STRATEGY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION EXPANSION

Higher education in India has expanded many folds during the past six decades. The number of universities in the country has increased from 20 in 1947 to 378 whereas the number of colleges, which were no more than 500 at the eve of Independence, has gone up to 18064.

No less significant has been the increase in the number of teaching staff which has gone up from a meagre 15, 000 to nearly 4.80 Lakhs during the same period. The number of students enrolled in higher education too has gone up from 1 Lkah in 1950 to over 112 lakhs in 2005. Obviously, the institutional capacity of higher education has increased by several folds. This has, in turn, enhanced access to higher education as we find that the enrolment ratio has increased from less than 1 % in 1950 to about 10 % in 2007.

These developments notwithstanding, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in relative terms compares quite poorly with 60% in USA and Canada, over 40% in several European countries and more than 20% in many developed and developing countries. International experience shows that no country has been able to become an economically advanced country, if its enrolment ratio in higher education has been less than 20%. The foremost priority must, therefore, be enhancing access to higher education such that the GER is raised to a minimum threshold level of about 20 percent for sustained economic development. In immediate term, the 11th Plan has set the target GER of 15 percent.

Such a substantial increase in enrolment would require multi-pronged strategy. In order to ensure that the facilities for higher education are available in enough number for all who aspire to get it, we may have to establish new universities and the colleges in order to cope with the increasing demand for higher education. Some announcements have already been made in this regard. These include establishment of 30 new central universities and establishment of new IITs and IIMs.

Besides, capacity increase will also have to be attempted by strengthening and increasing the intake capacity of exiting colleges and the universities through increase in seats of existing courses as well as by introducing new courses. In this process, universities and colleges in specific area of low enrolment ratio (lower than a all India average) and also districts falling in remote, hilly, border area, small towns, and rural area and districts with concentration of SC, ST, OBC and minority will have to be proactively supported. This may require enhanced additional development grants to existing universities and colleges and higher education being in the concurrent list, this will call for joint efforts by the union as well as the state governments.

It cannot be overemphasised that expansion in higher education should be made in such a manner that it offers equitable access all. This will call for a conscious effort to ensure that the higher educational avenues and opportunities are made available to all and that the system does not suffer on account of disparities across region, gender, social groups such as scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward castes, minorities, physically challenged and poor. The 11th Plan strategy will focus on the inclusiveness in higher education with schemes for inclusive education with a focus on regions and groups with lower enrolment ratio.

The strategy of inclusiveness has to focus on three imbalances, inter-regional, inter-social group and male – female and may include all such measures as establishment of higher educational institutions for easy access to these groups and also provisioning of special support mechanism to remove economic and affordability barriers for these groups. Removal of regional imbalances would call for support to colleges located in district having lower GER and also the district located in rural, small town, hilly, remote, tribal and border area and small towns. Simultaneously, the colleges located in districts with relatively high concentration of SC, ST, OBC, and Muslim population will also have to be provided enhanced support beside establishment of colleges with high concentration of SC, ST, OBC, Muslim minority areas in order to provide accelerated opportunities of higher education.

The strategy for mitigating group imbalances will require support to socially disadvantage groups like SCs, STs, OBCs, Minorities (Muslims), Poor, and women. Besides, we will have to supporting universities and colleges in specific area of low enrolment ratio (lower than a all India average) and also districts falling in remote, hilly, border area, small towns, and rural area and districts with concentration of SC, ST, OBC and minority. Further, the strategy to reduce inter-social imbalance will have to include provision of fellowship, hostel, and remedial coaching and other specific schemes for girls. Even more important could be the establishment of Equal Opportunity Office in all Universities to deal with all schemes under one office related to SC,ST, OBC, minorities, girls , physically challenged and economically weaker section.

It is obvious that increased access to higher education will not be sufficient unless we also ensure that the higher education system is able and made capable of providing quality education and achieve excellence in the arena of creation and dissemination of knowledge. Our higher education system is characterized by degree of inter-institution variations in quality and excellence. One of the starting points must, therefore, be to formally find out the current status of quality of higher educational institutions in the country.

The UGC has developed a framework to assess and promote the quality and excellence and it helps us to know the current status by our own definition of quality and excellence. Quality assessment mechanism is relative new to India, but the UGC has been using a quality assurance mechanism even since its establishment in 1956.

The UGC has been prescribing minimum norms and standards in term of physical facilities, infrastructure, human resource, particularly the teachers and financial viabilities. Universities and colleges are required to meet these norms in order to become eligible for recognition under section 2(f) and 12(b) of the UGC Act, and thus be eligible to receive development grants.

It is through this mechanism that the UGC has historically been ensuring a base level of quality across all institutions of higher education. Based on this mechanism, we have some idea of the current status of quality in higher educational institutions. Of the total 14,080 colleges that are under the UGC purview only about 6000 are recognised under Section 12(b) and thereby making them eligible to receive development grants from the UGC.

The rest of the colleges are not recognised because they do not meet the criteria of permanent affiliation, which is because they don’t not meet minimum academic quality requirement prescribed by the affiliating universities. Similarly, only 167 out of 224 state universities are recognised under Section 12 (b) while the rest are not able to quality for recognition under this section for they fail to meet the minimum prescribed academic requirements under Section 2(f), and are, thus, deprived of the development assistance from the UGC. It is thus obvious that the self-financing colleges and institutes, and also the self-financing courses in public universities and colleges do not receive grants and are consequently not assessed for quality.

Besides, The UGC had also developed a mechanism for identifying departments in universities who have been making special contributions in creation and dissemination of knowledge and depending upon their status has been awarding them special status in the form of DRS/ DSA/CAS. In recent times, the GC has developed a methodology to assess and promote excellence in universities, colleges and in the postgraduate departments of universities, which is called as:
(1) universities with potential for excellence;
(2) colleges with potential for excellence and
(3) departments/centres with potential of excellence. Such institutions are categorised so on the basis of their academic capabilities and availabilities of physical facilities and infrastructure.
(4) In addition to these, the UGC also grants special status to certain colleges and they are called the Autonomous colleges. The physical infrastructure and teachers related indicators used for identifying universities/colleges and departments for potential for excellence and for identification of Autonomous colleges are more rigorous than those used for quality under 2(F) and 12 (B).

Based on these standards, we find that only about 10 universities, 100 colleges and 500 departments/ centres have so far been identified as universities with potential for excellence. Besides, as many as 250 colleges have been identifies as autonomous colleges

In addition to the above, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is mandated to assess and accredit all institutions of higher education, particularly those that are publicly funded, and grade them on the basis of their academics, governance, physical facilities and infrastructure. The NAAC has developed an elaborate assessment mechanism under which it assess the universities and colleges and grade the institutions, which provide insight in to present quality of higher education system in the country. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) have so far accredited 140 Universities and 3492 colleges by March 2007. Thus the quality status is formally known for these many institutions only. A glance at the status of the accredited institutions reveals that 68% of colleges are rated as ‘B’ while another 23% colleges are rated as ‘C’ grade; and only the remaining 9% are A grade. The situations for colleges are no better as 68%% universities are rated as B grade while another 23% are C grade; and the remaining 31% are A grade

Poor quality in a section of higher education institutions can be attributed to a variety of reasons spanning from under-investment to inadequate faculty resources to deficiencies in the teaching –learning process. The NAAC assessment of colleges and universities indicate the reasons for inter-institutions variations in quality. Amongst the universities and colleges that receive development and maintenance grants from the UGC and the respective state governments, the dominant reasons for low quality of higher education is found in inadequate funding to universities and colleges.

