Government Schemes & Policies
- Central Assistance released Under PMKSY by Ministry of Water Resources
- Manipur CM launches Chief Minister-gi Hakshelgi Tengbang (CMHT)
Issues related to Health & Education
- India Ranks 81st On Global Talent Competitiveness Index
- India’s richest 1% corner 73% of wealth generation: Oxfam Survey
- WEF ranks India at 62nd place on Inclusive Development Index
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- ‘Environment ministry to start ‘Himalayan Research Fellowships scheme’
Bilateral & International Relations
- ASEAN pushes India to conclude RCEP this year
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Polity & Governance
Central Assistance released Under PMKSY by Ministry of Water Resources
The Union Water Resources Ministry has released central assistance of Rs 246.9 crore for nine prioritised projects under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) for Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) works.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) is a national mission to improve farm productivity and ensure better utilization of the resources in the country.
- It is implemented by Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development.
- It seeks to amalgamate three major ongoing irrigation programmes of the Centre –
- The Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme of Ministry of Water Resources
- Integrated Watershed management programme of Ministry of Rural Development and Land Resources, and
- The farm water management component of National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture of the Department of Agriculture.
- The scheme would be implemented in ‘mission mode’, which means the district administration draws up their own irrigation plan with the help of district forest officers, lead bank officer and other departments. The state irrigation plan will be an amalgamation of all the district plans.
- The plan additionally calls for bringing ministries, offices, organizations, research and financial institutions occupied with creation and recycling of water under one platform. The goal is to open the doors for optimal water budgeting in all sectors.
Objectives of the PMKSY:
- The primary objectives of PMKSY are to attract investments in irrigation system at field level, develop and expand cultivable land under assured irrigation (Har Khet ko pani), enhance ranch water use in order to minimize wastage of water, enhance crop per drop by implementing water-saving technologies and precision irrigation.
About Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Program:
Central Government launched the AIBP in the year 1996-97 to provide Central Assistance to major/medium irrigation projects in the country.
- The objective of the scheme is to accelerate implementation of such projects which were beyond resource capability of the States or were in advanced stage of completion.
- Priority was given to those projects which were started in Pre-Fifth and Fifth Plan period and also to those which were benefiting Tribal and Drought Prone Areas.
- From the year 1999-2000 onwards, Central Loan Assistance under AIBP was also extended to minor surface irrigation projects (SMI) of special category States.
- Later, during 2015-16, PMKSY was conceived amalgamating ongoing three major ongoing irrigation programmes of the Centre.
Manipur CM launches Chief Minister-gi Hakshelgi Tengbang (CMHT)
Manipur Government has launched the Chief Minister-gi Hakshelgi Tengbang (CMHT), a health assurance scheme for the poor and disabled people.
About the Chief Minister-gi Hakshelgi Tengbang (CMHT) Scheme:
- The CMHT scheme will provide cashless treatment to poor at government hospitals, health centres and other empanelled selected private hospitals.
- The scheme will provide insurance cover up to Rs 2 lakh per eligible family in treatment of seven critical identified critical ailments – cardiovascular diseases, neurological conditions, kidney ailments, liver ailments, cancer, neo-natal diseases and burns per year.
- The beneficiaries will be identified from Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC).
- They may get themselves enrolled for scheme with help of ASHA workers at kiosks opened in nearby PHCs, CHCs and District Hospitals.
Significance of the scheme:
- The CMHT Scheme will have convergence with Government of India programme like PMs Jana Aushadhi Programme and Free Diagnostic Programme.
- It will be truly IT platform driven scheme. Along with Chief Minister-gi Sotharabashing gi Tengbang (CMST) scheme, state government is able to provide two most noble social security schemes to its people.
Issues related to Health & Education
India Ranks 81st On Global Talent Competitiveness Index
India was ranked 81st among 118 countries in Global index of talent competitiveness (GTI) list.
- India has improved its position from 92nd last year.
- With this fifth edition, GTCI addresses the theme of Diversity for Competitiveness.
About the index:
- Launched for the first time in 2013, the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
- The index is produced by global business school INSEAD in partnership with Adecco Group and Tata Communications.
- The index measures ability of countries to compete for talent i.e. how countries grow, attract and retain talent.
Highlights of the report:
- Switzerland has topped the list. It is followed by Singapore and the US. European countries dominate the top ranks, with 15 out of the top 25 places.
- Among the five BRICS countries China is at 43rd, Russia 53rd, South Africa 63rd and Brazil 73rd.
