A new programme named “Partners in the Blue Pacific” has recently been announced by the US and its allies, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United Kingdom, for “effective and efficient cooperation” with the small island states in the region.
The “climate problem, connectivity and transportation, marine security and protection, health, prosperity, and education” are among the areas where PBP seeks to improve cooperation.
The Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) project exactly what it sounds like.
A five-nation “informal framework,” the PBP aims to support Pacific islands and strengthen regional political and economic ties.
It mentions fostering greater cooperation to increase “prosperity, resilience, and security” in the Pacific.
In order to counter China’s assertive outreach, these nations will collectively and individually direct additional resources through the PBP into the Pacific Island Countries.
Members of the project will build closer relations with the Pacific Islands Forum and “elevate Pacific regionalism” (PIF).
The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is what.
The region’s leading institution for establishing political and economic policies is the Pacific Islands Forum.
It was established in 1971 and currently has 18 members: Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
What is the Pacific Region’s Importance?
Most expansive Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs):
The islands are separated into three separate regions based on their physical and human geography: Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia.
The islands are dispersed over a large area of the Pacific Ocean despite having a limited amount of land.
They boast some of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) in the world while being some of the smallest and least populous states.
Due to the abundance of fisheries, energy, minerals, and other marine resources that are found there, large EEZs offer a lot of economic potential.
As a result, they would rather be called Big Ocean States than Small Island States.
In actuality, the EEZs of FSM and Kiribati, both PICs, are greater than India’s.
Position in Major Power Rivalry:
In the colonial era, the main powers contended with one another for control of these vital regions.
The Pacific islands served as one of the main battlegrounds between imperial Japan and the US during the Second World War.
Potential Vote Bank:
The Pacific Island Countries (PICs), which represent the same number of votes in the UN and are connected by common economic and security concerns, serve as a potential vote bank for big powers to mobilize global opinion.
The Indo-Pacific is the “single most crucial region for America’s future,” according to the US Department of Defence’s 2019 Strategy Report.
The region, which includes more than half of the world’s population, stretches across a sizable portion of the globe from the west coast of the United States to the western shores of India. It is home to the most populous state in the world (China), the most populous democracy (India), and the largest Muslim-majority state (Indonesia).
The Indo-Pacific is home to seven of the ten largest standing armies in the world, and six of the nations there have nuclear weapons.
This region is home to nine of the top ten busiest seaports in the world, and 60% of all marine traffic transits through Asia, with a third of it going through the South China Sea.
What changes is China making to its Pacific relations?
Concerns about the Chinese military establishing a facility in the southern Pacific, close to the US island territory of Guam, and next to Australia and New Zealand were raised as China inked a security agreement with the Solomon Islands.
A game-changing pact called the “Common Development Vision” was endorsed by 10 Pacific Island countries as a result of China’s efforts to control vital maritime lanes.
In order to create a stronger community of China-Pacific Island Countries with a shared destiny, Common Development Vision is a comprehensive strategic partnership including mutual respect and common development.
The goal is to uphold collaborative and long-lasting security measures, foster peace in the region, and improve communication and collaboration in governance and cyber security.
There are 21 PIF conversation partners, including China and the US, but this year the regional forum decided not to interact with the dialogue partners face-to-face while in Fiji.
In addition to the PICs’ enormous marine diversity, Taiwan is a significant issue in China’s calculations towards the Pacific.
China is preparing for what appears to be an impending military assault since it views Taiwan as a renegade territory.
The PICs are strategically positioned in what China refers to as its “Far Seas,” whose control will give China an effective Blue Water Navy, a necessary condition for becoming a superpower.
A navy that can project itself across a larger maritime area than its maritime limits is known as a blue water navy.
What steps are the US and its allies taking to confront China?
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), a trade-boosting initiative in the region with 13 countries—Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Fiji, and Vietnam—was started by the US and its partners before the PBP was announced.
In order to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the G7 established the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), which pledges to gather 600 billion dollars to fund development initiatives in low- and middle-income nations.
What are the India-PICs Relations’ High Points?
The existence of a strong Indian diaspora in the area continues to play a significant role in how India interacts with the PICs.
Approximately 3000 Indians currently reside in Papua New Guinea, and nearly 40% of the population of Fiji is of Indian descent.
