ my Government is prioritizing the development of all sectors and all sections of the society ‘.
  • To alleviate the hardships faced by Divyangjans, thousands of buildings, public transport buses and railways have been made accessible.
  • About 700 websites have also been made accessible for Divyanjans. Similarly, to provide better facilities and equal opportunities to transgenders, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act has been implemented.
  • A Development and Welfare Board has also been set up for the Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic communities.
  • Development oriented schemes are being implemented on priority by my Government in 112 Aspirational Districts which have fallen behind in the race for development.
  • The tribal brothers and sisters have benefitted greatly from this initiative. Works related to marketing of forest products and setting up of small businesses dependent on forest produce, which are the mainstay of livelihood for the tribal community, are also in progress.
  • As a result of these efforts, an additional amount of Rs 600 crore has accrued to the tribal families. Government has increased the MSP on 46 types of forest produce by up to 90 per cent.

Honourable Members,

  • The advancement of modern technology in India and easy access of every Indian to modern technology are important indicators of progress towards the goal of an Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • While maintaining the requirement of ‘Do Gaj ki Doori’, the institutions and citizens of our country did not allow the pace of growth to slacken, by leveraging the power of Digital India.
  • In December 2020, digital transactions of more than Rs 4,00,000 crore have been done through UPI. Today, more than 200 banks are linked to the UPI system.
  • Similarly, Digilocker is being used as a paperless platform for more than 400 crore digital documents. Through the Umang App too, crores of citizens are availing more than 2000 services. More than three and a half lakh Common Service Centres are linking people in rural areas to government services. In the same vein, e-stamp service has been launched after amending the Indian Stamp Act.
  • The trinity of Jan Dhan Accounts, Aadhaar and Mobile has helped safeguard the rights of people. Because of the JAM Trinity, Rs 1,80,000 crore have been saved from falling into wrong hands.
  • My Government has also initiated digitisation of medical services through the ‘Rashtriya Digital Health Mission’. The citizens will be able to avail facilities like digital appointments, digital reports as well as digital health records through this mission in the coming days.
  • Our very own Navigation Satellite System 'Navik' is also enhancing the prestige of the country. Thousands of fishermen are

Source: PIB

Key Highlights of Economic Survey 2020-21

GS-III : Economic Issues Economic Survey

Key Highlights of Economic Survey 2020-21

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament today. The key highlights of Economic Survey 2020-21, which is dedicated to the COVID Warriors, are as follows:

Saving Lives and Livelihoods amidst a Once-in-a-Century Crisis

  • India focused on saving lives and livelihoods by its willingness to take short-term pain for long-term gain, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Response stemmed from the humane principle that:
  • Human lives lost cannot be brought back
    • GDP growth will recover from the temporary shock caused by the pandemic
  • An early, intense lockdown provided a win-win strategy to save lives, and preserve livelihoods via economic recovery in the medium to long-term
  • The strategy also motivated by the Nobel-Prize-winning research by Hansen & Sargent (2001): a policy focused on minimizing losses in a worst-case scenario when uncertainty is very high
  • India’s strategy flattened the curve, and pushed the peak to September 2020
  • After the September peak, India has been unique in experiencing declining daily cases despite increasing mobility
  • V-shaped recovery, as seen in the 7.5% decline in GDP in Q2 and recovery across all key economic indicators vis-à-vis the 23.9% GDP contraction in Q1
  • COVID pandemic affected both demand and supply:
  • India was the only country to announce structural reforms to expand supply in the medium-long term and avoid long-term damage to productive capacities
  • Calibrated demand-side policies to ensure that the accelerator is slowly pushed down only when the brakes on economic activities are being removed
  • A public investment programme centred around the National Infrastructure Pipeline to accelerate the demand push and further the recovery
  • An upturn in the economy, avoiding the second wave of infections - a sui generis case in strategic policymaking amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic

