DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC|25 JUN 2021|RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

25 June 2021 - Friday

Index

 

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

The rural economy can jump-start a revival

The Hindu

2

J&K talks through a wide lens

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

Staging a comeback, re-energising India’s Africa policy

SyllabusGS 2: IR

Analysis: –

  • Africa is considered a foreign policy priority by India.
  • The Narendra Modi government designed a forward-looking strategy to deepen relations with African countries.
  • Its implementation was managed quite well, with much political will invested in expanding the multi-faceted engagement.
  • Even as the COVID-19 era began in March 2020, New Delhi took new initiatives to assist Africa through prompt despatch of medicines and later vaccines.
  • According to the Confederation of Indian Industry, in 2020-21, India’s exports to and imports from Africa stood, respectively, at $27.7 billion and $28.2 billion, a reduction of 4.4% and 25% over the previous year.
  • Thus, bilateral trade valued at $55.9 billion in 2020-21, fell by $10.8 billion compared to 2019-20, and $15.5 billion compared to the peak year of 2014-15.
  • India’s top five markets today are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and Togo. The countries from which India imports the most are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Angola and Guinea.
  • India’s top three exports to Africa are mineral fuels and oils (processed petroleum products), pharmaceutical products and vehicles. Mineral fuels and oils, (essentially crude oil) and pearls, precious or semi-precious stones are the top two imports accounting for over 77% of our imports from Africa.

In Meghalaya, outrage over felling of heritage pine trees for road

SyllabusGS 3: Environment

Analysis: –

  • The felling of several iconic pine trees for widening a road in Meghalaya capital Shillong has triggered outrage, forcing the State government to intervene.
  • Most of these coniferous trees, among the hill town’s USPs, were more than 100 years old.
  • Green activists said the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) took advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown to chop the pine trees locals were attached to.
  • But the government swung into action on June 23 after photos and videos of the logs lying beside the road from the town’s Rilbong Bridge to Upper Shillong went viral.
  • This stretch of the road is part of the 71 km Shillong-Dawki four-lane project estimated to cost ₹1,251 crore. Dawki is a trade point on the border with Bangladesh.

Mains Analysis

The rural economy can jump-start a revival

Why in News?

The Government needs to reverse its neglect and policy missteps as key indicators show the sector has resilience.

Syllabus— GS 3- Indian Economy, Inclusive growth

Background: –

  • The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic could be slowly receding with a decline in the official estimates of daily infections and deaths.
  • The economy is also very gradually getting back to normal, with many States beginning to ease some of the restrictions imposed in their lockdowns.
  • However, the challenge of an economic recovery is far more serious than the health pandemic despite official claims of there being an economic recovery.

The Statistics: –

  • National Statistical Office (NSO) released the estimates of the Indian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the fiscal year 2020-21.
  • The decline in GDP, at 7.3%, was slightly better than expectation.
  • Economic growth had already decelerated to 4% in 2019-20, less than half from the high of 8.3% in 2016-17.
  • The average growth rate in agriculture GVA in the last five years, at 4.8%, is significantly higher than the GVA growth of the economy as a whole, at 3.6%, in the last five years.

Challenges of Indian Economy

  • Slowdown in the economy come at a huge cost for a majority of households which have lost jobs and incomes.
  • But a large part of the economic outcome in the first year of the pandemic is also a result of a mishandling of the economic situation.
  • While a strict national lockdown certainly hit economic activity last year, what made matters worse was the less than adequate response from the Government in increasing fiscal support to revive demand in the economy.
  • But the author argues that there is methodological issue of underestimation of the economic distress in the unorganised sector.

Decline in jobs, income

  • The impact of declining incomes and job losses on demand is now visible even in rural areas.
  • While real wages have continued to decline with the latest estimates of April 2021 showing a decline in rural non-agricultural wages by 0.9% per annum in the last two years, agricultural wages continue to stagnate.
  • One indicator of declining demand is the decline in wholesale prices of most of the agricultural commodities.
  • The net result is a peculiar situation where output prices for dominant agricultural commodities in the domestic market are declining while consumer prices of essentials such as edible and pulses are contributing to rising inflation.

Inflation threat

  • Rising inflation further threatens to reduce the purchasing power of the rural economy struggling with declining incomes and job losses.
  • The rise in input prices for diesel has already contributed to rising input costs but the recent increase in fertilizer prices have also added to the misery of farmers.
  • Despite these setbacks, the rural economy including the agricultural economy continues to remain crucial for any strategy of economic revival.