Inadequacy of funds has led to a situation where physical facilities and infrastructure are not only inadequate and inappropriate but also the paucity of funds has led to poor maintenance and upkeep of existing infrastructure. These are reflected in terms of shabby classrooms, barely equipped laboratories, and poorly maintained libraries. Substantial proportion of teachers in universities is colleges are not provided with independent workspace. Resource crunch, particularly those faced by the state universities, has been forcing them to compromise on their academic input. The academic expenditure in the form of books and journal, consumables for labs, teaching-learning materials etc have been the first casualty.

The most affected has been the creation of faculty positions. There have been either official ban on the creation of new teaching positions or an unofficial restrictive approach creating hindrance in the process of recruitment of faculty members even on the sanctioned posts, presumably in order to save resources.

Unlike expansion, access enhancement, quality, excellence, equity and inclusion where policy formulation is still under discussion and in making, the policies concerning reforms in the arena of academics, administration and governance are already well formulated and publicly announced. These are all elaborated upon in details in the reports of Radhakrishnan Commission (1948), Kothari Commission (1968), National Education Policy (1986), Programme of Action document (1992), CABE Committee reports, Resolutions of the conferences of the Vice Chancellors organised by the UGC and the AIU, Gnanam Committee, Sunehri Committee, a whole lot of other committees constituted by the UGC and MHRD from time to time are full of recommendations on such reforms.

While recommendations of these committees have been accepted nearly by all and there has been developed a national consensus, a whole lot of them have not been implemented and operationalised as yet. Some of these have been tried and failed while some others have been implemented on selective basis. As a result there is a lot of institutional variations in admission, examination, faculty and governance related practices. Given the fact that most such recommendations are reflective of the most prevalent, if not the best, global practices, it is high time that they are put into practice without further delay.

As a nation we need to seriously consider as to how can we urgently translate as well as share selected experience that we have in implementing the agreed upon policies and recommendations into concrete actions. But more important is to identify the necessary pre-requisite and conditions for effective implementation of academic and administrative reforms. Still more important is to create those conditions to create an enabling environment for putting them into practice.

This may require selective and stage-wise approach. This also requires sharing of experience of those who have tried and failed and those who are doing it successfully and those who have not tried at all. It is, therefore, proposed to take a comprehensive stock taking of all such recommendations made so far and revisit them to identify problems in their implementation and operationalisation.

Financing of higher education and funding mechanism are perhaps the most crucial aspect for development of higher education and its capacity to reforms often impinges adequate and timely resource availability. While demand for higher education has grown by leaps and bound and, the central and state government financial support to the institutions of higher education has decelerated in real terms during the 1990s. This has had multiple ramifications. On the one hand the public-funded institutions suffered from under-investment, adversely affecting their quality.

On the other hand, demand - supply mismatch prompted increasing participation private institutions. This has led to demand for revisiting the whole issue of financing and funding mechanism, which were addressed by appointing various committees. A number of recommendations have been put forward for improving the financing and funding mechanism for higher education. These include such important issues as increase public spending on higher education and also create enabling environment for private investment in higher education. Closely connected is the issue of reviewing fees structure in public institutions in order to develop an appropriate policy as suggested by the CABE Committee. As affordability to higher education could be a barrier, the issue of providing large number of scholarship and fellowship cannot be avoided.

Simultaneously, the issues of deferred cost recovery in the form of students loan programme and setting up of Higher Education Loan Guarantee Corporation for covering education loan and also to provide for Loan and offering enhanced moratorium in loan repayment in order to increase affordability has to be taken on priority basis. Yet another important issue that is related with financing is that of the issue of fees in self-financing institutions and programmes and we will have to find ways and means of effectively regulating the fess structure of self-financing educational institutions including private universities, deemed universities and other self-financing institutions

The spread of higher education was achieved through active state support whereby public funding was considered necessary in order to provide equitable opportunities of higher education to all. It has, however, been a proclaimed policy of the country to also encourage private investment in higher education so long as they are driven by charitable and non-profit motives. While universities have largely been in the public domain, India has had a history of having large number of colleges established and maintained by private management.

They largely fell into two broad categories namely (a) the private but government aided colleges – those that were established and managed by private individuals, societies or trust but received development and maintenance grants from the public exchequer); and (b) private unaided colleges – those that were established and managed by private individuals, societies and trusts and were run on self-financing basis.

In recent times, the number of private self-financing institutions –colleges and other degree awarding institutions has gained prominence. At the same time, there has also been witnessed a tendency among the public funded institutions to start and run courses on self-financing basis. More recently, the private universities, either under state legislature or through the deemed university mode have also come to be established, though presently small in number, demand and tendency for establishing such institutions has been consistently on the rise.

As situations prevail today, the system is characterised by rapid expansion in private self financing colleges specially in medical, engineering, dental and education, self-financing courses in government and government aided colleges, private universities and also in unrecognised private institutions offering diploma and certificate programmes

We do need proper regulatory framework for the private sector, to ensure the quality of higher education and also the equity. It is, therefore, important that we develop regulatory framework for the private universities, particularly in terms of their admission, fees, teaching-learning process and governance.

The regulation of self financing courses in government and aided colleges with respect to fees, quality and inclusiveness of girls, socially and economically deprived groups is imminent. Besides, the regulation of self financing courses educational institutions like private universities, Deem universities, self financing colleges and other institutions with respect to fees, quality and inclusiveness of girls, socially and economically deprived groups.

by - Prof. Sukhadeo Thorat
The author is Chairman, University Grants Commission

OZONE DEPLETION

What is Ozone and where is it in the atmosphere ?

Ozone gas is naturally present in our atmosphere. Each molecule contains three atoms of Oxygen. Ozone is found primarily in two regions of the atmosphere. About 10% of atmospheric ozone is in the troposphere, the region closest to Earth (from the surface to about 10-16 kilometers). The remaining 90% Ozone resides in the Stratosphere, primarily between the top of the Troposphere and about 50 kilometers altitude. The large amount of Ozone in the stratosphere is often referred to as the “Ozone layer”.

How is Ozone formed in the atmosphere ?

Ozone is formed throughout the atmosphere in multi-step chemical processes that require sunlight. In the Stratosphere, the process begins with the breaking apart of an Oxygen molecule by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. In the lower atmosphere (Troposphere), Ozone is formed in a different set of chemical reactions involving hydrocarbons and nitrogen-containing gases.

Why do we care about atmospheric Ozone?

Ozone in the Stratosphere, absorbs some of the Sun’s biologically harmful ultraviolet radiation. Because of this beneficial role, Stratospheric Ozone is considered “Good Ozone”. In contrast, Ozone at Earth’s surface that is formed from pollutants is considered “Bad Ozone” because it can be harmful to humans and plant and animal life. Some Ozone occurs naturally in the lower atmosphere where it is beneficial because Ozone helps remove pollutants from the atmosphere.

Is total Ozone uniform over the globe?

No, the total amount of Ozone above the surface of Earth varies with location on the time scales that range from daily to seasonal. The variations are caused by Stratospheric winds and chemical production and destruction of Ozone. Total Ozone is generally lowest at the equator and highest near the poles because of the seasonal wind patterns in the Stratosphere.

How is Ozone measured in the atmosphere?

The amount of Ozone in the atmosphere is measured by instruments on the ground and carried aloft in balloons, aircraft, and satellites. Some measurements involve drawing air into an instrument that contains a system for detecting Ozone. Other measurements are based on Ozone’s unique absorption of light in the atmosphere. In that case, sunlight or laser light is carefully measured after passing through a portion of the atmosphere containing Ozone.

What are the principal steps in stratospheric Ozone depletion caused by human?