State of the Economy in 2020-21: A Macro View

  • COVID-19 pandemic ensued in global economic downturn, the most severe one since the Global Financial Crisis
  • The lockdowns and social distancing norms brought the already slowing global economy to a standstill
  • Global economic output is estimated to fall by 3.5% in 2020 (IMF January 2021 estimates)
  • Governments and central banks across the globe deployed various policy tools to support their economies such as lowering policy rates, quantitative easing measures, etc.
  • India adopted a four-pillar strategy of containment, fiscal, financial, and long-term structural reforms:
    • Calibrated fiscal and monetary support was provided, cushioning the vulnerable during the lockdown and boosting consumption and investment while unlocking
    • A favourable monetary policy ensured abundant liquidity and immediate relief to debtors while unclogging monetary policy transmission
  • As per the advance estimates by NSO, India’s GDP is estimated to grow by (-) 7.7% in FY21 - a robust sequential growth of 23.9% in H2: FY21 over H1: FY21
  • India’s real GDP to record an 11.0% growth in FY2021-22 and nominal GDP to grow by 15.4% – the highest since independence:
  • Rebound to be led by the low base and continued normalization in economic activities as the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines gathers traction
  • Government consumption and net exports cushioned the growth from diving further down, whereas investment and private consumption pulled it down
  • The recovery in the second half of FY2020-21 is expected to be powered by government consumption, estimated to grow at 17% YoY
  • Exports are expected to decline by 5.8% and imports by 11.3% in the second half of FY21
  • India expected to have a Current Account Surplus of 2% of GDP in FY21, a historic high after 17 years
  • On the supply side, Gross Value Added (GVA) growth was pegged at -7.2% in FY21 as against 3.9% in FY20:
      • Agriculture is set to cushion the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Indian economy in FY21 with a growth of 3.4%
      • Industry and services estimated to contract by 9.6% and 8.8% respectively during FY21
  • Agriculture remained the silver lining while contact-based services, manufacturing, and construction were hit hardest, and recovering steadily
  • India remained a preferred investment destination in FY 2020-21 with FDI pouring in amidst global asset shifts towards equities and prospects of quicker recovery in emerging economies:
    • Net FPI inflows recorded an all-time monthly high of US$ 9.8 billion in November 2020, as investors’ risk appetite returned
    • India was the only country among emerging markets to receive equity FII inflows in 2020
  • Buoyant SENSEX and NIFTY resulted in India’s market-cap to GDP ratio crossing 100% for the first time since October 201
  • Softening of CPI inflation recently reflects an easing of supply-side constraints that affected food inflation
  • Mild contraction of 0.8% in investment (as measured by Gross Fixed Capital Formation) in 2nd half of FY21, as against 29% drop in 1st half of FY21
  • Reignited inter and intra-state movement and record-high monthly GST collections have marked the unlocking of industrial and commercial activity
  • The external sector provided an effective cushion to growth with India recording a Current Account Surplus of 3.1% of GDP in the first half of FY21:
      • Strong services exports and weak demand led to a sharper contraction in imports (merchandise imports contracted by 39.7%) than exports (merchandise exports contracted by 21.2%)
      • Forex reserves increased to a level so as to cover 18 months worth of imports in December 2020
      • External debt as a ratio to GDP increased to 21.6% at end-September 2020 from 20.6% at end-March 2020
      • The ratio of forex reserves to total and short-term debt improved because of the sizable accretion in reserves
  • V-shaped recovery is underway, as demonstrated by a sustained resurgence in high-frequency indicators such as power demand, e-way bills, GST collection, steel consumption, etc.
  • India became the fastest country to roll out 10 lakh vaccines in 6 days and also emerged as a leading supplier of the vaccine to neighbouring countries and Brazil
  • The economy’s homecoming to normalcy was brought closer by the initiation of a mega vaccination drive:
      • Hopes of a robust recovery in the services sector, consumption, and investment have been rekindled
      • Reforms must go on to enable India to realize its potential growth and erase the adverse impact of the pandemic
  • India’s mature policy response to the ‘once-in-a-century’ crisis provides important lessons for democracies to avoid myopic policy-making and demonstrates the benefits of focusing on long-term gains

Does Growth lead to Debt Sustainability? Yes, But Not Vice- Versa!

