UPSC IAS Interview 2017-18

Climate Change Yojana Cover Story

Yojana Cover Story
With regard to climate change, India has some real tough tight-rope walk before it. With temperatures poised to rise by 2.5 to 5 degrees Celsius over ...

Facing The ChallengeR.R. RashmiS Satapathy
Climate change, is primarily caused by the building up of greenhouse gases (ghg) e.g. carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and others in the atmosph...
Read More...»

What India Needs to Do Urmi A Goswami
Even as the world Recognizes the threat of Climate change and the Need to contain emissions Of greenhouse gases, There has been little movement Towar...
Read More...»

Maintaining Momentum post Copenhagen Namrata KalaAlark Saxena
The recent global climate change treaty, also known as the Copenhagen accord, was signed on Dec 18th 2009. Delegates from 193 countries and numerous N...
Read More...»

Indian Environmental Law and Climate Change Shiju M V
India has a rich and well developed environmental law. The Indian constitution is one among the few constitutions in the world that has provisions on ...
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A Short Appraisal of Climate Change Data S ChakrabartiS Suresh Kumar
THE INTER-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines climate change as ‘a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., us...
Read More...»

Articles in Yojana Magazine

Facing The ChallengeR.R. RashmiS Satapathy [April 2010] Climate change, is primarily caused by the building up of greenhouse gases (ghg) e.g. carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and others in the atmosph...Read More...»

What India Needs to Do Urmi A Goswami [April 2010] Even as the world Recognizes the threat of Climate change and the Need to contain emissions Of greenhouse gases, There has been little movement Towar...Read More...»

Maintaining Momentum post Copenhagen Namrata KalaAlark Saxena [April 2010] The recent global climate change treaty, also known as the Copenhagen accord, was signed on Dec 18th 2009. Delegates from 193 countries and numerous N...Read More...»

Indian Environmental Law and Climate Change Shiju M V [April 2010] India has a rich and well developed environmental law. The Indian constitution is one among the few constitutions in the world that has provisions on ...Read More...»

A Short Appraisal of Climate Change Data S ChakrabartiS Suresh Kumar [April 2010] THE INTER-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines climate change as ‘a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., us...Read More...»

Just a Good Balancing Act Partha Mukhopadhyay [March 2010] The budget can be reviewed on many parameters. This article asks three questions. First, is this budget different? Second, will this budget drive...Read More...»

A Pragmatic Mix of Politics and Economics Amitendu Palit [March 2010] India’s annual budgets are followed with as much curiosity and trepidation as those of multi-starrer Bollywood movies. While pining for potential bloc...Read More...»

Analysing Tax Proposals Vikas Vasal Uday Ved Pratik Jain [March 2010] The Finance Minister has, with his Budget for 2010-11, put India back on the growth trajectory. Finely balancing growth measures with fiscal cons...Read More...»

Pushing Agricultural Growth Surinder Sud [March 2010] The agriculture sector seems poised for a major growth push thanks to an increase of nearly 21.6 per cent in the Central Plan outlay for agricul...Read More...»

Budget and Rural Development K R Sudhaman [March 2010] High growth and economic development serve no purpose if they do not percolate down to over six lakh villages in India where majority of the ove...Read More...»

Budgeting for the Energy SectorVijay Thakur [March 2010] After two years of industrial recession, the pickup in the overall industrial growth is a very good sign. Major industrial sectors have already ...Read More...»

Upbeat on Growth, Concern over InflationR C Rajamani [March 2010] The annual Economic Survey, the tabling of which precedes the annual Union Budget in Parliament, throws hints on the nature of budget proposals. ...Read More...»

A 'Dropout’ Innovator [July 2009] IN 1958, in a small village Babapur in district Amreli, all the efforts of engineers to start a new water pumping machine had failed. On the insistenc...Read More...»

