Home » Current Affairs » Current Affairs - English » Current Affairs – 1 October 2021

Current Affairs – 1 October 2021

India and Australia

The Hindu

GS 2: India foreign relations

Context:

  • Recently, the Indian and the Australian Navy signed the ‘Terms of Reference’ (ToR) for the conduct of the navy to navy talksunder the framework of the ‘Joint Guidance for the India – Australia Navy to Navy Relationship’ document.
  • This is the first such document signed by the Indian Navy with any country.

Background:  

  • The inaugural navy to navy talks with Australia was held in 2005. Bilateral defence relations between India and Australia have significantly expanded over the years.

About:  

  • The highlights of the document included close cooperation in regional and multilateral fora, including the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and expert working groups subordinate to the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus framework.
    • The document was aligned to the ‘2020 Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ agreed by the Prime Ministers and aimed to ensure shared approaches to regional and global security challenges.
  • The document set the navy to navy talks as the principal medium for guiding bilateral cooperation.

Significance : 

  • The document would be pivotal in consolidating the shared commitment to promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • It will help in deeper mutual understanding, trust and transparency, improved goodwill and understanding of each other’s concerns and future directions.

 

“One Sun, One World, One grid” (OSOWOG) 

Indian Express

GS 3: Environmental Impact Assessment

Context:

  • India and the UK are likely to announce a joint declaration on “One Sun, One World, One grid” (OSOWOG) at the upcoming COP26.

About:  

  • Both countries have been working towards achieving this concept.
  • Other countries will also participate, including the ASEAN nations, the US, EU, and African nations.
  • OSOWOG concept was first floated by the Prime Minister of India in 2018 during the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • It is a transnational solar power grid that will be projected as a game-changer to help meet climate change goals by supplying solar power across the globe.

Purpose:

  • It can generate round the clock electricity from the sun as it sets in one part of the world but rises in another part. The sun never sets for the entire earth.

Features: 

  • According to the draft plan of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the ambitious OSOWOG will connect 140 countries through a common grid that will be used to transfer solar power.
    • The blueprint for the OSOWOG will be developed under the World Bank’s technical assistance programme that is implemented to accelerate the deployment of grid-connected rooftop solar installations.
  • Three Phases of Plan: The first phase will entail interconnectivity within the Asian continent; the second phase will add Africa and the third phase will globalize the whole project.

Significance:

  • India can generate round the clock electricity from the sun with the help of OSOWOG.
    • The proposed integration would lead to reduced project costs, higher efficiencies and increased asset utilization for all the participating entities.
    • It will allow national renewable energy management centres in India to grow as regional and global management centres.
  • It will allow national renewable energy management centres in India to grow as regional and global management centres.
    • Several African nations are devoid of reliable electricity supply and that makes them a ready market for electricity infrastructure.
  • This will have economic benefits that would positively impact poverty alleviation and support in mitigating water, sanitation, food and other socio-economic challenges.
  • This is seen as India’s counter to China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) which is primarily an economic diplomacy strategy to boost its domestic economy by improving connectivity and cooperation among the current 78 partner countries.

Drawbacks:

  • The project is seen as an Indian endeavour for world leadership. But under COVID-19 uncertainties, the geopolitical implications of the project are hard to decipher. 
  • The mechanism of cost-sharing will be challenging, given the varied priorities of participating countries depending on their socio-economic orders.
    • It might turn out to be an expensive, complex and very slow progress project.
  • The project also contradicts the Prime Minister’s Atma Nirbhar Bharat (self-dependent India) vision, as it extends the reliance for a major strategic entity i.e. energy supply to other countries through this grid.
  • There is a difference in voltage, frequency, and specifications of the grid in most regions. Maintaining grid stability with just renewable generation would be technically difficult.
    • Supply of energy through this grid, in a time zone with a six-hour difference, will require thousands of kilometres of transmission of the electricity, which will add up a huge cost and energy losses.
  •  Australia-based Sun Cable is also developing the Australian-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) under which it will supply renewable electricity from Australia to Singapore and later to Indonesia.