  • Growth leads to debt sustainability in the Indian context but not necessarily vice-versa:
  • Debt sustainability depends on the ‘Interest Rate Growth Rate Differential’ (IRGD), i.e., the difference between the interest rate and the growth rate
      • In India, interest rate on debt is less than growth rate - by norm, not by exception
  • Negative IRGD in India – not due to lower interest rates but much higher growth rates – prompts a debate on fiscal policy, especially during growth slowdowns and economic crises
  • Growth causes debt to become sustainable in countries with higher growth rates; such clarity about the causal direction is not witnessed in countries with lower growth rates
  • Fiscal multipliers are disproportionately higher during economic crises than during economic booms
  • Active fiscal policy can ensure that the full benefit of reforms is reaped by limiting potential damage to productive capacity
  • Fiscal policy that provides an impetus to growth will lead to a lower debt-to-GDP ratio
  • Given India’s growth potential, debt sustainability is unlikely to be a problem even in the worst scenarios
  • Desirable to use counter-cyclical fiscal policy to enable growth during economic downturns
  • Active, counter-cyclical fiscal policy - not a call for fiscal irresponsibility, but to break the intellectual anchoring that has created an asymmetric bias against fiscal policy

Does India’s Sovereign Credit Rating Reflect Its Fundamentals? No!

  • The fifth largest economy in the world has never been rated as the lowest rung of the investment grade (BBB-/Baa3) in sovereign credit ratings:
  • Reflecting the economic size and thereby the ability to repay debt, the fifth largest economy has been predominantly rated AAA
      • China and India are the only exceptions to this rule – China was rated A-/A2 in 2005 and now India is rated BBB-/Baa3
  • India’s sovereign credit ratings do not reflect its fundamentals:
  • A clear outlier amongst countries rated between A+/A1 and BBB-/Baa3 for S&P/ Moody’s, on several parameters
      • Rated significantly lower than mandated by the effect on the sovereign rating of the parameter
  • Credit ratings map the probability of default and therefore reflect the willingness and ability of borrower to meet its obligations:
  • India’s willingness to pay is unquestionably demonstrated through its zero sovereign default history
      • India’s ability to pay can be gauged by low foreign currency denominated debt and forex reserves
  • Sovereign credit rating changes for India have no or weak correlation with macroeconomic indicators
  • India’s fiscal policy should reflect Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s sentiment of ‘a mind without fear’
  • Sovereign credit rating methodology should be made more transparent, less subjective and better attuned to reflect economies’ fundamentals

Inequality and Growth: Conflict or Convergence?

  • The relationship between inequality and socio-economic outcomes vis-à-vis economic growth and socio-economic outcomes is different in India from that in advanced economies.
  • Both inequality and per-capita income (growth) have similar relationships with socio-economic indicators in India, unlike in advanced economies
  • Economic growth has a greater impact on poverty alleviation than inequalit
  • India must continue to focus on economic growth to lift the poor out of poverty
  • Expanding the overall pie - redistribution in a developing economy is feasible only if the size of the economic pie grows

Healthcare takes centre stage, finally!

  • COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the importance of the healthcare sector and its inter-linkages with other sectors - showcased how a health crisis transformed into an economic and social crisis
  • India’s health infrastructure must be agile so as to respond to pandemics - healthcare policy must not become beholden to ‘saliency bias’
  • National Health Mission (NHM) played a critical role in mitigating inequity as the access of the poorest to pre-natal/post-natal care and institutional deliveries increased significantly
  • Emphasis on NHM in conjunction with Ayushman Bharat should continue
  • An increase in public healthcare spending from 1% to 2.5-3% of GDP can decrease the out-of-pocket expenditure from 65% to 35% of overall healthcare spending
  • A regulator for the healthcare sector must be considered given the market failures stemming from information asymmetry
  • Mitigation of information asymmetry will help lower insurance premiums, enable the offering of better products and increase insurance penetration
      • Information utilities that help mitigate the information asymmetry in healthcare sector will be useful in enhancing overall welfare
  • Telemedicine needs to be harnessed to the fullest by investing in internet connectivity and health infrastructure

Process Reforms

  • India over-regulates the economy resulting in regulations being ineffective even with relatively good compliance with process
  • The root cause of the problem of overregulation is an approach that attempts to account for every possible outcome
  • Increase in complexity of regulations, intended to reduce discretion, results in even more non-transparent discretion
  • The solution is to simplify regulations and invest in greater supervision which, by definition, implies greater discretion
  • Discretion, however, needs to be balanced with transparency, systems of ex-ante accountability and ex-post resolution mechanisms
  • The above intellectual framework has already informed reforms ranging from labour codes to the removal of onerous regulations on the BPO sector

Regulatory Forbearance is an emergency medicine, not a staple diet!

