DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS ANALYSIS
09 JULY 2022
|About the QUAD Grouping
|Prelims & Mains
|Details of the Energy Poverty
|Prelims & Mains
|About the Gati Shakti Mission
|Prelims & Mains
|Details of the Defence Exports in India
|Prelims Specific Topic
1 – About the QUAD Grouping:
Topic – International Relations
- It is also known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD).
- The informal QUAD group is made up of India, the US, Japan, and Australia.
- To ensure an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, varied, and prosperous is the aim of the strategic dialogue.
- The nations share the following values:
- Market-based economies
- Culturally diverse societies
- A Quick History of QUAD:
- A Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was proposed in 2007 by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
- Australia was unwilling to participate, hence it was unable to happen.
- In December 2012, Shinzo Abe revived the concept of Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond and enlisted Australia, India, Japan, and the US.
- The objective was to safeguard the maritime commons from the western Pacific to the Indian Ocean.
- The QUAD Coalition received a new makeover in November 2017 thanks to the active participation of the US, Australia, Japan, US, and India.
- The objective was to keep the Indo-sea Pacific’s lanes for navigation open and wide.
- The “Quad” framework was discussed at the first meeting of the four countries’ foreign ministers, which took place in New York in September 2019.
- Quadrilateral meetings are typical in 2020. However, this one was special since it featured three additional Indo-Pacific countries: Vietnam, South Korea, and New Zealand.
- Why QUAD is important to India:
- Due to recent standoffs on the Indo-China Border and Russia’s refusal to step in and apply pressure, India is looking into other options for limiting Chinese influence.
- India has the opportunity to step up and take the lead in developing the world’s manufacturing hub due to the turmoil in the world and the opaque Chinese systems post-COVID.
- India might increase its soft power by leveraging its expertise in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industries.
- Furthermore, the US and Japan are looking to relocate their industrial operations out of China in an effort to curb China’s aggressive behaviour.
- As part of the SAGAR programme, India wants to become an internet security provider across the Indian Ocean.
- Through QUAD cooperation for the building of naval installations, India might get access to a number of crucial locations.
- India has supported a multipolar, rule-based world, and QUAD can assist it in achieving its ambition to become a regional superpower.
- Problems that QUAD is facing:
- Official objection from China: China has made it clear that it disagrees with the QUAD meetings.
- It’s known as the Asian NATO.
- Supply chains and trade: As of late, it has been noted that China is aiming to use its clout in trade and business to put pressure on other nations, particularly China and Japan.
- Recently, the Australian coal-carrying ship MV Anastasia was stranded for more than a month near the Chinese shore.
- China put in jeopardy the supply of rare earth metals to the Japanese electronics industry.
- The Corona outbreak caused China to shut down, which had an impact on the worldwide supply chain.
- Chinese Proximity to ASEAN: Since the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed, ASEAN and China have grown closer.
- Cheque Book Diplomacy in China China uses a number of tactics, such as the One Belt, One Road Initiative, the Maritime Silk Route, unsustainable debt and project finance, etc., to woo small countries.
- Different QUAD Nation Aspirations: India’s attempt to strike a balance between QUAD and RIC could damage the coherence of QUAD (Russia, India and China),
- Australia has historically opposed QUAD, therefore Japan and the US are working with China to achieve their own economic goals.
- Additionally, there are contradictions in the Indo-Pacific geographical notion.
- QUAD-related recent minister of external affairs opinions:
- Comprehensive and Detailed Agenda:
- The Chinese claim that QUAD is a “Exclusive Cliques” that targets other countries, however QUAD actually has a range of objectives for cooperation.
- The Age of Plurilateralism: Today’s multilateralism is unable to address the urgent problems at hand
- However, bilateralism also has disadvantages.
- Then, different plurilateral groupings can combine their funds and resources to push the right rule-based agendas and order.
- Plurilateral groups that are related:
- Similar multilateral agreements are being negotiated in other parts of the Indo-Pacific. France, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and other nations are active players.
- The QUAD nations are renowned for upholding international law and favouring rule-based order, which makes them an agent of unification as opposed to disunity.
- They have also served as a role model for collaboration and integration in the region.
- In this consultative process, the middle ground—which is typically the best course—has been picked.
- India has consistently been the first nation in the Indian Ocean region to respond to disasters because to initiatives like SAGAR.
- How to Proceed:
- Strengthening Blue Dot Network: The four countries must pool their resources to counter China’s economic might rather than just enabling it to act as an agency for approving infrastructure projects.
- Coherent strategy: To deal with China, the member countries must develop a coordinated plan rather than acting unilaterally.
- Formalize the conversations: QUAD might become more structured if the debates are made more formal.
- In the struggle against Chinese exploration and imperialism in the Indo-Pacific, QUAD can be a potent weapon.
