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General Studies – 1
Reference: Indian Express
The Rajya Sabha recently passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Bill was passed by the lower house in 2020. This is an important Bill that seeks to enhance the reproductive rights of women in India. The Bill seeks to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971. This Act covers abortions in India. It had been amended in 1975 and 2002. Before the enactment of this legislation, abortion was prohibited under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code.
Proposed Features of the New Bill:
- The Bill permits abortion to be allowed up to 20 weeks on the opinion of just one medical practitioner.
- To terminate pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks, the opinion of two doctors are required. This extension of the gestation period up to 24 weeks is given for special categories of women such as rape/incest victims, differently-abled women and minors.
- For abortions beyond 24 weeks, a state-level Medical Board will decide if it can be permitted, in case of substantial foetal abnormalities.
- The Board will consist of a gynaecologist, a paediatrician, a radiologist or sonographer and any other number of members as notified by the state government.
- Only doctors with specialisation in gynaecology/obstetrics can perform abortions.
- According to the Bill, the “name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed”, except to a person authorised by law.
- In cases where abortions are desired to terminate pregnancies arising out of rape, where the gestation period exceeds 24 weeks, the only manner would be through a writ petition.
Rationale behind the amendments:
- The government reasoned that the extension is significant because some women realise the need for an abortion after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Usually, the foetal anomaly scan is done during the 20th-21st week of pregnancy.
- If there is a delay in doing this scan, and it reveals a lethal anomaly in the foetus, 20 weeks is limiting.
- The extension of limit would ease the process for the distressed pregnant women, allowing the mainstream system itself to take care of them, delivering quality medical attention.
- The move to amend the MTP Act, 1971 is a progressive step towards empowerment of women.
- It will provide greater reproductive rights to women as abortion is considered an important aspect of the reproductive health of women.
- Deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions are largely preventable provided services are performed legally by trained practitioners.
- Raising the upper limit of legal abortions from 20 weeks to 24 weeks for “special categories of women”, including rape and incest survivors, other vulnerable women, and children.
- It will completely be removing the upper gestation limit for abortion in the cases of substantial foetal abnormalities will help many more seek safe and legal abortion services.
- Allowing all women, and not just married ones, to legally seek abortions, and striking out the need for the opinion of a second registered practitioner for aborting pregnancies up to 20 weeks
Comparison of MTP 2021 vis-à-vis MTP 1971:
Shortcomings of the bill:
- Son meta-preference:
- The preference for a male child keeps sex determination centres in business in spite of their illegal status. There are concerns that a more liberal abortion law can aggravate this state-of-affairs.
- Foetal Viability:
- A key aspect of the legality governing abortions has always been the ‘viability’ of the foetus. Viability implies the period from which a foetus is capable of living outside the womb.
- Currently, viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks. Thus, late termination of pregnancy may get in conflict with the viability of the foetus.
- Non-institutional deliveries:
- Only 22% of 15.6 million abortions happen in healthcare facilities, there is no record of the others. We need far more providers at the lower levels of healthcare delivery to ensure safe abortion services reach more women.
- Lack of Awareness of rights:
- A study of 1,007 women of ages 15-24 years in Assam and Madhya Pradesh in November 2018 found only 20% young women know about modern contraceptive methods, and 22% are aware that abortion is legal in India. None of the women surveyed were aware of the correct legal gestation of 20 weeks
- Change of Choice:
- The current Billdoes not consider factors such as personal choice, a sudden change in circumstances (due to separation from or death of a partner), and domestic violence.
- Medical Boards:
- The present healthcare budgetary allocation makes setting up a board across the country, both financially and practically impossible.
- Accessto the board by pregnant women in remote areas of the state is a matter of concern.
- No time limit setto respond to the requests.
- The board will subject women to multiple examinations before allowing her to terminate her pregnancy. This is a violation of right to privacy and right to live with dignity.
- The government needs to ensure that all norms and standardised protocols in clinical practice to facilitate abortions are followed in health care institutions across the country.
- Since everything rests on the delivery, stopping short would undoubtedly make this progressive order a mere half measure.