  • During the Global Financial Crisis, regulatory forbearance helped borrowers tide over temporary hardship
  • Forbearance continued long after the economic recovery, resulting in unintended consequences for the economy
  • Banks exploited the forbearance window for window-dressing their books and misallocated credit, thereby damaging the quality of investment in the economy
  • Forbearance represents emergency medicine that should be discontinued at the first opportunity when the economy exhibits recovery, not a staple diet that gets continued for years
  • To promote judgement amidst uncertainty, ex-post inquests must recognize the role of hindsight bias and not equate unfavourable outcomes to bad judgement or malafide intent
  • An Asset Quality Review exercise must be conducted immediately after the forbearance is withdrawn
  • The legal infrastructure for the recovery of loans needs to be strengthened de facto

Innovation: Trending Up but Needs Thrust, Especially from the Private Sector

  • India entered the top-50 innovating countries for the first time in 2020 since the inception of the Global Innovation Index in 2007, ranking first in Central and South Asia, and third amongst lower middle-income group economies
  • India’s gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) is lowest amongst top ten economies
  • India’s aspiration must be to compete on innovation with the top ten economies
  • The government sector contributes a disproportionately large share in total GERD at three times the average of top ten economies
  • The business sector’s contribution to GERD, total R&D personnel and researchers is amongst the lowest when compared to top ten economies
  • This situation has prevailed despite higher tax incentives for innovation and access to equity capital
  • India’s business sector needs to significantly ramp up investments in R&D
  • Indian resident’s share in total patents filed in the country must rise from the current 36% which is much below the average of 62% in top ten economies
  • For achieving higher improvement in innovation output, India must focus on improving its performance on institutions and business sophistication innovation inputs.

JAY Ho! PM‘JAY’ Adoption and Health outcomes

  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) – the ambitious program launched by Government of India in 2018 to provide healthcare access to the most vulnerable sections demonstrates strong positive effects on healthcare outcomes in a short time
  • PM-JAY is being used significantly for high frequency, low cost care such as dialysis and continued during the Covid pandemic and the lockdown.
  • Causal impact of PM-JAY on health outcomes by undertaking a Difference-in-Difference analysis based on National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 (2015-16) and NFHS-5 (2019-20) is following:
  • Enhanced health insurance coverage: The proportion of households that had health insurance increased in Bihar, Assam and Sikkim from 2015-16 to 2019-20 by 89% while it decreased by 12% over the same period in West Bengal
  • Decline in Infant Mortality rate: from 2015-16 to 2019-20, infant mortality rates declined by 20% for West Bengal and by 28% for the three neighbouring states
  • Decline in under-5 mortality rate: Bengal saw a fall of 20% while, the neighbours witnessed a 27% reduction
  • Modern methods of contraception, female sterilization and pill usage went up by 36%, 22% and 28% respectively in the three neighbouring states while the respective changes for West Bengal were negligible
  • While West Bengal did not witness any significant decline in unmet need for spacing between consecutive kids, the neighbouring three states recorded a 37% fall
  • Various metrics for mother and child care improved more in the three neighbouring states than in West Bengal.
  • Each of these health effects manifested similarly when we compare all states that implemented PM-JAY versus the states that did not
  • Overall, the comparison reflects significant improvements in several health outcomes in states that implemented PM-JAY versus those that did not

Bare Necessities

  • Access to the ‘bare necessities’ has improved across all States in the country in 2018 as compared to 2012
    • It is highest in States such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat while lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura
    • Improvement in each of the five dimensions viz., access to water, housing, sanitation, micro-environment and other facilities
    • Inter-State disparities declined across rural and urban areas as the laggard states have gained relatively more between 2012 and 2018
    • Improved disproportionately more for the poorest households when compared to the richest households across rural and urban areas
  • Improved access to the ‘bare necessities’ has led to improvements in health indicators such as infant mortality and under-5 mortality rate and also correlates with future improvements in education indicators
  • Thrust should be given to reduce variation in the access to bare necessities across states, between rural and urban and between income groups
  • The schemes such as Jal Jeevan Mission, SBM-G, PMAY-G, etc. may design appropriate strategy to reduce these gaps
  • A Bare Necessities Index (BNI) based on the large annual household survey data can be constructed using suitable indicators and methodology at district level for all/targeted districts to assess the progress on access to bare necessities.

