Today’s News Diary For UPSC
What are FPIs?
- Foreign portfolio investors are those that invest funds in markets outside of their home turf.
- Their investments typically include equities, bonds and mutual funds.
- They are generally not active shareholders and do not exert any control over the companies whose shares they hold.
- The passive nature of their investment also allows them to enter or exit a stock at will and with ease.
What impact does an FPI sell-off have?
- When FPIs sell their holdings and repatriate funds back to their home markets, the local currency takes a beating.
- After all, they sell rupees in exchange for their home market currency.
- As supply of the rupee in the market rises, its value declines.
- In this instance, the rupee has recently been seeing all-time lows. About a year ago, it was trading in the region of 73 to a U.S. dollar; it is now flirting with the 78 level.
- With a weaker rupee, we have to shell out more funds to import the same unit of goods.
- The most telling impact is on the cost of our crude oil imports that contribute to 85% of our oil needs
- The most difficult and messy problem for policymakers is when inflation runs high even as economic output either stagnates or, worse, shrinks.
- The slowdown in economic activity, in turn, leads businesses to shed jobs and the resultant situation is termed as ‘stagflation’.
- One of the classic instances when most economies including the U.S. faced ‘stagflation’ was during the ‘oil shock’ of the early 1970s when an embargo led by the oil producers’ cartel OPEC caused the price of crude to almost quadruple in a period of just under six months.
Economic Output and GDP are the same things?
- Most economists typically focus on the three key macroeconomic gauges to assess the health of an economy.
- Economic output measured by gross domestic product, the level of unemployment and thirdly inflation or the pace at which the prices of goods and services are rising in the economy.
On May 18, the Bombay High Court sought Mumbai-based Hinduja Hospital’s reply after a couple moved the court seeking to complete a surrogacy procedure, which commenced before Parliament passed the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) Act and the Surrogacy Act in December 2021.
- The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill was introduced in Parliament in November 2016, and passed in the Winter session of Parliament in 2021.
- The Act sought to regulate the surrogacy part of a rather flourishing infertility industry in the country.
- Defining ‘surrogacy’ as a practice where a woman undertakes to give birth to a child for another couple and agrees to hand over the child to them after birth, it allows ‘altruistic surrogacy’ — wherein only the medical expenses and insurance coverage is provided by the couple to the surrogate mother during pregnancy.
- No other monetary consideration will be permitted.
Eligibility for Couple
- Any couple that has ‘proven infertility’ are candidates.
- The ‘intending couple’ as the Act calls them, will be eligible if they have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
- The former will be issued if the couple fulfils three conditions: One, a certificate of infertility of one or both from a district medical board; Two, an order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a Magistrate’s court; Thirdly, insurance cover for the surrogate mother.
- An eligibility certificate mandates that the couple fulfil the following conditions: They should be Indian citizens who have been married for at least five years; the female must be between 23 to 50 years and the male, 26 to 55 years; they cannot have any surviving children (biological, adopted or surrogate); However, this would not include a ‘child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness.’
Eligibility For Surrogate Mother
- Only a close relative of the couple can be a surrogate mother, one who is able to provide a medical fitness certificate.
- She should have been married, with a child of her own, and must be between 25 and 35 years, but can be a surrogate mother only once.
The National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (NARCL)
Key Points about NARCL
- The NARCL, announced in the Budget for 2021-22, is intended to resolve stressed loans of ₹2 lakh crore, of which fully provisioned assets of about ₹90,000 crore are expected to be transferred to it in the first phase.
- The NARCL will acquire the bad loans from banks, and the India Debt Resolution Company Ltd. — which will then manage these assets and seek to enhance their value — have secured necessary approvals and permissions.
What is the national Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL)?
- NARCL has been incorporated under the Companies Act and has applied to Reserve Bank of India for license as an Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC).
- NARCL has been set up by banks to aggregate and consolidate stressed assets for their subsequent resolution.
- PSBs will maintain 51% ownership in NARCL.
What is India Debt Resolution Company Ltd. (IDRCL)?