 

Rural Debt Trap

Indian Express

GS 3: Economy

Context:

  • The All-India Debt and Investment Survey (AIDIS) carried out by National Statistical Office gives an account on the rural credit market in India.

Highlights of report:

  • The average debt per household in rural India is Rs 59,748, nearly half the average debt per household in urban India.
  • Incidence of indebtedness (IOI) is 35 % in rural India — 17.8 % of rural households are indebted to institutional credit agencies, 10.2 % to non-institutional agencies and 7 % to both.
  • The rate of interest charged on 45 % of institutional debt is between 10-15 % whereas on 44 % of non-institutional debt falls between 20- 25 %.
  • Debt-Asset Ratio (DAR) of the bottom 10% asset-owning households in rural India is 39, much higher than the DAR of 2.6 for the top 10 % households.
  • The top 10% rural households in terms of asset ownership spend most of the debt on farm/non-farm business, whereas the bottom 10% it on household expenditure.

Inference from report:

  • Easy and timely access to formal-sector credit enables households to invest in income-generating activities while non-institutional sources help to meet short-term consumption needs.
  • Dependence on institutional sources signifies broadening financial inclusion while reliance on non-institutional sources denotes vulnerability and backwardness.
  • In non-institutionalised debt, professional and agricultural moneylenders remain the primary sources of credit.
  • Access to institutional credit is largely determined by the ability of households to furnish assets as collateral.
  • Access to credit is complicated by the interplay of social identities as marginalised social groups have low asset ownership.
  • Non-institutional sources have a strong presence in the rural credit market, notwithstanding the high costs involved in borrowing.
  • Inadequate access to affordable credit lies at the heart of the rural distress.
  • The credit policy needs to be revamped to accommodate the consumption needs of the rural poor and to find alternatives for collateral for rural financial inclusion.

 

PM Poshan

Indian Express, The Hindu

GS 2: Government Interventions and Policies

Context:

  • The existing Mid-Day Meal scheme will be renamed as National Scheme for PM Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN).
    • The Mid Day Meal scheme provides hot meals to school students.

Budgetary Allocation:

  • A total budget of over Rs 1.3 lakh crore has been allocated for the continuation of the scheme for 5 years from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
    • Of this, the central government will contribute Rs 54061.73 crore.
    • While the state governments and union territory administrations will provide Rs 31,733.17 crore.
    • The Centre will also bear an additional cost of about Rs 45,000 crore on food grains.

Target Group:

  • The scheme aims to cover 11.80 crore children in 11.20 lakh schools.
  • All school-going students of classes I to VIII, studying in government and government-aided schools, are eligible to avail the benefits.

Cooking Competitions:

  • Cooking competitions will be encouraged at all levels to promote ethnic cuisines and culture in line with Vocal for Local.

Nutrition Gardens:

  • Kitchen gardens and school gardens will also be promoted under this scheme.
    • They have been named as Nutrition Gardens.
  • They can help to strengthen food security and improve income generation and livelihoods.

Balvatikas:

  • An additional Rs. 266 crore is expected to be added as the Central government’s share to cater to balvatika students from 2022-23.
  • Extension of mid-day meals to pre-primary students was a key recommendation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
    • Pre-primary students are to be incorporated into the formal education system under the same NEP 2020.

Holistic nutrition goals:

  • The Policy provisions have also added a 5 percent flexi component into the existing budget to allow States to incorporate
    • additional nutrition-rich elements — such as fortified foods, fruits and milk — into the menu.
    • Use of locally grown traditional foods will be encouraged, along with school nutrition gardens.

Social audits:

  • It has been made mandatory in all districts.
  • College students and trainee teachers will be roped in to do field inspections to ensure the quality of meals.

Direct Benefit Transfer:

  • States will be asked to do direct benefit cash transfers of
    • cooking costs to individual school accounts, and
    • honorarium amounts to the bank accounts of cooks and helpers.
%d bloggers like this: