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News Analysis: 15-12-2018
General Studies-III : Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Falling food prices will intensify rural distress; the solution is meaningful agricultural reform
The days when inflation could topple governments appear to be gone. It is now time for the government to worry about falling prices, especially of food.
Retail inflation dropped to a 17-month low of 2.33% in November, as compared to 3.31% in October, primarily due to the fall in the prices of various essential food items.
Food prices fell by a huge 6.96 percentage points compared to a year ago and, at minus 2.61%, are now in deflationary territory for the second successive month.
The fall in inflation is obviously good news for consumers, particularly those in urban India who are happy to pay less for their purchases; also for the Reserve Bank of India, which will now have more room for manoeuvre in the matter of interest rates.
But it is bad news for the producers of basic food items who are located in the distress-affected rural parts of the country, with falling farm incomes also impacting landless labour and rural demand.
At the heart of this problem is the unpredictability of farm prices, which are known to exhibit extreme levels of volatility owing to various supply-side issues that plague the agricultural sector.
Though farmer producer companies have stepped in with help and guidance to farmers to use hedging tools to minimise price risks, they are too few and far between to make a difference.
And even when their produce finally commanded impressive prices in the retail market, the cartelised agricultural marketing system has made sure that farmers received little to nothing.
Ahead of the general election next year, State governments across the country are likely to resort to short-term relief measures such as farm loan waivers to temporarily relieve farmers of their deep distress.
Further, with the issue of rural distress now expected to significantly affect the general election verdict, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress are already engaged in a competitive battle to offer the highest extent of loan waiver to farmers.
There will also be pressure to announce higher minimum support prices for various agricultural goods.
It is another matter that no government has ever had the wherewithal to deliver on such lofty promises. In fact, the poor implementation of MSPs is one of the reasons for farmers taking to the streets in protest.
The Centre may prod the new RBI Governor to adopt a more dovish monetary policy stance in the run-up to the election citing falling inflation figures.
But none of these measures will help farmers, who have increasingly taken the protest route of late to make their demands heard, in any meaningful manner in the long run.
Real agricultural reform is crucial to enable farmers to freely make their own business decisions without the grabbing hand of the government.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
National Medical Devices Promotion Council to be set up under DIPP
To give a fillip to the medical device sector, which is a sunrise sector, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, announced setting up of a National Medical Devices Promotion Council under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
Commerce Minister was speaking at a programme on the occasion of 4th WHO Global Forum on Medical Devices, at Andhra Pradesh Medtech Zone, in Vishakhapatnam today.
The Medical Devices Industry (MDI) plays a critical role in the healthcare ecosystem and is indispensable to achieve the goal of health for all citizens of the country.
The manufacturing and trade in MDI is growing steadily which includes a wide range of products.
Although the industry has been growing in double digits but is predominantly import-driven with imports accounting for over 65% of the domestic market.
The National Medical Devices Promotion Council will have the following objectives and activities:
Act as a facilitating and promotion & developmental body for the Indian MDI.
Hold periodic seminars, workshops and all related networking activities to garner views of the industry and understand best global practices in the sector and deliberate on various parameters for inclusion in the industrial and trade policies in medical devices.
Identify redundant processes and render technical assistance to the agencies and departments concerned to simplify the approval processes involved in medical device industry promotion & development.
Enable entry of emerging interventions and support certifications for manufacturers to reach levels of global trade norms and lead India to an export driven market in the sector.
Support dissemination and documentation of international norms and standards for medical devices, by capturing the best practices in the global market and facilitate domestic manufacturers to rise to international level of understanding of regulatory and non regulatory needs of the industry.
Drive a robust and dynamic Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy, by identifying the strengths of the Indian manufacturers and discouraging unfair trade practices in imports; while ensuring pro-active monitoring of public procurement notices across India to ensure compliance with PMA guidelines of DIPP and DoP.
Undertake validation of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) and other such entities within MDI sector, which add value to the industry strength in manufacturing to gain foothold for new entrants.
Make recommendations to government based on industry feedback and global practices on policy and process interventions to strengthen the medical technology sector, including trade interventions for related markets.
General Studies-III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.
ECO Niwas Samhita 2018 - an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings launched
Implementation of this Code expected to save 125 Billion Units of electricity per year by 2030, which is equivalent to 100 million ton of CO2 emission
26 industrial units get National Energy Conservation Awards for excellent performance in energy efficiency; 19 school children win National Painting Competition prizes
Giving a further fillip to India’s energy conservation efforts, Ministry of Power has launched the ECO Niwas Samhita 2018,an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (ECBC-R).
TheCode was launched on the occasion of National Energy ConservationDay 2018 in the presence of Chief Guest Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha and Shri R.K. Singh, Minister of State (IC) for Power and New &Renewable Energy here, today.
The implementation of this Codeis willgive a fillip to energy efficiency in residential sector.
It aimstobenefit the occupants and the environment by promotingenergy efficiency in design and construction of homes, apartments and townships.
General Studies-II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.
End Sri Lanka’s crisis
Rajapaksa’s resignation is the first step, but the President must reinstate Wickremesinghe
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to resign as Prime Minister, an office to which he was controversially installed by President Maithripala Sirisena, is the first sign that the dragging constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka is heading slowly towards a resolution.
He had also played a part in the unfolding of the crisis set off by Mr. Sirisena, who made ill-advised moves by invoking his executive powers repeatedly for political and partisan ends.
The two leaders had come together against common rival Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was removed as Prime Minister unceremoniously on October 26 to make way for Mr. Rajapaksa.
However, they saw little success either in Parliament or before the courts. Despite Mr. Rajapaksa failing to prove his majority in several motions in the House, he had steadfastly remained in office, seeking fresh elections instead of stepping down.
Sri Lanka’s politics and economy have been caught in a downward spiral due to a constitutional crisis since Mr. Sirisena appointed Mr. Rajapaksa as Prime Minister.
However, Mr. Rajapaksa was unable, or unwilling, to demonstrate the extent of his support in Parliament. At one point the President prorogued Parliament, and later dissolved it.
However, the Supreme Court restored the legislature in an interim order. Thereafter, in a series of votes, a majority of the 225-strong House has been voting against Mr. Rajapaksa.
Mr. Rajapaksa’s resignation offer has come at a time when several parliamentarians moved the country’s Court of Appeal seeking a writ of quo warranto for Mr. Rajapaksa’s removal.
In an interim order, the court restrained him from functioning as Prime Minister.
The absence of clarity on whether there was a legitimate government in office placed other countries and multilateral financial institutions in a quandary as to who they should deal with.
Mr. Rajapaksa’s resignation may pave the way for the installation of a government that enjoys a majority in Parliament.
Meanwhile, the President’s credibility has taken yet another beating after the Supreme Court ruled categorically that his dissolution of Parliament on November 9 was illegal and void.
The court has rejected his claim that he had an unfettered right to dissolve Parliament at any time, notwithstanding provisions in the Constitution that barred such action for the first four and a half years of the legislature’s term.
The court dismissed his camp’s attempt to stretch and twist the meaning of some constitutional provisions in order to justify his bizarre actions.
Although Mr. Sirisena has been obstinately sticking to his position that he will not appoint Mr. Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister “even if all 225 members” were with him, there are indications he may be forced to alter his stand.
Nothing short of respecting the current composition of Parliament and reinstating Mr. Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister will solve the current imbroglio.
Source: The Hindu
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