UPSC IAS Interview 2017-18

Governance and Public Service


New Delhi, 12th November, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to compliment the Union Public Service Commission for the work it has done during its 83 years of existence. I am very happy to be speaking on "Governance and Public Service" at this function. The topic brings a focus on public service in an era when there is a repositioning of the concept of good governance as the role of the Government evolves to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Governance is generally defined as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage the affairs of the country at all levels. Governance must be undertaken in such a way that the well being of the citizen is effectively looked after through a properly organized institutional framework. Good governance implies people's participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus orientation in decision-making, equity and inclusion, effectiveness, efficiency along with accountability and a strategic mission.

Governance has been constantly developing so as to respond to the changing needs and challenges. However, the basic objective of governance has and must remain the welfare of the people. Those involved in governance, must never lose sight of the goal to work for public good and work in the spirit of the vision and values enshrined in our Constitution.

In the early post-Independence years, the focus of governance was on building institutions and the basic infrastructure of the new republic. Today, the priority is to confidently take the country forward into the competitive world of the 21st century. Reaching quality education to young girls and boys must occupy a foremost position in our national priorities if we are to be firmly positioned as leaders of a knowledge-based society where the premium will be on inventions and innovation. Also a system of governance that provides conditions in which the creative potential of its people is realized and the artistic talent, scientific temper and entrepreneurial spirit finds space for growth is the one that results in building human resources capable of contributing to the building of a great nation. These are the demands of the 21st century.

For placing India in this position, focus would need to be centered on propelling economic growth, following a growth trajectory that is inclusive and providing basic amenities to all its citizens. Governance will be judged by the manner in which policies of economic growth are implemented and the extent to which beneficial outcomes can be delivered to the people. Social welfare schemes occupy a central position in the endeavour to empower the disadvantaged sections of society so that they can join the national mainstream. One of the biggest failings has been the inability to deliver and implement welfare schemes. Reforms are necessary if the perception of eroded credibility and effectiveness of administration is to be corrected. Even as we implement schemes, a regular system of monitoring and evaluation of programmes and schemes should be put in place to ensure quality.

De-centralization is very important for it is a participatory form of governance that empowers people, particularly the underprivileged, the women and other disadvantaged sections of society. A people-centric administration with local institutions playing a leading role has the advantage of being closest to the people and hence, aware of their needs and concerns. The 73rd and the 74th Amendments to the Constitution have taken democracy to the grassroots. As a result, there are now 3.2 million elected representatives in village and town councils. We have to now see how to devolve greater decision-making powers to Panchayati Raj institutions for achieving the objective of good governance. However, for them to function effectively there should be proper training and capacity building at various levels - Gram Sabhas, Zila Parishads, Zonal levels. I would also like to emphasize proper co-operation and co-ordination between all levels of administration as delivering results is a combined responsibility.

There are several issues on which fresh perspectives are always required so as to bring in reforms. Some of the pertinent questions are whether the selection procedure adequately looks for qualities and skills required in a changing environment in which the civil services work? Whether the training process prepares the individual to take on the responsibilities of public service? Is there regular in-service training for bringing about better performance? Do performance assessment parameters fairly judge the work undertaken? Are measurable targets being set and is there accountability for the shortcomings and inability to meet targets? The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has studied many of these issues and has made valuable recommendations after extensive consultations with stakeholders. An early examination of these recommendations and a decision about them would contribute to the reform of the governance process.

There are approaches on which there can be no difference or debate and which are fundamental for a good administration and I will now dwell on them.

Public servants must have firm moorings to moral values and principles. Our nation has been founded on human values and progressive ideas. Tolerance and harmony are the ethos of our civilization. Our independence struggle was fought on the basis of truth and non-violence. Public servants, being the wheels of administration and essential for running the affairs of the nation, must introspect on how they can reflect these values in their functioning. Discipline as well as commitment and dedication to work; and putting the nation above self, are qualities in a civil servant and, indeed, in any citizen that would help in building the nation. If public servants are disciplined and hardworking it would have a multiplier effect on society itself as they can by their own conduct and example, spur others in the same direction. While dealing with issues that have a human dimension, it is important that public authorities must be sensitive. Building a caring administration is important.

The system has to be made corruption free. Like a cancer, corruption is that sore which drains the strength of a nation. Corruption has deprived the nation of better infrastructure and better facilities. When only a fraction of the money is spent for the purpose for which it is allocated, the impact is far less than the intended or envisaged. For example, corruption in the public distribution system means that food meant for the poorer sections of society is not reaching them and as a result the national objective of removing poverty and hunger suffers. The people feel let down, the nation loses resources and we lag behind others. It is one malaise which brooks no delay.

Opaqueness results in red-tapism and unaccountability. There should be transparency in functioning. Withholding information from the public creates a distance between the civil servant and the people; it results in a gap between those responsible for governing and those for whose benefits the system operates. Transparency has a triple impact. It encourages civil servants to take decisions in a manner that can withstand public scrutiny. It brings home to the people the challenges that the government faces as it functions. It institutes a dialogue process in the country.

I am, therefore, glad that instruments like the RTI are giving to the citizens a platform to communicate with administration. This is important as governance is not purely a government function but it is a partnership between the Government and the people. Many schemes and programmes of the government are no longer being implemented by the Government alone, but with the support of NGOs and members of the civil society. Good governance, as a concept, becomes applicable to all sections of society - government, legislature, judiciary, the media, the private sector, the corporate sector, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).

Today we operate in an environment in which there are many more tools of technology available. E-governance technology enables better communication systems, better data and information systems, quicker processing of the data and resultantly better delivery mechanism and monitoring of services. New technologies in the fields of electronics and information science must be harnessed in the service of the poor and the underprivileged and all civil servants must acquaint themselves with technological advances for better performance.

The Union Public Service Commission plays an important role in the governance process of the country. As a constitutional body, it is has provided a strong institutional mechanism for the recruitment, appointment and career related matters of the members of India's civil services. It has set high standards for itself and has been recruiting persons of merit and ability, in an open and impartial manner. It has also shown a remarkable ability to respond to changing requirements by taking recourse to innovative and transparent reform initiatives. Better systems of selection will in the long run have a positive effect on the quality of governance.

I end by reiterating that in all circumstances the welfare of the people is the ultimate work and test. All work and policies must be geared to that final goal.

Thank you.

Jai Hind.

adopted from www.president of website


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The Kashmir Hangul needs to be preserved