- With an estimated 90% of women seeking before 12 weeks’ gestation, training village-level health workers (auxiliary nurse midwives) and nurses to prescribe simple abortion pills will help take safe services to the doorsteps of vulnerable women and, in case of complications, lead to timely referrals.
- This gap in services can be addressed in the new rules that will be framed when the amended act is passed.
- Instead of denying services to women because of the apprehension of untrained practitioners profiteering, the government should focus on regulating the healthcare sector to ensure basic quality services, such as contraception, safe delivery and abortion, are available for the asking.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds. It is a step towards the safety and well-being of the women and many women will be benefitted from this. Recently several petitions were received by the Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women. The proposed increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate the pregnancy.
General Studies – 2
Reference: The Hindu
The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 except in the case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court.
The law was brought in at the peak of the Ram Mandir movement, exactly a year before the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Introducing the law in 1991, then Home Minister S B Chavan said in Parliament that it was adopted to curb communal tension.
- A co-mutawalli of 350-year-old” TeelyWali masjid” of Lucknow, Wasif Hasan, has approached the Supreme Court seeking intervention in the pending PIL challenging provisions of the Places of Worship Act.
- The applicant has opposed the plea claiming that the petition is a mischievous one which aims at isolating the Muslim Community as a separate category from other religious communities in India.
- The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which freezes the status of places of worship as it was on 15th August, 1947.
- In agreeing to examine the law, the court has opened the doors for litigation in various places of worship across the country including Mathura and Varanasi.
Provisions of the act:
- The objective of the law describes it as an Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship.
- It aims to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
- Sections 3 and 4 of the Act declared that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
- No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
- Section 4(2) says that all suits, appeals or others regarding converting the character of a place of worship, that was pending on August 15, 1947, will stand abated when the Act commences and no fresh proceedings can be filed.
- However, legal proceedings can be initiated after the commencement of the Act if the change of status took place after the cut-off date of August 15, 1947.
What does it say about Ayodhya, and what else is exempted?
- Act does not to apply to Ram Janma Bhumi Babri Masjid.
- Besides the Ayodhya dispute, the Act also exempted:
- any place of worship that is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site, or is covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958;
- a suit that has been finally settled or disposed of;
- any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.
Challenges posed by the law:
- the law violates the right to practise and propagate religion, as well as the right to manage and administer places of worship.
- The act goes against the principle of secularism and the state’s duty to preserve and protect religious and cultural heritage.
- The cut-off date (August 15, 1947) as per the law bars Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from approaching courts to “re-claim” their places of worship which were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.
- The right-wing politicians have opposed the law even when it was introduced, arguing that the Centre has no power to legislate on “pilgrimages” or “burial grounds” which is under the state list.
- Another criticism against the law is that the cut-off is the date of Independence, which means that the status quo determined by a colonial power is considered final.
Supreme Court’s view about the act:
- In the 2019 Ayodhya verdict, the Constitution Bench led by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi referred to the law and said it manifests the secular values of the Constitution and strictly prohibits retrogression.
- In providing a guarantee for the preservation of the religious character of places, Parliament determined that independence from colonial rule furnishes a constitutional basis for healing the injustices of the past.
- The law addresses itself to the State as much as to every citizen of the nation. Its norms bind those who govern the affairs of the nation at every level.
- Those norms implement the Fundamental Duties under Article 51A and are hence positive mandates to every citizen as well.
- The court reportedly felt that by enacting a law upholding the equality of all religions and secularism, part of the Constitution’s basic structure, the State enforced a constitutional commitment.
The Places of Worship Act imposes a non-derogable obligation towards enforcing our commitment to secularism.” To reopen the law, after such clear and firm words, would be unwise and would amount to opening Pandora’s box.
Reference: Indian Express
Article 244(A) allows for creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas. Inserted into the Constitution in 1969 by the then Congress government, it also has a provision for a Legislature and a Council of Ministers.
Rationale behind Article 244(A):
- Article 244(A) allows for creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas.