Sustaining Urban Infrastructure [July 2009] THE NUMBER of people living in India’s urban areas is rising rapidly. The country’s urban population, which was 109 million in 1971, has grown to ove...Read More...»

Market-Based Financing of Urban Infrastructure [July 2009] RAPID URBANIZATION has increased the demand for urban infrastructure in India. Since public funds for these services are inadequate, Urban Local Bodie...Read More...»

National Highways : The Path Ahead [July 2009] INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT is absolutely critical for India’s economic growth and for sustainable development. Building world class infrastructure is ...Read More...»

Sea Ports : Harbouring Growth [July 2009] INTERNATIONAL TRADE is the cornerstone of global economy. Exchange of goods amongst countries widens the choice of supply and ensures that production ...Read More...»

Earthquake Safe Buildings [June 2009] Increment years, a number of earthquakes have caused thousands of deaths and huge economic losses in India. Earthquakes of comparable size in USA...Read More...»

From Risk to Resilience [June 2009] Disasters are tragic interruptions to the development process, consuming millions of unlived lives and precious infrastructure. Development infr...Read More...»

The Right to Education now a Fundamental Right

By - Ashok Handoo

If Gopal Krishan Gokhle, one of the greatest sons of India, would have been alive today, he would have been the happiest person to see his dream of ‘right to education’ for children of the country come true. It was he who, a hundred years ago, urged the Imperial Legislative Assembly confer such a right on Indian children. That goal has been realized a century later.

The Government has finally come over all the odds and given effect to the Right to Education Act (REA) from 1st April this year. The right to education is now a fundamental right for all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. In simple words, it means that the Government will be responsible for providing education to every child up to the eighth standard, free of cost, irrespective of class and gender. It has thus paved the way for building a strong, literate and empowered youth of this country.

The Act envisages providing quality and compulsory education to all children and equip them with knowledge, skills and values to make them enlightened citizens of India. Considering that today there are about a crore of children across the country out of schools, this indeed is a huge task. The realization of this goal, therefore, calls for a united effort by all the stakeholders- the parents, the teachers, the schools, the NGO’s, the society at large, the state governments and the central government. As the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh put it in his address to the Nation, all have to work in unison and meet the challenge as a national mission.

Dr. Singh put across his point to the countrymen in his own inimitable style by telling them that it was only because of education that he is what he is today. He referred to how he studied in the dim light of a kerosene lamp, walked long distances to reach his school in Wah, now in Pakistan and suffered considerable hardships to get elementary education. The message, urging the deprived class to get education, could not have been put across in a better way.

The Act provides for neighbourhood schools within reach, with no school refusing admission to any child. It also provides for adequate number of qualified teachers to maintain a ratio of one teacher for every 30 students. The schools have to train all its teachers within 5 years. They have also to ensure proper infrastructure, which includes a playground, library, adequate number of classrooms, toilets, barrier free access for physically challenged children and drinking water facilities within three years. 75 percent members of the school management committees will comprise parents of the students who will monitor the functioning of the schools and utilization of grants. The school management Committees or the local authorities will identify the out of school children and admit them to standards appropriate to their age, after giving them proper training. To promote inclusive growth even private schools have to reserve 25 percent of seats in the lowest class for the poor and marginalized sections of the society, beginning next year.

The goals are indeed laudable. But to realize them is a huge challenge. The sheer size of the out of school children – about ten million- is the biggest one. Shortage of trained teachers, lack of infrastructure in schools, requirement of additional schools, and finances are the other big challenges.

The current situation presents a dismal picture. 46 % schools do not have toilets for girls, which has been an important reason for parents not sending children to the schools. There are over 12.6 lakh vacancies of teachers across the country. 7.72 lakh untrained teachers constitute 40 % of the total number of teachers in 1.29 million recognized elementary schools. Over 53% schools have the student teacher ratio of well above 1:30, prescribed under the Act.