by - Ashok Handoo, Freelance Writer

The recently concluded International Conference held in Srinagar on Kashmir Hangul, the only surviving species of the Red Deer family, in Kashmir, expressed serious concern over the fast dwindling number of this rare variety. Considering the seriousness of the issue, the concern is well placed and needs to be addressed.
A look at the figures gives an Idea of the magnitude. Forget about the times when the number of Hangul in Kashmir was stated to be in thousands. Just at the beginning of the 20th century, their number was 5,000. By the time militancy broke out in the state in late 80’s, it had come down to 900. Last year it touched a low of 117 to 180, according to a census. But, since then it has risen to about 230, thanks to some renewed conservation efforts. With the help of WWF, ‘Project Hangul’ was started in Kashmir in the 70’s which resulted in the number of Hangul going up to 340 by the eighties. But that was short lived. The latest census of 2008 puts the figure at 150 to 160.
Kashmir Hangul is one of the proud possessions of Kashmir. It is also the state animal of Kashmir. Its extinction will surely be a matter of concern. The wake up call by the conservationists and environmentalists, to all the stake holders, is something that can be ignored only at great risk.
“We will not let the Hangul go extinct”. That is how the J&K Chief Minister Shri Omar Obdullah expressed his determination to save the rare animal. The State Governor Shri N.N.Vohra, too, was emphatic in his remarks even as he blamed human biotic interference for the fast depleting number of the species.
It is not the Hangul alone that is meeting this fate. Markhur, Himalayan Bear and the Musk deer, too, are becoming endangered species due to melting glaciers, depleting forest cover and water bodies. And as Mr. Vohra pointed out, if this trend is not reversed the very survival of mankind could be in danger.
Experts blame extensive human encroachment as a major cause for extinction of wild life. Poaching, indeed, leads the list. Poachers do so to make a quick money as the skin and magnificent antlers of Hangul fetch them a very high price Internationally. In case of tigers and leopards poachers look for their medicinal values. The tiger, too, is thus disappearing fast despite the ‘Project Tiger’ launched by the Government long ago. The latest tiger census counted just 1,411 big cats, down from 3,642 in 2002 and around 40,000 a century ago.
The Dachigam sanctuary on the outskirts of Srinagar, spread over an area of 140 sq. km., which is home to the Kashmir Hangul, came under the sway of the Militants. They killed the animal for its meat as well. For well over a decade, the area was out of bounds for even the security forces. Besides Dachigam, Kashmir Hangul is also seen in Wadwan valley, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar and Tilel regions of the State. The male deer has impressive antlers whereas the female has no antlers. Hangul has a red brownish coat and that is why it is also called red deer. The colour, however, changes with every season and age. The male Hangul has long hair along its neck while the female has none.
Destruction of natural habitats, overgrazing by domestic live stock and deforestation are other forms of human interference that has led to this tragic situation. Forests are disappearing as trees are felled illegally for both firewood and timber, most of which is smuggled. This paves the way for the grazing areas extending deep into the jungles leading to destruction of the natural habitats.
The State Government, too, charged with having neglected the environment and wildlife in the state and ignoring the need for protecting the rare species. Surely, the State Government, too, has a responsibility to protect the animal from becoming extinct.
Critical environmental issues like ozone depletion, global warming and climate change are also responsible for the present situation. This explains the need for swift and long term action in dealing with global warming which the world is facing now.
There is, however, some hope for the future. The latest census has shown improvement in the female-fawn ratio which indicates a possibility of a sustained growth in the future. Apart from that, there is also a need for effective implementation of conservation plans. Along with punitive measures against those who violate laws, the people need to be sensitized by launching massive awareness campaigns. All the stakeholders need to come together to preserve, conserve and sustain environment, ecology, fauna and flora of the state. The joint effort will surely go a long way in helping in protecting the world famous Hangul in the State.
Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

Save Energy to Have Energy : Achievements in 2008-09

We all know energy is scarce and expensive and more so, when the country is facing energy shortage. Demand management and energy efficiency, therefore, are the new-age mantras for the power sector. The strategy developed to make power available to all by 2012 includes promotion of energy efficiency and its conservation in the country, which is found to be the least cost option to augment the gap between demand and supply.


Considering the vast potential of energy savings and benefits of energy efficiency, the Government enacted the Energy Conservation Act, 2001. The Act provides for the legal framework, institutional arrangement and a regulatory mechanism at the Central and State level to embark upon energy efficiency drive in the country. The Government has set a target for energy savings equivalent to avoided capacity addition of 10,000 MW during the XI five year plan (2007-12). The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) an autonomous body under the Ministry of Power has initiated 6 national schemes to achieve this goal targeting different sectors which are: Commercial Buildings; Standards for end use; Equipment & Appliances; Agricultural & Municipal Demand Side Management; Small and Medium Enterprises; Lighting; Energy Conservation Awards for Large Industries.

All the schemes have been duly approved by the Government and are under implementation. Another important role assigned to BEE is to strengthen the institutional capacity of energy efficiency set up at State level to monitor these schemes through the State Designated Agencies (SDAs). The objective is to encourage SDAs to take up implementation of energy efficiency measures, monitor and verify savings of energy achieved by their interventions and implement the provisions of the Energy Conservation Act 2001, in their respective States.

Achievements in 2008-09

The energy savings related to the various energy efficiency programs of the government amounted to about 5.1 million tones oil-equivalent in 2008-09, or about 1% of the total energy supply in the country. The electricity savings were 6.6 billion units, i.e. 1% of the national electricity consumption, and equivalent to avoided generation capacity of 1505 MW. This avoided generation capacity is more than the peak demand in 20 of the 35 states and Union Territories of the country; and equal to the combined peak demand of Uttarakhand and Chandigarh.

These savings have resulted from the increased sales of BEE star-labeled refrigerators and air-conditioners, enhanced energy efficiency in industry, and government-driven CFL programs. In 2008-09, approximately 75% of the refrigerators sold were star-labeled compared to less than 50% in the previous year. For air-conditioners, the percentage of labeled products sold in 2008-09 was 50% compared to 12% in the year before. These two products alone accounted for savings of 2.12 billion units of electricity.

The savings were verified by the National Productivity Council(NPC). The avoided capacity generation related to government energy efficiency programs was 621 MW in 2007-08, bringing the total for the first two years of the XIth plan to 2126 MW. The target for the current year 2009-10 is 2600 MW, and cumulative target for the XIth Five Year Plan period is 10,000 MW.

As DG BEE, puts it, energy saving indeed is a national cause and all of us will have to join hands and make all out efforts in making India an energy efficient economy and society. (PIB Features)

Eco Marks-Right Environment Choice

by - Kalpana Palkhiwala, Deputy Director (M & C), PIB, New Delhi.