The initial step in the depletion of stratospheric Ozone by human activities is the emission of Ozone-depleting gases containing Chlorine and Bromine at Earth’s surface. Most of these gases accumulate in the lower atmosphere because they do not react and do not dissolve readily in rain or snow. Eventually, the emitted gases are transported to the Stratosphere where they are converted to more reactive gases containing Chlorine and Bromine. These more reactive gases then participate in reactions that destroy Ozone.

Certain industrial processes and consumer products result in the atmospheric emission of “Halogen source gases”. These gases contain Chlorine and Bromine atoms, which are known to be harmful to the Ozone layer. For example, the Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), once used in almost all refrigeration and air conditioning systems, eventually reach the Stratosphere where they are broken apart to release Ozone-depleting chlorine atoms. Other examples of human-produced Ozone-depleting gases are the “Halons”, which are used in fire extinguishers and which contain Ozone-depleting Bromine atoms.

Why has an “Ozone hole” appeared over Antarctica when Ozone-depleting gases are present throughout the stratosphere?

Ozone-depleting gases are present throughout the Stratospheric Ozone layer because they are transported to great distances by atmospheric air motions. The severe depletion of the Antarctic Ozone layer known as the “Ozone hole” forms because of the special weather conditions that exist there and nowhere else on the globe. The very cold temperatures of the Antarctic Stratosphere create ice clouds called Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs). Special reactions that occur on PSCs and the relative isolation of Polar Stratospheric air allows chlorine and Bromine reactions to produce the Ozone hole in Antarctic springtime.

Severe depletion of the Antarctic Ozone layer was first observed in the early 1980s. Antarctic Ozone depletion is seasonal, occurring primarily in late winter and spring (August-November).

Is there depletion of the Arctic Ozone layer?

Yes, significant depletion of the Arctic Ozone layer now occurs in the late winter/spring period (January-April). However, the maximum depletion is generally less severe than that observed in the Antarctic and is more variable from year to year. A large and recurrent “Ozone hole”, as found in the Antarctic Stratosphere, does not occur in the Arctic .

How large is the depletion of the global Ozone layer?

The Ozone layer has been depleted gradually since 1980 and now is about an average of 3% lower over the globe. The depletion, which exceeds the natural variations of the Ozone layer, is very small near the equator and increases towards the poles. The large average depletion in Polar Regions is primarily a result of the late winter/spring Ozone destruction that occurs there annually.

Are there regulations on the production of Ozone-depleting gases?

Yes, the production of Ozone-depleting gases is regulated under a 1987 international agreement known as the “Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer” and its subsequent Amendments and Adjustments. The Protocol, now ratified by over 191 Nations, establishes legally binding controls on the national production and consumption of Ozone depleting gases. Production and consumption of all principal Halogen-containing gases by developed and developing Nations will be significantly reduced or phased out before the middle of the 21st century.

As a result of the Montreal Protocol, the total abundance of Ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere has begun to decrease in recent years. If the Nations of the world continue to follow the provisions of the Montreal Protocol, the decrease will continue throughout the 21st century.

Does depletion of the Ozone layer increase ground-level ultra-violet radiation?

Yes, ultra-violet radiation at Earth’s surface increases as the amount of overhead total ozone decreases, because ozone absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Measurements by ground-based instruments and estimates made using satellite data have confirmed that surface ultraviolet radiation has increased in regions where ozone depletion is observed.

Which are the Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) presently used in India ?

Chloroflourocarbons(CFCs)-12 for Refrigeration, Chillers and Metered Dose Inhalers.

Hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs) - 22 for Air Conditioners.

Carbon Teterachloride (CTCs) as solvent process agent mainly in the metal cleaning and textile industries. It is also used as feedstock in the manufacture of CFCs and DV Acid Chloride.

Which ODS is no longer produced in India ?

Halons, which were earlier used in fire extinguishers. Halons continue to be used in Defence sector, which is exempt from Montreal Protocol.

*Inputs from Ministry of Environment & Forests

DEVELOPMENT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES

Renewable Energy is energy derived from resources that are regenerative or for all practical purposes non-depleting beside environmentally benign. By these qualities, renewable energy sources are fundamentally different from fossil fuels. Mankind’s traditional uses of wind, water, and solar energy are widespread in developed and developing countries; but the mass production of energy using renewable energy sources has become more commonplace recently, reflecting the major threats of climate change, depletion of fossil fuels, and the environmental, social and political risks of fossil fuels. Consequently, many countries promote renewable energies through tax incentives and subsidies. The role of new and renewable energy has been assuming increasing significance in recent times with the growing concern for the country’s energy security.

During the last two and half decades there had been a vigorous pursuit of activities relating to the development, trial and induction of a variety of renewable energy technologies for use in different sectors.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been facilitating the implementation of broad-spectrum programmes covering more or less the entire range of new and renewable energy. These programmes broadly seek to supplement conventional fossil-fuel-based power through harnessing wind, small hydro and bio power; reach renewable energy to remote rural areas for lighting, cooking and motive power; use renewable energy in urban, industrial and commercial applications; and develop alternate fuels and applications for stationary, portable and transport uses apart from supporting research, design and development of new and renewable energy technologies, products and services.

Commercialization of the renewable energy technologies started in 1993. The States were pursued to offer suitable sites and announce policies for private sector participation. Grid interactive renewable power projects are essentially private investment driven and almost all the renewable power capacity addition is coming through this route.

Eventually, since renewable power would need to compete with conventional electricity, the challenge is to align it in terms of reliability, quality and cost. Accordingly, the focus is towards reducing the capital cost of projects and increasing their capacity factors, with the eventual aim of reducing the unit cost of renewable power generation.

Wind Power

The Wind power programme in India was initiated towards the end of the Sixth Plan, in 1983-84. A market-oriented strategy was adopted from inception, which has led to the successful commercial development of the programme. The fiscal incentives that were already available, have also played an important role in commercial development. The total installed capacity in India comprises of commercial projects and demonstration projects aggregating to about 7300 MW. In 2005, the country became the 4th largest producer of wind power in the world.

Solar Energy

The sun is an inexhaustible source of energy to mankind. India is ideally located for utilization of the radiant energy of the sun. The country receives solar energy in most of its parts and throughout the year except rainy days. The daily average incident energy varying between 4 and 7 KWh per sq.m. depending on the location. Solar energy can be used through thermal as well as photovoltaic routes. Solar energy utilization in India has been growing steadily over the last two and half decades. A wide variety of technologies have been developed.

The Ministry is implementing a wide range of programmes to make these systems and devices available to the common man. As a result, over one million solar PV lighting systems, solar water heating systems equivalent to a collector area of around 2 million square metres, 7000 solar pumps, 600 000 solar cookers stand installed in the country. These contribute to saving huge quantity of conventional electricity daily in the country.

Hydro Power

Hydro power is perhaps the oldest renewable energy technique known to mankind for mechanical energy version as well as electricity generation. India is amongst the countries including China where water wheels were first developed. India has a century old history of hydro power and the beginning was from small hydro. In India, hydro projects up to 25 MW station capacity have been categorized as Small Hydro Power (SHP) projects. India has an estimated potential of about 15 000 MW with perennial flow rivers, streams, and a large irrigation canal network. Mapping of potential sites/locations on a GIS platform is receiving utmost attention.

Biomass

Biomass has been one of the main energy sources for the mankind ever since the dawn of civilization, Every year million tons of agriculture and forest residues are generated. These are either wasted or burnt inefficiently in their loose form causing air pollution. These wastes can provide a renewable source of energy. The sugar industry has traditionally used bagasse-based cogeneration for achieving self-sufficiency in steam and electricity as well as economy in operations. Therefore, the Ministry has been promoting new technologies for sugar mills to operate at higher levels of energy efficiency and generate more electricity than what they require though bagasse based cogeneration projects. The Ministry is also giving a thrust to Biomass Gasifiers. A large number of installations for providing power to small-scale industries and for electrification of a village or group of villages have been undertaken as also oil replacement initiatives through thermal applications.

The Remote Village Electrification Programme has been aligned with Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana and would now be extended only to those villages/hamlets not likely to receive grid-connectivity under the said Yojana. During 2006-07, the Rural Electrification Policy, which has laid down the broad framework for rural electrification in the country, was notified. Accordingly, provision of SPV home-lighting systems under RVEP is required to be treated as an interim solution. Supply of electricity is being made in far-flung villages through solar, biomass gasifier and small hydro power. About 2240 remote villages have been provided with electricity through renewable energy under the programme. The Ministry has also taken up Village Energy Security Test Projects which aim at meeting energy requirements of cooking, lighting and motive power and are being undertaken in remote villages and hamlets that are not likely to receive grid connectivity.

The most important and popular technology developed indigenously is the “biogas plant” for processing of cattle dung. It serves the purpose of meeting fuel as well as the manure requirement from the same quantity of cattle dung available in the rural households and institutions. Five models of biogas plants have been developed under the National Programme of Biogas Development. India’s position in the biogas development is number two in the world.

Constant efforts are being made for the development of research in new and renewable energy sources such as hydrogen energy, fuel cell, geothermal energy, ocean, tidal energy, synthetic fuel and bio-fuel. The National Hydrogen Energy Board has approved and decided to implement the hydrogen energy road map in the 11th Five Year Plan.

*Inputs from Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

HIGH GROWTH POTENTIAL IN TOURISM

The development of tourism as an industry is being given emphasis by most countries of the world. Tourism has been playing its due role in India and has made a record growth. A recent study by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has revealed that tourism’s contribution towards GDP is 5.9 per cent and towards employment (both direct and indirect) 8.78 per cent.

There is an imperative need to promote tourism in a big way. India’s success could attract more and more tourists for eco-tourism, religious tourism, historical tourism, medical tourism etc. Every single State has some unique characteristics, which could interest tourists in one way or the other.

The ‘Incredible India’ campaign has been quite successful and driven the growth of tourism in the country. It captures the underlying spirit of the country, its culture, tradition and spirituality.

As a result tourist arrivals have increased dramatically. During the Tenth Plan period, tourist arrivals grew by a phenomenal 78 per cent while foreign exchange earnings increased by around 120 per cent. According to the Tourism Ministry, a whopping 420 million domestic tourists were recorded in 2006.

The opening up of air transport and emergence of low-cost carriers has greatly helped boost up tourist arrivals to this country.

A study conducted by FICCI on development perspective of eco and rural tourism revealed that it had the highest employment and investment ratio. Every additional investment of Rs 10 crore has the potential to generate 47.5 jobs. Further, every direct job created in tourism leads to a creation of 77 jobs in other related sectors of the industry, the study stated. Besides the multiplier effect of tourism generates high revenue-capital ratio in the Indian context. Indirect employment generated in the form of revival of traditional arts and crafts, development of communication, hotels etc.

Another study by McKinsey has revealed that medical tourism could generate as much as Rs 100 billion of revenue for India by 2012. The success of medical tourism will build bigger capacities and draw more investment for the health sector.

Attracting foreign tourists has become a priority and there are expectations of reaching the 10 million mark by the end of the 11th Plan period. There is presently one lakh approved quality accommodation which should be increased to two lakh by 2011, according to report by a working group on tourism for the Eleventh Plan. According to Subhash Goyal, President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, “if we implement the suggestions by the Ministry of Tourism, it will not be difficult to attract 10 million (foreign) tourists”.



Infrastructure Development

The need for creating adequate infrastructure to attract more tourists, specially those from foreign countries, has been a long felt need. The Tourism Ministry has earmarked Rs 650 crore budget allocation for this fiscal to develop sites within the country. The Ministry has decided to give a maximum of Rs 50 crore (and Rs 25 crore) to State Governments to develop each circuit and destination.

Accordingly it has been planned to set up 100 heritage circuits by the end of the 11th Plan of which 25 are expected to be of International standard. The government also plans to build world-class infrastructure at Hampi, Agra, Konark, Khajuraho, Orccha and Datia along with Buddhist and Jain centres. To develop cultural tourism, the government has identified six museums at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Cochin which would be upgraded to compete with global standards.

As religious tourism has been gaining ground for quite some time, the Buddhist area of Raghir, Nalanda and Bodh Gaya have also been chosen for development. A special train has been introduced for the Buddhist pilgrimage from India and abroad particularly from the South Asian countries to promote tourism.

However challenges still remain. The challenge is to create around 100,000 additional star category hotel rooms or good quality resorts in the next three years. The Tourism Ministry has decided to create ‘land banks’ by acquiring land for building hotels through public-private partnerships on a built-operate basis.

There is also need to improve roadways, transportation, ensure clean and hygienic environment and ensure safety and security conditions in the areas and give these places a modern look. Improvement of surroundings of tourist spots, specially in rural areas and ensuring cleanliness needs to be given due attention. It needs to mentioned here that tourists should not feel any inadequacy of anything and enjoy their travel in India.

The working group suggestions, if implemented, can definitely boost tourism in the country. However, there is need to concentrate on countries such as South Africa, Israel, Spain, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Brazil and Argentina which would help in attracting tourists to India. Fewer tourists come to India from these countries, so they offer high growth potential, the report said. Promotion of business-related travel by building convention centres of international standards in major cities and new tourist centres has also been envisaged in the report. Moreover, the country needs to prepare strategies to increase per capita expenditure on shopping.

India has emerged as the 4th favoured destination for holidays above South Africa and Switzerland, as per a survey undertaken by Conde Nast Traveller magazine for their 2006 Readers Travel Awards. It is indeed a big country with various types of unique destinations and natural locales. It is also a region of the world’s greatest biodiversity while, on the other hand, a place where history is found embedded in palaces, monuments and conservation sites. As such, the average duration of stay of a tourist in Singapore is about 5 days as against 26 days in India because of the latter’s vast tourist potential.

It would thus not be difficult to transform the country into a 365 days-a-year destination where tourists would find themselves comfortable at each and every place, whether the visit is intended for historical, religious, ecological or health reasons.

By PIB - Dhurjati Mukherjee (Freelance Journalist, Kolkata)

India - Brazil relations; some important facts

India and Brazil are large democracies and major countries in their respective regions. The emergence of our two countries as leading players in the global arena has been propelled by their large and qualified manpower resources, big land mass, vibrant trillion dollar economies and the spirit of entrepreneurship that permeates our societies. Our warm and friendly ties have been bolstered by our shared perceptions and endeavours.

The friendship between India and Brazil goes back in time. The Portuguese presence in Goa as well as in Brazil, during the 17th and 18th centuries, provided a common historical bond which facilitated interaction at the popular level. This is reflected in the food, linguistic vocabulary and the folk music traditions of our two countries. India and Brazil share folk traditions such as the stories of Panchatantra, and Poikal Kudhirai of Southern India and Boi-Bumba of Northern Brazil. Indian philosophy has influenced Brazilian intellectual tradition and is reflected in the works of philosophers such as Farias Brito, and poets Cruz e Souza and Cecilia Meireles.

Sao Paulo is unique as it has the world's only university of Yoga. The footprint of Yoga schools is visible all over Brazil. It is also interesting that two Brazilian floats participated in Goa's Carnival this year depicting Portuguese exploration of Brazil.

Nearly 80% of Brazilian cattle stock derives its origin from India's Nellore variety, which is known in Brazil as Zebu. The year 2006 marked the 100th anniversary of the import of first cow from India into North-East Brazil.