Source – The Indian Express
2 – Details of the Energy Poverty:
Topic – Types of Poverty/Environment Conservation
- Issues with India’s electricity industry:
- India still has a significant energy poverty problem; there are 31 million rural families and roughly five million urban households that have not yet been linked to the grid, which is the biggest number of any one nation. Rural homes with connections still don’t have access to enough supplies in terms of quantity and quality.
- The central government has budgetary provisions to pay the expense of electrification and has set an ambitious goal of connecting all remaining households by the end of March 2019.
- State administrations have already pledged to supplying all residences with continuous power as part of a Center-State cooperative project on “Power for All” starting in April 2019. The goal of providing everyone with access to inexpensive, dependable, clean energy is not without its challenges.
- The disparities in access to power by region have continued. 90% of non-electrified households are located in seven States: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. By coincidence, two-thirds of the population in these States lives below the poverty line and these States are poorly ranked in social development indexes. The pursuit of universal access will be hampered by the coexistence of economic and energy poverty.
- Problems with Distribution:
- The debt held by electricity distribution companies (DISCOMS) in these seven States, which made up 42% of all DISCOMS’ total debt as of March 2016, is already very high. 17 percent of the States’ total liabilities are made up of their debts.
- The capacity of the distribution network presents the other key difficulty. India has adopted an expansionist strategy for electrification, frequently motivated by political factors, with little focus on increasing capacity and making the system future-proof.
- Due to the increased demand, the distribution system is now overstretched, which results in significant technical losses and frequent breakdowns. In numerous States, the capacity of the distribution networks is insufficient to transport the available electricity.
- Due to the underutilization of their contracted generation capacities, DISCOMS have begun using load shedding. The quality and dependability of the supply will only be jeopardised by adding more load to the already vulnerable distribution network. The impoverished in remote areas can continue to experience blackouts during busy hours as a result.
- Governmental Programs:
- Creating state-specific action plans for “24-hour power for everybody” that address the distribution system, transmission capacity, and generation needs.
- The updated tariff policy is centred on the “4 Es,” or “Electricity for Everyone,” which stands for “Energy for All,” “Efficiency,” “Environment,” and “Ease of Doing Business,” which stands for “Attracting Investments,” “Ensuring Financial Viability,” and “Environment for a Sustainable Future.”
- Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), a programme for rural communities, is being introduced
- The plan calls for (a) separating feeders for agricultural from those for non-agriculture, (b) bolstering and expanding the sub-transmission and distribution network in rural areas, including metering at distribution transformers, feeders, and consumers’ ends, and (c) electrifying rural areas.
- Launch of the Urban Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS): The plan calls for (a) improving distribution and sub-transmission networks in urban regions; (b) metering distribution transformers, feeders, and consumers in urban areas; and (c) enhancing the IT capabilities of the distribution sector and improving distribution network.
- Power System Development Fund (PSDF) operationalization:
- The PSDF will be applied to projects put forth by distribution utilities for things like (a) building a vital transmission network of strategic importance, (b) installing shunt capacitors and other devices to improve the voltage profile in the grid, (c) putting in place regular and unique protection plans, and (d) renovating and modernising transmission and distribution systems to relieve congestion, among other things.
- Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) launch: The programme has been introduced to help Discoms turn around their finances and operational situation.
- Initiatives made to lower the cost of coal-based power projects’ generation:
- Increasing domestic coal supplies;
- Flexibility in the use of coal
- Rationalization of coal-related links
- PM Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (PM-Saubhagya):
- A brand-new programme called the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or “Saubhagya,” aims to electrify all willing families nationwide, including in urban and rural areas. SAUBHAGYA’s goal of supplying the entire country with electricity and ensuring energy security goes beyond that.
- Modern technology will be used for the household survey via Mobile App in order to facilitate and expedite the Scheme’s implementation. The nodal organisation for the nationwide implementation of the programme will continue to be the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC).
- The following is the predicted consequence of the Scheme:
- Kerosene substitution for lighting purposes improves the environment
- Enhanced educational services
- Improved medical services
- Improved connectivity via radio, tv, mobile devices, etc.
- Increased employment and economic activity
- Improved standard of living, particularly for women
- By the end of March 2019, the government hopes to have electrified every home. The ability of the Center and States to provide necessary capital expenditures, timely upgrades in transmission and distribution networks, and covering the expenses of servicing less lucrative loads will determine if the Target of 31st March 2019 is met.
- The government is now concentrating on delivering electricity connections under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana since all 597,464 census villages received energy last month (Saubhagya). By December 2018, the government wants to have electrical connections in every home in India, and REC would be in charge of carrying out Saubhagya.
- Free electricity is just the beginning. The following step should be to consider the cost and quality of the electricity. Even though India is said to be a power-surplus country, the utilities for producing electricity are still incredibly underutilised. Although the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) hasn’t had much success in reshaping the debt of State distribution agencies, further efforts should be made in that direction.