The issue of environmental protection has brought the consumers, the industry and the government to a common platform. The government and legislatures are using their influence to reduce environmental and health hazards due to industrialization and to stimulate the development of clean technologies. However the environment is under tremendous stress from rapid industrialization, unplanned urbanization and changing consumption patterns in the race to achieve better living standards. It is absolutely clear that regulatory actions by pollution control agencies alone can not restore the environment to its pristine state. Pro-active and promotional roles should also be geared up in harmony with the overall environmental protection strategy. The time has come for consumers to take lead in performing manufacturers to adopt clean and eco-friendly technologies and environmental-safe disposal of used products, along with preventive and mitigative approaches.
Eco Mark Scheme
Eco Mark is a voluntary non binding scheme which labels consumer products as environment friendly based upon certain environmental as well as quality parameters. To increase consumer awareness, the Government launched the eco-labelling scheme known as ‘Eco Mark’ in 1991 for easy identification of environment-friendly products. Any product which is made, used or disposed of in way that significantly reduces the harm it would otherwise cause the environment could be considered as Environment-Friendly Product. They have less potential for pollution during their entire life cycle i.e. raw material, manufacturing, use and disposal.
Twenty Eco Mark licenses to fifteen companies have been awarded in the country under three product categories i.e. paper, wood substitutes and finished leather and sixteen product categories have been notified since 1992 to 2000. In case of finished leather the quality norms were de-linked from Eco Mark norms on the ground that the Indian leather already meets the BIS approved quality norms. One more category—coir products has been taken up and Eco mark criteria for it are at draft stage.
The logo of Eco Mark scheme is unique, its message has the ability to reach out to the people and can help to promote a greater awareness of the need to be kind to the environment. An Earthen pot which is the logo of the Eco Mark Scheme, signifying the use of renewable resource like clay, which does not produce hazardous waste and consumes less energy in making. Its solid and graceful form represents both the strength and fragility, which also characterize the Eco-System. Thus as a symbol, it puts across its environmental message.
The criteria follow a cradle-to grave approach, i.e. from raw material extraction, to manufacturing, and to disposal. The ‘Eco Mark’ label is awarded to consumer goods which meet the specified environmental criteria and the quality requirements of Indian Standards. Any product with the Eco Mark will be the right environment choice.
There are five main objectives for the Eco Mark Scheme. That are, to provide an incentive for manufactures and importers to reduce adverse environmental impact of products; to reward genuine initiatives by companies in this regard; to assist consumers to become environmentally responsible in their daily lives by providing information, to take account of environmental factors in their purchase decisions; to encourage citizens to purchase products which have less harmful environmental impacts and ultimately to improve the quality of the environment and to encourage the sustainable management of resources.
Mechanism and Functions
A steering committee, a technical committee and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) are involved in criteria development for each product category and the award of the Eco Mark. Both the Committees have been set up in the Ministry of Environment and Forests. They consist of members from Government Organizations, Research institutes, Industrial Associations and Non-Government Organizations. The Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests heads the Steering committee and it determines the products categories for coverage under the scheme and also formulates strategies for promotion, implementation, future development and improvements in the working of the scheme.
The Steering Committee has specific functions which include section of the logo, determine the product categories, mass awareness for promotion and acceptance, coordination with industries to ensure their active involvement, securing the involvement of other Ministries, Departments, Industry Associations and other Non- Government Organizations, formulations of strategies for future development, identify instructions in India or outside to build consumer awareness, promoting programmes of Comparative Testing of products and supporting any research for the formulations of Eco Mark products.
The technical committee is headed by the Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board in the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It identifies specific products for classifying as environment friendly, review the existing state of knowledge and the environmental criteria being followed in other countries and various technologies available for determining the criteria, recommend the most appropriate criteria and parameters to designate products as environment friendly. It reviews from time to time, the implementation of the scheme by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and set-up sub-Committee for each product category including formulation of test programmes for comparative testing of products by consumer organizations.
Functions of BIS
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) implements the Eco Mark scheme under BIS Act, 1986. It incorporates the criteria into Indian Standards, assess and certify the product for award of the Eco Mark. It allows the use of the label, on payment of a fee and inspects and takes samples for analysis to see the conformance with the Eco Mark criteria.
BIS charges for application fee, testing of samples, annual licence fee, renewal of application fee and marketing fee depending upon the quantum of the annual production. The label is awarded for a minimum period of one year and the product is re-assessed after the prescribed periods for renewal of licence. The BIS has a power to withdraw the licence at any time if they find any misleading information or any change in criteria due to the advancement of technology or any other valid reasons in consultation with the Technical Committee.
Eco Mark Licence
The licence is granted for a minimum period of one year and is renewed subsequently for the same period, after reassessment of the products. The manufacturer must ensure that the product qualify the quality criteria as per Indian Standard before applying to BIS for Eco Mark. A manufacturer desirous to obtain licence for eco Mark has to apply to BIS on the prescribed form with an application fee. On receipt of the application, BIS arranges inspection of the industry collects samples and arranges testing of the products. A licence is granted if, the product conforms to the relevant set criteria. On grant of a licence, the manufactures is authorized to use Eco Mark logo on their products.
Success of Indian Eco Mark Scheme
For satisfactory performance of the Eco Mark scheme, awareness among consumer is required. Industries also need incentives. Support from Government to manufacturers through purchase preference will give impetus to the scheme. Environment which plays a minor role in consumer’s decision to buy a product, the price is still a main factor for consumer’s decision.
The Government initiated steps to popularize the scheme. During the year 2006-2007, 238 Consumer Awareness Programmes and 42 Industry Awareness Programme were conducted by BIS all over the country. In addition comparative testing of products and dissemination of its findings have been got done by a consumer organization (Voice).
International Eco Labelling Programmes
Blue Angel programme of Germany is the oldest eco-label programme, which was started in 1997 and has more than 3,000 certified products in the market. Eco Mark of Japan is the second oldest eco-labelling programme after Blue Angel, which was started in 1989 and 1,902 companies have been issued licences under which 5,673 products have been certified. Sweden and Canada also have successful eco-labelling programme and have more than 3,000 certified products. Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Croatia, Taiwan, Thailand and Ukraine are other countries which have adopted Eco Mark scheme.

Indian Railways - Fulfilling a Long Cherished Dream of Kashmir Valley

by - Harish Kunwar, Deputy Director (Railways), PIB, New Delhi

With the completion of the 119 kilometers long railway line from Baramulla to Quazigund
in the Kashmir Valley, Indian Railways is proud to have attained a long cherished dream of all in
the country, especially of people living in the Valley. The last stretch of 18 kilometres railway line of this prestigious project from Anantnag to Quazigund was dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on 28th October 2009. The 101 km railway line which is already operational from Anantnag to Baramulla has proved to be very popular with more than 5000 passengers travelling on it every day. The additional railway line between Anantnag and
Quazigund pressed into service will also benefit the residents of the Valley in a similar manner
substantially. With the opening of this stretch, the entire 119 km long railway line from Baramulla to Quazigund in the valley has now become operational covering important stations like Sopore, Hamre, Pattan, Mazhom, Budgam, Srinagar, Pampore, Kakapora, Awantipura, Panjgam, Bijbiara, Anantnag and Sadura in both the directions.

With a view to provide an alternative reliable, all weathers, transportation system and to
connect the State of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of the country through railway network, the Ministry of Railways planned a 345 km long railway line connecting Jammu to Baramulla via
Udhampur, Katra, Reasi, Sangaldan, Banihal, Quazigund, Anantnag and Srinagar. The project is
of national importance. Due to this reason, part of the project from Udhampur to Baramulla has
been declared as a “National Projects” and funds are being provided by the Ministry of Finance.
The estimated cost of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail Link project (292 km) is approximate
Rs. 11270 crores. So far, expenditure on this project has been approximate Rs. 5500 crore. On 13th April 2005, the railway line of 53 kilometres moved further north from Jammu to Udhampur, when the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh dedicated it to the nation. Later on, in October 2008 and February 2009, the railway lines from Anantnag to Mazhom (66 km) and Mazhom to Baramula (35 km) were also inaugurated by the Prime Minister.

Railways also required approach roads of about 262 kilometres in the Katra-Quazigund
section project, to carry construction material and workers, 145 km of new roads are already
operational, on which buses are regularly plying from village to village, encouraging movement as each village thus connected drops the adjective “remote”, which was its earlier description. While the sick can easily reach hospitals, the young have better opportunities to travel to distant
educational institutions, thus improving their career prospects. It has also been seen that marriages are also now being solemnized between residents of different villages, rather than being restricted to their own folk, as people have become more mobile. Local produce of the villages is also finding its way into city markets quickly, giving better opportunities to those who were till now on the outer periphery of business opportunities due to the distances and lack of means of transportation.

The railway line in the valley has been constructed at the approximate expenditure of Rs.
3250 crore and has 64 major and 640 minor bridges. Fifteen stations fall on this line and
passenger amenities have been provided at all of them. The station buildings have been
aesthetically designed in the local architecture, which is not only pleasing to the eye, but is also
climatically suitable. Another interesting feature of this railway line is that all the construction
material as well rolling stock was transported by road, adding yet another dimension of challenge in the execution of the project.

