Economic ties are one of the biggest positive drivers of India-China relationship but the high imbalance of trade in favour of China remains a matter of concern. Discuss along with measures to reduce trade deficit for India. (15 marks)

Economic ties are one of the biggest positive drivers of India-China relationship but the high imbalance of trade in favour of China remains a matter of concern. Discuss along with measures to reduce trade deficit for India. (15 marks)

Approach:

  • Introduce with India-China relationship
  • Make a note on facts about trade imbalance
  • Explain the reasons for trade deficit
  • Suggest measures to improve trade balance
  • Conclude appropriately

Model Answer :

India and China enjoy robust economic ties which have progressively increased over the years. China is among the top five trading partners of India. It has been hailed as among the biggest positive drivers of a relationship that is often beset with difficult political problems.

Trade imbalance:

In 2017-18, India’s exports to China touched $33 billion while imports were of $76.2 billion, leading to a huge trade deficit to India of about $43 billion. The large trade imbalance in favour of China, which imports from China much higher than Indian exports to China is a matter of much concern. Various factors causing this trade imbalance include:

  • China’s competitiveness in various sectors: China’s competitiveness in manufacturing across various sectors like manufactured goods and electronics cause them to flood India with cheap imports.
  • High logistics cost in India: India’s poor logistics and infrastructure, in terms of connectivity of efficiency of ports, insufficient warehouses etc. raise export costs and reduce competitiveness. In 2014 it cost $1,332 on average to export a container from India, compared with $823 to ship from China.
  • Barriers to services trade: Services trade between China and India remains small, with Indian powerhouse in IT and ITeS facing language barriers and various non-tariff barriers, including complex requirements for participating in contracts of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and visa restrictions.
  • Trade barriers in China: China has high trade barriers for rice, meat, pharmaceuticals and IT products from India.
  • Non-tariff barriers: Farm exports, including bovine meat, as well as pharmaceutical exports from India face hindrances in the form of complex and opaque regulatory requirements.

Some measures to reduce trade deficit for India:

  • Greater market access: India is making efforts to seek market access for various Indian agricultural products, IT services, animal feeds, oil seeds, milk and milk products, pharmaceutical products etc.
  • Lower logistics costs: Programmes like Sagarmala and great investment in infrastructure including roads, freight corridors, power and warehouses are expected to bring down logistics costs.
  • Lowering barriers in China: Government of India has been taking continuous and sustained steps to bridge trade deficit by lowering the trade barriers for Indian exports to China.
  • Manufacturing in India: Other way to help eliminate the trade deficit is to get those manufacturering in China, including Chinese, to start making goods in India.

During the 11th session of India-China Joint Group on Economic Relations(JEG) in 2018, the Trade Ministers of two countries agreed to increasing bilateral trade between the two countries in a balanced and more sustainable manner. India must ensure this becomes a reality especially considering that China is under pressure already due to its trade war with China.

Subjects : International Relations

Balsam: Four discovered species of Balsam

Four discovered species of Balsam
Impatiens Haridasanii
  • It was found from Pongchan.
  • It was named after Haridasan (a former scientist at State Forest Research Institute, Arunachal Pradesh).
  • The species is characterised by small pure yellow flowers and hairy leaves.
Impatiens pseudocitrina
  • It was discovered from Anjaw district.
  • It has bright yellow flowers with small red spots on the throat and a long spur at the back.
  • The species name denotes the similarities with I. citrina.
Impatiens nilalohitae
  • It was discovered from the Lower Dibang valley.
  • It grows to a height of more than one meter.
  • It has dark purple flowers with pale yellow throat and green stalk.
  • The name nilalohitae denotes the dark purple color in Sanskrit.
Impatiens roingensis,
  • It was found growing in Roing and Upper Siang.
  • The plant has clustered white flowers with yellow patch on the mouth and hooked spur.
Balsam
  • These are commonly known as jewel weeds because of the diverse color of the flowers.
  • These are distributed throughout the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats, Sri Lanka, South East Asia, Africa and Madagascar.
  • The genus is scientifically named as Impatiens, signifying the impatient nature of the fruits which explode suddenly when touched.
  • These grow in rich moist soil.
  • These are highly endemic.
Threats
  • Balsams face a threat from the fast-changing landscape of the region.
  • Road widening works, deforestation and other development activities are posing a threat to the natural habitat of the new species.
Importance of Balsam
  • Botanists have emphasised that balsams have immense horticultural importance.
  • Studies on hybrids of the plants have been undertaken in parts of the country to produce flowers that can sustain in different environmental conditions.
  • Different hybrids can be created from wild balsam species, so it is important to know the actual number of balsam species in the wild.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Taliban council agrees to cease-fire in Afghanistan