Fiscal Developments

  • India adopted a calibrated approach best suited for a resilient recovery of its economy from COVID-19 pandemic impact, in contrast with a front-loaded large stimulus package adopted by many countries
  • Expenditure policy in 2020-21 initially aimed at supporting the vulnerable sections but was re-oriented to boost overall demand and capital spending, once the lockdown was unwound
  • Monthly GST collections have crossed the Rs. 1 lakh crore mark consecutively for the last 3 months, reaching its highest levels in December 2020 ever since the introduction of GST
  • Reforms in tax administration have begun a process of transparency and accountability and have incentivized tax compliance by enhancing honest tax-payers’ experience
  • Central Government has also taken consistent steps to impart support to the States in the challenging times of the pandemic

External Sector

  • COVID-19 pandemic led to a sharp decline in global trade, lower commodity prices and tighter external financing conditions with implications for current account balances and currencies of different countries
  • India’s forex reserves at an all-time high of US$ 586.1 billion as on January 08, 2021, covering about 18 months worth of imports
  • India experiencing a Current Account Surplus along with robust capital inflows leading to a BoP surplus since Q4 of FY2019-20
  • Balance on the capital account is buttressed by robust FDI and FPI inflows:
    • Net FDI inflows of US$ 27.5 billion during April-October, 2020: 14.8% higher as compared to first seven months of FY2019-20
    • Net FPI inflows of US$ 28.5 billion during April-December, 2020 as against US$ 12.3 billion in corresponding period of last year
  • In H1: FY21, steep contraction in merchandise imports and lower outgo for travel services led to:
    • Sharper fall in current payments (by 30.8%) than current receipts (15.1%)
    • Current Account Surplus of US$ 34.7 billion (3.1% of GDP)
  • India to end with an Annual Current Account Surplus after a period of 17 years
  • India’s merchandise trade deficit was lower at US$ 57.5 billion in April-December, 2020 as compared to US$ 125.9 billion in the corresponding period last year
  • In April-December, 2020, merchandise exports contracted by 15.7% to US$ 200.8 billion from US$ 238.3 billion in April-December, 2019:
    • Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL) exports have contributed negatively to export performance during the period under review
    • Non-POL exports turned positive and helped in improving export performance in Q3 of 2020-21
    • Within Non-POL exports, agriculture & allied products, drugs & pharmaceutical and ores & minerals recorded expansion
  • Total merchandise imports declined by (-) 29.1% to US$ 258.3 billion during April-December, 2020 from US$ 364.2 billion during the same period last year:
    • Sharp decline in POL imports pulled down the overall import growth
    • Imports contracted sharply in Q1 of 2020-21; the pace of contraction eased in subsequent quarters, due to the accelerated positive growth in Gold and Silver imports and narrowing contraction in non-POL, non-Gold & non-Silver imports
    • Fertilizers, vegetable oil, drugs & pharmaceuticals and computer hardware & peripherals have contributed positively to the growth of non-POL, non-Gold & non-Silver imports
  • Trade balance with China and the US improved as imports slowed
  • Net services receipts amounting to US$ 41.7 billion remained stable in April-September 2020 as compared with US$ 40.5 billion in corresponding period a year ago.
  • Resilience of the services sector was primarily driven by software services, which accounted for 49% of total services exports
  • Net private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, totaling US$ 35.8 billion in H1: FY21 declined by 6.7% over the corresponding period of previous year
  • At end-September 2020, India’s external debt placed at US$ 556.2 billion - a decrease of US$ 2.0 billion (0.4%) as compared to end-March 2020.
  • Improvement in debt vulnerability indicators:
    • Ratio of forex reserves to total and short-term debt (original and residual)
    • Ratio of short-term debt (original maturity) to the total stock of external debt.
    • Debt service ratio (principal repayment plus interest payment) increased to 9.7% as at end-September 2020, compared to 6.5% as at end-March 2020
  • Rupee appreciation/depreciation:
    • In terms of 6-currency nominal effective exchange rate (NEER) (trade-based weights), Rupee depreciated by 4.1% in December 2020 over March 2020; appreciated by

Source: PIB

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