- It also envisages creation of a local legislature or Council of Ministers or both to carry out local administration.
- It was Inserted into the Constitution by the Twenty-second Constitution Amendment Act, 1969.
- The demand for this is since the 1980s.
- Implementation in Article 244A prescribes the formation of an autonomous State consisting of certain tribal areas of Assam and the creation of a local legislature or Council of Ministers.
- There has been a demand across three hill districts namely Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong, and Dima Hasao.
- It gives the provision for a Legislature and a Council of Ministers.
- Under Article 244(A)(1), the Parliament may, by law, form within the State of Assam an autonomous State comprising all or any of the tribal areas.
differences from the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution:
- The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution provides for theadministration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to safeguard the rights of the tribal population in these states.
- This special provision is provided underArticle 244 (2) and Article 275 (1) of the Constitution.
- InAssam, the hill districts of Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi and the Bodo Territorial Region are under this provision.
- The Governor is empowered to increase or decrease the areasor change the names of the autonomous districts. While executive powers of the Union extend in Scheduled areas with respect to their administration in fifth schedule, the sixth schedule areas remain within executive authority of the state.
- The Fifth Scheduleof the Constitution deals with the administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in any state except the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
- The whole of the normal administrative machinery operating in a state do not extend to the scheduled areas.
- At present,10 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana have Fifth Schedule Area.
- Tribal habitations in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir have not been brought under the Fifth or Sixth Schedule.
- The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not applyto autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
- The Councils have also been endowed with wide civil and criminal judicial powers,for example establishing village courts etc. However, the jurisdiction of these councils is subject to the jurisdiction of the concerned High Court.
Special constitutional protections are indeed required for marginalised sections to ensure that historical wrongs done to them are reversed and not repeated, but it has denied justice to the non-tribals, who have lived in ADCs for generations but ended up marginalised. Hence, the government and other agencies need to win the confidence of the tribals and non-tribals within the region and bring a sense of security and belongingness among them to deal with this sensitive issue.
Reference: Indian Express
The primary role of police forces is to uphold and enforce laws, investigate crimes and ensure security for people in the country. Under the Constitution, police is a subject governed by states. There has been almost 30 years of debate on policing and reform in India. The present Indian police system is largely based on Police act of 1861
The Supreme Court has stated that the landmark judgment of Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006), which dealt with police reforms, is used periodically only as a mantra, to suit the occasion whenever it arises.
The latest episode of allegations of lobbying by several IPS officers in Maharashtra and of ‘power brokers’ deciding on postings in cahoots with the government shows little has changed in the system.
Need for Police Reforms:
- If India is to achieve its status as a great power, it is absolutely essential that police is restructured and modernised.
- Without the police ensuring good law and order in the country, the other services would find it difficult to operate.
- To transform the colonial police structure of the country into a progressive, modern force sensitive to the democratic aspirations of the people.
- To eliminate the undue political interference. The police of today are victims of politicization as well as criminalization.
- To instil the confidence of the people in the institution of police by making police more people friendly.
- The security of the society and the welfare of the people is dependent on the efficiency of the police.
Key reasons hindering both police reforms:
- An overburdened police force:
- Police force is overburdened especially at lower levels where constabulary is forced to work continuously 14-16 hrs and also for 7 days a week. It adversely impacts their performance.
- While the sanctioned police strength was 181 police per lakh persons in 2016 when the United Nations recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons.
- 86% of the state police comprises of constabulary. Constables are typically promoted once during their service. This could weaken their incentive to perform well.
- Improving police infrastructure:
- Failure of police infrastructure like vehicles, weaponry. Also audits have found that the POLNET network is non-functional in various states.
- For example, an audit of the Gujarat police force reported that the network had not been operationalised till October 2015 due to non-installation of essential infrastructure, such as remote subscriber units and generator sets.
- Funds dedicated for modernisation of infrastructure are typically not utilised fully. For example, in 2015-16, only 14% of such funds were used by the states.
- Political influence:
- Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted that ministers have used police forces for personal and political reasons.