The introduction of railway line in the Kashmir valley has brought a major revolution in
the lifestyle of the people living in the Valley. The railways are more than just a means of
transport, its influence is known to transform society. As distant towns, cities and areas begin to
get connected, a new all encompassing culture begins to emerge. People travel to other areas for
better job opportunities and stay on, facilitating trans-national migration, blurring regional barriers.

Today, these rails of steel hold us tight together as one cohesive force. The day is not for when the Valley’s railway line will be linked to the rest of the Indian Railway network, connecting it to the farther most corners of the country. (PIB Features)

Co-Operative Movement for Controlling Water Pollution

by Kalpana Palkhiwala, Deputy Director, Press Information Bureau, Delhi

Distilleries, Paper & Pulp, Thermal Power Plants, Tanneries and Electroplating Units are major water polluting industries in the country. Sewage management is another challenge, for which the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in the Ministry of Urban Development and the National River Conservation Directorate are working for control of water pollution.

National Water Quality Monitoring Programme

Water quality monitoring is an important exercise, which helps in evaluating the nature and the extent of pollution control required and the effectiveness of pollution control measures already in existence.

Under the National water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWQMP), a network of monitoring stations on rivers across the country has been set up with the assistance of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Pollution Control Committees (PCCs). The present network comprises of 1245 stations in 27 States and six Union Territories spread over the country. The monitoring network covers 250 rivers, 79 lakes, 6 tanks, 26 ponds and 8 creeks, 19 canals, 18 drains and 382 wells.

The water quality monitoring results obtained during 1995 to 2007 indicates that the organic and bacterial contamination continue to be critical in water bodies. There has also been a decreasing trend in the level of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), indicating reduction of organic pollution in some of the rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Sabarmati, Godavari, Tapti, Narmada. As per the available data on water quality monitoring, overall observations having BOD more than 6 mg/litre have decreased with significant increase in the observations with BOD less than 3mg/litre. Coliform level also show similar trend. Thus, pollution in terms of BOD and coliform count as per the latest data has shown decreasing trend. This can be attributed mainly to the focused efforts on pollution control for critically polluted stretches of the water bodies.

Scheme of Common Effluent Treatment Plants

The concept of Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CEPT) arose in order to make a co-operative movement for pollution control. The main objective of the CEPTs is to reduce the treatment cost to be borne by an individual member unit to a minimum while protecting the water environment to a maximum. Waste water treatment and water conservation are the prime objectives of the CEPT. The concept of CEPTs was envisaged to treat the effluent emanating from the clusters of small and medium-scale industries. It was also envisaged that the burden of various Government authorities working for controlling pollution and monitoring of water pollution could be reduced once the CEPTs are implemented and commissioned.

A Centrally Sponsored Scheme has been undertaken by the Government for enabling the Small Scale Industries (SSI) to set up new and upgrade the existing Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CEPT) to cover all the States in the Country. A scheme for financial assistance for the CEPTs has been formulated, the State subsidy will be - 25% of the total project cost; Central subsidy 25% of the total project cost; the Entrepreneurs contribution will be 20% of the total project cost and the loan from financial institutions will be 30% of the total project cost.

The CEPTs are managed by a CEPT company formed by the small & medium scale industrial unit. The SPCBs periodically monitor the operation, maintenance as well as statutory requirement of individual CEPT, so as to control pollution from the SSI units.

Central assistance upto 25% of the total project cost of the CEPT is provided as a grant to the CEPT on sharing basis with similar grant released by the State Government. An outlay of Rs. 25.00 crore was allocated during the Xth Plan for the scheme of CEPT, which was fully utilized.

The Ministry has funded 19 CEPTs during the period 2002-08 in the country. One location each in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, five locations in Gujarat and eleven locations in Maharashtra got this funding facility. For the year 2008-09, an outlay of Rs. 4.40 crore has been allocated for the Scheme of CEPT.

Iodine – Essential for Health

Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) continue to pose a serious threat to the health, well being, economic productivity and advancement of several hundred million people worldwide. People living in iodine deficient environment suffer from reduced mental and physical abilities, cretinism, deaf-mutism, squint, still-birth, abortion, goitre of all ages, neuro-motor defects, etc. Even when born normal, young children whose diets are low in iodine have their lives trapped in mental dullness and apathy. IDD preys upon poor, pregnant women and preschool children, posing serious public health problems in more than hundred developing countries. Iodine deficiency was once considered a minor problem, causing goiter, it is now known that it affects developing brain much deadlier and thereby, constituting a threat to the social and economic development of many countries.

The magnitude of the IDD problem is quite high. This has led to an International focus on elimination of Iodine Deficiency Disorders and October 21 is observed as the Global Iodine Deficiency Disorders Prevention Day to create awareness towards this problem. Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones which are needed for optimal mental and physical development and regulation of body metabolism. Therefore, in iodine deficiency populations, it is critical to have effective universal salt iodisation. Iodine, a chemical element like carbon, oxygen or iron, is available in fairly constant amounts in seawater while it is found in an uneven distribution over land and fresh water.

It is an essential part of the chemical structure of thyroid hormones. It makes two hormones - thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid hormones act in target organs by influencing many different chemical reactions, usually involving manufacture of key proteins. The body must have proper levels of thyroid hormone to work well. Recommended daily intake of iodine varies with age. To meet iodine requirements, the recommended daily intakes are - 50 micrograms for infants (first 12 months of age), 90 mg for children (2-6 years of age) 120 mg for school children (7-12 years of age), 150 mg for adults (beyond 12 years of age) and 200 mg for pregnant and lactating women. Most of it comes from what we eat and drink. Seafood is usually a good source because the ocean contains considerable iodine. Freshwater fish reflect the iodine content of the water where they swim.

Iodine contents in other foods vary depending on their source. Plants grown in iodine-deficient soil do not have much iodine, nor do meat or other products from animals fed on iodine-deficient plants. Iodized salt is a special case. With only a few isolated exceptions, edible salt (sodium chloride) does not naturally contain iodine. Iodine is added deliberately as one of the most efficient ways of improving iodine nutrition. Iodine exposure can come from many other sources too, for example certain food colorings (erythrosine), skin disinfectants, such as povidone iodine, is absorbed and reaches the bloodstream, health foods – certain types of kelp, dyes and medicines. People also get iodine from its use in farm animals, for cleansing udders or as part of iodine-containing medicines. Iodate has been used as a bread stabilizer in commercial baking, although this practice is less common now.

Though iodine deficiency has terrific negative effects, its excess can play havoc too. The excess of it causes thyroid under activity. Iodised and uniodised salt are sold simultaneously in the country. But the awareness of the health priority aspect of iodised salt among the public has resulted in the creation of a significant consumer demand for iodised salt. The World over, including China and the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand, etc., are implementing compulsory salt iodisation for human consumption. Globally iodated salt is recognized as the cheapest and most sustainable way to prevent and control Iodine Deficiency Disorders.

Except few types of goiter, most of the iodine deficiency disorders are irreversible and permanent in nature, but they can be easily prevented by regular consumption of iodated salt daily. Realizing the magnitude of the problem, the Government launched a 100 per cent centrally assisted National Goitre Control Programme (NGCP) in 1962. In August 1992, the National Goitre Control Programme (NGCP) was renamed as National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme (NIDDCP) with a view to cover a wide spectrum of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. The Government’s goal of NIDDCP is to reduce the prevalence of Iodine deficiency disorders below 10 per cent in the entire country by 2012 A.D.