Shortage of trained teachers will be one of the major challenges in implementing the Act. A plan has thus been drawn to recruit as many as 5 lakh teachers in the next six months, to fill up the vacancies.

As far as the finances are concerned the Act provides for sharing it with the states, with centre contributing 55 percent of the total expenditure. It has been estimated that the implementation of the Act will require Rs. 1.71 lakh crore in the next five years. In the current year there will be a requirement of 34 lakh crore. Out of this, the central budget has provided for Rs.15,000 crore. There is also an unspent amount of about Rs. 10,000 crore with the states, provided earlier by the centre for educational programmes. The Finance Commission has allocated Rs. 25,000 crore to the states for implementing the Act. Despite this, states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa have asked for additional funds. The Prime Minister has made it clear that finances will not be allowed to come in the way of implementing the Act. What is needed is the sincerity of approach by all the stakeholders to make the project a success. There will be a Child Rights Commission to look into the violations of the Law.

Many other challenges also stare us in the face. Parents in the low income group, send their children to work, for adding to the family income. Issues like early marriages and migration of people for sustenance also need to be addressed to successfully implement the Act.

India has thus embarked upon a massive programme to lay foundations of a strong country with a statutory support. It has joined the small group of countries which have such a statutory provision. It is indeed a path breaking step towards universalisation of education. The Prime Minister made it clear that dalits, minorities and the girl students will be the focus of the effort to provide education to all. By saying that he wanted “every Indian to dream about a bright future and live this dream,” Dr. Singh emphasized his government’s commitment to make every Indian literate. It is for us now to see this goal through. That education is in the concurrent list underlines the need for better cooperation at all levels.
(PIB Features)
Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

Health Hazards of Urban India

World Health : April 7

World Health Day this year brings back the focus on the impact of urbanization on health. WHO has come out with the campaign “1000 cities - 1000 lives”, events will be organized worldwide calling on cities to open up streets for health activities. Like everywhere else this theme assumes a disconcerting urgency in the Indian context too where the Health Minister Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad is on record “though we are improving our economic indices, yet, we continue to be one of the largest contributors of disease burden in the world.”

Estimates are scary. Today the Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), especially Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD’s), Diabetes Mellitus, Cancer, Stroke and Chronic Lung Diseases have emerged as major public health problems, due to an ageing population and more importantly hectic pace of urbanization. Surveys in India reveal that about 10 % of adults suffer from hypertension. The increase in cardiovascular disease prevalence and mortality rates is expected to continue in the coming years in the majority of countries of the Region. The number of deaths due to Ischemic Heart Diseases in India is projected to increase from 1.2 million in 1990 to 1.6 million by the year 2000, and to 2 million by 2010. The premature morbidity and mortality in the most productive phase of life is posing a serious challenge to Indian society and its economy. It is estimated that in 2005 NCDs accounted for 5,466,000 (53%) of all deaths (10,362,000) in India. Cities face a very big brunt of this horrific statistic. Future has no solace if remedial measures are not taken- World Bank estimates that by 2035, cities will become the predominant sites of poverty globally. Health problems of the urban poor include an increased risk for violence, chronic disease, and for some communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Dealing with the Menace
India has taken a note of this situation and firm beginning has been made to tackle the situation. Pilot Project of the National Program for Prevention and Control of Diabetes, Cardio-vascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDS) has been launched in ten states with one district each. Total plan allocation envisaged for 11th plan is Rs 1620.5 crores. NPCDS among other things, seeks to facilitate early detection of this disease. Plan which will cover the entire country eventually. Health promotion is a key component for the prevention and control of NCDs. It must combine educational activities with policy interventions to provide a supportive environment. It is pertinent to mention that Health promotion for NCD control can be carried out with simple messages e.g. use of less salt and sugar, exercise, avoiding stress, tobacco and alcohol and increased use of vegetable and fruits. These simple interventions can prevent or delay many of the NCDs.