- Police accountability:
- Police forces have the authority to exercise force to enforce laws and maintain law and order in a state. However, this power may be misused in several ways.
- Poor quality of investigation:
- Crime per lakh population has increased by 28% over the last decade (2005-2015). However, convictions have been low. So it shows the poor quality of investigation.
- The Law Commission and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission have noted that state police officers often neglect investigation because they are understaffed and overburdened with various kinds of tasks.
- Further, they lack the training and the expertise required to conduct professional investigations.
- They also have insufficient legal knowledge and the forensic and cyber infrastructure available to them is both inadequate and outdated. In light of this, police forces may use force and torture to secure evidence.
- Crime investigations may be influenced by political or other extraneous considerations
- Forensic labs:
- Expert bodies have however said that these laboratories are short of funds and qualified staff. Further, there is indiscriminate referencing of cases to these labs resulting in high pendency.
- Lack of co-ordination between centre and states is matter related to maintenance of law & order results in ineffective functioning of police force.
- Police force is not in the position to tackle present problems of cybercrime, global terrorism, Naxalism because of structural weaknesses.
- Prevalence of Rank system within the police force results in abuse of power by top level executive over lower level personnel.
- Directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh vs Union of India:
- Fixing the tenure and selection of the DGP to avoid situations where officers about to retire in a few months are given the post.
- In order to ensure no political interference, a minimum tenure was sought for the Inspector General of Police so that they are not transferred mid-term by politicians.
- Postings of officers should be done by Police Establishment Boards (PEB) comprising police officers and senior bureaucrats to insulate powers of postings and transfers from political leaders.
- Set up State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) to give a platform where common people aggrieved by police action could approach.
- Separate investigation and law and order functions to better improve policing.
- Set up of State Security Commissions (SSC) that would have members from civil society.
- Form a National Security Commission.
- Independent Complaints Authority:
- The Second Administrative Reforms Commission and the Supreme Court have observed that there is a need to have an independent complaints authority to inquire into cases of police misconduct.
- Example is that of the New York City Police which has a Civilian Complaint Review Board comprising of civilians appointed by local government bodies and the police commissioner to investigate into cases of police misconduct.
- Experts have recommended that states must have their own specialized investigation units within the police force that are responsible for crime investigation.
- Padmanabhaiah commission:
- It has also been recommended that constables, and the police force in general, should receive greater training in soft skills given they need to deal with the public regularly.
- Importance of providing housing to the constabulary (and generally to the police force) to improve their efficiency and incentive to accept remote postings has also been emphasised by expert bodies, such as the National Police Commission.
- Community policing: Janamaithri Suraksha in Kerala
- This project is an initiative of the Kerala Police to facilitate greater accessibility, close interaction and better understanding between the police and local communities. For example, Beat Constables are required to know at least one family member of every family living in his beat area.
- Meira Paibi (Torch-bearers) in Assam: The women of the Manipuri Basti in Guwahati help with improving the law and order problem in their area, by tackling drug abuse among the youth. They light their torches and go around the basti guarding the entry and exit points, to prevent the youth of the area from going out after sunset
- The Madras High Court has said that the state government should contemplate giving policemen a day off in a week like other government officials in order to spend time with their families.
- The court suggested introducing an 8-hour, three-shift system for police personnel. It will help them rejuvenate themselves and relieve them from stress.
- Evidence based policing is gaining credibility day by day – Indian police force must be exposed to it.
- Second ARC recommended that the government should declare certain crimes as “federal” and entrust their investigation to a Central agency.
- Police need to have the operational freedom to carry out their responsibilities professionally, and satisfactory working conditions, while being held accountable for poor performance or misuse of power.
- Gender Parity in Police force: The 2nd Administrative Reform Commission recommended that the representation of women in police at all levels should be increased through affirmative action so that they constitute about 33% of the police.
- Improvement in Intelligence gathering: The intelligence gathering machinery in the field needs to be strengthened and at the same time, made more accountable. Human intelligence should be combined with information derived from diverse sources with the focus on increased use of technology.