Headline : Taliban council agrees to cease-fire in Afghanistan

Details :

In News:
  • The Taliban has agreed to a temporary ceasefire.
  • It now provides a window during which a peace agreement with the U.S. could be signed.
Background
U.S-Taliban talks over a peace deal
  • Ending the 18-year long conflict has been considered too costly. Thus the decision to talk to the Taliban was taken during the Obama presidency.
  • The Doha office (in Qatar) of the Taliban was established for negotiations.
  • The Taliban have long maintained that they would negotiate only with the US not with the Afghan government. However, the US has insisted that the Afghan government should be involved in the process.
  • Thus, several attempts at holding discussions to end the war not progressed.
  • By the middle of 2018, the US started pushing for direct talks with the Taliban urgently (in line with President Trump’s agenda to withdraw troops from Afghanistan).
    • Note: President Ashraf Ghani’s government was not included in the US-Taliban talks as this was the Taliban precondition for the talks.
  • The U.S and the Taliban have held several rounds of talks since 2018 with the objective is to narrow the gap between opposing positions and hold broader, more formal negotiations to end the war.
  • The draft agreement was reached after nine rounds of talks between US and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
  • While no details of the draft agreement had been made public, the US Special Envoy had told the Afghan media organisation TOLO that the two sides had reached an agreement in principle.
About the Draft Agreement:
  • The US troops were to withdraw from five bases in Afghanistan. However, no timeline was finalised for the US to pull out its 14,000 troops now in Afghanistan, but a period of 14 months had been mentioned in the past.
  • In return, the Taliban committed to not allow “enemies of the US” i.e. namely Daesh/ISIS and Al Qaeda to set up base in Afghanistan and themselves would fight the enemies of America in Afghanistan.
  • The Taliban were also said by some to have agreed to not attack the withdrawing American troops.
Cancellation of talks with Trump in 2019:
  • Talks between the US and Talinam were proposed to be held in September, 2019.
  • However, the US President Donald Trump called off the troubled U.S.-Taliban peace talks aimed at ending the 18-year conflict, after Taliban admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of US’ soldiers, and 11 other people.
News Summary:
  • The Taliban has now agreed to a temporary ceasefire, providing a window during which a peace agreement with the U.S. could be signed.
  • A peace deal would allow Washington to bring home its troops from Afghanistan and end its 18-year military engagement there.
  • The U.S. wants any deal to include a promise from the Taliban that Afghanistan would not used as a base by terrorist groups.
Intra-Afghan talks
  • A key pillar of the agreement, which the U.S. and the Taliban have been working on for more than a year, is direct negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the conflict.
  • Those intra-Afghan negotiations are expected to be held within two weeks of the signing of a U.S.-Taliban peace deal.
Section : International Relation

Marine Plastic

Type of plastic bags

  • The types of plastic bags used were:
  1. Conventional
  2. Degradable
  3. Biodegradable
  • They had no effect on the rate of ingestion.
  • However, the presence of a biofilm led to the shredding which took place around four times quickly.

 

Results

  • Through monitoring in the laboratory and on the shoreline, researchers demonstrated that the plastic bags were torn and stretched by Orchestia gammarellus.
  • The micro-plastics were subsequently being found in and around their faecal matter.

 

Spreading of microplastics

  • The results of study shows that the marine wildlife are actually contributing to the spread of micro-plastics within the marine environment.

 

Microplastics

  • Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in ocean and lakes.
  • Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimetres in length are called microplastics.
  • They come from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing and industrial processes.

 

Classifications of microplastics

  1. Primary microplastics- They are manufactured and are a direct result of human material and product use.
  2. Secondary microplastics- They are microscopic plastic fragments derived from the breakdown of larger plastic debris like the macroscopic parts.

 

Orchestia gammarellus

  • It is a species of amphipod in the family Talitridae.

 

Distribution

  • They are widely distributed in Northern and Western Europe.

 

Habitat

  • This amphipod lives in a wide range of habitats, occurring in marine environments such as shallow waters, the intertidal zone and in estuaries.
  • It also lives in semi-terrestrial areas away from water, provided those areas are damp enough.
  • It can be commonly found on shingle shores under decaying debris concentrated around the high water mark.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Article 324 and role of Election Commission India

Headline : Article 324 and role of Election Commission India

What is Article 324?

  • Article 324 of the Indian Constitution vests the power of “superintendence, direction and control” of elections to the Election Commission of India.