From Darkness to Light: National Programme for Control of Blindness

O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!....- John Milton

Milton was expressing a primal sentiment as ability to see is critical for realization of human potential. This sentiment is shared by at least 12 million people in India who fall in the category of blind (visual acuity less than 6/60). In many cases this fate is totally avoidable or can be corrected by simple interventions. For example, in the year 2008-09, the country performed nearly 5.8 million cataract surgeries with 94% inter-ocular lens (IOL) implantation. In layman terms this means blindness was either prevented or corrected in 5.4 million people in one year. This was one of the activities of National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) which has made a commendable progress in terms of Cataract Surgical Rate and the momentum thus generated would continue in future also.

The Programme
National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) is now more than thirty years old, launched in 1976 as 100% centrally sponsored scheme has the professed goal of reducing blindness prevalence to 0.3% by the year 2020. Blindness prevalence stood at 1% in 2006-07, down from 1.1% in the year 2001-02. Refractive errors are other important cause of vision impairment and are being addressed effectively through institutional and outreach activities. School Eye Screening is an important strategy wherein eyes of children studying in schools are screened for vision impairment and glasses distributed free of cost to students from poor socio-economic strata. Corneal blindness is being addressed through eye banking activities and a new thrust has been given for eye donation and corneal transplantation.

With the approval of Rs 1250 crores and implementation of Eleventh Plan (2007-12) the programme has taken a lead in addressing other issues of blindness in a comprehensive manner. These include Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma, Childhood blindness, Low Vision and ocular injuries in a mission mode through successful Public Private Partnership. The endeavor of the programme is to eliminate all causes of avoidable blindness and to reach a sustainable level where-in all people have access to level appropriate eye care service. Tele-ophthalmology a new information technology tool has been introduced under the programmefor reaching the undeserved population in rural & tribal areas. The results are very encouraging and being scaled up in a phase manner.

The programme has been fully integrated under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to enhance the reach and coverage including utilization of services of community link worker like Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers. State Blindness Control Societies and District Blindness Control Societies have been merged State HealthSocieties and District State Societies formed under the NRHM umbrella. Under NRHM facility for IOL implantation are to expanded to at least Taluka level.

Other new initiatives include funding for construction of eye wards and dedicate eye OT especially in North East State and Hilly/underdeveloped States and appointment of eye surgeons, eye donation counselors and Para-Medical Ophthalmic Assistant (PMOA) especially for the new or district where there are none. The recurring expenditure of such workforce will be borne by Government of India till the term of eleventh plan period and thereafter it would be taken up by respective State/UTs. Funding for provision of latest equipment and instruments for establishing & strengthening eye care services in government institutions i.e. vision centre at Primary Health Centre (PHC), Community Health Centre (CHC) through district hospital and medical colleges are being developed into centre of excellence for providing pediatric ophthalmology retina units/low vision units.

Non-governmental sector providing free services to needy population are being supported through recurring and non-recurring grant as per the approved schemes. Capacity building of health personnel is another important strategy for improving their skills and updating them on issues relevant to the programme for delivery of eye care services. The Government coordinates the in-service training of eye surgeons working in public sector and provides funding to States/UTs for other health care staff including medical officers, paramedical and community link workers. Advocacy and social mobilization including Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities have made a impetus in improving community awareness.

Encouraging Response
Funds utilization is an indicator for planned activities being under taken and during last five years utilization has been to the tune of nearly 100% of the allocation. National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB), through State/UTs and all other stakeholders and partners are consistently moving forward in advancement of comprehensive eye care services and hopefully would be able to bring the level of blindness in the country from current status of 1.0% to 0.3% by the year 2020.

*Based on Material from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare

Boosting foodgrain production for enhanced food security

by - Surinder Sud, Freelance Writer
“Achieving food security in times of crisis”. This is the theme for this year’s World Food Day being celebrated on October 16. This is as aptly relevant for India, grappling with drought this year, as for the world reeling under economic crisis that has hit the poor harder than the rich, jeopardising their livelihood and food security.

India has, no doubt, won the battle against famines and starvation deaths, which have become the thing of the past, thanks to spectacular upswing in foodgrain production since the green revolution of the late 1960s. The country’s grain coffers are brimming over, holding nearly 53 million tonnes of wheat and rice on July 1, 2009, as a result of consistent rise in foodgrainoutput in past few years. The food output has grown annually, on an average, by 1.98 per cent between 2004-05 and 2008-09, which is higher than the estimated population growth of 1.5 per cent during this period. Yet, there is rampant disguised hunger and malnutrition. More than one-fifth of the country’s population is reckoned to be undernourished in terms of energy and protein intake.

Globally, too, the picture is not too different. The United Nations Food and AgricultureOrganisation (FAO) reckons that nearly 105 million people have been added to the list of hungry in 2009 itself, swelling the total number of malnourished people in the world to whopping 1.02 billion. Simply stated, this means that almost one-sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger.

This is the state of food intake alone. But the modern concept of food security goes far beyond the availability and accessibility of staple food. It includes the man’s need for safe drinking water, clean surrounding environment and health cover. Livelihood security, essential for ensuring economic access to food, is intricately related to food security. Sanitation and shelter are also part of the broad new concept of food security.

The widely accepted definition of food security in the modern context is: ‘physical, economical, social and environmental access to balanced diet and clean drinking water for all and forever’. This is slightly different from classical concept of food security which, in simple terms, deems it a situation where all people at all times have sufficient food to meet their dietary and nutritional needs to lead a healthy and productive life. This makes it imperative to ensure food security at least at three levels – national level (macro level food security), household level and individual level (micro level food security to facilitate equal access to food to women, especially pregnant women, and young girls).

Where macro level food security is concerned, India is well protected. While the country’s population has nearly doubled between the initial years of the 1970s (when the fruits of the green revolution had begun to accrue) and now, the foodgrain production has increased more than that – from about 90 million tonnes then to nearly 134 million tonnes now.

This has transformed the country from a net food importer to an occasional food exporter. More importantly, this has increased the per capita availability of foodgrains – from 183 kg in 1971-1975 to 193 kg in 2006-07 – despite the increase in the population.

What is highly significant here is that the output of relatively more nutritious food items, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, milk, meat and eggs, has risen faster than that of staple foods. This has implications for nutrition security. Reduction in poverty and improvement in income levels have, together, made food economically accessible to more people. This is reflected in decrease in the per capita consumption of cereals and increase in that of non-cereal foods like fruits, vegetables, fish and animal products. The bitter truth, however, is that neither poverty has totally been eliminated nor food could be made economically accessible to all. As a result, ensuring food security to all is still a challenge.

Fortunately, the need for enhancing food security has seldom been lost sight of by successive Governments in India ever since Independence. This has been sought to be achieved through several policy initiatives and administrative measures. Besides consistent efforts to boost foodgrain production and augment food availability through imports, when necessary, a massive public food distribution system (PDS) has been created to provide physical access to food throughout the country. Massive subsidies are given on food items for different classes of people, depending on their income level to make the food economically affordable for them.

Moreover, social welfare schemes, involving food as a component of assistance, and food-for-work kind of programmes are launched with the dual objective of providing food and alleviating poverty. The most significant recent initiatives in this direction that have attracted attention worldwide are the passage of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and proposal to pass a similar law for guaranteeing statutory right to food. Such measures can potentially take care of both food security and livelihood security. Presently, over half of the country’s population is covered by one or the other scheme in which subsidized food is made available to the beneficiaries.

Another significant recent measure is the setting up of a National Food Security Mission (NFSM) which essentially aims at boosting the production of foodgrains like rice, wheat and pulses. This mission already seems to have made an impact on the output of rice and wheat though the production of pulses still continues to fluctuate widely from year to year.

