The Foreign Secretary of India recently convened the first meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Group (IMCG) at the Secretary level.
The IMCG was established as a high-level mechanism to mainstream India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy vision, which sought to improve relations with the country’s neighbours.
Inter-ministerial Joint Task Forces (JTFs) convened by joint secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs provide support to IMCG.
About the IMCG: The IMCG provided a comprehensive direction with a whole-of-government approach to promote better connectivity, stronger interlinkages, and increased people-to-people connections with neighbours.
The meeting focused on the construction of border infrastructure to facilitate greater trade with neighbours such as Nepal, the special needs of countries such as Bhutan and the Maldives in terms of supply of essential commodities, the opening of rail connectivity with Bangladesh, humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and Myanmar, and the Fisheries issue with Sri Lanka.
Importance: The IMCG will strengthen institutional coordination across government and provide comprehensive guidance to this whole-of-government approach to India’s relations with its neighbours.
Connectivity: India has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). These treaties ensure the free flow of resources, energy, goods, labour, and information across international borders.
Improving Relations with Neighbors: The priority is to improve relations with immediate neighbours, as peace and tranquillity in South Asia are required for the development agenda to be realised.
It focuses on energising regional diplomacy by engaging with neighbouring countries and fostering political connectivity through dialogue.
The Policy emphasises the resolution of bilateral conflicts through mutual agreement.
Economic cooperation focuses on strengthening trade ties with neighbours. India has participated in and invested in SAARC as a vehicle for regional development.
One such example is the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) energy development grouping, which includes motor vehicles, waterpower management, and inter-grid connectivity.
Disaster management: The policy also emphasises disaster response cooperation, resource management, weather forecasting, and communication, as well as disaster management capabilities and expertise for all South Asian citizens.
Military and defence cooperation: India is also focusing on deepening regional security through military cooperation, including the conduct of and participation in various defence exercises.
It has failed to take a meaningful direction, and increasing Chinese pressure has prevented the country from gaining regional allies.
China is expanding its maritime influence throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) also allows China to expand in India’s neighbourhood, as seen with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has brought the Chinese presence close to the Indian border, whether in Pakistan-administered Kashmir or in the Sir Creek area.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was proposed by China in 2013.
Interference in Domestic Affairs: In violation of their sovereignty, India interferes in the domestic affairs of neighbouring countries, particularly Nepal.
India is also putting obstacles in the way of free transit and free trade within and beyond Nepal, and it continues to oppress its people and government.
Focus on Military Measures: India’s focus on military measures rather than social elements has also contributed to increased tensions in the region, fueling anti-India sentiment.
Impact of India’s Domestic Policies: India’s domestic policies are causing problems in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country, demonstrating that India’s neighbourhood first policy faces serious challenges even in friendly territories such as Bangladesh.
Many ordinary Bangladeshis regard India’s current political leadership as Islamophobic or anti-Islam.
The Impact of India’s Tilt to the West: India is enlarging its ties with the West, particularly through the Quad and other multilateral and mini-lateral initiatives.
However, Sri Lanka’s relations with the West are deteriorating as the country’s current government faces increasing criticism from Western capitals on human rights and freedoms.
As a result, Sri Lanka has begun to shift toward China, raising the prospect of a deterioration in Indo-Sri Lankan relations at some point.
The principles of the Gujral Doctrine should guide India’s foreign policy.
This would ensure that India’s stature and strength are not divorced from the quality of its relations with its neighbours, and that regional growth can occur.
Integrating India’s regional economic and foreign policies remains a significant challenge.
As a result, India should avoid jeopardising bilateral relationships with neighbours for the sake of short-term economic gain.
Regional connectivity must be pursued more aggressively, while security concerns must be addressed using cost-effective, efficient, and dependable technological measures that are already in use in other parts of the world.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has expanded the ‘SVANidhi se Samriddhi’ programme to 126 cities in 14 states and union territories.
The program’s implementing partner is the Quality Council of India (QCI).
It is an additional PMSVANidhi programme that will be launched on January 4, 2021 in 125 cities to map the socioeconomic profile of PMSVANidhi beneficiaries and their families.
It evaluates beneficiaries’ eligibility for various Central welfare schemes (8) and facilitates linkages to these schemes.
These schemes include the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, and the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yojana. Yogi Maandhan Yojana, Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act (BOCW), National Food Security Act (NFSA) portability benefit – One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC), Janani Suraksha Yojana, and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).
Approximately 35 lakh street vendors and their families were covered in Phase 1.
Phase 2 aims to cover 28 lakh street vendors and their families, with a total scheme sanction target of 20 lakh for fiscal year 2022-23. The remaining cities would be added to the programme gradually.
Achievements: In 2020-21 (despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic), the programme was successful in providing social security benefits to street vendor families, thereby protecting them from any risks and vulnerabilities of life and livelihood.
One is the creation of a central database of street vendors and their families based on various socioeconomic indicators.
Second, a first-of-its-kind inter-ministerial convergence platform between various Central Ministries is established to extend the safety net of welfare schemes to street vendor households.
About: The Prime Minister Street Vendors AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) was announced as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’s Economic Stimulus-II.
It has been in operation since 1st June 2020, with a sanctioned budget of Rs. 700 crore, for the purpose of providing affordable working capital loans to street vendors in order for them to resume their livelihoods that have been adversely affected by Covid-19 lockdowns.
Aims: To benefit over 50 lakh street vendors who were vending in urban areas on or before March 24, 2020, including those from surrounding peri-urban/rural areas.
To encourage digital transactions through cash-back incentives of up to Rs. 1,200 per year.
The vendors can obtain a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments over a one-year period.
On timely/early repayment of the loan, a 7% annual interest subsidy will be credited to beneficiaries’ bank accounts via Direct Benefit Transfer on a quarterly basis.
There will be no penalty for repaying the loan early. Vendors can benefit from an increased credit limit if they repay their loans on time or early.
Several banks are seeking applications for stamp papers ranging in value from Rs. 100 to Rs. 500.
There have also been reports of banks requesting PAN cards and even checking applicants’ CIBIL or credit score, or state authorities requesting voter ID cards, which many migrant vendors do not have.
The CIBIL score is an evaluation of one’s credit history that determines loan eligibility.
There have also been reports of police and municipal officials harassing people.
States should be asked to ensure that street vendors are not harassed by authorities because all they are asking for is the right to a living.
The Centre has also decided to send applications directly to bank branches that the applicant has designated as a “preferred lender” or where the vendor has a savings bank account.
A software that can “push” around 3 lakh applications to banks has also been developed.
The Global Wind Energy Council recently published the Global Wind Report for 2022. (GWEC).
GWEC was founded in 2005 to provide a credible and representative international forum for the entire wind energy sector.
Wind energy installations must quadruple from the 94 GW (Gigawatt) installed in 2021 to meet global climate targets within this decade.
Without the necessary amplification, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the Paris Agreement’s target — and achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050 may become difficult.
New installations of 93.6 GW in 2021 increased global cumulative wind energy capacity to 837 GW, a 12% year-on-year (YoY) increase.
Globally, the onshore wind market added 72.5 GW. This is an 18% decrease from the previous year due to a slowdown in China and the United States, the world’s two largest wind markets.
The offshore wind market had its best year ever in 2021, with 21.1GW completed.
New offshore installations are expected to fall: New offshore installations in 2022 are expected to fall to 2019/2020 levels.
The decline will be primarily caused by a reduction in Chinese installations.
However, market growth is expected to pick up in 2023, eventually surpassing 30GW in 2026.
Offshore wind energy generation improves return on investment while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
If offshore wind energy generation is increased, carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 0.3-1.61 gigatonnes per year by 2050.
The main goal of the 2018 National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy is to provide a framework for the promotion of large grid-connected wind-solar PV hybrid systems for the optimal and efficient utilisation of wind and solar resources, transmission infrastructure, and land.
The National Offshore Wind Energy Policy was notified in October 2015, with the goal of developing offshore wind energy in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) along the Indian coastline of 7600 km.
Governments must address issues such as planning barriers and grid connection difficulties.
To sustain and expand wind-based generation capacity, policymakers must streamline permit procedures, including land allocation and grid connection projects.
Workforce planning for large-scale renewables deployment should be a top policy priority, and grid investment should triple from current levels by 2030.
Greater public-private collaboration is also required to address “the new geopolitics of the wind supply chain.”
To address the increased competition for commodities and critical minerals, a stronger international regulatory framework is required.
The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry conducted a thorough review of the National Industrial Corridor Development Program’s progress.
The National Industrial Corridor Development Programme is a pan-India initiative involving the development of ‘plug and play’ infrastructure aimed at boosting the country’s manufacturing ecosystem.
It is India’s most ambitious infrastructure programme, with the goal of transforming new industrial cities into “Smart Cities” and bringing next-generation technologies together across infrastructure sectors.
Over the last few years, the government has expanded the National Corridor Network to 11 integrated industrial and economic corridors, with 32 projects to be developed in four phases.
These 11 Corridors, which are part of the National Infrastructure Pipeline, will provide connectivity to all of the country’s key economic nodes.
PM GatiShakti’s overall framework is being used to develop the National Industrial Corridor projects.
[PM GatiShakti is the National Master Plan for providing systematic, multi-modal connectivity to various economic zones in order to facilitate the movement of people, goods, and services.]
Implementation – Following the establishment of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) in 2007, a trust fund was established to carry out project development and implementation activities.
As the DMIC Trust’s mandate was expanded to include other industrial corridors in India, it was renamed the National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust (NICDIT) in 2016.
DMIC Development Corporation Ltd (DMICDC), a Special Purpose Vehicle, was established in 2008 as DMIC’s project development agency and knowledge partner for DMIC Trust.
In addition, the DMICDC was renamed National Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Limited in 2020. (NICDC).
The NITI Aayog has released the State Energy and Climate Index-Round I.
The State Energy & Climate Index (SECI) Round I is the first index to track states’ and UTs’ efforts in the climate and energy sectors.
An in-depth analysis of individual states will aid in improving service delivery on various energy parameters.
The index’s objectives
Ranking states based on their efforts to improve energy access, energy consumption, energy efficiency, and environmental protection; assisting in driving the agenda of affordable, accessible, efficient, and clean energy transition at the state level; and encouraging healthy competition among states on various dimensions of energy and climate.
The SECI ranks states based on six parameters: DISCOM’s Performance, Energy Access, Affordability and Reliability, Clean Energy Initiatives, Energy Efficiency, Environmental Sustainability, and New Initiatives.
The parameters are subdivided further into 27 indicators.
States and UTs are divided into three groups based on their composite SECI Round I score: Front Runners, Achievers, and Aspirants.
The states have been classified as larger states, smaller states, and UTs based on their size and geographical differences.
Larger states category
Gujarat, Kerala, and Punjab
Smaller states category
Goa, Tripura, and Manipur
Chandigarh, Delhi, and
Daman & Diu/Dadra & Nagar Haveli
The report includes detailed state profiles and scorecards that provide a comprehensive snapshot of each state and union territory on the various parameters.
The role of the states is critical in transforming our efforts to achieve India’s “Panchamrit” targets announced at COP-26 in Glasgow into a peoples’ movement.