Agriculture, a key driver

  • An important contributor to the better-than-expected economic performance was the resilience of the rural economy, particularly the agricultural sector.
  • Agriculture was the only major sector (other than electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services) which reported an increase in Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2020-21.
  • It not only provided jobs to returning migrants but also sustained the economy in the rural areas.
  • Even though the lockdowns imposed by the State governments at the beginning of the second wave were less ,they did impact the non-agricultural economy as is evident from the high frequency data for the last two months.
  • However, even the aggregate data are unlikely to capture the actual extent of devastation in the rural areas.
  • The economic distress in rural areas is also largely unreported and underestimated.
  • The second wave affected rural areas disproportionately, in terms of health but also in terms of livelihoods.
  • The response from the Government has not been commensurate with the scale of the pandemic in rural areas.
  • Government has not increased the allocation this year for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).
  • Despite an increase in employment demand in NREGS, the person-days generated in May 2021 was only 65% when compared to May 2020.
  • There has not been any cash transfer to vulnerable groups, unlike last year.

Way Forward

  • Rural areas will also need greater fiscal support, both in terms of direct income support to revive demand in the economy but also through various subsidies and protection from the rising inflation in input prices.
  • This urgent intervention is not just necessary to support economic revival but also prevent another humanitarian crisis, this time as a result of economic mismanagement.

Question: –

The challenge of an economic recovery is far more serious than the health pandemic despite official claims of there being an economic recovery.In this context discuss why there’s need for proactive intervention from the Government to protect the rural population by speeding up vaccination.

J&K talks through a wide lens

Why in News?

Vivek Katju writes: The point for consideration is if the talks are a part of the quiet and out-of-sight contacts between India and Pakistan which resulted in the February ceasefire along the Line of Control and the international border in J&K.

Syllabus—GS2: Issues related to Federalism

Background: –

  • Recently talks between PM & J&K’s mainstream leadership held to complete elections & delimitation in the Union territory.
  • This development concerns Indian politics because the constitutional changes were within India’s domestic jurisdiction.
  • However, from India’s viewpoint, J&K has an external dimension because of Pakistan’s illegal & forcible control over Indian territory.
  • Also, Pakistan went all out to build international opinion against the constitutional developments but with practically no success.
  • At the same time, there was some disquiet in the global quarters at the administrative steps in this regard.

Importance of the Talks:

  • The current Regime’s step to talk to the mainstream political players of J&K will attract favorable attention in the West & will be welcomed by the Biden administration.
  • More importantly, the point for consideration is if it is a part of quiet & out-of-sight contacts between both countries which resulted in the Feb ceasefire along the borders.
  • Further, while both countries have been reiterating their known positions on long-standing as well as current issues & are taking care to tone down the rhetoric.
  • At the same time, the pro-contact elements in the Pak army want India to take some steps in J&K to show their critics that their endeavors with India are yielding results.
  • They want restoration of J&K statehood & an indication that India has an intention to change the demographic character of the Kashmir Valley.
  • The rationale behind this is that even the above steps won’t be able to override the critic’s objections in Pak but the Pro-Contact elements in Pak aware that there cannot be a return to the status-quo-ante.

India-Pakistan Future ties:

  • The current Indian regime’s preferred option for Pak is to turn its back on terrorism.
  • Because unless Pak does so, a peaceful & stable relationship can’t be established.
  • The recent ceasefire along the borders has brought relief to that region & reduced infiltration levels.
  • experts opinion that there is no visible indication that Pak will wind up the infrastructure of terror.
  • However, it does not appear that this will stand in a way to return to the prior bilateral situation between both.
  • In the coming days, the following would take place between both nations:
    • Return of high commissioners,
    • The restoration of few elements of bilateral trade,
    • Restoring visits to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara,
    • Easing some more areas of visa restrictions.
  • Though above simple easing’s can happen but it is extremely difficult for the Indian regime to think of the resumption of a structured dialogue as long as Pak holds n the instrument of terror,

Role of Afghan Factor in India-Pak ties:

  • While bilateral issues are under discussion between India & Pak, it is not known they are also focusing on the Afghan situation.
  • Traditionally Pak has been averse to talk about Afghan developments with India.
  • It desires that India’s role be curtailed to the economic sphere only.
  • It is also reported that Pak has been advising the Taliban against meaningful contacts with India at a time Delhi is showing interest in talking to them.
  • Pakistan is currently riding high on Afghanistan.
  • It is a crucial player in the unfolding Afghan situation & wants the Taliban to hold the power.
  • It certainly does not wish for a return to the 1990s situation for that may destabilize arrangements it has made in the region.

Way Forward

The need for Pakistan is to look with fresh eyes if it is giving priority to geo-economics. It is high time for Pak to reach out to India on Afghan & recognize that this country has major security & economic interests there.

Question: –

The current ceasefire along the LOC and the border in J&K is important for it has brought relief to those living in border areas and led to a fall in infiltration levels too.Comment

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