- India has moved up to the 81st position, but remains a laggard among the BRICS nations. India was at the 92nd position last year and at the 89th place in 2016.
Note for India:
- India faces serious risk of worsening brain drain. In terms of formal Education, India ranks 67th and in Lifelong Learning it ranks 37th. In terms of pool of Global Knowledge Skills (63rd) is solid compared with other emerging markets.
- India also has plenty of room for improvement is in minimising brain drain while achieving brain gain by luring back some of its talented diaspora members as it ranks 98th in the Attract pillar and in retaining its own talent it ranks 99th.
India’s richest 1% corner 73% of wealth generation: Oxfam Survey
The international rights group Oxfam has recently released a report titled ‘Reward Work, Not Wealth’.
- The report reveals how the global economy enables wealthy elite to accumulate vast wealth even as hundreds of millions of people struggle to survive on poverty pay.
Highlights of the report:
- Globally 82% of wealth generated in 2017 worldwide went to 1%, while 3.7 billion people that account for poorest half of population saw no increase in their wealth.
- Year 2017 saw unprecedented increase in number of billionaires, at rate of one every two days.
- Billionaire wealth has risen by average of 13% year since 2010. It was six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2%.
- Women workers often find themselves at bottom of the heap and nine out of 10 billionaires are men.
- In India, 67 crore population comprising the population’s poorest half saw their wealth rise by just 1%.
- Wealth of India’s richest 1% increased by over Rs 20.9 lakh crore, an amount equivalent to total budget of central government in 2017-18.
- India’s top 10% of population holds 73% of the wealth and 37% of India’s billionaires have inherited family wealth. They control 51% of the total wealth of billionaires in the country. There are only four women billionaires in India and three of them inherited family wealth.
- The report reveals that the top 1% is evading an estimated $200bn in tax. More significantly, developing countries are losing at least $170 billion each year in foregone tax revenues from corporations and the super-rich.
Implications of growing divide:
- The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system.
- Those working hard, growing food for the country, building infrastructure, working in factories are struggling to fund their child’s education, buy medicines for family members and manage two meals a day. The growing divide undermines democracy and promotes corruption and cronyism.
Recommendations made by the report:
Oxfam makes several recommendations to start fixing the problem of income inequality.
- On the government’s part, it has asked for things like promoting inclusive growth by encouraging labour-intensive sectors that will create more jobs, imposing higher tax on the super-rich, implementing policies to tackle all forms of gender discrimination and sealing the “leaking wealth bucket” by taking stringent measures against tax evasion.
- The report has urged Indian government to ensure that country’s economy works for everyone and not just the fortunate few.
- It asked government to promote inclusive growth by encouraging labour-intensive sectors that will create more jobs; effectively implementing the social protection schemes and investing in agriculture.
- The recommendations for corporations are far more eyebrow-raising, be it “Limit returns to shareholders and promote a pay ratio for companies’ top executives that is no more than 20 times their median employees’ pay” or refraining from rewarding shareholders through dividends or buybacks or even paying bonuses to executives until “all their employees have received a living wage”.
- The survey found that, in India, it will take 941 years for a minimum wage worker in rural India to earn what the top paid executive at a leading Indian garment firm earns in a year. In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.
- Therefore, the survey stressed that the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be urgently addressed.
WEF ranks India at 62nd place on Inclusive Development Index
World Economic Forum (WEF) has recently released an Inclusive Development Index.
About Inclusive Development Index (IDI)
- IDI measures progress of 103 economies on three individual pillars – growth and development; inclusion; and inter-generational equity. It has been divided into two parts.
- The first part covers 29 advanced economies and second 74 emerging economies.
- The index takes into account the living standards, environmental sustainability and protection of future generations from further indebtedness.
- The index also has classified countries into five sub-categories in terms of five-year trend of their overall Inclusive Development Growth score — receding, slowly receding, stable, slowly advancing and advancing.
Highlights of Inclusive Development Index (IDI)-2018
- Norway was again remained world’s most inclusive advanced economy. Among advanced economies, Norway is followed by Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Denmark in the top five.
- Lithuania again topped list of emerging economies. Lithuania is followed by Hungary, Azerbaijan, Latvia and Poland.
- Among BRICS economies, Russia was ranked at 19th, followed by China (26), Brazil (37), India (62) and South Africa (69).
- India was ranked at 62nd place among emerging economies on Inclusive Development Index (IDI-2018) released by World Economic Forum (WEF).