The Indian community in Brazil, though limited in numbers, has done well. Sao Paulo remains the favourite destination of the Indian community.

The Indian Diaspora estimated at about 25 million is emerging as a major economic, social and cultural force. In recognition of this, the Government of India every year celebrates the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in order to honour and acknowledge the contributions made by the overseas Indian community.

Indian govt. have established an Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, which can be a window to invest in and benefit from India. Work has begun on establishing a "Diaspora Knowledge Network" - an electronic platform to facilitate transformation of ideas into community action in India. An "India Development Foundation" is also on the anvil which would allow you to contribute to social development causes in India.

TAPPING SOLAR ENERGY

India is a sunny country with a solar energy potential of 20 mw every square km. At present, only a tiny fraction of it is being tapped. Solar energy can be used directly in two forms – producing heat or light. Production of light and electric current from the sun’s rays uses ‘photovoltaic technology’, which involves direct conversion of sunlight into electricity.

The thermal form, which is used for cooking, water heating or purification, drying and fruit ripening, distillation or producing steam for power generation, is more economical. Solar cookers are already well-known and popular. Solar cooking has been recommended even in the Rig Veda which says: ‘All edibles ripened or cooked in the sun’s rays change into super medicine, the amrita”.

Solar energy has every thing to recommend it. Unlimited and non-polluting. It will neither drain our mineral resources nor submerge large tracts under dam waters. If only it could be tapped cheaply. That is what technicians are trying to do the world over.

New Schemes

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy supports Research, Design and Development (RD&D) activities in New and Renewable Energy including solar energy in the country. Comprehensive guidelines for supporting and accelerating pace of Research, Design and Development leading to eventual manufacture and deployment of various Renewable Energy Systems including solar energy have been put in place.

An amount of Rs. 600 crore has been tentatively allocated for Research, Design and Development in the Energy Sector for the 11th Five Year Plan. During the last Five Year Plan period, Rs. 72.65 crore were spent for the same activities. The Ministry has financially sported about 600 RD&D Projects particularly in Solar Energy Sector.

New schemes have been launched by the Ministry in addition to implementation of ongoing schemes to encourage large-scale use of solar energy in the country during the 11th Five Year Plan Period. The new schemes include ‘Development of Solar Cities’ and ‘Demonstration Programme on MW size Grid Solar Power Generation’. In addition, Research and Development thrust areas for solar and other New and Renewable Energy Technologies for the 11th Five Year Plan period have also been identified and publicised through newspaper and website advertisements for further intensifying research and technology development in this area. Promotional measures taken by the Government and other associated agencies include publicity and awareness campaigns, amendment of building bye-laws for making the use of solar water heaters mandatory in certain categories of buildings, rebate in property tax/electricity tariff to the users of solar water heaters, etc.

Solar Energy Plants

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy promoted deployment of nine Solar Energy Plants during 2007-08 in six States of the Country. Out of this, Maharashtra tops the list with three Plants where as Jammu & Kashmir got two such Plants. Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Orissa and West Bengal each got one power plant during this period. The total capacity sanctioned for these plants is less than 2000 kwp. The capacity under implementation is more than 800 kwp.

Out of different Plant Projects, all the six States have received one Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant Project. The State of West Bengal has been sanctioned highest capacity of 945.0 kwp followed by Chhattisgarh with 646.8 kWp. Besides these Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra, each have been sanctioned Building Integrated Power Plants (BIPV) with total sanctioned capacity of 18 kWp and one each SPV Power Pack of total sanctioned capacity of 8 kWp.

The Ministry is promoting deployment of solar photovoltaic power packs/plants in different parts of the country under various programmes including remote village electrification programme by providing partial financial support. These projects are implemented through the state implementing agencies in their respective states. The total funds released to the state agencies are to the tune of Rs. 40 crore which includes funds for four ongoing projects also. These projects are likely to be completed during 2008-09.

The projects for installation of solar photovoltaic power packs/plants are considered by the Ministry on the basis of proposals submitted by the States, as per provisions of the scheme and availability of funds.

Non-polluting, requiring little maintenance, free from wear and tear caused by moving parts, solar power is the most promising form of energy for the future.

EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE SCHEME IS A LIFELINE FOR THE VULNERABLE SECTIONS

The National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) scheme, one of the flagship programmes of the UPA government, has become operational throughout the country from First of April 2008.

The NREG Act, notified on 7th September 2005, aims at better livelihood security of households in rural areas of the country by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment, in a financial year, to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

The choice of works suggested in the Act addresses causes of chronic poverty like drought, deforestation and soil erosion, so that the process of employment is maintained on a sustainable basis. This was the first time a country had passed a law of this nature and scale, guaranteeing livelihood security to rural households. Parliament enacted it expressing the consensus of the states to use fiscal and legal instruments to address the challenges of unemployment and poverty.

The rationale for such legislation was based on the need to provide a social safety net to rural households as well as to create assets that rejuvenate the natural resource base of their livelihood. In an economy, where 60 per cent of the people depend on agriculture for livelihood, a major share of the rural populoation is vulnerable to the vagaries of monsoon as an overwhelming share of the gross cropped area is rain-fed.

A total of 200 districts have been covered under the programme in the first phase implemented on February 2, 2006 and the same was extended to 130 additional districts in 2007-08. The Rural Development Minister, Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, announced that the programme would be implemented in the rest of 274 districts of the country in its third and final phase. He also announced that the 5-year programme would be implemented within three years. He said the scheme has brought about a paradigm shift both in the design and the approach of intervention mechanisms of wage employment programmes.

Significance of NREGA

The significance of NREGA lies in the fact that it operates at many levels. It creates a social safety net for the vulnerable by providing a fallback employment source, when other employment alternatives are scarce or inadequate.

It adds a dimension of equality to the process of growth. It creates a right-based framework for wage employment programmes by conferring legal entitlements and the right to demand employment upon the workers and makes the government accountable for providing employment in a time bound manner. By prioritizing natural resource management, and emphasizing the creation of durable assets it holds the potential of becoming a growth engine for sustainable development of an agriculture-based economy.

Although the programme is not confined to BPL families, experience shows that it is mainly the poor households willing to do manual labour, who seek employment under NREGA. It is also evident that the nature of employment is seasonal and that the duration of employment sought varies according to prevailing opportunities of employment offered under local agricultural practices and other alternative forms of employment and all Job card holding families do not necessarily request for the full 100 days of employment.

Salient Features of NREGA

The Gram Panchayats after due verification will issue a job card. Work should ordinarily be provided within 5 km radius of the village or else extra wages of 10 per cent are payable. Disbursement of wages has to be done on weekly basis and not beyond a fortnight. At least one-third of persons to whom work is allotted work have to be women. Work site facilities such as crèche, drinking water and shades have to be provided.

Pancyati Raj institutions have a principal role in planning and implementation. A 60:40 wage and material ratio has to be maintained. Contractors and use of labour displacing machinery is prohibited. Social Audit has to be done by the Gram Sabhas. Grievance redressal mechanisms have to be put in place for ensuring a responsive implementation process. All accounts and records relating to the scheme are to be made available to any person desirous of obtaining a copy of such records, on demand and after paying a specified fee.

Possible Works
Water conservation, drought proofing including plantation and afforestation, irrigation canals, minor irrigation, horticulture and land development on the land of SC/ST/BPL/IAY and land reform beneficiaries, renovation of traditional water bodies, flood protection, land development, rural connectivity, any other work that may be notified by the Central Government in consultation with the State Governments.

Vigilance & Monitoring

The Minister asserted that vigilance and monitoring mechanisms have been strengthened for effective implementation of the scheme. More measures are being taken for transparent implementation of the programme. The States have been advised to conduct social audit of each and every work and set up grievance cells at different levels. The States have also been asked to release wages to the workers through banks and post offices by opening accounts. The process has been set in motion in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Karnataka and some other states have also reported progress in this regard.