Several new initiatives have been taken in the field on non communicable diseases e.g. National Deafness Control Program, National Program for Health Care of Elderly, National Oral health Program. An estimated 275 persons are killed and 4,100 injured in our roads everyday. In view of this fact, The Ministry of Health initiated the National Highway Trauma Care Project which is an ambitious project in its scale and reach intending to cover the entire Golden Quadrilateral and North-south-east-west corridors with over 200 hospitals being upgraded with pre hospital care and integrated communication system. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna is another initiative for bringing health services within reach for a large chunk of excluded population.

Planning is the Key
According to World Health Organization, Urbanization is not inherently positive or negative. Underlying drivers – also referred to as social determinants – converge in urban settings which strongly influence health status and other outcomes. These determinants include physical infrastructure, access to social and health services, local governance, and the distribution of income and educational opportunities. Communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, mental disorders, and deaths due to violence and road traffic injuries are all driven by these underlying social determinants. WHO has expressed concern on growing inequities with regard to access to health services in urban centres. WHO firmly believes that Urban planning can promote healthy behaviours and safety through investment in active transport, designing areas to promote physical activity and passing regulatory controls on tobacco and food safety. Improving urban living conditions in the areas of housing, water and sanitation will go a long way to mitigating health risks. Building inclusive cities that are accessible and age-friendly will benefit all urban residents. Such actions do not necessarily require additional funding, but commitment to redirect resources to priority interventions, thereby achieving greater efficiency.
Urbanization is a reality of our time how we respond to its positive and negative facet is up to us. In this context urbanization is both a policy challenge and a crucial individual choice also. Adopting healthy habits and having a concern that goes beyond immediate consumption can enable the society to deal with this reality in more meaningful way. (PIB Features)

*Based on material from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and World Health Organisation.

Challenges of Infrastructure

by - K.R. Sudhaman

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh declared recently that India should aim to grow by at least 10% annually during the 12th Five Year Plan which begins in 2012-13. To achieve this ambitious target what is crucial is infrastructure development. The Economy faces serious infrastructure bottleneck and if this is not handled swiftly, moving on to higher growth path will remain only a dream.

One may argue growth is very important and infrastructure will grow by itself as we push growth. It does not work that way and if infrastructure growth does not keep pace with overall economic growth, there is every possibility that the economy gets overheated, which can have negative effect.

Overheating of the economy means for example an industrial cluster is set up without adequate electricity in the area for round the clock operation. In such a scenario production will dip leading to inadequate supply of the product to meet the demand. This will overheat the economy resulting in spiralling inflation.

To avoid such a scenario, Infrastructure development is critical to ensure that there is no deficit in the area as growth momentum picks up. It is in this context, the Prime Minister has rightly emphasised the need to meet the challenges of infrastructure and said the 12th plan should target $1 trillion investment in the sector — that is over Rs 40 lakh crore. This meant doubling expenditure on infrastructure from about $ 500 billion in the current 11th five year plan, which ends in 2011-12. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia, at a recent conference on infrastructure said that a preliminary assessment suggests that investment in infrastructure during the 12th plan (2012-17) would need to be of the order of about Rs 40,99,240 crore ($ 1025 billion) to achieve a share of 9.95% as a proportion of GDP. “This would have to be a key priority area in the 12th plan in order to sustain and support the targeted growth in manufacturing, agriculture and services.

Provision of world-class infrastructure would not only be necessary for improving the competitiveness of the Indian economy but also for promoting inclusive growth and improving the quality of life of the common man,” Shri Ahluwalia said. The Planning Commission, which recently carried out mid-term appraisal of the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12) assessed the investment in infrastructure in the first two years of the plan and revised the projections of the investment for the entire plan. Compared to the investment of Rs 9,06,074 crore (about $ 250 billion) during the previous 10th plan, the revised projection of investment in the 11th plan is Rs 20,54,205 crore, which is almost equal to the initial target.