Functions of Election Commission

  • The Election Commission of India is the custodian of free and fair elections.
  • It regulates political parties and registers them for being eligible to contest elections.
  • It publishes the allowed limits of campaign expenditure per candidate to all the political parties, and also monitors the same.
  • It issues the Model Code of Conduct in every election for political parties and candidates so that the dignity of democracy is maintained.
  • The political parties must submit their annual reports to the ECI for getting tax benefit on contributions.
  • It ensures that all the political parties regularly submit their audited financial reports.

 

Nature of the powers of the Election Commission of India

From Constitution

  • The Constitution empowers the Election Commission to lay down the policy to decide administrative matters of importance and also adjudicate electoral disputes.
    • Therefore, besides administrative functions, it may be called upon to perform quasi-judicial duties also.
  • The Commission can suppress the results of opinion polls if it deems such an action fit for the cause of democracy.
  • The Commission can advise for disqualification of members after the elections if it thinks they have violated certain guidelines.
  • In case a candidate is found guilty of corrupt practices during the elections, the Supreme Court and High Courts consult the Commission.
  • The Commission can suspend candidates who fail to submit their election expense accounts timely.

 

From laws of Parliament

  • The Parliament enacted the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to define and enlarge the powers of the Commission.
  • According to the Section 28A in the RP Act of 1951all officers deployed for the conduct of an election shall be deemed to be on deputation to the Election Commission from the notification of the election to the declaration of the results.
    • Such officers shall, during that period, be subject to the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission
    • Note: The ECI took action against officers in West Bengal for failing in discharge of their duties.

 

From SC Judgements

  • The scope of EC’s powers have also expanded through various SC judgements.
  • For example, in Mohinder Singh Gill & Anr vs The Chief Election Commissioner and Others case (1977), the Supreme Court held that Article 324 is a plenary provision vesting the whole responsibility for national and State elections in the ECI and, therefore, the necessary powers to discharge that function
    • However, SC clarified that EC functions are subject to the norms of fairness and it cannot act arbitrarily.
  • Note: Article 324 protects the ECI, but does not allow it to become a law unto itself.

 

Section : Polity & Governance

Tamil Nadu tops good governance index

Headline : Tamil Nadu tops good governance index

Details :

In News

  • The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has recently launched the Good Governance Index (GGI).
  • The index has been scientifically designed to reflect various parameters of governance.
  • At present, there is no uniform index to objectively assess the state of good governance in the states.
  • GGI is a uniform tool that will help in assessing the status of governance and the impact of interventions undertaken by governments across all states and UTs.

 

About: Good Governance Index

Good Governance:

  • According to a GGI report, Good governance is as an effective and efficient process of decision making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented) keeping the improvement of citizens as the topmost priority.
  • Resource allocation, creation of formal establishments, setting up rules and regulations etc., are part of achieving this goal.

Objectives of GGI:

  • To provide quantifiable data to compare the state of governance in all states and UTs.
  • Enable states and UTs to formulate and implement suitable strategies for improving governance and
  • Shift to result oriented approaches and administration.

Performance measurement:

  • The states and UTs have been grouped into three categories: big states, Northeast and hill categories, and UTs.
  • The index will consider 10 sectors agriculture and allied sectors, commerce and industries, human resource development, public health, public infrastructure and utilities, economic governance, social welfare and development, judicial & public security, environment, and citizen-centric governance.
  • These sectors will be assessed on the basis of over 50 indicators, which have been assigned different weights. Scores will be summed up to reach composite scores.

 

Findings of the Good Governance Index:

  • On the index, Tamil Nadu has got the highest score (5.62), followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Chhattisgarh (5.4, 5.1, and 5.05) respectively.
  • Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh are among the big states that have fared poorly in the rankings.
  • Among the Northeastern and hill states, Himachal Pradesh is at the top with a score of 5.22, followed by Uttarakhand, Tripura, and Mizoram at 4.87, 4.5, and 4.41 respectively. Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland are the least performing states.
  • Similarly, among Union Territories, Pondicherry, Chandigarh, and Delhi lead the ranking, with Lakshwadeep at the bottom.

Tamil Nadu’s performance:

  • Tamil Nadu achieved excellence in the public infrastructure sectorwhich measures indicators like access to potable water, Open Defection Free (ODF) towns, connectivity to rural habitations, access to clean cooking fuel (LPG/PNG), 24×7 power supply etc.
  • The state has also fared well in judicial and public security, which factors in indicators like conviction rate, availability of police personnel, the proportion of women police personnel, disposal of court cases, etc.
  • However, the state was found languishing in sectors like agriculture and allied sectors, commerce and industries, social welfare and development.
Section : Polity & Governance

Polluter Pays Principle

Polluter Pays Principle

  • According to this principle, those who pollute the environment must be made to pay not just for the costs of remedial action, but also for compensating victims of environmental damage.
  • This principle is now almost universally acknowledged in environmental jurisprudence.
  • Some trace the Polluter Pays Principle’s origin to the Stockholm Declaration made at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972.