- IDRCL is a service company/operational entity which will manage the asset and engage market professionals and turnaround experts.
- Public Sector Banks (PSBs) and Public FIs will hold a maximum of 49% stake.
- GS 3: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
10% Ethanol blending: Context
- Recently, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has informed that the target of 10% blending under Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme has been achieved much ahead of the targeted timelines of November, 2022.
Ethanol blending target: Key points
- Due to the coordinated efforts of the Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), the country has attained an average 10% ethanol blending in petrol across the country.
- This achievement in the course of last 8 years has not only augmented India’s energy security but also translated into a forex impact of over Rs.41,500 crores, reduced GHG emissions of 27 lakh MT and also led to the expeditious payment of over Rs.40,600 crores to farmers.
Ethanol blending meaning: How it evolved?
- The ethanol-blended petrol (EBP) programme was first launched in 2003. It proposed blending of 5% ethanol in petrol in 9 states and 4 UTs.
- The efforts got reinvigorated after 2014 when the government decided to re-introduce administered price mechanism for ethanol to be procured under EBP programme.
- In 2018, National Policy on Biofuels was notified to achieve a 20% blending of biofuels with petrol by 2030.
- In 2020, National Biofuel Coordination Committee approved the utilisation of maize, sugar beet, sorghum etc, apart from sugarcane for making ethanol.
- In 2021, the objective of 20% blending gets advanced from 2030 to 2025.
Ethanol blending in petrol: Roadmap for ethanol blending
- Last year, our prime minister released the report on the roadmap for ethanol blending in India 2020-25. The roadmap was prepared by the expert committee instituted by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, under the chairmanship of Dr Rakesh Sarwal, NITI Aayog.
- The roadmap has pushed forward the year to achieve a 20% ethanol blended petrol or the E20 fuel supply from 2030 to 2025. The objective to achieve E10, however, remain the same—2022.
Ethanol blending in India: Benefits of ethanol-based fuel
The Ethanol-based fuel source has multipronged benefits.
- Ecological impact: This fuel has the potential to reduce the harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Gases like Carbon Monoxide, Oxides of Nitrogen and hydrocarbons have a significant contribution to air pollution. Ethanol blending can help in decreasing these emissions.
- Impact on consumer: E20 could decrease the fuel efficiency of our vehicles both, the 2-wheelers and the 4-wheelers. It is because the vehicles are not designed for E20 fuel. However, with engine modification, this drop in fuel efficiency could be neutralised.
- Economic impact: The use of ethanol can decrease our current account deficit. E20 program can reduce our import bills by Rs.30,000 per annum. It has the potential to have a multiplier effect on our economy.
- Effective waste management: Bioethanol can be produced from fruit and vegetable waste, crop residues, wood pulp, animal waste or garbage in general. It can help in managing the waste generated around us daily, apart from being a non-competing source to produce ethanol.
- Increasing farmer income: Ethanol production can diversify the source of income for the farmers. It will prove to be a boon for the farmers as they could get a better price for their produce.
- Strategic importance: India is one of the largest importers of crude oil. Becoming self-sufficient in fuel would make us less dependent on the other nations and, this could increase our bargaining power while establishing geopolitical relations with the world.
International Cooperation in disability sector
Disability and International Cooperation: India’s International Cooperation in disability sector is important for UPSC exam as it will come under society part of the syllabus of GS paper 1 and Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population along with International Relations of GS Paper 2.
Disability Sector in India in news
- On the occasion of celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM), Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment held a Press conference about the Achievements of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in the last 8 Years.
- On this occasion, we are going to highlight India’s International Cooperation in disability sector.
India’s International Cooperation in disability sector
- Signed UNCRPD: India has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and subsequently ratified the same on October 1, 2007.
- Part of Incheon Strategy: India is also a Party to the Incheon Strategy “To make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and Pacific Region since 2012.
- Participation in 2020 Paralympics: Participation of many disabled persons in Paralympics 2022 were facilitated by the government.