- After consultation with numerous stakeholders, the DISCOMS should be given the freedom to supply demand while selling at a profit.
- The issue could be somewhat improved by putting in place some relevant measures like smart metres, infrastructure improvements, and franchisee agreements with neighbourhood self-help groups (for more efficient billing, monitoring, and collection).
- Consumer integrity and reducing DISCOM losses are essential for success. The rural economy as a whole, including farms, schools, hospitals, and small enterprises, might be sustained with the help of distributed generation in addition to the centralised grid to address both issues. Consumer satisfaction would increase if energy actually starts to promote affluence in rural India.
Source – The Hindu
3 – About the Gati Shakti Mission:
Topic – Government Policies and Interventions/Investment related issues
- PM Gati Shakti: What is it?
- With the goal of guaranteeing comprehensive planning and execution of infrastructure projects, PM GatiShakti is a digital platform that integrates 16 ministries, including Roads and Highways, Railways, Shipping, Petroleum and Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, and Aviation.
- To institutionalise comprehensive planning for significant infrastructure projects is the goal of PM Gati Shakti. The projects would combine infrastructure plans from multiple ministries and state governments, including as the Bharatmala road project, Sagarmala waterways plan, ports, and the UDAN initiative, and they will be conceived and carried out with a shared vision.
- Coverage: To increase connectivity and boost the competitiveness of Indian firms, economic zones such as textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, and agri zones will be covered.
- Additionally, it will make substantial use of technology, including tools for spatial planning that use satellite imagery from ISRO. Projects will be monitored in real time using this.
- What services would the PM Gati Shakti offer?
- Planning and obtaining clearances: To assist in planning and obtaining clearances, the portal will provide 200 layers of geospatial data, including information on current infrastructure, such as roads, highways, railways, and toll plazas, as well as geographic data about forests, rivers, and district boundaries.
- Project tracking in one place: The portal will also enable multiple government departments to keep track of a variety of projects, particularly those with a multi-sectoral and multi-regional impact, in real time.
- Set project priorities: Using Gati Shakti, several departments will be able to do so through cross-sectoral contacts.
- Project clearances: Depending on the project’s location, the portal will also indicate all the approvals that are required. Stakeholders can then request for these clearances from the appropriate government immediately on the portal. The goal is to speed up the procedure and reduce the time needed for clearances.
- How can PM Gati Shakti aid India’s advancement?
- Outpace the effects of the epidemic on the economy: The Covid-19 Pandemic decreased GDP growth, caused significant job losses, and had a negative impact on salaries and consumption. Along with bringing in significant investments, the infrastructure projects will raise demand for goods and commodities, create jobs, and enhance employment.
- By reducing the effects of the epidemic, the Indian economy can achieve a strong development trajectory if the Gati Shakti National Master Plan is executed quickly.
- Resolve logistics issues: A study found that the cost of logistics in India is between 13 and 14 percent of GDP, compared to 7-8 percent in wealthy nations. India would be able to lower its logistical costs thanks to the scheme.
- The strategy aims to increase cargo handling capacity and shorten turnaround times at ports to increase trade in addition to lowering logistical expenses.
- Support the expansion of industrial parks and economic zones: Currently, a number of industrial parks and economic zones are unable to operate at a level of productivity consistent with their full potential due to ineffective and disjointed multimodal connectivity.
- The GatiShakti platform would improve last-mile connectivity by combining infrastructure programmes run by multiple ministries and state governments.
- Reduce implementation overlaps: Currently, poor infrastructure planning leads to a number of difficulties. For instance, the water department is digging up newly constructed roadways to lay pipes and build various tunnels for highways and railroads in the same area.
- Such implementation overlaps can be prevented with the help of the national master plan. For instance, the Power Ministry can start initiatives to ensure that trains can instantly have access to power upon completion of the tracks if a railway line is being built, while the Ministry of Road Transport may quickly issue authorization for an overpass.
- PM Gati Shakti would address the issue of government departments and Ministries operating in silos in order to save public money. Macro planning and micro implementation are far apart, and there are issues with infra project coordination and a lack of advanced knowledge. The building is hampered, and money is wasted.
- The National Master Plan will address this since operating under the master plan’s framework will maximise resource utilisation and minimise cost and time overruns. This will enable the government to save hundreds of billions of rupees from taxpayers.
- Reduce the need for human intervention within the ministry: At the moment, inter-ministerial concerns that come up about a project are discussed in frequent meetings of ministries that deal with infrastructure. Since ministries would be in continual contact thanks to the Gati Shakti portal, the amount of human interaction needed will be reduced.
- What difficulties does PM Gati Shakti face in carrying out his duties?