 

Stockholm Declaration

  • The declaration asked signatory countries to develop international laws regarding liability and compensation of the victims of pollution and other environmental damage.

 

Brundtland Commission

  • The Polluter Pays Principle emerged more strongly in the 1987 report of the Brundtland Commission, called Our Common Future.
  • The Brundtland Commission or the World Commission on Environment and Development was established in 1983.
  • The main purpose of the commission was to examine environmental issues resulting from rapid industrialisation.
  • For the first time sustainable development was defined and alongside the Polluter Pays Principle was emphasised.
  • The 1987 report greatly influenced the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 which for the first time explicitly enshrined the Polluter Pays Principle.
  • After Rio summit, the Polluter Pays Principle began to be applied explicitly in environmental jurisdictions.

 

Polluter pay principle in India

  • The courts in India have applied the Polluter Pays Principle in many cases.
  • In Vellore Citizens’ Welfare Forum vs. Union of India and Others (1996), the Supreme Court held that the Polluter Pays Principle was part of the environmental law of the country.
  • The Principle came onto the statute books in 2010 when the National Green Tribunal Act was enacted.
  • But there is no prescribed method yet to calculate compensation.
  • In some cases, expert committees calculate the amount while in other cases the courts calculate some discretionary amount.
  • Courts have also used it to impose penalties on polluters, as a deterrent.
Section : Environment & Ecology

The already large population in India as well as the high population growth rate necessitates speedy achievement of demographic transition from high birth rate to low birth rate. Comment.Approach:

  • Introduce the question by mentioning facts from census data and briefly discuss the factors responsible for high population growth in India
  • Mention various effects of the rapid population growth in India
  • Discuss the steps taken to control population growth
  • Conclude appropriately

Model Answer :India is one of the most densely populated countries of the world. It has to support about 17% of the world population, although its land area is merely 2.4% of the land area of the world. According to Census 2011, India’s population stands at 1.21 billion.Various factors affect India’s high population growth including low socio-economic development, early marriage, low usage of contraceptives, low levels of education etc. Effects of the rapid population growth in India:

  • Providing employment to growing population, of which many are illiterate, remains challenging and in absence of adequate opportunities is an indication of the wastage of human capital.
  • Over-strained infrastructure such as housing, transportation, health care, sanitation and education. 
  • Pressure on land and other renewable natural resources as common properties such as forest and water are over-exploited. This results in deforestation and desertification with permanent damage to the renewable resources.
  • Cost of production of the basic necessities of life, such as food, increases when the population is growing fast and less productive lands are brought into cultivation with costly irrigation etc.
  • Inequitable distribution of income: In the face of a rapidly growing population, the major concern of a developing country tends to be focused more on economic growth while concerns of unequal distribution of income are pushed to background.

Steps/Measures to Control the Population Growth of India by the Government of India: (Note: Brief mentioning of government steps to address the issue is sufficient. Here, we are just providing a more comprehensive list)

  • The National Population Policy 2000 gave a focused approach to the problem of population stabilization.
  • The National Commission on Population was formed in the year 2000. The Commission, chaired by the Prime Minister, has the mandate to review, monitor and give directions for implementation of the National Population Policy.
  • The Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh (National Population Stabilization Fund) was setup as an autonomous society of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2005. Its broad mandate is to undertake activities aimed at achieving population stabilization.
  • Programmes like the National Rural Health Mission, Janani Suraksha Yojana, ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) etc. have also been launched by the government to tackle the healthcare needs of people. This is also expected to contribute to population stabilization.
  • Free contraceptives are also being provided. In addition, monetary incentives are given to couples undertaking permanent family planning methods like vasectomy and tubectomy.
  • RMNCH Counselors (Reproductive Maternal New Born and Child Health) availability at the high case facilities to ensure counseling of the clients visiting the facilities.
  • Accreditation of more private/NGO facilities to increase the provider base for family planning services under PPP.
  • Around World Population Day (11th July), events are held for mobilization/sensitization followed by a fortnight of assured family planning service delivery, It has been made a mandatory activity from 2012-13 and starts from 27th June each year..

Conclusion: Providing greater choice and improved access to modern contraceptives should become an inextricable part of India’s health and gender-equality programme. Public sensitisation campaigns about the benefits of family planning, and replacing coercive surgeries with access to a range of modern reproductive health choices, should form the bedrock of our health strategy.