- Participants in the 2020 Paralympics held at Tokyo were felicitated by the Department of social justice and empowerment.
Bilateral Cooperation in Disability Sector
- India Australia Cooperation in Disability Sector: India has signed a MoU with Government of Australia for cooperation in disability sector in 2018.
- Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) Project is being implemented in collaboration of University of Melbourne which is in line with the area of cooperation mentioned in the said MoU.
- India Chile Cooperation in Disability Sector: In 2022, Union Cabinet has also approved the proposal of this Department to enter into a bilateral agreement with Government of Chile for cooperation in disability sector.
- India South Africa Cooperation: An MoU is under process to be signed with Government of South Africa for cooperation in disability sector.
Institutional Infrastructure in Disability Sector
- Two new National Institutes- Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) set up in 2015 and National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR) established in 2019.
- ISLRTC developed of ISL Dictionary. Launched 3rd Edition of the Dictionary with total 10000 terms in 2021.
- ISLRTC signed an MoU with NCERT in 2020 to convert textbooks of class I to XII into ISL (Digital Format).
- ISL e-content of NCERT textbooks of classes I-V launched on 23rd September, 2021.
- 13 new Composite Regional Centres as outreach/ extension centres of respective NIs established.
- Funding for National Institutes: Various buildings of National Institutes & their Regional & Composite Regional Centres (CRCs) constructed at a cost of Rs. 258.82 crores to facilitate smooth service delivery to PwDs.
- Centre for Disability Sports: It is set up at Gwalior to provide state-of-the art training facilities for Divyang Sports Persons which is likely to be made functional in 2022. Another such centre is proposed at Shillong.
- Awareness Generation: Department and office of CCPD jointly organized a two days’ sensitization workshop on 4th to 5th March, 2022 at Kevadia, Gujarat.
- It aimed to create awareness about the RPwD Act, 2016, various initiatives and the Schemes & Programmes of Government of India for empowerment and inclusion of Persons with Disabilities and roles and responsibilities of the States therein.
- GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Heavy water pollution: Context
- Recently, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has released a new report titled ‘State of Environment Report 2022’ where it has alarmed about the rising heavy metal pollution in Indian rivers.
River pollution in India: Key points
River monitoring station
- Three out of every four river monitoring stations in India posted alarming levels of heavy toxic metals such as lead, iron, nickel, cadmium, arsenic, chromium and copper.
- In about a fourth of the monitoring stations, high levels of two or more toxic metals were reported.
- Of the 33 monitoring stations in Ganga, 10 had high levels of contaminants.
- India has 764 river quality monitoring stations, which are spread across 117 rivers and tributaries.
- Central Water Commission tested water samples from 688 stations for heavy metals between August 2018 and December 2020.
Waste water treatment
- Of the 588 water quality stations monitored for pollution, total coliform and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) were high in 239 and 88 stations across 21 States.
- BOD is an indicator of poor wastewater treatment from industry, agriculture and domestic households.
- Central Pollution Control Board also reported that India dumps 72% of its sewage waste without treatment. Moreover, ten States do not treat their sewage at all.
- Over a third of India’s coastline saw some degree of erosion between 1990 and 2018.
- Among all the states, West Bengal is the worst hit with over 60% of its shoreline under erosion due to reasons like increase in frequency of cyclones, sea level rise and anthropogenic activities such as construction of harbours, beach mining and building of dams.
- The global average of the Ocean Health Index, which measures how sustainably humans are exploiting ocean resources has improved between 2012 and 2021. However, India’s score in the index has declined over the same period.
- India’s total forest cover has registered an increase of 0.5% between 2017 and 2021. The increase, however, was more in the open forest category, which includes commercial plantations.
- This has happened at the cost of moderately dense forest, which is normally the area closest to human habitations.
- At the same time, very dense forests, which absorb maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, occupy just 3% of total forest cover.
- India has a forest cover of 77.53 million hectares. But recorded forests—the area under the forest department— with forest cover are only 51.66 million. This gap of 25.87 million hectares —a size bigger than Uttar Pradesh— remains unaccounted.