Only difference in some sectors like power and ports, the expenditure has been lowered while in some others like telecom, airports and oil and gas pipeline, investment has been stepped. Despite economic downturn in the last from 2008 onwards, the Government has been able to meet almost the initial target of plan expenditure in infrastructure because of the larger than anticipated investments in the telecom and in oil and gas pipelines. While the revised projections in irrigation and airport sectors are close to the initial targets, there are significant shortfalls in roads, railways, ports, water supply and sanitation. During the 10th Plan 25 per cent of the total investment on infrastructure came from the private sector.

This is expected to rise to about 36%, during the 11th Plan. While there may be a shortfall of about 8.7% (Rs 1,25,266) crore in public investment as compared to the initial targets for the 11th Plan, this is likely to be made good by the increase of about 20 per cent (Rs 1,23,321 crore) in private investment. The investment in infrastructure in the 11th Plan was then doubled that of the 10th Plan, which could not been realised without large participation by the private sector.

This is because the Government would have to devote a large portion of its own resources to critical livelihood support programmes and to providing access to health and education services which are crucial to ensuring inclusiveness. As the Prime Minister himself said at a recent conference on infrastructure organised by the Planning Commission that the strategy for infrastructure development therefore involved combination of public investment supplemented by private investments where feasible.

The mix was expected to vary from sector to sector, and also from region to region. “Our experience shows that private participation in infrastructure development is indeed feasible and can help expand infrastructure much faster than it would have relying on public resources alone. The telecom sector is the most compelling example of this proposition. The 11th Plan target for tele-density was realised ahead of schedule, in the third year of the plan.

The addition of 1 crore subscribers every month with user charges among the lowest in the world, has really taken the communication revolution to the doorstep of the ‘aam aadmi’.” Dr. Manmohan Singh has rightly pointed out. There are successful Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) projects in roads, ports, airports and power, but they needed to be pushed. Now the Government has developed fairly robust framework for PPP projects. One of the reasons, as the Prime Minister himself says, why it is difficult to attract private investment in infrastructure is that projects may not be able to generate adequate revenue streams.

The projects may have high economic rates of returns but not be financially viable. To deal with this problem, the Central Government offers capital subsidy. Since capital subsidy is only a proportion of the total capital cost, the Government resources effectively leverage a larger volume of private resources. The viability gap funding as it is called is also accessed by State Governments as well for infrastructure projects.

One area that the Government needed to move is the power sector which is crucial for fuelling 10% economic growth. The Prime Minister himself admits that “we have made less progress in this area than we should have. Power shortages remain a problem in many parts of the country.

The distribution segment, which is entirely in the States sector, continues to be fragile. Presently coal accounts for more than half of the power consumption, followed by oil, of which 70% is imported. There is need to push up nuclear power generation and the Government has ambitious plans to step nuclear power generation to 20,000 mw by 2020 and 63,000 mw by 2032. Two major problems in infrastructure development are the large amount of funding and large areas of land required. As Planning Commission says financing of Rs 20.54 lakh crore in 11th Plan is a stupendous task.

Of which, Plan relies only to the extent Rs 6.44 lakh crore or about 31% on budgetary support. The remaining Rs 14.10 lakh crore has to come from private sector or public sector internal resources. The large volume of investment required for projects in power, telecom, railways, highways, ports and airports, therefore would have to be funded either from internal generation and extra budgetary resources of public sector or from pure private investment and PPP projects.

The ability to attract these investments depended critically on a regime where there are reasonable and predictable user charges and risk allocation clearly defined. In other words, as a Planning Commission document says, infrastructure services would have to be provided on commercial principles, with particular attention to the power sector. This is necessary to ensure viability of both and public and private sector targets. The task ahead on infrastructure is huge for realising over 9% economic growth. What has been achieved in telecom needs to be replicated in other infrastructure sectors especially power. Though it is difficult, it is not impossible and the nation is moving in the right direction. (PIB Features) Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB
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