Subjects : Current Affairs

International Solar Alliance

International Solar Alliance

  • It is a common platform for cooperation among sun-rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
  • These countries seek to massively ramp up solar energy, thereby helping to reduce global greenhouse emissions while providing clean and cheap energy.
  • The initiative was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of 2015 by the President of France and the Prime Minister of India.
  • India has contributed around $27 million for the ISA corpus to meet the cost of its Gurugram based secretariat for the first five years.

 

Aims

  • To reduce the cost of finance and cost of technology for the immediate deployment of competitive solar generation, storage and technologies adapted to countries’ individual needs
  • To mobilise billions of dollars for solar technologies

 

Key Focus Areas

  • Followings are the key focus areas:
  1. To promote solar technologies, new business models and investment in the solar sector to enhance prosperity
  2. To formulate projects and programmes to promote solar applications
  3. To develop innovative financial mechanisms to reduce cost of capital
  4. To build a common knowledge e-Portal
  5. To facilitate capacity building for promotion and absorption of solar technologies and R&D among member countries

 

Extending its footprint beyond the tropics

  • The fast pace has kindled interest among countries which were not originally included in the group of 121 prospective members.
  • ISA will open its doors even for countries which do not fall fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn but whether they’ll get voting rights or not is yet to be decided.
  • Though the framework agreement of the ISA has a provision for other nations to join as partner countries, most of them would like to join with voting rights.

 

Interested countries

  • Countries like Germany, Nepal, Korea, Mongolia and others, who are outside the tropics, have shown keen interest to join ISA with voting rights.
  • The steering committee of ISA with India as its chair and France as its co-chair will consider the issue of membership of interested countries.
Section : Environment & Ecology

About National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

About National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

  • NCF provides the framework for creation of the school syllabi and the writing of textbooks, while giving guidelines on teaching practices in India.
  • It addresses four issues:
    • Educational purpose
    • Educational experience
    • Organization of experience
    • Assessing learner
  • NCF is only suggestive and provides guidelines on different aspects of education.
  • All the states also developed State Curriculum Framework (SCF) in line with NCF.
  • Purpose: To make education comparable across the country in qualitative terms and also making it as means of ensuring national integration without compromising on the country’s pluralistic character.
  • NCF past guidelines came in 1975, 1988, 2000 and 2005.
    • NCF 1975: General Science as a compulsory subject, activity based integrated science recommended up to Class X.
    • NCF 1988: Science curriculum should be learner- centered, develop well- defined abilities in cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains.
    • NCF 2000: Teaching of Science and tech in upper primary and secondary, part of environment studies in primary recommended.
    • NCF 2005: Focus on learning without burden, reduction in syllabus, including age appropriate concepts.

 

In brief: NCF 2005

  • It was undertaken by National Steering Committee headed by Yashpal.
  • The Committee took into consideration a number of aspects:
    • The government reports on education that encouraged making learning a joyful experience.
    • National Policy of Education 1986-1992
    • The recommendations in the position papers of the 21 National Focus Groups (each tasked with producing a research-based paper providing a comprehensive review of existing knowledge and the field reality, especially in rural schools).

 

News Summary

  • NCERT is already working on rationalization of textbooks which will form the basis of the review of the 2005 NCF.
  • The revised NCF will focus on experiential learning, which will further take forward the shift of focus from teachers to the student to promote learning without burden and to change the tendency to learning by rote.
  • In keeping with the reforms, NCERT is also planning a mammoth training programme for 42 lakh government elementary school teachers by December 2019, which is aimed at improving the learning outcomes.

 

About National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)

  • It is an autonomous organisation set up in 1961 by the Government of India to assist and advise the Central and State Governments on policies and programmes for qualitative improvement in school education.
  • Objectives:
    • Undertake, promote and coordinate research in areas related to school education
    • Prepare and publish model textbooks, supplementary material, newsletters, journals and develops educational kits, multimedia digital materials, etc.
    • Organise pre-service and in-service training of teachers
    • Develop and disseminate innovative educational techniques and practices
    • Collaborate and network with state educational departments, universities, NGOs and other educational institutions
    • Act as a clearing house for ideas and information in matters related to school education
    • Act as a nodal agency for achieving the goals of Universalisation of Elementary Education
  • NCERT is also an implementation agency for bilateral cultural exchange programmes with other countries in the field of school education.
  • The NCERT also interacts and works in collaboration with the international organisations, visiting foreign delegations and offers various training facilities to educational personnel from developing countries.

 

 

Section : Polity & Governance