National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI)
Relevance for UPSC Exam
National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI): National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI) will act as a research institute working towards development and welfare of the tribal communities. National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI) will come under governance policies and programs for welfare of tribal people.
National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI) in News
- As a part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebration by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the Minister of Home Affairs and Cooperation, Shri Amit Shah inaugurated the National Tribal Research Institute on the 7th of June 2022 in New Delhi.
National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI)
- About: National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI) will be the premier national institute for the promotion and preservation of Tribal Heritage and Culture.
- NTRI is also expected to become the nerve-center of tribal concerns, issues and matters in academic, executive and legislative fields.
- Location: National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI) will be located in New Delhi.
Key Functions of National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI)
- Collaboration: NTRI will collaborate and network with reputed research institutes, Universities, organizations as well as academic bodies and resource Centres.
- Monitoring: National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI) is entrusted with Monitoring projects of Tribal Research Institutes(TRIs), Centres of Excellence (CoEs), research scholars of NFS.
- NTRI will also set up norms for improvement in the quality of research and training.
- Policy Formulation: National Tribal Research Institute (NTRI) is also expected to provide policy inputs to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs as well as State Welfare Departments.
- Other Key Functions: NTRI is entrusted with-
- Design studies and programs that improve or support socio-economic aspects of tribal lifestyles,
- Creating and maintenance of Database of PMAAGY,
- Providing guidelines in Setting and running of Tribal Museums and Showcasing rich tribal cultural heritage of India under one umbrella.
Key Facts about Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM)
- About: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements.
- Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is an embodiment of all that is progressive about India’s socio-cultural, political, and economic identity.
- Celebrating People of India: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is dedicated to the people of India who have been instrumental in bringing India thus far in its evolutionary journey.
- People of India also hold within them the power and potential to enable the Prime Minister’s vision of activating India 2.0, fuelled by the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
- Beginning of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: The official journey of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” commenced on 12th March 2021 which starts a 75-week countdown to our 75th anniversary of Independence.
- Categorize: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is envisioned to be celebrated in five categories –
- Freedom Struggle,
- Idea @75,
- Achievements @75,
- Action @75 and
- Resolve @75
- GS 2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
- Recently, June 6 marked the completion of 25 years since the 1997 Bangkok Declaration launched a grouping of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, with the acronym, BIST-EC.
- Three countries (Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar) joined the grouping later to make it the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
- This unique set of five countries from South Asia and two from Southeast Asia are parents to an institution with an unwieldy name but lofty ambitions.
- At the grouping’s birth, the world was stamped by America’s ‘unipolar moment’.
- India and Thailand joined hands to start an experiment of infusing a part of South Asia with the economic and institutional dynamism, similar to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
- But BIMSTEC found the burdens of South Asia too heavy to carry, and so it grew slowly.
- Now in the third decade of the 21st century, the strategic contestation between the United States and China defines the region’s geopolitics and geo-economics, creating new tensions and opportunities.
BIMSTEC: Key achievements
- It has crafted a new Charter for itself, spelling out the grouping’s vision, functions of its constituent parts, and has secured a legal personality.
- It has prioritised the sectors of cooperation, reducing them from the unwieldy 14 to the more manageable seven, with each member-state serving as the lead country for the assigned sector.
- It has taken measures to strengthen the Secretariat, although some members are yet to extend adequate personnel support to it.
- Its success lies in its survival through the turns and twists of internal tensions. Example: The BIMSTEC region witnessed the influx of over a million Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, the result of oppression by the Myanmar military; and the grave political and economic crisis afflicting Sri Lanka.
- Unlike the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), post-2014, BIMSTEC has continued to hold its summits and meetings of Foreign Ministers.
- Unlike the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) which held only one summit since its establishment in 1997, BIMSTEC has succeeded in holding five summits so far; it has now resolved to hold regular summits once in two years.
- The grouping has also registered progress in combating terrorism, forging security cooperation, and creating mechanisms and practices for the better management of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
- A major failure relates to the continuing inability to produce a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) 18 years after the signing of the Framework Agreement.