India participates in the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) as one of the main dialogue partners as far as institutional engagements are concerned.
The creation of an action-oriented Forum for India and Pacific Islands Cooperation has been the most significant recent move in facilitating India’s contact with the PICs (FIPIC).
A global organisation called FIPIC was established in 2014.
Areas of Cooperation: Blue Economy:
The PICs, with their resource-rich EEZs, can offer new markets as well as appealing sources of natural resources like liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrocarbons to support India’s expanding economy.
Given its own emphasis on the concept of the “Blue Economy,” India may cooperate with these nations in particular.
Sustainable Development and Climate Change:
These island nations are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of climate change due to their geographic location.
Low-lying island states are under danger due to the rising salinity of the soil, which also creates a relocating issue.
Therefore, a tighter relationship may be created for effective and practical solutions in the fields of climate change and sustainable development.
G-7 Summit 48th
In News, why?
The Indian Prime Minister recently asked the G7 nations to take advantage of the enormous market for renewable energy technologies that are developing in the nation during the 48th G7 Summit.
In 2022, Germany is the G7’s president.
Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal, and South Africa have all received invitations from the German Presidency to the G7 Summit.
What exactly is the G7?
It was established as an intergovernmental organisation in 1975.
The group meets once a year to talk about topics like international security, energy policy, and global economic governance.
The UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the US make up the G7 nations.
The G20 includes India and each of the G7 nations.
The G7 lacks a secretariat and a codified charter. The task of establishing the agenda falls to the presidency, which is rotated annually among the participating nations. Before the summit, sherpas, ministers, and envoys work out policy proposals.
According to the Summit website, the G7 nations will account for 10% of the world’s population, 31% of its GDP, and 21% of its carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2022. China and India, the two most populous nations in the world with some of the highest GDP estimates, are excluded from the grouping.
In 2021, yearly public sector spending will be more than revenue in all G7 nations. The majority of G7 nations have high levels of gross debt as well, particularly the US, Japan, and Italy (which combined for 263% of GDP) (133 percent ).
The G7 nations are significant participants in world trade. Particularly important exporting nations are Germany and the US. In 2021, both companies exported goods totaling well over a trillion US dollars.
What are the G7 Summit’s additional highlights?
Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII): The G7 announced the joint mobilisation of 600 billion USD by 2027 under PGII to deliver “game-changing” and “transparent” infrastructure projects to developing and middle-income countries.
The Indian Prime Minister highlighted the LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) campaign as part of the Global Initiative.
This programme aims to promote an environmentally friendly way of life.
Regarding the Russia-Ukraine Crisis: As a result of the crisis, energy prices have reached a record high. The Indian Prime Minister spoke about the necessity for equitable energy distribution among the people of rich and poor countries.
Regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the prime minister reaffirmed his position that all hostilities must halt immediately and that the path to a solution should be one of negotiation and diplomacy.
Clean Energy Technology: What Is It?
Any procedure, good, or service that significantly boosts energy efficiency, makes use of resources sustainably, or engages in environmental protection is referred to as such.
By increasing the supply of energy needed to meet demand, clean energy technologies also support economic growth. They help address environmental problems and the effects of using other conventional energy sources on the environment.
Recycling, renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, etc.), information technology, green transportation, electric motors, green chemistry, lightning, greywater, etc. are just a few examples of the wide range of technologies that fall under the category of “clean technology.”
Indian Clean Technology Emerging Market:
India is compelled to take a pro-environment posture in all of its development policies due to a more active media and increased public knowledge of environmental issues.
Adopting Newer & Cleaner Technologies: As India’s economy expands at an unprecedented rate, the adoption of newer and cleaner technologies would enable India leapfrog into the sustainable growth pathway.
International Climate Talks:
Pressure to embrace green technologies has been placed on quickly rising economies like India by the ongoing global climate change negotiations.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):
For foreign investors, the Indian economy presents promising economic opportunities.
India is one of the most desirable locations in the world for eco-friendly investments due to its expanding economy, soaring need for clean electricity to increase energy security and reduce pollution, as well as continuing sector reforms.
India is particularly well positioned to take the lead globally in green hydrogen and renewable batteries.
By 2030, India could have a market for other low-carbon technology valued up to 80 billion dollars.