Vigilance and Monitoring Committees have been set up at State as well as District levels. Local MPs are the members of the District Vigilance and Monitoring Committees.

Performance Highlights

According to latest figures, employment provided to 3.08 households as against the demand by 3.10 households. A total of 121.64 crore persondays have been created. This includes 32.89 crore persondays of Scheduled Castes (27.04 per cent) and 36.50 crore persondays of Scheduled Tribes (30 per cent). Women constituted 51.24 crore persondays (42.13 per cent). 2.50 crore Job cards have been issued and the number of filled muster roll stood at 11.27 lakh.

Plan of Action

The Centre has issued instructions to state governments for coordination with the Department of Posts to ensure that accounts of NREGA workers are opened in banks and post offices for payment of wages and are made fully effective during 2008-09. A Citizen Information Board has been introduced. The Board, to be displayed at all prominent places, will enable the local community to know the works being undertaken under NREGA and would also facilitate the process of spreading awareness about the programme.

Awards

The Centre has also decided to introduce awards to be known as Rozgar Jagrookta Puraskar to recognize the outstanding contribution by the civil society organizations for promoting effective implementation of NREGA in different states. The States have been directed to set up State Fund under the NREGA for greater accountability in Fund Management. The implementation of NREGA is monitored on regular basis.

No doubt, the implementation of the NREG programme has strengthened the bargaining capacity of the workers in fixing the minimum wages. It also gave a big boost to the water conservation. Its implementation in some of the naxal-affected areas was very effective. The minister admitted that it also helped in reducing the distress migration of labourers from rural areas to the urban locations.

by - V. Mohan Rao (Journalist)

PROTECTING HEALTH FROM CLIMATE CHANGE

World Health Day (WHD) on 7th April marks the foundation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948. This year, WHO has selected the theme “Protecting health from climate change” as it is posing an ever growing threat to global public health security.

According to the bulk of scientific opinion, the world is getting warmer. Most scientists are convinced that increasing concentrations of green warming house gases in the atmosphere are at least partly to blame for the global warming.

WHO estimated that climate change directly or indirectly contributes to about 77,000 deaths annually in Asia and the Pacific - about half of the world total attributed to climate change. Among the potential effects of global warming would be the appearance of mosquitoes where they were previously absent, with the accompanying threat of malaria and dengue fever. Some regions might be at risk of reduced rainfall, causing a shortage of fresh water and the resultant danger of water borne diseases. Millions of people could be at risk of malnutrition and hunger if arable land becomes unworkable. The increasing frequency of summer heat waves in temporate zones, e.g., Europe in 2003 and Asia in 2004 and typhoon, hurricanes and floods throughout the world are signs of changing weather and climate patterns.

In August 2003, Europe suffered its worst heat wave in recent memory. In France, temperature peaked at about 40oC. Unprepared for this kind of heat, many people – mostly the sick and elderly succumbed. In all, nearly 15,000 deaths in France that summer were attributed to the high temperatures; across Europe, the scorching weather may have claimed as many as 35,000 lives.

Developed countries share 15% of world population and 50% of carbondioxide emission. Temperature increase by 3-4o C would cause displacement of 330 million people due to floods, malaria infection for 220-400 million people due to flood, extinction of 20-30% of all the land species. Between 2000 and 2004, 262 million people were affected by natural calamities. Of these, 98% were in developing nations.

Issues for the Health Sector

Health hazards from climate change are diverse and global in nature. The hazards range from the risks of extreme weather events to changes in the dynamics of infectious diseases.

The health impact of climate change will be disproportionately greater in vulnerable populations which include the very young, elderly, medically infirm, poor and isolated populations. Climate-sensitive diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria and protein energy malnutrition already cause more than 3 million deaths globally. Even these numbers do not reflect the devastating indirect health impacts anticipated from the effect that climate change will have on food crops and the availability of fresh water in large areas of the world.

According to the most recent projects of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global man temperature would increase by 1.4oC to 5.8oC between 1990 and 2100.

Climate Change and Human Health

Climate change is a significant and emerging threat to public health and changes the way we must look at protecting vulnerable populations. The IPCC confirmed that there is overwhelming evidence that humans are affecting the global climate and highlighted a wide range of implications for human health. Climate variability and changes cause death and disease through natural disasters, such as heat waves, floods and draughts. In addition, many important diseases are highly sensitive to changing temperatures and precipitation. These include common vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue; as well as other major killers such as malnutrition and diarrhoea.

The impacts of climate on human health will not be evenly distributed around the world. Developing country populations, particularly in small islands, states, arid and high mountain zones and densely populated coastal areas, are considered to be particularly vulnerable.

Heat Waves and Cold Snaps

Perhaps the most obvious impact of global warming will be the direct effect - a warmer planet will experience more extreme heat waves. It is difficult to predict the future effect on mortality levels, because as heat waves become more frequent, we can expect societies to adjust – technologically, behaviourally and physiologically. Technological adaptations such as the installation of collective air conditioners and the construction of heat-minimizing houses will happen more quickly among the rich, so heat waves are likely to have a disproportionate effect in less-developed countries and in the poorer segments of rich countries.

Northern countries with severe winters have a high mortality rate in winter because more sick and elderly people succumb in cold weather and because blizzards and extreme cold create dangerous conditions in which accidental deaths are more likely.

Extreme Events and Disasters

Some of the health effects of weather related disasters, in addition to the immediate death and injury to people and damage to property, include : increase in psychological stress, depression and feelings of isolation amongst people affected by natural disasters; decrease in nutrition due to poor agricultural yields, caused for example, by prolonged draught problems and food distribution; increase in disease transmission due to a breakdown in sewerage and garbage services. For example, cholera is one disease that thrives in such situations, particularly when flooding causes the contamination of drinking water by sewerage systems.

Apart from the ecological and agricultural impacts, the availability of water may be reduced, with implications for human health. More frequent draught conditions would increase the risk of bush fires, which can kill people, release large quantities of particulate matter that can cause respiratory problems and degrade water catchments.

Infectious Diseases

Many infectious diseases are dependent on vector organisms, which are sensitive to environmental factors and therefore will be affected by global warming. Biological modeling under various climate scenarios suggested a widening of the potential transmission zone of some disease causing pathogens and their vectors, such as mosquitoes.

Food and water borne diseases are also susceptible to climate change. Food-poisoning bacteria grow best when the ambient temperature is in the range of 35-37oC. Scientists speculate that if temperatures rise under global warming, the incidence of diseases caused by food-poisoning and by the contamination of drinking and swimming water could increase dramatically.

Rising Sea Levels

Scientists predict that sea levels will rise as the global temperature rises, due to the melting of land-based ice in the polar regions and glaciers and the thermal expansion of the oceans. According to the most recent projects, sea levels would rise between 9 and 88 cms by the year 2100. A rise of this magnitude would have disastrous consequences for people living on low-lying islands, such as the Maldives group in the Indian ocean and many South-Pacific Islands. Higher sea level leads to coastal flooding and an increase in frequency of extreme high water levels from storm surges. Related problems are the contamination of coastal fresh water supplies with encroaching sea water and the degradation of fishing and agricultural areas.

Warmer, the Sicker

Considerable uncertainty remains about how the climate may change and how such changes might affect human health. It seems likely, however, that people living in tropical and sub-tropical areas will be most affected. Affluent countries and soial groups will best adapt to climate change by reducing the impacts of natural disasters such as flooding, fire and draught, by maintaining high quality health and emergency infrastructures and by installing technologies that help ward off the worst climatic affects.

