Developing countries say act now for ambitious climate deal(Environment , GS Paper 3)
- A clearer, streamlined agreement text, which includes all concerns of developing countries, must be achieved.
- The financial commitment of US$100 billion needs to be mobilised. No developed countries have indicated any support—financial or technical—for post-2020 action in their INDCs till date.
- Clarity must be achieved on what is going to happen between now and 2020. Developed countries need to implement considerable mitigation actions to make sure the burden of mitigation is not transferred to developing countries post-2020.
Fight against hunger too slow and uneven (Gs Paper 2)
At the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS), heads of government and the international community committed to reducing the number of hungry people in the world by half. Five years later, the MDGs lowered the level of ambition by seeking to halve the proportion of the chronically undernourished.
Overall progress has been highly uneven. Some countries and regions have seen only slow progress in reducing hunger, while the number of hungry has even increased in several cases.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for how to improve food security, SOFI 2015 identifies several factors that have played a critical role in achieving the hunger target.
GST: Good for business, snag for federalism?(GST , GS Paper 3,Economy ,Tax)
Under-armed and under prepared (Defense,Essay)
The performance of our public sector units handling defence has been equally scandalous. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) could not rectify simple design faults in the HPT-32 basic trainer aircraft, forcing the Indian Air Force (IAF) to import propeller driven trainers. The Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) prototype is nowhere close to flying, and the Light Combat Helicopter and the multi-purpose civilian aircraft, Saras, have forever been in the pipeline. Our ordnance factories are similarly languishing. The Nalanda ordnance factory, in collaboration with an Israeli company, is reportedly only a fourth complete. The commitment to indigenously supply 1,000 T-90S main battle tanks to the Indian Army could not be met because the project failed. Indian-made 125 mm smooth bore barrels for the T-72 tanks also reportedly failed because the barrels blew up during field trials.
To see a nation with global aspirations blundering so egregiously when it comes to meeting critical defence requirements is nothing short of treason. As a result of our woefully inadequate defence production, India has become the world’s largest importer of arms. In contrast, China, with a much bigger arsenal, has dropped to fourth place because its internal defence production has been efficiently upgraded. Apart from the exorbitant burden arms imports place on our exchequer, an overdependence on imports has grave security implications. In his book on the Kargil war, General V.P. Malik, who was then the Army chief, mentions that two years before the Pakistani invasion, the Army had finalised imports of AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder radars from the United States. “Prices were negotiated and just before purchase, DRDO offered to manufacture them at half the price and within two years. The government shot down the army’s plans to buy those radars. In 1999, during the Kargil war, the radars were desperately needed. Neither had the DRDO manufactured them nor could they be purchased from the US (post the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests there was an arms embargo). Several lives were lost in Pakistan shelling (as a result).”
Our lack of offensive and defensive weaponry becomes even more glaring when compared with that of our potential enemies. For instance, China’s arsenal of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), battle tanks, latest tactical aircraft and armoured infantry fighting vehicles far outnumber ours, as does its border infrastructure. The importance for us to keep this gap within sustainable limits is self-evident, especially since we cannot rule out a war in the future in which China and Pakistan work in tandem. Opponents of adequate investments in armaments argue that a country with such a huge number of the poor should be spending more on development than on defence. It is the old guns versus butter argument. The obvious riposte to this is that India needs to pursue both development and defence efficiently and it cannot be one or the other. A country’s security is imperilled if its economy is suboptimal and the deprivations of the poor are not attended to. Equally, development cannot exclude security imperatives because we are in one of the most hostile nuclear weapon regions of the world. We have 4,057 kilometres of a disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China; a 778-kilometre-long disputed Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan; a total of 15,106 kilometres of international borders with seven countries, and a 7,516-kilometre long vulnerable coastline. It would be suicidal for any nation to ignore security concerns in such a situation.
The new Bharatiya Janata Party-National Democratic Alliance (BJP-NDA) government came with a muscular resolve to strengthen India’s defence abilities. This resolve was particularly evident in its strident critique of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. However, for five months after the new government assumed power last year, the country did not even have a full-time Raksha Mantri, with Mr. Arun Jaitley inexplicably holding the dual charge of both finance and defence. The government did announce an increase from 26 per cent to 49 per cent for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defence production sector but this may not be very attractive to investors who will seek majority control. Moreover, the Defence Technology Commission, set up as a commercial arm of the DRDO to attract investments, is yet to take shape. The “Make in India” slogan for defence production means little unless it is part of a credible policy framework. It is also not known whether the national technology council to be chaired by the Defence Minister with representation by private companies engaged in the production of arms and defence equipment, as was recommended by the Naresh Chandra Task Force, is going to see the light of day. According to estimates, some Rs.30,000 crore is required only to end the perennial shortage of artillery and ammunition. Where is this money to come from if the government’s priorities are to spend double this amount on bullet trains? Important steps also need to be taken to create a more effective procurement policy. The Rafale fighter aircraft deal is, I believe, an outright purchase and does not involve the transfer of technology. And, finally, it is time that specialists from the armed forces have a much greater say in the entire defence production process, but there is no sign that this is happening. The short point is that, whatever the rhetoric, India lacks a strategic mindset to tackle its defence preparedness and this government has been, thus far, not any different, and certainly much too slow in changing past approaches.
Against the grain(Polity,HInduEditorial,GS Paper 2)
Beyond the rate cut(RBI,GS Paper 2, )
Given the complexities of the Indian economy and its inter-connections with the outside world, a rate reduction by the monetary authority alone will not suffice at the present juncture. Oftentimes the RBI has indicated this in a subtle manner. The latest policy suggests that the fiscal bosses cannot avoid the onus of pushing the economy to a higher growth trajectory without inflationary consequences. “Strong food policy and management will be important to help keep inflation and inflationary expectations contained over the near-term,” the RBI has said. At the same time, it has advocated a ‘step up’ in public investment in several areas that could ‘crowd in’ private investment. To remove supply irritants and aid disinflation, public investment is critical. With stressed assets eating into its vitals, the banking industry is largely reluctant to commit itself to fresh credit exposure. “A targeted infusion of capital into scheduled public sector commercial banks… is also warranted so that adequate credit flows to the productive sectors as investment picks up,” the RBI has stated. It takes two to tango, the central bank appears to suggest. The ball is now in the government’s court.