However, there are several formidable threats to food security. The physical health of soil, including its fertility, is deteriorating due to extraction of more nutrients from it than are added to it annually. The carbon content of the soils is decreasing due to lesser than required application of organic manures. Several micronutrients, vital for getting good crop yields, are becoming deficient. The yields of several key food crops are tending to reach the plateau. Water is also becoming scarce. Achieving a quantum jump in food production is difficult under such circumstances.

The biggest challenge to food security has been posed by the global warming and the resultant climate change. The studies conducted by the New Delhi-based Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) have indicated the possibility of around 4 to 5 million tonnes loss in the country’s overall annual wheat production with every rise of 1 degree Celsius in temperature. The output of other food crops is also likely to be hit by the climate change-induced erratic weather, more frequent droughts and floods and other stresses caused to the food crops.

Though the climate change has begun to create problems for food production all over the world, but the developing countries, especially of South Asia, are believed to be the most vulnerable to its adverse affects. A recent comprehensive assessment of the impact of climate change on agriculture, made by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), has indicated that the yield of wheat may drop by as much as 50 per cent by 2050 from 2000 levels in South Asia. The productivity of rice is projected to dip by 17 per cent and that of maize by 6 per cent by that time. This study has also indicated that the prices of food crops like wheat, rice, maize and others will rise by between 121 per cent and 194 per cent by 2050 due to factors related to climate change. This, coupled with decreased yields of these crops, will threaten food security of some 1.6 billion people in South Asia and render 25 million more children malnourished world wide by 2050.

Calculations by the FAO have indicated that agriculture in developing countries would need an investment of around US $ 30 billion to achieve the goal, set by the World Food Summit in 1996, of reducing the number of hungry people by half by 2015. However, the FAO has also said in a statement on the occasion of the World Food Day 2009 that the world has the ability to find money to solve problems if these problems are considered important. “Let us work together to make sure hunger is recognised as a critical problem, and solve it,” the global food body has asserted.
Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

40th Anniversary of Man’s Landing on the Moon

by - Dilip Ghosh,Freelance Writer

Forty year ago, on July 20, in 1969, Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo 11 Mission and Edwin Aldrin Jr., Commander of its lunar module ‘ Eagle’ became the first cosmonauts to land on the moon.

As Armstrong set his foot on the celestial body he said, “ One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was indeed an astonishing feat! If one were to cover the distance of nearly 4 lakh kilometers between Moon and Earth by car it would take him 130 days to reach the lunar surface.

The Apollo Mission journey was covered in a little over three days from 16th to 20th July that year. While Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon, Michael Collins continued to orbit Earth in his command module. After spending 21 hours exploring the moon’s surface, Armstrong and Aldrin returned to Earth. Millions of people across the world watched the video broadcast of the Moon landing.

To re-live that historic moment, the governments and space organizations across the world have organized several programs. In the United Kingdom, Royal Mail is issuing a commemorative sheet of 10 stamps in an illustrated folder. Such is the public enthusiasm over man conquering Moon that the stamps sheet is now selling at a premium over its face value of £13.50.

In the United States, National Air and Space Museum has been holding an exhibition “Alan Bean: Painting Apollo, First Artist on Another World” since 16th July, the day on which the Apollo mission was launched. On display are 40 original paintings and drawings by artist- astronaut, Alan Bean who traveled to Moon in Apollo 12 Mission..

The show enables the viewers to experience a world so far away through the eyes of the only artist to walk on the lunar surface. A documentary “Alan Bean: Artist Astronaut” by Jeffrey Roth is also being screened there since yesterday The film explores why Bean left NASA to make his Apollo-inspired artwork, using footage shot inside his workshop and photos of the Apollo-era tools he used to add texture to his paintings.

Mathew Battles, a reputed author credited with several works has written a fascinating book “13 ways to Look at Apollo”. Battles book begins by talking about the constructions of the Apollo spacecraft and its relationship to other amazing vessels that took people to adventures during classical antiquity. He says, “The spacecraft, both a high- tech marvel and a low- tech tin can, was in some sense the unsung hero of the Moon Landing.

But, the astronauts became the true heroes.” Incidentally, 2009 has also been named as the International Year of Astronomy. The Moon landing was an event over which the old feel nostalgic while the young feel that they missed the bus. Yet, not everyone is so euphoric about it. In the United States itself, there are many who believe that the first Moon landing was a hoax. Bill Kaysing, a former engineer who worked on the design of Apollo rockets said, “The whole thing seemed phoney to me.”

He was particularly puzzled by the landing vehicle, which did not seem to make any engine noise. Astronaut Brian OLeary who was an adviser to the Apollo program in the 1960s also said: “I can’t be sure 100 per cent that man actually walked on the Moon.” To the hoax believers question why no star was visible in the background of the visuals of the Moon landing, NASA’s reply was that because the sun was so bright and the lunar surface so reflective, the stars would be too dim for a camera to capture.

For other such questions, NASA scientists would sigh wearily, like teachers trying to educate the dullest kid in class in the simplest physics. American media also carries the story that ever since President John F Kennedy pledged at the start of the 1960s that man would travel to Moon and be back within a decade, the US administration had been desperately trying to beat the Russians in the space race.

That summer of 1969, Moscow was only a month from launching its own manned Moon shot. But, Washington which was already burdened with the Vietnam war decided to take public attention away from its problems by this popular distraction. The hoax believers say , the astronauts in suits put down their foot in a top-secret military installation in the Nevada desert, also known as Groom Lake or Dreamland.

It was the ideal place to house an area of make-believe Moon. While the debate over the first Moon landing goes on, space science has traveled afar from the era of 1969 when only the US and USSR were the space faring nations. Today, the US and Russia are preparing to set up permanent bases on the Moon by 2020. Since the cold war has become a thing of the past, like the International Space station project in which many countries cooperated, the permanent lunar base could also be an international project. And if that happens, India with its knowledge of moon may join that project.

Former ISRO Chairman, Prof. U R Rao says, Moon may or may not be colonized but it will surely be the stepping stone for colonizing Mars. In fact, compared to Moon, Mars has a greater prospect of being colonized because Mars has a thin atmosphere whereas Moon has none. To secure international cooperation in its lunar mission projects, the ISRO has already entered into an agreement with its Russian counterpart in November 2007.

It is planning to send a manned mission to Moon by 2030. Much before that in 2012, the ISRO will, however, be sending a lunar rover during its Chandrayaan -2 mission. By launching Chandrayaan 1 mission last year, India made known its grandiose space ambition. The Indian made orbiter is still going round the Moon, keeping a watch on it from a distance of 100 km only. The Indian national tri-colour landed by the lunar probe during that mission still beacons our astronauts to make it to the Moon as early as possible.

Naxal Problem needs a holistic approach

by - Ashok Handoo,Freelance Writer

If the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has been saying it repeatedly that Naxalism is the biggest challenge to our internal security he clearly wants to underline the dangers it has been posing to India, as also the need to deal with the challenge in a most effective way.

Naxalism, which started from Naxalbari area in West Bengal in 1967, ostensibly to champion the cause of small farmers and tribals through violence, was wiped out in 1970. It soon became out of fashion in its homeland West Bengal. But the underground operations of the outfit continued. The problem became more serious after the merger of the Peoples War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in September, 2004 which led to the formation of the CPI (Maoist). Naxalism today holds sway in vast swathes of 10 states in the country, involving about 180 districts.