The police force needs to be freed from the stranglehold of the executive and given functional autonomy to enforce the rule of law. Police should be a SMART Police -a police which should be strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsible, tech-savvy and trained.
General Studies – 3
Reference: Indian Express
Digitization of land records was introduced to computerize all land records including mutations, improve transparency in the land records maintenance system, digitize maps and survey, update all settlement records and minimize the scope of land disputes. This would provide clear titles of land ownership that could be monitored easily by government officials, facilitate quicker transactions, and reduce disputes. Most importantly it would reduce construction timelines and overall cost for the developer, the benefits of which can be transferred to consumer making property prices more attractive.
Need for digitization of land records:
- High litigation:
- A World Bank study from 2007 states that some estimates suggest that land-related disputes account for two-thirds of all pending court cases in the country. These land disputes include those related to the validity of land titles and records, and rightful ownership.
- A NITI Aayog paper suggests that land disputes on average take about 20 years to be resolved. Land disputes add to the burden of the courts, tie up land in litigation, and further impact sectors and projects that are dependent on these disputed land titles.
- Agricultural credit:
- Land is often used as collateral for obtaining loans by farmers. It has been observed that disputed or unclear land titles inhibit supply of capital and credit for agriculture.
- Small and marginal farmers, who account for more than half of the total land holdings, and may not hold formal land titles, are unable to access institutionalised credit.
- Development of new infrastructure:
- Land that was earlier used for farming, is now being used to set up industries, power plants, manufacturing units, build roads, housing, and shopping malls.
- However, several of the new infrastructure projects are witnessing delays, with land related issues often being a key factor.
- These delays occur because of non-availability of encumbrance free land (evidence that the property in question is free from any monetary and legal liability), non-updation of land records, resistance to joint measurement survey of land records, demands for higher compensation by land owners, and filing of large number of arbitration cases by land owners.
- For example, obtaining a land ownership certificate can take around 60 days in Gujarat and up to 12 months in Chennai and Odisha.
- Urbanisation and the housing shortage:
- More recently, land use is also changing due to urbanisation and further expansion of such urban areas.
- While census towns are places with urban characteristics (population above 5,000, at least 75% of the population engaged in non-agricultural work, and a population density of at least 400 people per sq. km.), statutory towns are urban areas with a local authority.
- Under new schemes for urban development (Smart Cities Mission, AMRUT), cities are trying to raise their own revenue through property taxes and land based financing. This further necessitates the importance of providing a system of clear land titles in urban areas.
- Benami transactions:
- A Benami transaction is one where a property is held by or transferred to a person, but has been provided for or paid by another person.
- The White Paper on Black Money (2012) had noted that black money generated in the country gets invested in Benami properties.
- Unclear titles and non-updated land records enable carrying out property transactions in a non-transparent way.
- The Standing Committee on Finance (2015) examining the Benami Transactions Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2015 noted that generation of black money through Benami transactions could be pre-empted and eliminated by digitisation of land records and their regular updation.
- Unused land:
- A large proportion of government land lies unused. A large part of the unused land is high-value property in prime areas in major cities
- Land hoarding by government agencies has created artificial scarcityand is one of the main drivers of skyrocketing urban real estate prices.
Challenges in digitization of land records:
- In India, we have a system of registered sale deeds and not land titles.
- The Transfer of Property Act, 1882, provides that the right to an immovable property (or land) can be transferred or sold only by a registered document.
- These documents are registered under the Registration Act, 1908. Therefore, the transaction gets registered, and not the land title.
- This implies that even bona fide property transactionsmay not always guarantee ownership, as earlier transactions could be challenged.
- Land ownership is established through multiple documents maintained by different departments, making it cumbersome to access them
- For example, sale deeds are stored in the registration department, maps are stored in the survey department, and property tax receipts are with the revenue department
- These departments work in silos and do not update the data in a timely manner, which results in discrepancies. One has to go back to several years of documentation to find any ownership claims on a piece of property, which causes delays.
- The cost of registering property is high and, hence, people avoid registering transactions
- While registering a sale deed, the buyer has to pay a stamp duty along with the registration fee.
