Editorial – 1
Title of the editorial: No fireworks
Topic in syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.| Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth,
development and employment. (GS-3)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about the issue of air pollution due to fire-crackers & need of alternate livelihood for fire-cracker industry workers.
- In the year of the COVID19 pandemic, it should surprise no one that the National Green Tribunal has prohibited the sale and use of firecrackers during Deepavali in the National Capital Region of Delhi and in urban centres that recorded poor or worse air quality in November last year. The directions expand on Supreme Court orders issued in the past, and provide some concessions to cities and towns that have moderate or better air quality, by allowing “green crackers” and specified hours for bursting.
Why is there a necessity to prohibit crackers?
- By the government’s own admission, there were 148 days of poor to severe air quality during 2019 in the NCR, down from 206 days the previous year.
- With 40% of all pollution-linked deaths attributed to bad air quality in leading emerging economies and some evidence from the U.S. on higher COVID19 mortality in highly polluted areas.
What should government do?
- As the impact of COVID19 became clear in March, and there were fears of a case surge during the winter, it was incumbent on the Centre to work with States and resolutely prevent the burning of farm stubble ahead of Deepavali.
- Even without the risk of a COVID19 surge, it should be evident to policymakers that their measures under the National Clean Air Programme, which seeks to reduce particulate matter pollution by 20% to 30% by 2024, must be demonstrably effective.
economic impact of prohibition & suggestions for government:
- Tamil Nadu, where 90% of firecrackers are produced, has legitimate concerns on the fate of the industry this year, which, producers claim, represents about ₹2,300 crore worth of output.
- A transparent compensation scheme for workers, and suitable relief for producers may be necessary, although the longerterm solution might lie in broad basing economic activity in the Sivakasi region, reducing reliance on firecrackers.
Editorial – 2
Title of the editorial: Lessons from Vietnam and Bangladesh
Written by: Ajay Srivastava- He is an Indian Trade Service officer.
Topic in syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth,
development and employment. (GS-3)
Analysis about: This editorial discuss what can we learn & what we should avoid from the success stories of Bangladesh & Vietnam in trade.
- The Economic Complexity Index (ECI): It is a holistic measure of the productive capabilities of large economic systems, usually cities, regions, or countries. In particular, the ECI looks to explain the knowledge accumulated in a population and that is expressed in the economic activities present in a city, country, or region. It shows how diversified and complex country’s manufacturing export basket is.
- Export to GDP ratio (EGR): It shows the percentage of exports of a country in its value of gross domestic product.
- Bangladesh has become the second largest apparel exporter after China.
- Vietnam’s exports have grown by about 240% in the past eight years.
What contributed to Vietnam’s success?
- An open trade policy, a less inexpensive workforce, and generous incentives to foreign firms.
- Vietnam pursues an open trade policy mainly through Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) which ensure that its important trading partners like the U.S., the EU, China, Japan, South Korea and India do not charge import duties on products made in Vietnam.
- Vietnam’s domestic market is open to the partners’ products. For example, 99% of EU products will soon enter Vietnam duty-free.
- Foreign firms can compete for local businesses in Vietnam.
What is the result of these policies?
- Large brands such as Samsung, Canon, Foxconn, H&M, Nike, Adidas, and IKEA have flocked to Vietnam to manufacture their products.
- Last year, Vietnam received investments exceeding $16 billion. As a result, Vietnam’s exports rose from $83.5 billion in 2010 to $279 billion in 2019.
- Trade has created wealth and employment and lifted millions above the poverty level in less than two decades. (In Bangladesh too)
Issues with Vietnam & their policies:
- Most of Vietnam’s exports happen in five sectors.
- The quick build-up of exports in Vietnam resulted from large MNC investments. But most of its electronics exports are just the final assembly of goods produced elsewhere. In such cases, national exports look large, but the net dollar gain is small.
- Vietnam’s EGR is 107%. Such high dependence on exports brings dollars but also makes a country vulnerable to global economic uncertainty.
What contributed to Bangladesh’s success?
- The EU allows the import of apparel and other products from least developed countries (LDCs) like Bangladesh duty-free.
- Bangladesh is working smartly to diversify its export basket. India, as a good neighbour, accepts all Bangladesh products duty-free (except alcohol and tobacco).
- Bangladesh supported large firms.
Which elements of Vietnam and Bangladesh models should India emulate? (& which should not)
- The key learning from Bangladesh is the need to support large firms for a quick turnover.
- India’s exports are more diversified. The ECI rank for China is 32, India 43, Vietnam 79, and Bangladesh 127.
- India, unlike Vietnam, has a developed domestic and capital market. To further promote manufacturing and investment, India could set up sectoral industrial zones with preapproved factory spaces.
- A firm should walk in to start operations in a few weeks. There should be no need to search for land or obtain many approvals.
- The EGR of large economies/exporting countries is a much smaller number. The U.S.’s EGR is 11.7%, Japan’s is 18.5%, India’s is 18.7%.
- Export should not be pursued at the expense of other sectors of the economy.
- The need is to focus on organic economic growth through innovation and competitiveness.
- With reforms promoting innovation and lowering the cost of doing business, India is poised to attract the best investments and integrate further with the global economy.
Editorial – 3
Title of the editorial: The cost of clearing the air
Written by: Jacob Koshy
Topic in syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. (GS-3) | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising
out of their design and implementation. (GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about how budgetary allocations alone don’t reflect the true cost of reducing air pollution.
- In February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a ₹4,400 crore package for 202021 to tackle air pollution in 102 of India’s most polluted cities.
- The funds would be used to reduce particulate matter by 20%-30% from 2017 levels by 2024 under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) though it isn’t clear yet what the budgetary outlays for subsequent years are likely to be.
What is the problem?
- Only half the money was finally allotted to 15 States (and 42 cities in them) in November. The rest will be given in January based on how cities achieve certain ‘performance parameters’ that are still being worked out by the Centre.
- It is unclear if this amount is adequate to handle the task of improving air quality.
- How? – The scale of the problem is unknown. Delhi, after being the epitome of pollution for at
least two decades, has only in the last two years managed to firmly install an extensive network of continuous ambient air quality monitors.
- An analysis by research agencies Carbon Copy and Respirer Living Sciences recently found that only 59 out of 122 cities had PM 2.5 data available. Historically, cites have used manual machines to measure specified pollutants and their use has been inadequate.
- Now manual machines are being replaced by automatic ones and India is still largely reliant on imported machines.
- The funds don’t account for the trained manpower and the support system necessary to effectively maintain the systems and these costs are likely to be significant.
- budgetary allocations alone don’t reflect the true cost of reducing air pollution.
How money alone doesn’t work?
- In the case of the National Capital Region, at least ₹600 crores were spent by the Ministry of Agriculture over two years to provide subsidised equipment to farmers in Punjab and Haryana and dissuade them from burning paddy straw. Yet this year, there have been more farm fires than in the previous year and their contribution to Delhi’s winter air woes remain unchanged.
- While funds are critical, proper enforcement, adequate staff and stemming the sources of pollution on the ground are vital to the NCAP meeting its target.