- State-level investments: The importance of active Centre-State partnerships for infrastructure development was highlighted in the Economic Survey for 2020–21. For FY 2021 and FY 2022, the Survey forecasts the highest levels of spending in NIP areas including electricity, roads, urban infrastructure, and railways, with nearly 8.5 lakh crore to be invested annually by each side.
- The state governments lack the resources to make such substantial investments in light of the pandemic and its accompanying difficulties. The master plan’s implementation will be delayed as a result.
- Low Loan Off-take: The growth rate for credit off-take has sharply decreased, falling to 5.8 percent in November 2020 from 14.2 percent in 2013, according to the RBI research. As a result, less money will be invested privately in infrastructure projects. Since banks don’t want to have another Non-Performing Asset (NPA) crisis in the future, there are currently concerns about the lowering trends in their lending offtake.
- The following important infrastructural issues are not addressed by the plan:
- The main barrier to India’s development is frequently land acquisition. Land acquisition problems cause a lot of development projects to be delayed. Furthermore, the expenses associated with many projects rise as a result of these delays, making them less effective and more expensive to build. Other problems include those related to lawsuits, alienating local communities, and breaking environmental laws, among others.
- According to international standards, these problems result in an extremely slow rate of project implementation. These significant problems have limited to no potential solutions in the Gati Shakti master plan.
- How can India make PM Gati Shakti’s implementation better?
- Discuss a few important issues: India must address structural and macroeconomic stability issues resulting from large public spending in order to properly implement PM Gati Shakti.
- Make decisions about land acquisition: Given the master plan’s access to Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing tools, officials would be wise to recapture areas that have already been vulnerable to degradation and pollution rather than alienate fresh parcels that are up for debate.
- Fix the credit offtake issue: According to the Economic Survey for 2020–21, India needs 4.5 lakh crore in private sector investments each year to grow NIP sectors. Therefore, in order for effective private investments to be made, the government must address the difficulties related to poor credit offtake.
- Add optical fibres along with train lines and gas pipelines to integrate digital features into all areas of life. In order to aggregate demand and supply, India also requires digital solutions. The Gati Shakti programme can achieve this by bringing open networks and open protocols together.
- For its several projects, like the Dravyavati River Rejuvenation Project, Tata Projects has previously been implementing such technical solutions. Similar to this, the US has created software platforms that result in 30 to 40% savings.
- India needs to make improvements to its roadways in order to ensure a steady flow of goods. Roads should be made smarter with automated traffic monitoring, drone-based assistance, and drone-based asset maintenance monitoring.
- Gati Shakti will increase economic growth, draw foreign investment, and improve the nation’s global competitiveness, allowing for easy transportation of goods, people, and services and generating job possibilities. As a result, the PM Gati Shakti will assist India in realising its goal of becoming the global “business capital.” But for the project to succeed, all of the difficulties must be resolved first.
Source – The Indian Express
4 – Details of the Defence Exports in India:
Prelims Specific Topic
- Facts about Defence Exports from India:
- For the period between 2015 and 2019, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) listed India as the 23rd largest exporter of guns.
- Still, only 0.17 percent of the world’s weaponry exports come from India.
- A recent $375 million Brahmos deal with the Philippines has been reached.
- India’s defence exports have increased by an astounding 700 percent between 2016–17 and 2018–19.
- In the fiscal year 2020–21, the value of defence exports, including main items, was $8,434.84 crore. 10,000 crore was the export goal for the fiscal year 2021–2022.
- By 2025, India has set an ambitious goal for itself: a manufacturing turnover of $25 billion, or 1,75,000 crore, including exports of 35,000 crores in goods and services related to aerospace and defence.
- Details of Destination nations:
- Italia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Russia, France, Nepal, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Israel, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Poland, Spain, and Chile are just a few of the nations to which more than 30 Indian defence companies have exported weapons and equipment.
- Personal protective equipment, defence electronics, engineering mechanical equipment, offshore patrol boats, advanced light helicopters, avionics suits, radio systems, and radar systems are among the exports.
- Low exports are due to following reasons:
- India’s Ministry of Defence now lacks a specific agency to promote exports, which is the cause of the poor performance of its defence exports.
- Exports are left to private businesses like BrahMos or government-run defence shipyards and projects.
- It will not only improve India’s defence exports if it is successful in selling expensive military systems to its neighbours, but it will also be a geopolitical move against China’s influence as China sells defence goods across Asia, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
- Government initiatives to support exports of defence goods:
- Simplified licencing for the defence industry
- Easing export restrictions and issuing certificates of no objection (NOC)
- To expedite authorization for the export of significant defence platforms, a committee made up of the defence minister, the minister of external relations, and the national security advisor has been established.
- Opening lines of credit (LoC) with foreign nations to bring in goods for the defence industry
Source – The Hindu