Why the Western Ghats should be protected immediately?
The connection between the climate issue and severe weather events like cloudbursts and flash floods is now well established due to countless studies and IPCC reports.
All these effects have been compounded by haphazard development and land usage, especially in environmentally sensitive areas like the Western Ghats.
The Central Government and the Western Ghat state governments, on the other hand, have remained ignorant of this knowledge, particularly when it comes to land use planning in the area.
About the Western Ghats:
The Western Ghats are a series of mountains that stretch parallel to India’s Western Coast, going across Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
They serve as a barrier to rain-laden monsoon winds that come in from the west, influencing Indian monsoon weather patterns and mediating the region’s mild tropical environment.
Threats to the Western Ghats:
The area is in danger from urbanization, agricultural growth, and animal grazing.
The Ghats continue to be affected by forest loss, habitat fragmentation, habitat degradation by exotic plant species, encroachment, and conversion.
Floods have destroyed Kerala’s ghat regions three times in the last four years (2018-21), killing hundreds of people and impacting negatively on infrastructure and livelihoods.
Landslides and flash floods caused chaos in Konkan’s ghat districts in 2021.
Cyclones are intensifying as the Arabian Sea warms, making the west coast particularly susceptible.
Due to the lack of a Western Ghats ESA strategy, more polluting businesses, quarries and mines, highways, and townships are likely to be proposed.
Western Ghats Committees:
Gadgil Committee (2011): Also known as the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), the Gadgil Committee suggested that all of the Western Ghats be designated as Ecological Sensitive Areas (ESA), with only restricted development permitted in graded zones.
Kasturirangan Committee (2013): In contrast to the Gadgil report’s suggested approach, it attempted to strike a balance between development and environmental conservation.
Instead of bringing the whole Western Ghats under ESA, the Kasturirangan committee advised that just 37% of the overall land be placed under ESA, with a full prohibition on mining, quarrying, and sand mining.
Western Ghats Procedural Delays
The notification of the Western Ghats ESA has been pending at the Centre since 2011.
More recently, the Central Government extended the deadline for notifying the ESA draftnotificationon the Western Ghats till June 30, 2022.
While the government plans to ban or limit industrial and developmental operations in 37% of the mountain range, the Western Ghats states reject many of these restrictions.
Considering the effects of climate change on people’s livelihoods and the economy of the country, it is wise to maintain vulnerable ecosystems. This will be less expensive than investing money/resources on restoration/rejuvenation in a disaster-prone scenario. As a result, any additional delay in implementation would further exacerbate the degradation of the country’s most valuable natural resource.
A thorough analysis based on scientific research, followed by agreement among diverse stakeholders by resolving their concerns, is urgently necessary.
Some argue that demarcating an environmentally sensitive region is intrinsically hostile to people and their developmental goals. The problem may be explored in depth during public discussions, ensuring that the policy does not seem to be top-down.
States must recognise the hazards of damaging the ecology, particularly because India has been hit the worst by the climate issue. They must accept that the climate problem is a fact and, rather than postponing decisions, implement more decisive climate-proofing measures to conserve the Western Ghats.
The WGEEP stressed that it is the people on the ground who have the expertise and are connected to the environment who should be motivated to protect the area.
There are no two ways of maintaining the Western Ghats, but there is a need to create a balance between forest preservation and native people’s right to subsistence.
It is critical to recognise that the Western Ghats, like any other natural resource, are not solely ours to destroy. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that it is preserved for future generations.
MSMEs are New India's growth engines.
The government has changed the definition of a micro, small, and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) to make it a development engine for the “new India.”
Why is MSME critical to India’s economy?
This sector contributes 30% of India’s GDP
This sector employs 11 crore people
More than half of them is situated in rural India and account for 40% of overall exports.
There is a lot of room for self-reliance to grow (Atmanirbhar Bharat)
What are the challenges that MSMEs confront in India?
MSMEs are discouraged from expanding their businesses by regulatory asset constraints.
It was only after a 14-year (2006–2020) that the government changed the definition of MSMEs to include inflation and depreciation.
This caused MSMEs to operate on a small scale by forming subsidiaries/sister businesses in order to get government subsidies.
Inadequate and late credit for working capital and term loans, 9/10 MSMEs rely on informal sources.
They are hesitant to take secured loans with lower interest rates because they lack adequate asset coverage (collateral).
This has a negative impact on their firms’ profitability and economic viability.
Other concerns –
Firms that are not registered.
Receivables that have been delayed.
Obsolescence due to technological advancements.
There are no market links.
The asymmetry of information
There is no escape strategy in place.
What are the benefits of the new reforms for SMEs?
A firm is classified as MSME-Medium if its investment in plant and equipment does not exceed Rs50 crore and its turnover does not exceed Rs250 crore, according to the new definition.
The MSMEs were given a “comfort zone” because of the policy shift.
When calculating the turnover of MSMEs, export income is subtracted from total sales. This is encouraging news for both the MSME sector and exports.
What are the areas in this industry where we can make improvements?
Ease of Doing Business
Better access to cost-effective manufacturing factors.
Labour changes that are friendly
Appropriate land acquisition policy
Unrestricted access to cash
A thriving entrepreneurial culture
Services Exports –
By capitalizing on the updated definition, MSMEs must be re-oriented to increase service exports.
However, by using the demographic dividend, a balanced expansion of agriculture, manufacturing, and services may be maintained.
Using the PLI Scheme – The PLI Scheme will help to boost 13 different industries.
Leverage Make in India to expand our manufacturing and export capabilities.
Encourage the production of electric automobiles.
Promoting Startups – According to NASSCOM, India now boasts 66 unicorns and is continuously counting.
The necessary incentives, such as market capitalization and increasing technology, should be provided to them.
A virtual platform showcasing MSMEs’ goods and ideas must be built for them to reach out to larger national and worldwide markets, consequently increasing their income.
Promote (RURBAN) clusters by branding their products/services.
Turkey has launched ‘TURQUALITY,’ a state-sponsored scale-up initiative aimed at transforming MSME into global companies.
The Business Development Bank of Canada’s ‘Development Driver Program’ offers a multi-disciplinary support structure for SME growth and employment generation.
Financial/digital education should be provided to MSMEs.
The world is evolving toward a cleaner, greener, and leaner business environment, and India has a competitive edge in the services industry.
India should use digital channels, such as the TReDS platform, to quickly realize receivables
Ethics | Paper – IV
Summum bonum is a Latin expression that means “the highest good.” Cicero came up with it to match the idea of the good in Greek philosophy.
The summum bonum is usually thought of as an end in itself, but at the same time, it is thought of as having all other goods inside.
The term was used in medieval philosophy and in Kantianism to describe the most important thing that people should do.
It was also used to describe the only thing that people should do.
When the rulers utilize the power of their positions to steal from the people, they are said to be operating under a kleptocratic regime.
It is a type of political and government corruption where the government is there to help its officials and leaders get rich and more powerful at the expense of everyone else.
Many times, this type of government corruption is done by taking money from the state.
Kleptocracy is more likely to arise in impoverished nations with authoritarian systems of governance, because of the lack of political authority and financial means available to the people to prevent it.
Congo under Joseph Mobutu, Haiti under “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Nicaragua under Anastasio Somoza, the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos, and Nigeria under Sani Abacha are all instances of verified kleptocracies in recent history.