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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 23rd March, 2017

  • March 23, 2017
  • 1
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Mar 2017, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 23rd March 2017

Archives

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 1

  • Effects of globalization on Indian society Social empowerment

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

 General Studies 3

  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it

HDI Ranking and associated concerns

Introduction

HDI is an important development index released by United Nations Human Development Programme. It serves as a crucial index for social parameters and thus helps guide nations w.r.t. policy actions and guidelines,

Issue:

  • India’s rank of 131 among 188 countries on the UNDP’s Human Development Index for 2015 and its ‘medium’ performance pose the uncomfortable question:
    • Would not the score have been significantly better if the higher economic growth trajectory of two and a half decades of liberalisation had been accompanied by a parallel investment in people?
  • Few will argue that the rise in incomes that came with a more open economy has not translated into a
    • Higher quality of life for many Indians
    • Raised overall life expectancy at birth by more than 10 years from the 1990 level, to reach 68.3 years.
  • Progress has also been made in raising awareness about issues affecting women’s empowerment, such as
    • Public safety
    • Acid attacks
    • Discrimination in inheritance rights
    • Lack of equal employment opportunity
  • Policy reforms have been instituted in some of these areas as a result.
  • As the HDI data show, significant inequalities persist, particularly between States and regions, which act as major barriers to improvement.
    • The percentage of women in the workforce is the lowest in India among the BRICS countries,
    • The national record on the population that lives in severe multidimensional poverty is also the worst in the bloc.
  • These are clear pointers to the lost decades for India, when universalisation of education and health care could have pulled deprived sections out of the poverty trap.

Policy actions and course corrections needed

A central focus on social indicators is necessary for India to break free from its position as an underachiever.

  • The fiscal space now available has been strengthened by steady economic growth.
  • More should be done to eliminate subsidies for the richest quintile — estimated by the UNDP to be $16 billion in 2014 in six consumption areas including gold and aviation fuel.
    • The rise in revenues from all sources should go towards making public education of high standards accessible to all and delivering on the promised higher budgetary outlay for health care.
    • Bolstered by a conscious effort to help traditionally backward regions, such policies will help eliminate the losses produced by inequalities that lower national human development indices.
  • One crucial metric that gets insufficient attention in the measurement of development is the state of democracy, reflected among other things in access to justice.
  • It is relevant to point out that India has not ratified UN conventions on torture, rights of migrant workers and their families, and protection against enforced disappearance.
  • This is a serious lacuna for a country that otherwise has a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

Conclusion:

With the growing realisation that development is a multidimensional achievement, the gains of economic reforms must help build capabilities and improve the health of all sections. Sustaining and improving the quality of life will depend on policies crafted to handle major emerging challenges such as urbanisation, the housing deficit, access to power, water, education and health care.

Connecting the dots:

  • HDI data show, significant inequalities persist, particularly between States and regions, which act as major barriers to improvement. Discuss the measures initiated by the government especially under the vision of NITI Ayog.

 

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 3

  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

A multi-modal logistics approach

The beginning

  • India has polished the contours of its ambitious multi-modal programme to reduce logistics costs and make the economy competitive.
  • The strategy involves revamping India’s logistics sector from a “point-to-point” model to a “hub-and-spoke” model.
  • The logistics involve combination of railways, highways, inland waterways and airports to put in place an effective transportation grid.
  • This will entail setting up 35 multi-modal logistics parks at a cost of Rs. 50,000 crore, developing 50 economic corridors and inviting investment from the states and private sector. The parks will act as hubs for freight movement enabling freight aggregation and distribution with modern mechanized warehousing space.
  • To promote and implement it, government plans to host a multi-modal summit—India Integrated Transport and Logistics Summit— to pitch project opportunities to the investors.
  • Benefits of multimodal transport– increase India’s exports, provide employment opportunities, cost effective, and make goods cheaper in the country.

Significance of multimodal transport

  • GST is expected to be rolled out from 1st July 2017. This will allow companies to restructure their supply chains once the domestic market is truly integrated.
  • For production structure to improve radically, there is a need to build a new logistics network to allow inputs, components and finished goods to move seamlessly across the country.