- In India, stamp duty rates across states vary between 4% and 10%,compared to 1% and 4% in other countries. The registration fee is an additional 0.5% to 2%, on an average.
- Under the Registration Act, 1908, registration of property is not mandatory for transactions such as the acquisition of land by the government, property leased for less than one year, and heirship partitions
Benefits of proper land records to citizens:
- Real-time land ownership records will be available to the citizen
- Property owners will have free access to their records without any compromise in regard to confidentiality of the information
- Free accessibility to the records will reduce interface between the citizen and the Government functionaries, thereby reducing rent seeking and harassment.
- This method will permit e-linkages to credit facilities.
- Market value information will be available on the website to the citizen.
- Certificates based on land data (e.g., domicile, caste, income, etc.) will be available to the citizen through computers.
- Information on eligibility for Government programs will be available, based on the data.
- It will help in transparent land records management with a single window to handle land records which will include maintenance and updation of maps, survey and registration of property.
- It can also aid online approvals of plans and occupancy certificates.
- It will help in showcasing the ownership status and ease overall business processes in the sector.
- Overall it becomes easier for the developers and buyers to check on the authenticity of the land or the property.
- Digitization will also make both domestic and cross-border transactions time-bound with the click of a button.
Government efforts towards digitization of land records so far:
- The land digitisation efforts in India received a new boost at both the Centre and state levels after the launch of a survey of villages and mapping with improved technology in village areas under the SVAMITVA scheme last year.
- The scheme seeks to confer land titles in so far unmapped and inhabited parts of rural India and to distribute property cards in villages.
- The Digital India Land Records Modernization programme (DILRMP) was launched by Government of India in August 2008. The objective of the programme was to streamline and reduce the scope of land and property disputes, thereby improving transparency in the maintenance of land records. The main aim of the programme was to computerize all land records, digitize maps, upgrade the survey and settlement records and sustain the same.
- Karnataka was the first state in India to computerize land records under the “Bhoomi Project” followed by Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the year 2001.
- Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha are the best performing Indian states in land record digitisation, according to an annual land records index prepared by Delhi-based think-tank National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).
- The NCAER’s Land Records and Services Index (NLRSI) 2020-21 released recently said nearly all states and union territories — 29 out of 32 — showed a gradual improvement in their efforts to digitise land records compared to the previous year.
A good land records system is a necessity for any harmonious and progressive society. The book would ultimately lead to an improved land governance system, reduction in land disputes, prevention of Benami transactions and a comprehensive Integrated Land Information Management System in the country, by sharing best practices.
Reference: Indian Express
In the past few decades, manufacturing sector has underperformed when compared to other nations, with a meagre share of 16-17% of the GDP. This is much lesser than that of China and Korea, whose manufacturing accounts for 29% of the GDP and 27% in Thailand. Currently, this sector accounts for only 12% of the total employment of the workforce.
India has to promote the sufficient manufacturing depth
- India has three Ds (Democracy, demography and demand) for the growth of the manufacturing sector.
- 65% of India’s population is below the age of 35 – an advantage when compared to other counties.
- Studies have shown that every job created in the manufacturing sector has a multiplier effect in creating 2 to 3 jobs in the service sector.
- High domestic demand, increasing middle class and young population and high returns make India attractive for the manufacturers.
- The manpower cost is low when compared to other nations.
In order to be self-reliant, India needs sufficient manufacturing depth:
- Depth in manufacturing provides security against foreign threats; it is the foundation for sustainable competitiveness in international trade; and it provides pathways for wages to rise. India needs all the three and now is the time to address this.
- China and India are the only two countries in the world with populations of over one billion.
- These provide a large potential market; also, a large workforce to produce for the world market and for their own.
- The growth trajectories of the Asian neighbors reveal how far behind India has fallen over the past three decades.
- In 1990, India’s manufacturing sector was comparable with China’s. Since then, China’s manufacturing sector has grown almost 10 times larger, and its capital goods and machine-tool sectors, 50 times.