- The other disappointment is connectivity — in infrastructure (roads, railways, air, river, and coastal shipping links), energy, the digital and financial domain, and institutions that bring people closer together for trade, tourism and cultural exchanges.
- Only limited progress has been achieved so far, despite the adoption of the Master Plan for Connectivity supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
- The grouping has talked about the Blue Economy but is yet to begin any work on it. Business chambers and corporate leaders are yet to be engaged fully with the activities of BIMSTEC.
- Heads of state and government need to assert their authority or abandon the FTA as an unachievable goal.
- In this Indo-Pacific century, the Bay of Bengal Community (BOBC) has the potential to play a pivotal role, deepening linkages between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
- It should accelerate the region’s economic development by collaborating with the newly minted Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). New synergy should be created between BIMSTEC and the IPEF.
- Finally, while all member-states are equal, three have a special responsibility: Bangladesh as the host of the BIMSTEC Secretariat; Thailand as the representative of Southeast Asia; and India as the largest state in South Asia. This trio must be the engine to pull the BIMSTEC train with imagination and determination.
The State Of Inequality
- The State of Inequality in India Report has released by Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM).
- The report has been written by the Institute for Competitiveness and presents a holistic analysis of the depth and nature of inequality in India.
About State of Inequality in India Report
- Consisting of two parts – Economic Facets and Socio-Economic Manifestations – the report looks at five key areas that influence the nature and experience of inequality.
- These are income distribution and labour market dynamics, health, education and household characteristics. Based on the data derived from various rounds of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) and UDISE+, each chapter is dedicated to explaining the current state of affairs, areas of concern, successes and failures in terms of infrastructural capacity and finally, the effect on inequality.
- The report stretches the narrative on inequality by presenting a comprehensive analysis that shapes the ecosystem of various deprivation in the country, which directly impacts the well-being of the population and overall growth.
- It is a study that cuts across the intersections of class, gender, and region and highlights how inequality affects the society.
State of Inequality Report on Income Inequality
- According to the state of inequality report by the Institute for Competitiveness, an Indian bringing in a monthly wage of R 25,000 is among the top 10 per cent of earners in the country.
- The share of the top 1% accounts for 6-7% of the total incomes earned, while the top 10% accounts for one-third of all incomes earned.
- The report, as if to dissuade a deep dive into the data, adds a cautionary note: “If an amount like this comes in the top 10 percentile, then the bottom-most condition cannot be imagined.”
- This study, commissioned by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, shows the wide chasm between the top and bottom earners.
- This gap is getting wider: while the income of the top 1 per cent of earners grew by 15 per cent in 2017-18 and 2019-20, that of the bottom 10 per cent earners fell by 1 per cent.
- This is a “failure of the trickle-down approach to economic growth,” says the report. So, if wealth is not trickling down, what happens to those at the bottom of the pyramid? Will they ever reach the peak, or even the top 10 per cent bracket (with the R25,000-a-month level)?
The World Inequality Report 2022
- According to World Inequality Report 2022, India stands out as a poor and very unequal country, with an affluent elite.
- Over 50 per cent of India’s population is without any significant wealth.
- Just like the wealth that a billionaire’s children inherit serves as their critical capital to pursue prosperity, the progress of the children of those without wealth is stifled in absence of inheritance. “People accumulate wealth across generations through inheritance. It has a snowball effect. This is why the rich section’s wealth grows faster.
- While the income of India’s top 1% earners grew by 15% in 2017-18 and 2019-20, that of the bottom 10% earners fell by 1%
Impact of Rising Food Inflation on Income Inequality
- The rate of food inflation has more than doubled in the last one year.
- A recent World Bank estimate shows that one percentage rise in food prices will push 10 million people into extreme poverty.
- These are the people at the bottom of the income pyramid.
- The fact that their number is growing under severely unfavourable conditions means they will never be able to bridge the income gap.
The information available on inequality, which this report brings out, will help formulate reform strategies, a roadmap for social progress and shared prosperity.