Action Needs

Developed countries should cut their carbon emissions at least by 80% by the year 2050, with 20-30% cuts by 2030, if the earth is to be saved from a complete environmental catastrophe, says the Human Development Report (HDR) 2007. The report also calls for 20% cuts in carbon emissions by fast growing economies like India and China. The cost of this process would be only 1.6% of Global GDP.

Through increased collaboration, the global community will be better prepared to cope with climate – related health challenges world wide. A few examples of such collaborative actions are: strengthening surveillance and control of infectious diseases, ensuring safer use of diminishing water supplies and coordinating health action in emergencies.

The health impacts of climate change will be difficult to reverse in a few years or decades. Yet, these possible impacts can be avoided or controlled. For example, controlling vectors, reducing pollution from transport and efficient land use and water management are tested measures that can help.

The risk to human and ecological well-being is too great and prevention will be far better and easier than cure.

by - A.N. Khan (Former Assistant Director, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur & Technical)

FOOD PROCESSING SECTOR – NEW ERA IN THE INDIAN ECONOMY

The agriculture sector has come a long way since independence. With the advent of green revolution, India has transformed itself from a country of shortages to a land of surpluses. With the rapid growth of the economy, a shift is also being seen in the consumption pattern, from cereals to more varied and nutritious diet of fruit and vegetables, milk, fish, meat and poultry products. This has resulted in the development of a sunrise industry namely the Food Processing Industries.

The food processing sector in the country with its vast potential has emerged as one of the major driver of economic growth. It is encouraging to note that while the country’s GDP growth rate had increase from 3.5 per cent in 2002-03 to 9 percent in 2006-07, the food processing sector has grown from 7 per cent to 13.1 per cent during the same period.

India is a country of over 1.10 billion consumers, there is a large untapped domestic market of 1,000 million consumers in the food processing sector and 200 million more consumers are expected to shift to processed food by 2010. It is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world. There is a huge wastage of perishable food items in the country due to lack of proper food processing facilities and the level of processing is only about 2.2 per cent. However, India has tremendous potential to unleash large scale process based farm activities to exploit the emerging global business opportunities.

Incredible Opportunities

India’s homogeneous market size endowed with growing incomes and changing life styles has created incredible market opportunities for food producers, machinery makers, food technology and service providers. Food processing industries has great export and employment potential. The policies are investor-friendly and more importantly technological and human resources are available aplenty in the country.

The competitive edge enjoyed in terms of raw material and labour offers lucrative opportunities. However poor perception of quality and the indifferent image of Indian products is preventing Indian food products to penetrate global markets in a big way. While developing countries like Thailand have exploited the global markets in a big way by fine-tuning quality management aspects of their food processing industry, India are yet to make a headway on this front.

Production of high quality processed foods meeting international quality standards & regulations may very well open new frontiers for Indian food products. This will not only create a dynamic and competitive domestic food processing industry but will also enable India to become a major player in the global food market. An attitudinal change towards quality is essential.

Several thousand crore worth of farm produce is lost every year due to inefficient post-harvest practices for storage and processing. On one hand is the growing demand for food products, which are difficult to meet due to limited resources and on the other, there exist abnormally high wastage in farm sector due to inefficient technology in storage, processing and handling. It is, therefore, imperative to introduce state of the art technology in the food-processing sector to minimize post-harvest losses. It also calls for a concerted attention to a few selected food products where India has or can develop a competitive edge over other countries.

FDI

The sector has been attracting substantial FDI also and is among the top ten sectors getting FDI equity. FDI up to 100 per cent equity is permitted under the automatic route in food and infrastructure like food parks and cold chains. There are many areas for investment in this sector which include mega food parks, agri-infrastructure, supply chain aggregation, logistics and cold chain infrastructure, fruit and vegetable products, animal products, meat and dairy, fisheries and seafood cereals, consumer foods/ready to eat foods, wine and beer, machinery/packaging.

Productivity and Progress

It is essential to understand the dynamic relationship that exists between productivity and progress. The basic fact is that until both the farmers as well as the processors are convinced of benefits that accrue through productivity, the productivity campaigns will remain ineffective. So the main challenge is to introduce the concepts of productivity and make it work under a variety of constraints for the sustainable growth of the industry.

In the process of globalization, the Indian food processing industry will be facing increased competition, particularly in domestic markets in addition to the uncertainties prevailing in the international markets. It is in this context that emphasis must be given to improve productivity and quality. Undoubtedly, better performing firms will have a competitive edge over others. In order to maintain the tempo of productivity and quality, the National Productivity Awards have thus assumed much greater significance.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries on its part, is leaving no stone unturned to achieve the multiple objectives of stepping up the growth, higher farmer income, reduction in wastage, providing nutritious and safe food and enhancing employment opportunities. It has initiated measures to deal with the major constraints being faced by the industry such as affordability and cost of processed foods, linking of farmers and processors, supply chain and post harvest technology, infrastructure, finance, food safety, hygiene and taxes.

With the active support and cooperation of all the stakeholders the ministry is confident of providing the necessary momentum for the rapid growth of the food processing sector and usher in a new era in the Indian economy.

Vision 2015

Given the strengths and opportunities of food processing sector, a Vision 2015 has been developed by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, together with an appropriate strategy and implementable action plan so as to enhance farmer income, generate employment opportunities, provide choice to consumers at affordable price and contribute to overall national growth by increasing: the level of processing of perishables from 6% to 20%, value addition from 20% to 35% and share in global food trade from 1.5% to 3%.

The vision 2015 of the Government for the food processing sector aims at enhancing and stabilizing the income level of the farmers by assuring wider and better choice by enhancing dynamism, competitiveness, by ensuring safety and quality of food by introducing a transparent and scientific system of standards. To achieve these aims a transparent and industry friendly regulatory regime is proposed to be established. Making the sector attractive for both domestic and foreign investors.

Achieving integration of the food processing infrastructure from farm to market.

Having a transparent and industry friendly regulatory regime. Putting in place a transparent system of standards based on science.

To achieve the stated Vision, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, has prepared Action Plan for energizing the food processing sector during 11th Plan.

Main Initiatives

Cold Chain:
To address the situation and with a view to create a modern cold chain for preservation and value addition of perishables, during the 11th Plan, the Ministry is launching a revamped comprehensive Cold Chain Infrastructure Scheme for creating integrated cold chain infrastructure at different levels – farm level primary processing center-cum-cold chain, collection/aggregation centers and Strategic Distribution Centres (SDC). The SDCs will have integrated infrastructure facilities like material handling equipment, refrigeration, IQF/Blast freezing facility, Frozen/CA/MA Storage, Modern Packaging Facilities, ancillary equipment like X-ray, weigh bridge etc. The SDCs will be linked to retail supermarkets.

Mega Food Park :
A new scheme of Mega Food Parks in the country is proposed which is envisaged to be a well defined agri/horticultural processing zone containing state of the art processing facilities with support infrastructure and well established supply chain. The proposed scheme aims to provide a mechanism to bring together farmers, processors and retailers and link agricultural production to the market so as to ensure maximization of value addition, minimize wastages and improve farmers’ income. The Mega Food Park is designed ultimately to link the farmers with the retail markets with minimizing of the intermediaries.

These food parks will function as sourcing hubs for the retail outlets.

Abattoirs:
Hygienic and scientific slaughtering as well as optimum utilization of by-products are issues of grave concern of the Indian Meat Industry. It results in tremendous waste, contamination and avoidable cruelty to animals. Ministry is launching a comprehensive scheme for modernization of existing abattoirs/establishment of modern abattoirs at 100 locations across the country on a PPP mode.