- Not only has China become the factory of the world, selling labor-intensive products across the planet, it has also developed high-tech manufacturing capabilities in electronics, telecom, power equipment and machine tools.
- It is this depth of its manufacturing capabilities that has made it a threat to the West (and to India, too).
- Indian policymakers are concerned with sluggishness in the growth of domestic manufacturing and employment.
- They are alarmed by the inroads of Chinese industries in India’s economy, as well as by China’s troops on the border.
- An Aatmanirbhar policy and ‘Make in India’ have become national-security imperatives.
- While India is being criticized – by its own economists – for turning protectionist again, other nations have been closing up faster.
- A Mint report cited earlier ranks countries on a ‘protectionist index’, the difference between their number of restrictive and liberalizing interventions between 2018 and 2020. On top is the US, with 591. Then Canada, 450; Germany, 436; the UK, 272; and China, 209. India 166.
- More trade is good, as is faster economic growth.
Potential of Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme in making India self-reliant:
- India’s Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme is a thrust in the right direction making India Self-reliant.
- However, its success in making India more self-reliant would depend on its design.
- Incentives linked only to volumes of additional production (and exports) will promote simple assembly and other low-value-adding operations.
- This would not meet India’s strategic need for industrial depth.
- The incentives must be tied to progressive increases in value addition within the country.
- The present policy does not explicitly link the quantum of incentive with domestic value-addition.
- PLI payments should be made to companies in proportion to their domestic value-addition, with a minimum requirement.
- This way, companies doing assembly/low-level manufacturing will have lower value-addition and hence get less of an incentive.
- In the current policy, the PLI incentive is determined by the percentage increase in production over a base year.
- Production in that base year should not be zero (or a very low level) because even small additions will amount to large percentage increases.
- Therefore, there should be a minimum threshold level. This will also ensure that the company already has some track record of growth and uses the incentives well for further expansion.
- Domestic research and development (R&D) is essential for the absorption of technology and acquisition of sustainable competitiveness.
- R&D (including manpower) spend should be seen as a capital investment.
- Such investment can generate at least a five-times-greater return on investment, compared to other forms of capital investment (plant and machinery, etc.) in knowledge-driven industries.
- The PLI scheme is intended to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and scale up the domestic industry.
- To ensure that both are equally promoted (and not one at the expense of the other), perhaps 50% of the PLI incentive should be reserved for domestic companies.
- The only sustainable competitive advantage a company or a country can have in open markets is an ability to learn faster than competitors.
- Enterprises in India must become the fastest learners in the world to catch up with their Chinese counterparts, among others.
- India’s policymakers must also become much faster learners, and not remain stuck in the theoretical paradigm of free trade that has not served India too well.
Government initiatives to promote Manufacturing sector
- Make in India initiative aims to make India the global manufacturing hub. It also aims to increase the sector’s GDP share to 25% from the existing 16%, and create 100 million new jobs by 2022.
- Skill India aims to create jobs and promote entrepreneurship within India.
- Shram Suvidha is a web portal that provides a single platform for all labour law compliances.
- Other labour reform initiatives include Random Inspection Scheme, Universal Account Number and Apprentice Protsahan Yojana.
- Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) prioritizes the promotion of indigenous defence technology.
- National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) provides for Technology Acquisition and Development Fund (TADF) that facilitates the acquisition of clean, green and energy-efficient technology by MSMEs.
- Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) provides loans for small business.
- Startup India scheme’s objective is to generate employment and promote economic development. It seeks for the development and innovation of products and services and aims to increase the employment rate in India.
- Standup India aims to promote entrepreneurship among women and SC and ST communities.
India’s manufacturing sector needs up-gradation and reforms for becoming globally competitive. Absence of effective, flexible and targeted policy support along with supportive measures like the development of infrastructure and education would mean the stagnation of the sector. The government needs to address the core problems for the landmark initiatives like Make in India and Skill India to work and manufacturing sector to grow.