Recently the Home Minister said in the Parliament that Naxal challenge had been underestimated over the years as a result of which left wing extremism had increased its area of influence. The Home Minster said that they now pose a very grave challenge to the state. Just days before his statement 36 policemen, including an SP, had been ambushed by the Maoists in Chhatisgarh.
It was in this backdrop Mr. Chidambaram urged the Members of Parliament to join hands in facing the challenge. “All sections of the house must recognize that if we must remain a democratic, republic ruled by law, we must collectively rise and face the challenge of left wing extremism” Shri Chidambaram said.

In its status report presented to the Parliament on March 13, 2006, the then Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil said that the Naxalite movement continues to persist in terms of spatial spread and intensity of violence. He pointed out that it remains an “area of serious concern”. Naxal violence has claimed about 6000 lives during the last 20 years. The question that arises is why have the Naxals been able to extend their area of influence over the years to become a serious threat to the country’s internal security?

It is encouraging to know that the government is not treating it as a mere law and order problem. The 2006 status report itself made it clear that the Government would address the problem in a holistic manner. That includes ‘political security, development and public perception management fronts’ as well. Surely, the Naxal problem is deeply rooted in the social and economic disparities in remote and tribal areas.
Since the fruits of development have not percolated to these areas, the Naxal outfits are able to exploit the sentiments of the local people. But the outfits themselves have been preventing and in fact destroying, developmental initiatives taken by the government. They destroy roads, railway infrastructure and administrative institutions that are needed for speeding up developmental activities. Not only this, they indulge in train hold-ups, jail breaks and attacks on politicians.
That is proof enough to indicate that they do not have real interest in the development of these areas and their loyalties lie elsewhere. Perhaps, they want to usurp political power which, they think, flows through the barrel of the gun.

At the same time, a lot many measures need to be taken to make the fight against Naxalism effective. On top of this is improving governance in the affected areas by moving corrupt officials who exploit the local people. It must also be ensured that large scale projects in these areas do not lead to displacement of people, who in any case, live a life of penury.

Since law and order is a state subject, the role of State Governments in dealing with the problem can hardly be overemphasized. They too have their share of responsibility to fulfil. A good deal of coordination between the Centre and the States is, therefore, called for. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the Outfits have established inter-state networks. The state police need to be modernized to be able to tackle the Naxal attacks. The Greyhounds experiment in Andhra Pradesh is a case in sight. Actionable intelligence collection and sharing mechanisms need to be strengthened. Funds provided to the States under the Police Modernization Scheme need to be better utilized.

The states also need to go fast with raising India Reserve Battalions, particularly in Naxal affected areas, which besides addressing security concerns, provide jobs to the unemployed youth.

A specially trained police force also needs to be put in place to fight the Maoists who basically are adopting guerrilla warfare techniques. There is also a difference in their targets. While other terrorist groups attack the strong foundations of the country such as democracy, secularism and the financial institutions, Maoists make India’s weak points like poverty and economic disparity as their targets. All this needs to be factored in the strategy to deal with the Maoist problem.

Keeping in view the fact that the Naxal groups have been raising mainly land and livelihood issues, it is important that land reforms are taken up on a priority basis. States have also to focus on physical infrastructure like roads, buildings, bridges, railway lines, communications and power etc. There is no room to brook any delay on this account.

Unfortunately, the several rounds of talks held with the Naxals hitherto and the announcements of amnesties and attractive rehabilitation schemes have not worked so far. Some states like Andhra Pradesh have a good rehabilitation policy and it has achieved some success, but a lot more remains to be done.

The Government indeed is committed to address the Naxal problem in right earnest. It is focusing on improving intelligence set up at the state level, providing help to the states to modernize and train their police forces and accelerate development in the affected areas. What is needed is better coordination both on security and developmental fronts to meet the challenge posed by the Naxals.
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

Foreign Direct Investment in India

by - Sameer Pushp, Freelance Writer

India is the largest democracy and is fourth largest economy (in terms of purchasing power parity) in the world. India with its consistent growth performance and abundant high-skilled manpower provides enormous opportunity for investment, both domestic and foreign. Investment in India can be made both by non-resident as well as resident Indian entities. Any non-resident investing in an Indian company is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The Government embarked upon major economic reforms since mid-1991 with a view to integrate with the world economy, and to emerge as a significant player in the globalization process. Reforms undertaken include decontrol of industries from the stringent regulatory process; simplification of investment procedures, promotion of foreign direct investment (FDI), liberalisation of exchange control, rationalization of taxes and public sector divestment. The FDI policy was liberalized progressively through review of the policy on an ongoing basis and allowing FDI in more industries under the automatic route.

A number of studies in the recent past have highlighted on growing attractiveness of India as an investment destination. According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2007, India is the second most attractive investment destination for FDI for 2007-09.

India has one of the most liberal and transparent policies on FDI among the emerging economies. FDI up to 100 percent is allowed under automatic route in all activities and sectors except few sectors like manufacturing of cigar and cigarettes of tobacco, electronic aerospace and defense equipments, etc.

FDI policy is reviewed on continuous basis and changes in sectoral polices / sectoral equity cap are notified through press notes by the Secretariat for Industrial Assistance (SIA) , Department of Industrial policy and promotion (DIIP). FDI policy is also notified by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1991.

FDI in sectors /activities to the extent permitted under automatic route does not require any prior approval either by the Government or Reserve Bank of India. The investor is only required to notify the Concerned Regional office of RBI within 30 days of receipt of inward remittances and file the required documents with that office within 30 days of issue of shares to foreign investors.

The Government has decided to allow FDI up to 51 percent; with prior Government approval, in retail ‘single brand products’. This is inter-alia aimed at attracting investment in production and marketing, improving the availability of such goods for the consumers, encouraging increased sourcing of goods from India, and enhancing competitiveness of Indian enterprise through access to global designs, technology and management practices.

The Government has put in place a liberal foreign technology transfer policy as well. At present, foreign technology collaboration involving payment of lump sum amount of up to US$2 million and/or royalty at the rate of 5 percent on domestic sales and 8 percent on exports are allowed under the automatic route. There are no limits on the duration of royalty payments. In addition, the current policy also allows payment of royalty up to 2% on exports and 1% on domestic sales under the automatic route for use of trademark and brand names of the foreign collaborator without technology transfer. Proposals involving royalty payments beyond the limits under the automatic route are considered for Government approval through the Project Approval Board (PAB).

The Government has set guidelines for transfer of ownership or control of Indian companies in sectors with caps from resident Indian citizens to non-resident entities.

Its salient features are:

Government/FIPB approval will be required in sectors with caps where:

• An Indian company is being established with foreign investment and is owned by a non-resident entity or

• An Indian company is being established with foreign investment and is controlled by a non-resident entity or

• The control of an existing Indian company, currently owned or controlled by resident Indian citizens and Indian companies, which are owned or controlled by resident Indian citizens, will be/is being transferred/passed on to a non-resident entity, as a consequence of transfer of shares to non-resident entities through amalgamation, merger, acquisition etc. or

• The ownership of an existing Indian company, currently owned or controlled by resident Indian citizens and Indian companies, which are owned or controlled by resident Indian citizens, will be/is being transferred/passed on to a non-resident entity as a consequence of transfer of shares to non-resident entities through amalgamation, merger, acquisition etc.

The new proposals will yield following benefits: The proposal would ensure application of simple, homogenous and uniform norms for calculation of direct and indirect foreign investment across sectors excepting those where it is governed specifically under any statutes or rules there under. And, it would also ensure that approval of Government/FIPB would be required for establishment/change in ownership or control of an Indian company from resident Indian citizens to non-resident entities in sectors with sectoral caps.