India has made progress toward its goals of obtaining 40% of its energy from non-fossil sources and blending 10% of ethanol into gasoline.
The first airport entirely powered by solar energy is located in India.
One of the top nations for the production of energy from renewable sources is India. In the electrical industry, renewable energy made up 20% of the total installed power capacity (big hydro excluded).
What Advantages Do Clean Energy Sources Offer?
A reduction in air pollution is one of the many economic and environmental advantages of clean energy.
Reduced reliance on foreign fuels is another benefit of a broad renewable energy supply.
As there is no need to collect and transport fuels, like with oil or coal, because the resources replenish themselves naturally, renewable clean energy also comes with built-in cost reductions.
The creation of jobs to develop, produce, and install the clean energy resources of the future is one of the industrial advantages of a clean energy mix.
Global Infrastructure and Investment Partnership (PGII)
In News, why?
The ambitious Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment was just unveiled by the United States and its G7 allies at the 48th G-7 Summit (PGII).
What is the History?
The goal of the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, which the United States and its allies stated will be launched in 2021, is to close the 40 trillion dollar infrastructure gap in the developing world.
Therefore, the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment is a refresh of the B3W strategy.
The G7’s response to China’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to develop trade, infrastructure, and connectivity throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America, is thought of as the PGII.
What is the Partnership for Global Investment in Infrastructure?
The PGII is a “values-driven, high-impact, and transparent infrastructure partnership to serve the economic and national security interests of the United States and its allies while addressing the vast infrastructure requirements of low- and middle-income nations.
To provide “game-changing” and “transparent” infrastructure projects to developing and middle-income countries, the G7 will mobilise 600 billion USD by 2027.
The president of the United States announced the nation’s commitment to provide the PGII with 200 billion USD in grants, public financing, and private capital over the following five years.
The president of the European Commission announced Europe’s commitment to raising 300 billion euros for the partnership within the same time period.
First, the G7 organisation seeks to address the climate catastrophe and guarantee global energy security through supply networks for clean energy.
Second: The projects will concentrate on strengthening digital ICT (information and communications technology) networks that support cybersecurity and 5G and 6G internet connectivity.
Project to connect Europe and Latin America with fiber-optic cables.
Third: The initiatives seek to enhance equity and gender equality.
Gender equality calls for men and women to have equal access to the rewards, opportunities, resources, and products that society values.
Gender Equity: It takes into account the fact that each person’s situation is unique and allots the precise resources and opportunities required to produce an equal result.
Fourth, the project emphasises modernising the world’s healthcare infrastructure.
A 3.3 million USD technical support grant is being given by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the G7 countries, and the EU to develop a vaccine plant in Senegal.
Global Gateway, an initiative of the European Commission, is also working on PGII-supporting projects including mRNA vaccine factories in Latin America.
Benefits for India:
The Omnivore Agritech and Climate Sustainability Fund will receive investments from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) totaling up to USD 30 million.
Climate Sustainability Fund:
This impact venture capital fund makes investments in businesspeople who are reshaping India’s agricultural, food, and economic systems for the future.
The Fund aims to invest in businesses that boost India’s food security, support climate resilience and adaptation, and raise smallholder farmers’ financial stability and agricultural output.
A technology-driven agricultural technique called omnivore agritech aims to improve agricultural prosperity and restructure food systems to make farming more resilient and sustainable.
Precision farming, farmer platforms, agri-biotech, etc. are included.
How can PGII combat BRI from China?
While China has developed sizable coal-fired facilities under BRI in addition to solar, hydro, and wind energy projects, PGII has focused on climate action and sustainable energy.
PGII seeks to finance initiatives by providing grants and investments. China develops BRI projects by offering recipients significant, low-interest loans that are typically repaid over a ten-year period.
While the G7 has committed to spending 600 billion USD by 2027, it is predicted that China would have invested 1.2–1.3 trillion USD in the BRI by that point, with real investment being greater. While China’s BRI is mostly state-funded, the PGII will also mobilise significant amounts of private finance.
While the G7 leaders stressed that “transparency” was a fundamental component of PGII projects, the BRI has come under fire for requiring nations to sign secret tenders for the extension of significant loans, leaving those countries beholden to China.
For instance, Pakistan owes Beijing a sizable chunk of its foreign debt as a result of the BRI’s centrepiece 62 billion USD China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Grants and investments are used by PGII to fund projects.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a what?
The ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to connect and foster cooperation between numerous nations scattered throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe. According to China, the BRI spans 150 nations.
The project, which was first announced in 2013, entails the construction of networks of roads, trains, maritime ports, power grids, oil and gas pipelines, and related infrastructure projects.
The project has two sections.
Economic Belt of the Silk Road: It is expected to link China with Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe. It is a land-based system.
The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is a sea-based trade route that will link the southern coast of China with the Mediterranean, Africa, South-East Asia, and Central Asia.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the most representative of China’s industrial and economic might, as well as of its aspirations for a global, political, and strategic sway.
China has turned its focus to increase the global competitiveness of domestic enterprises as domestic infrastructure spending has become less viable.
China has been able to increase its influence globally by making significant infrastructure expenditures in least developed and emerging nations, which could change the existing norms of the global order and put pressure on western powers.
BRI will bolster China’s influence in Eurasia and give it a dominant position over Asia’s interior.
The effort has come under fire from Western critics who see it as modern-day colonialism or the Marshal Plan.
BRI is also being viewed as a component of China’s debt trap strategy, in which China purposefully gives excessive credit to another nation with the goal of obtaining political or economic concessions from the debtor nation.
Why is India not a part of BRI?
One of the BRI’s signature projects is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which India views as violating its sovereignty.
Pakistan’s standing in the Kashmir conflict may be helped by CPEC.
China is constructing infrastructure and roadways in Gilgit-Baltistan, a disputed region controlled by Pakistan but claimed by India as a portion of Jammu and Kashmir.
India’s strategic interests in the South Asian area would suffer if the CPEC project is effectively executed. It will help Beijing achieve its strategic goal of encircling India.
As an example, China’s construction of the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka gave it a crucial strategic location in the Indian Ocean, which is damaging to India’s hold on the region of South Asia.
MSMEs around the World Day
In News, why?
Every year on June 27th, people all around the world commemorate International MSME Day to raise awareness of MSMEs and how important they are to a nation’s economy.
The MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) Sustainable (ZED-Zero Defect Zero Effect) Certification Scheme was previously introduced by the Ministry for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
What are the Main Ideas?
In April 2017, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution designating June 27 as Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises Day.
Enhancing National Capabilities for Unleashing Full Potentials of MSMEs in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Developing Countries is a programme that was introduced in May 2017.
The UN Peace and Development Fund’s Sub-Fund for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provided the funding.
Resilience and Rebuilding:
MSMEs for Sustainable Development is the theme for 2022.
The major message of the subject is that Micro-Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises are an essential part of a nation’s socioeconomic development.
The purpose of World MSME Day 2022 is to raise awareness of MSMEs’ potential and their contribution to the global economy.
It also strives to increase public understanding of MSMEs’ contributions to sustainable development and global economic growth.
According to the UN, formal and informal MSMEs account for 50% of the nation’s gross domestic product and 70% of all jobs (GDP).
Additionally, MSMEs account for 90% of all businesses. MSMEs are crucial for the growth of the economy, innovation, and productivity because they contribute so much to it.
However, MSMEs around the world confront difficulties with working conditions, productivity, and informality in addition to the lack of assistance from the governments and administrations, despite playing a significant role in creating jobs.
Although they typically have no more than 250 employees, micro-small and medium-sized businesses are responsible for more than two-thirds of all jobs created worldwide.
The MSME sector plays an important role in the Indian economy, helping to accelerate growth and accounting for around 30% of GDP (GDP).
They generate roughly 48% of total exports and are a crucial link in the supply chain in terms of exports.
MSMEs, which employ nearly 110 million people nationwide, also contribute significantly to the creation of new jobs.
It’s interesting to note that MSMEs are entangled with the rural economy as well because more than half of MSMEs in India are located there.
What initiatives are related to this?
The MSMED Act, which promotes the growth of small and medium-sized businesses: It was alerted in 2006 to deal with policy concerns impacting MSMEs as well as the sector’s coverage and investment cap.
Program for the Growth of Employment Under the Prime Minister (PMEGP): It is a credit-linked subsidy programme for the establishment of new microbusinesses and to provide job opportunities in both rural and urban areas of the nation.