7. Climate change actions should ensure distributive, commutative and corrective justice rather than focusing on net zero emissions targets, which is unjust for developing countries. Comment. (250 words)
Reference: Indian Express
Recently 58 countries announced net-zero emission targets. In the next 30 years, they aim to reduce their emissions of climate change-causing carbon dioxide and other GHGs, and remove what they do emit through planting trees or advanced technologies. Together these countries account for more than half the world’s current GHG emissions.
The idea of net zero emissions by 2050 is being advocated as a panacea for the evil of climate change. While the feasibility and efficacy of such a strategy for all countries is questionable, it also strikes at the root of the basic tenets of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Simultaneously, it undermines the achievement of a climate-just world.
Challenges of transitioning into zero carbon economy:
- India and other developing countries have struggled hard to ensure differentiation between the developed and the developing countries and enshrine the principles of equity and CBDR-RC in the Paris Agreement.
- So, while many herald the call for net zero by 2050 as a positive signal in avoiding runaway climate breakdown, in reality it delays climate action by developed countries and is being used to evade historical responsibility and transfer burdens to developing countries
- The catch is that 25 per cent of the Centre’s tax revenue comes from the energy sector, so weaning away from fossil fuels will also deplete the government’s coffers.
- The Climate Action Tracker reports that climate action of major developed countries is incompatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is only a few developing countries, including India, who are taking adequate climate action. Therefore, the focus should be on ensuring ambitious climate action by developed countries in the near-term to ensure distributive climate justice in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
- Climate justice demands that every individual who is born on this earth has a right to development and dignified living. For this, developed countries need to repay the climate debt by shouldering greater mitigation responsibilities and providing finance, technology and capacity building support to safeguard the interest of the poor and vulnerable people in developing countries.
- Job gains might not occur in the same locations as job losses. Women, whose participation in the workforce has been harder hit in the pandemic, may not easily be able to access certain new jobs.
- Most new jobs are expected to be non-unionised, often lacking safety nets. Carbon tax revenues may need to be recycled back to poorer households who spend a large fraction of their income on energy.
- Focus on Energy Efficiency:
- Will need energy efficient buildings, lighting, appliances and industrial practicesto meet the net-zero goal.
- Increased usage of Biofuels:
- Can help reduce emissions from light commercial vehicles, tractors in agriculture.
- In aviation, the only practical solution for reducing emissions is greater use of biofuels, until hydrogen technology gains scale.
- Carbon Sequestration:
- India willhave to rely on natural and man-made carbon sinks to soak up those emissions. Trees can capture 0.9 billion tons; the country will need carbon capture technologies to sequester the rest.
- Carbon Pricing:
- India, which already taxes coal and petroleum fuels, should consider putting a tax on emissions to drive change.
- Deploying lower-carbon Energy:
- There are four main types of low-carbon energy: wind, solar, hydro or nuclear power. The first three are renewable, which means these are good for the environment – as natural resources are used (such as wind or sun) to produce electricity.
- Deploying lower carbon energy would help address both domestic and international climate challenges while simultaneously improving the economic well-being of India’s citizens.
Way forward for India:
- Given the massive shifts underway in India’s energy system, we would benefit from taking stock of our actions and focusing on near-term transitions.
- This will allow us to meet and even over-comply with our 2030 target while also ensuring concomitant developmental benefits, such as developing a vibrant renewable industry.
- We can start putting in place the policies and institutions necessary to move us in the right direction for the longer-term and also better understand, through modelling and other studies, the implications of net-zero scenarios before making a net-zero pledge.
- It would also be in India’s interest to link any future pledge to the achievement of near-term action by industrialised countries.
- That would be fair and consistent with the principles of the UNFCCC and also enhance the feasibility of our own actions through, for example, increasing availability and reducing costs of new mitigation technologies.
The world is not going to achieve its targets of halting global warming unless India is able to reduce its carbon emissions and India changes its trajectory right now. India is now rightly recognised for having come of age and becoming a major global power. But coming of age also brings with it the ability to take a stand, and resist being buffeted by the winds of shifting political agendas. While we, like others, have a responsibility to the international community, we also have a responsibility to our citizens to be deliberate and thoughtful about a decision as consequential as India’s climate pledge.