India has a young demographic profile with about 50 percent of its population under 25 years, having high propensity to consume. About 20-25 million people are joining the middle class, every year with increasing disposable income. This phenomenon could be leveraged to attract investment as well as to generate employment.

A decade and a half ago the prospect of India becoming a major player in the global economy seemed a distance dream, today with the power of FDI it is a reality. During the last five years there has been a sea change not only in the world perception about India’s future, but in our own perception about us. The world has acknowledged the ‘arrival of India’. With the ushering of social and economic base, we no longer discuss the future of India: we say “the future is India”.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai : A scientist who dared to dream

by Dr Subodh Mahanti, A Senior Scientist at Vigyan Prasar

“There is no leader and there are no led. A leader, if one chooses to identity one, has to be a cultivator rather than a manufacturer. He has to provide the soil and the overall climate and the environment in which the seed can grow. One wants permissive individuals who do not have a compelling need to reassure themselves that they are leaders”- Vikram Sarabhai

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s name will remain inseparable from India’s space programme. It is well known that it was Dr. Sarabhai who put India on the international map in the field of space research. But he also made equally pioneering contributions in other fields such as textiles, pharmaceuticals, nuclear power, electronics and many others.

The most striking aspect of Dr. Sarabhai’s personality was the range and breadth of his interests and the way in which he transformed his ideas into institutions. Sarabhai was a creative scientist, a successful and forward looking industrialist, an innovator of the highest order, a great institution builder, and an educationist with a difference, a connoisseur of arts, an entrepreneur of social change, a pioneering management educator and more.

However, most importantly, he was a very warm human being with tremendous compassion for others. He was a man who could charm and win the hearts of all those who came in contact with him. He could instantly establish a personal rapport with those with whom he interacted. This was possible because he could convey a sense of respect and trustfulness to them and also a sense of his own trustworthiness.

A Dreamer
Dr. Sarabhai was a dreamer with a seemingly unmatched capacity for hard work. He was a visionary, who could not only see opportunities but created some where none existed. To him the object of life, as Pierre Curie (1859-1906), the French Physicist who was co-discoverer with his wife sMarie Curie (1867-1934) of polonium and radium, has observed, was “to make life a dream and to turn the dream into a reality”.
What is more, Dr. Sarabhai taught many others how to dream and to work towards realising the dream. The success of India’s space programme is a testimony to this. Dr. Sarabhai was a “rare combination of an innovative scientist, forward looking industrial organiser and imaginative builder of institutions for the economic, educational and social upliftment of the country”.
He had an excellent sense of economics and managerial skill. No problem was too minor to him. A large part of his time was taken up by his research activities and he continued to supervise research till his untimely death. Nineteen people did their Ph D work under his supervision. Dr.Sarabhai independently and in association with his colleagues published eighty-six research papers in national journals.

We are told that anybody, irrespective of his position in the organisation, could meet Sarabhai without any fear or feeling of inferiority and Dr. Sarabhai would always offer him/her a seat and make him/her relax and talk on equal terms. He believed in an individual’s dignity and tried hard to preserve it. He was always in search of a better and efficient way of doing things. Whatever he did, he did it creatively. He displayed extreme care and concern for the younger people. He had immense faith in their potentialities. He was always ready to provide opportunities and freedom to them.

Early Years
Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919 into a wealthy family at Ahmedabad. During his childhood at his ancestral home, The Retreat at Ahmedabad, used to be visited by important people from all walks of life. This played an important role in the growth of Sarabhai’s personality. His parents were Shri. Ambalal Sarabhai and Smt. Saraladevi Sarabhai.
Vikram Sarabhai had his early education in the family school started by his mother Saraladevi on the line propounded by Madam Maria Montessori. After completing his Intermediate Science examination from Gujarat College, he went to Cambridge (UK) in 1937 where he obtained his Tripos in Natural Sciences in 1940.
At the outbreak of the Second World War he returned to India and joined the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore where he took up research in cosmic rays under the supervision of C.V. Raman. He published his first research paper entitled “Time Distribution of Cosmic Rays” in the Proceedings of Indian Academy of Sciences. Sarabhai’s work on cosmic rays during the period 1940-45 included the study of the time variations of cosmic rays with Geiger-Muller counters at Bangalore and at the high level station in the Kashmir Himalayas.
After the war he returned to Cambridge to work for his PhD in cosmic ray physics. In 1947, he was awarded PhD by the Cambridge University for his thesis `Cosmic Ray investigation in Tropical Latitudes’. He also carried out an accurate measurement of the cross-section for the photo fission of U-238 by 6.2 MeV y-rays which formed a part of his PhD thesis. After getting his PhD, he returned to India and continued his research in cosmic ray physics. In India he studied interplanetary space, solar-terrestrial relationships and geomagnetism.

A Great Institution Builder
Dr. Sarabhai was a great institution builder. He helped to establish a large number of institutions in diverse fields. Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA) was the first institution that Sarabhai helped to build. This assignment he undertook just after returning from Cambridge after obtaining a PhD in Cosmic ray physics. He had no formal training in textile technology.
Formation of ATIRA was an important step towards modernising textile industry in India. At the time of establishing ATIRA there were no quality control techniques in majority of the textile mills. At ATIRA, Dr. Sarabhai created conditions for the interaction of different groups and different disciplines. While hiring personnel at ATIRA he ignored the requirement of experience.

Some of the most well-known institutions established by Dr.Sarabhai are: Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad; Indian Institute of Management(IIM), Ahmedabad;. Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad; Darpan Academy for Performing Arts, Ahmedabad; Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram; Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad; Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), Kalpakkam; Varaiable Energy Cyclotron Project, Calcutta; Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad and Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Jaduguda, Bihar.

Science with Culture
After the death of Dr. Homi J Bhabha in January 1966, Dr. Sarabhai was asked to assume the responsibilities of the office of the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission. Sarabhai had realised the enormous potentialities inherent in space science and technology for a wide range of social and economic development activities - communication, meterology/weather forecasting, and exploration for natural resources, to name only a few.
The Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, established by Sarabhai pioneered research in space sciences and subsequently in space technology. Sarabhai also spearheaded the country’s rocket technology. He played a pioneering role in the development of satellite TV broadcasting in India. Dr. Sarabhai was also a pioneer of the pharmaceutical industry in India.
He was among the very few in the pharmaceutical industry who recognised that the highest standards of quality should be established and maintained at any cost. It was Sarabhai who first implemented Electronic Data Processing and Operations Research Techniques in the pharmaceutical industry.
He played an important role in making India’s pharmaceutical industry self-reliant and self-manufacture of many drugs and equipment in the country. Dr. Sarabhai was a man of deep cultural interests. He was interested in music, photography, archaeology, fine arts and so on. With his wife Mrinalini, he established Darpana, an institution devoted to the performing arts. His daughter, Mallika Sarabhai, grew up to be a leading exponent of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. He believed that a scientist should never shut himself up in an ivory tower or overlook the problems faced by the society in mere academic pursuit of pure science. Sarabhai was deeply concerned with the state of science education in the country.
To improve the same he had established the Community Science Centre. Dr. Sarabhai died on December 30, 1971 at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. In a befitting honour to this great Scientist, Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) and associated space establishments at Thiruvananthapuram were renamed as the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre which has grown into a major space research centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). In 1974, International Astronomical Union at Sydney decided that a Moon Crater BESSEL in the Sea of Serenity will be known as the Sarabhai Crater. (PIB Features, On the Birth Anniversary of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai which falls on August 12)
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