- India’s position is much below China (26th) and Pakistan (47th). It was ranked 60th among 79 developing economies in IDI-2017.
- India was among ten emerging economies with ‘advancing’ trend, despites its low overall score. Of three pillars that make up index, India was ranked 72nd for inclusion, 66th for growth and development and 44th for inter-generational equity.
Concerns raised by the report:
- The study found that decades of prioritising economic growth over social equity has led to historically high levels of wealth and income inequality and caused governments to miss out on a virtuous circle in which growth is strengthened by being shared more widely and generated without unduly straining the environment or burdening future generations.
- Excessive reliance by economists and policy-makers on Gross Domestic Product as the primary metric of national economic performance is part of the problem. The GDP measures current production of goods and services rather than the extent to which it contributes to broad socio-economic progress as manifested in median household income, employment opportunity, economic security and quality of life.
- Rich and poor countries alike are struggling to protect future generations, as it cautioned political and business leaders against expecting higher growth to be panacea for social frustrations, including those of younger generations who have shaken politics of many countries in recent years.
- It has also urged the leaders to urgently move to a new model of inclusive growth and development, saying reliance on GDP as a measure of economic achievement is fuelling short-termism and inequality.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
‘Environment ministry to start ‘Himalayan Research Fellowships scheme’
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has decided to start a ‘Himalayan Research Fellowships scheme’.
About the Himalayan Research Fellowship Scheme:
The Himalayan Research Fellowship Scheme is among the series of programmes that MoEFCC is running for conservation and protection of Himalayas.
- The scheme aims scheme’ to create a young pool of trained environmental managers, ecologists and socio-economists. This pool will help generate information on physical, biological, managerial and human aspects of Himalayan environment and development.
- The financial support will be provided under the National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS) and the fellowships will be awarded for a maximum period of three years and last date for submitting fellowship proposals is 12 February.
- The fellowship scheme will be executed through various universities and Institutions working in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) and preference will be given to the Institutions from north-eastern states.
- The research may be undertaken in any of the identified broad thematic areas (BTAs) of the NMHS.
- Some of the broad thematic areas that are being focused on for research under the NMHS are water resource management including rejuvenation of springs and catchments, hydropower development, assessment and prediction of water-induced hazards, livelihood options including ecotourism opportunities, biodiversity management including recovery of threatened species and skill development.
Bilateral & International Relations
ASEAN pushes India to conclude RCEP this year
Mounting pressure on New Delhi to give an early consent to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — a mega regional trade pact being negotiated by sixteen nations — the 10-member ASEAN expressed hope that India would not let the bloc down in its efforts to conclude the agreement this year.
- India has, however, refused to take responsibility for the long-winding negotiations and has stressed that it is important to address the sensitivities and aspirations of all participants.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement (FTA) is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
- RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is among the proposed three mega FTAs in the world so far. The other two is:
- The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership, led by the US) and
- The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU).
- RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the TPP trade agreement, which includes the United States but excludes China.
India’s concerns associated with RCEP:
India is not comfortable with the ambitious dismantling of import tariffs being pushed for by the ASEAN, especially as it would also mean allowing duty-free access to Chinese goods.
- The Indian industry does not want the country to commit to high levels of liberalisation as it fears that it could get out-priced in the domestic market.
- India has also stressed on the need for other RCEP members to deliver in the area of services to arrive at an agreement. So far proposals in the area of services, including on work-visas for movement of professionals, have been disappointing with no member ready to make meaningful contributions.
- Emphasis of RCEP is on trade in goods and the same enthusiasm is not shared for trade in services. The reluctance in giving market access for trade in services is a big challenge for India.
- While there is immense pressure on India in the RCEP negotiations to commit to opening up (90%) of its traded goods, what is troubling the government is the fact that other RCEP countries have so far been lukewarm to India’s demands for greater market access in services, particularly on easing norms on the movement of professionals and skilled workers across borders for short-term work.
- India, which is defensive regarding opening up its goods sector, is currently virtually isolated in the RCEP talks. Also, existing huge goods trade deficit has led to questions on whether the pact is only helping ASEAN nations and not benefiting India.
- Significantly, while the India-ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement was inked and enforced from January 1, 2010, India’s goods trade deficit with ASEAN widened from $4.98 billion in 2010-11 to $14.75 billion in 2015-16, and then narrowed to $9.56 billion in 2016-17. The huge goods trade deficit has led to questions on whether the pact is only helping ASEAN nations and not benefiting India.