Capacity Building:
Ministry of Food Processing Industries has also taken up quality assurance, R & D, HACCP, Human Resource Development and Establishment of laboratories to support the Food Safety and Standards Act.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries have taken many steps to give impetus to this sector which include virtual delicensing of the sector, inclusion in the priority sector for lending, allowing 100% FDI except in alcoholic beverages and retail, several duty and tax reliefs, financial assistance for infrastructure building, setting up of food processing units etc. In case of export-oriented units, foreign investment is permitted even in case of items reserved for small scale sector. In addition, the export oriented units are given a number of incentives and concessions under the Export-Import Policy, such as, duty free import of capital goods, raw materials and intermediates, export income being exempt from Corporate Tax etc. FDI inflow in food processing is becoming stronger.

by Smt. Vijaylaxmi Kasotia
(Media & Communications Officer, PIB, New Delhi)

INDIA-AFRICA ENGAGEMENT.......

INDIA-AFRICA ENGAGEMENT: NEW ARCHITECTURE TO PROMOTE INCLUSIVE GLOBALISATION

For the people of India, Africa is also the land of awakening of the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. The birth of an independent India in 1947 in turn provided powerful support to the forces of nationalism and decolonisation in Africa. The emergence of Ghana as the first independent country in sub-Saharan Africa in 1957 was followed by the tumultuous decades of the sixties, seventies, and eighties culminating in the end of apartheid in 1994 in the very same land that had created the Mahatma.

Africa is our Mother Continent. The dynamics of geology may have led our lands to drift apart, but history, culture and the processes of post-colonial development have brought us together once again.

Ever since independence, our national leaders by such towering personalities as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi have been ardent champions of the cause of Indo-African cooperation.

We share a common societal commitment to pluralism, to inclusiveness and to the creation of a world that is fair to all its inhabitants. Our shared vision of the world should enable us to work together on the vital challenges facing humanity. We have coordinated our position in the United Nations and other international forums. No one understands better than India and Africa the imperative need for global institutions to reflect current realities and to build a more equitable global economy and polity.

The objective of our partnership is to cooperate with all the countries of Africa, within the limits of our capacities and capabilities, in their efforts towards achieving economic vibrancy, peace, stability and self-reliance. Towards this end, it is our intention to become a close partner in Africa’s resurgence.

The Delhi Declaration and the Africa-India Framework for Cooperation that we plan to issue at the end of this Summit will provide the blueprint for India-Africa dialogue and engagement in the 21st century.

We recognize the crucial importance of market access in ensuring the development dimension of international trade. Accordingly, I am happy to announce a Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme for Least Developed Countries on the occasion of this Summit. Under this Scheme, India shall unilaterally provide preferential market access for exports from all 50 least developed countries, 34 of which are in Africa. The Scheme will cover 94% of India’s total tariff lines. Specifically, it will provide preferential market access on tariff lines that comprise 92.5% of global exports of all Least Developed Countries. Products of immediate interest to Africa which are covered include cotton, cocoa, aluminium ores, copper ores, cashew nuts, cane sugar, ready-made garments, fish fillets and non-industrial diamonds.

Our cooperation must actively co-opt trade and industry in the processes of growth and development in Africa. Over the last few years, India has acquired considerable experience in undertaking projects in different countries in Africa through extension of concessional lines of credit by the EXIM Bank of India.

It is also our intention to enhance the Aid to Africa budget of the Ministry of External Affairs for implementing projects in critical areas focusing on human resource development and capacity building. Over the next 5 to 6 years, we propose to undertake projects against grants in excess of 500 million dollars.

We will strengthen local capabilities by creating regional and pan-African institutions of higher education, especially in sciences, Information Technology and vocational education and investment in research and development in renewable forms of energy and agricultural development.

We will enhance opportunities for African students to pursue higher studies in India. As an immediate measure we propose to double our long-term scholarships for undergraduates, postgraduates and higher courses and increase the number of training slots under our technical assistance programmes from 1100 to 1600 every year.

Both India and Africa are blessed with young populations. It is only by investing in the creative energies of our youth that the potential of our partnership will be fulfilled. To harness this vast potential, I propose that we work towards the establishment of an India-Africa Volunteer Corps that is devoted to development work. The Volunteer Corps can on a pilot basis identify projects in the areas of public health, informal education and women’s empowerment. As we gather more experience, the scope of activities can be progressively widened.

India’s commitment to peace, stability and socio-economic development in Africa and for it to play an ever-increasing role in international relations is steadfast. The 21st Century is often described as the Asian century. India wishes to see the 21st century as the century of Asia and Africa with the people of the two continents working together to promote inclusive globalisation.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

The Hindu - Opinion

TAGS for articles

AGRICULTURE Andamans ANDHRA PRADESH Articles in Yojana Magazine BANKING Bio-Diversity Biodiversity CAG 150 Years CAMELS Rating System CENSUS : Important Definitions Census 2011 Census Data 2001 India at a glance Census of India 2011 Champaran Satyagraha's 100 years Children in India 2012 Climate Change Co-operative sector Communication CONSTITUTION Consumer Affairs COP 18 CRPF 75 YEARS Culture Cyclone Defence Desertification Disabled Get Social Justice Doha Climate Change Conference 2012 Outcomes E-Waste Management Eco Mark Economy Education in India eGovernance ELECTRONICS National Policy 2012 Emissions Trading Energy Engineers are Nation Builders Environment FDI FDI in Multi Brand Retail Finance Food Security FOOD SECURITY ACT 2013 Forest Gandhi Gas Authority of India Ltd General Elections 2014 Geography Global knowledge hub Goa Good Governance GOVERNANCE AND PUBLIC SERVICE Governance and Public Service Govt. Schemes Green Bench Handicrafts Haryana Judiciary Health History Home Ministry details and imp websites Horticulture Human Development Rank IARI PUSA IFoS Interview India Post India Year Book 2010 Indira Gandhi Indo Pak Relations Indo USA Indo- Nepal Relations 2014 Industrial Disputes Industry Inflation Infrastructure INTERNAL SECURITY International Relations Internet Interview Preparation Irrigation ISRO : FAQs Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission Judge Guide JUDICIAL ACTIVISM JUDICIARY Judiciary : Articles on very important topics Kashmir Khadi Language Large Hadron Collider Law LOKAYUKTA ROLE Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2011 Mangroves mate Change Media Mercury MGNREGA: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act Monetary Policy MSME National Forest Policy (NFP) 1988 National Green Tribunal National Issues National Pension System Nature Naxalism Naxalism : Internal Security Problem in India Naxalism (HINDI) Naxalism LWE Maoism: Problems and solutions Nilgiri North East NRHM- Key Achievements NSS: National Service Scheme Nuclear Science and Nuclear Reactor Nutrition Odiya Film Making 75 Years OUR PARLIAMENT Panchati Raj Parliament of India Peace Process in North East Personality Test Planning Planning Commission of India PM Narendra Modi Speech on 15 Aug 2014 Lal kila Delhi Pollution Population Poverty President election 2017 President's lecture Project Arrow Project Elephant Public Administration Public Administration - Articles/Reports/Papers PURA Qualities of Judge (Judicial Officer) Rabindranath Tagore Railways Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana RBI : Journey into History of Bank of the Bankers Remote Sensing Renewable Energy RTI in brief Rural India SAFAR SARFAESI ACT Science and Technology Sevottam Simla Agreement Social Issues Society Socio Economic and Religious Differentials states Sunderbans Sustainable Development Tamil Tamilnadu Technological Developments Total Sanitation Campaign Tourism Tribes Tripura UPSC Urban Flooding Urban Issues Values Water Issues Water woes Welfare Wildlife Protection and Conservation Women's Issues Zoology

Trusted name in IAS Interview Training