Reasons to have it

  1. Boosting competitiveness– efficient transportation and logistics reduce transport time and costs and also reduce cost of production by minimizing the need for large inventories. This means less capital required for warehouses, insurance etc.
  2. Create markets– presence of transport and logistics enterprises can create markets for other goods from the present goods driven logistics network.
  3. Regional equal growth– efficient logistics networks can reduce divergence in regional growth.
  4. Inter state trade– As per Economic Survey 16-17, inter-state trade flows in India is 54% of GDP. This can be improved through multimodal logistics.
  5. Keeping up with demand– the demand for transport grew at around 10% annually in the 1990s and has accelerated since then. Failing to keep pace might hurt all the sectors of society.

Challenges in present logistics sectors

  • India’s logistics and transport sector has developed in silos. This has resulted in more complex regulation and administrative procedures.
  • Crucial logistics links have been missed as well as given rise to inefficient modal mix.
  • Till 2008, the mix was 50% of total freight flow via roads, 36% by rail, 7.5% by pipelines, 6% by coastal shipping, 0.2% by inland waterways and 0.01% by airways. The ratios may have shifted somewhat since then but they are unlikely to have changed substantially.
  • It is known that transport by rail and inland waterways is far more cost- and time-efficient than transport by roads, and thus should account for high proportions of the freight flow.
  • However, lack of development of freight corridors and dedicated inland waterways has put the burden on roadways.

Trans border logistics movement

  • Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the signing of the Transports Internationaux Routiers or International Road Transports (TIR) Convention. India will be the 71st signatory to this international transit system.
  • The multilateral international transit treaty—Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods—is also referred to as the TIR Convention and functions under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
  • TIR is designed to facilitate the seamless movement of goods throughout countries in Asia and Europe.

India and multimodal projects

  • The Trans-Asian Railway network now comprises 117,500 km of railway lines serving 28 member countries. It aims to serve cultural exchanges and trade within Asia and between Asia and Europe.
  • Indian Railway plans to set up a Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) route which is expected to play in increasing India’s connectivity to its eastern as well as western neighbours
  • TAR includes a 118-km railway tracklaid between (Manipur capital) Imphal and (border towns) Moreh and Tamu (the latter in western Myanmar).
  • It comes against the backdrop of China’s ambitious “One Belt One Road” initiative aimed at connecting countries across Asia, Africa and Europe to boost trade and economic ties on the lines of the traditional maritime route.
  • With TIR Convention, there will be improvement in international connectivity and movement of cargo across the countries in the multi-modal format. Goods can go from Mumbai or Kandla Port to Iran. From Iran they can go via rail or road to Central Asia or Europe.
  • The TIR Convention will also help India move goods along the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)—an ambitious multi-modal transportation established in 2000 by Iran, Russia and India to promote transportation cooperation.
  • India plans to develop Chabahar port in Iran, which will allow access to landlocked Afghanistan and energy-rich Central Asia through the Jawaharlal Nehru and Kandla ports. In addition, India has built a 218km-road link connecting Delaram with Zaranj in Afghanistan, which is adjacent to Iran’s border.
  • India has also been instrumental in the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, along with the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement.

Significance of TIR

  • By joining the convention, the need for inspection of goods at intermediate borders as well as physical escorts en route shall be removed due to reciprocal recognition of Customs controls.
  • Instead, custom clearance can take place at internal Customs locations thereby avoiding clearances at Border Crossing Points and ports and decongesting them.
  • Movement under the TIR can be allowed by checking only the seals and the external conditions of the load compartment or the container thereby reducing border delays, transport and transaction costs thereby leading to increased competitiveness and growth for the trade and transport sectors.

Conclusion

India has been promoting a multi-modal transport strategy involving railways, highways and waterways. The government’s intent was articulated in budget 2017-18, where stress was given upon the importance of an effective multi-modal transportation system for a competitive economy. An integrated multi-modal approach is necessary for reaping the benefits of GST and Make In India.

Connecting the dots:

  • India can fill its vaccum of unemployment by developing a multimodal logistics network. Do you agree? Explain.

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