Fund for the Renewal of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) Scheme: It strives to appropriately group traditional businesses and crafters into clusters and then offer financial support to help them become competitive in the current market environment.
The ASPIRE Program:
A Scheme for Promoting Innovation, Rural Industry, and Entrepreneurship Through the rural Livelihood Business Incubator (LBI), Technology Business Incubator (TBI), and Fund of Funds for start-up creation in the agro-based industry, the programme encourages innovation and rural entrepreneurship.
Interest Subvention Program for MSMEs Receiving Incremental Credit: The Reserve Bank of India introduced it, under which all legitimate MSMEs are granted relief on their outstanding new/incremental term loans/working capital up to 2% of interest for the duration of its validity.
A guarantee cover is offered for MSMEs’ collateral-free loans under the Credit Guarantee Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises, which was established to encourage flexible credit flow.
The goal of the CHAMPIONS portal is to help Indian MSMEs advance to the top division as National and Global CHAMPIONS by resolving their complaints and motivating, assisting, supporting, and hand-holding them.
MSME Innovative Scheme:
It guarantees support to MSMEs to scale up through counselling, financial support, technical support, and more.
The government uses the Udyam Registrations Portal to gather information on the number of MSMEs operating in the nation.
It’s a public procurement portal, according to MSME Sambandh. It was started to keep an eye on how Central Public Sector Enterprises were carrying out the public procurement from MSEs.
Demand for NREGS is rising.
In News, why?
61 crore families were employed by the NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) in May 2022, a 17.39% increase over the same month in the previous year.
What are the main conclusions?
Following the decline in April, there was an increase in demand for NREGS. 1.86 crore families took advantage of the NREGS in April 2022, a 12.27 percent decrease from the figure seen in April of the previous year.
The number of families using the NREGS is less than it was in May 2020, when it spiked to 3.30 crore when migrant workers went back to their communities after the lockdown during the first wave of Covid-19.
However, it exceeds the 2.10 crore figure noted in May 2019 (pre-pandemic times).
Following Tamil Nadu in terms of states, Uttar Pradesh witnessed the greatest growth in terms of the absolute number of families using the NREGS.
However, Chhattisgarh experienced the greatest fall, followed by Jharkhand.
On August 25, 2005, legislation known as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) were passed.
Adult members of any rural household who are willing to perform unskilled manual labour related to public work at the statutory minimum pay are legally guaranteed one hundred days of employment each fiscal year.
Together with state governments, the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) is keeping an eye on the full implementation of this programme.
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is a demand-driven wage employment programme, and resource transfers from the Centre to the States are based on the demand for employment in each State.
By offering allowances and compensation in circumstances of both failure to deliver work on demand and delays in payment of wages for work completed, it offers a legal guarantee for wage employment.
The National Mobile Monitoring Software (NMMS) app, a new tool designed to “improve citizen supervision and increase transparency” in NREGA operations, was introduced by the Ministry of Rural Development in May 2021.
What were the results of NREGS?
It has produced more than 31 billion person-days of employment during the last 15 years.
The government has contributed more than Rs 6.4 lakh crore to this demand-driven programme over the past 15 years.
Since 2006, more than 30 million water conservation-related assets have been created in the country’s rural areas.
What are the difficulties?
NREGS salaries are currently around Rs. 180 per day, which is significantly less than the going rate. The earnings have only been adjusted for inflation for almost ten years, ignoring the average pay for the same type of work. Additionally, they are currently below the minimum wage rate in 23 states, which has caused a decline in participation.
Another problem is that, despite the program’s requirement that workers receive their money within 15 days, many times they don’t. The beginning of the last three fiscal years has seen a significant balance of unpaid wages—nearly Rs. 10,000 crores in 2019–20. Over 30% of pay requests, according to the government’s portal, have been inactive since October 2019.
The scheme’s major problem is that unscrupulous middlemen are extremely difficult to remove from the system, even if money is increased.
The majority of authorities merely provide worthless busywork that does not improve the nation’s agricultural infrastructure. It’s comparable to asking individuals to create holes and fill them in order to check a box.
The idea is that by doing this, wage workers will be fairly compensated based on their consumption demands. The government may look into tying pay to a consumption-based index that is updated annually. This strategy may be more effective.
To combat corruption and lessen the problem of late payments through effective resource management, technology must be used.