UPSC CA: 30th October 2020

Doing Business in India Report, 2020

Context: 

  • The “Doing Business in India Report, 2020” was released by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC).

Key findings:

  • As per the report, the businesses in UK have found the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Mission as an opportunity to do more business in India.
  • This is the sixth edition of the report being published since 2015.
  • The report has been prepared on the basis of an in-depth survey of 106 UK firms belonging to services, manufacturing And Higher Education sectors that are operating in India.
  • The report highlights that 66% of the surveyed organisations believed that the ease of doing business in India is increasing. 
  • The environment has changed mainly because of progressive reforms and improvements in the business environment of India. 
  • The changes were observed in the availability of support, skilled labour, service providers and supply chain.
  • India’s score of doing business has improved to 22.9 in 2020 from  2.74 in 2019.
  • Maharashtra has emerged as the state with maximum incremental improvement for the third consecutive year.  Maharashtra is followed by Karnataka, Delhi, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

Concerns:

  • Report highlights that the frequent obstacles in doing business with India are its legal and regulatory boundaries, GST issues, high import tariffs, foreign exchange regulations,  and lack of alignment with international standards.

About Atma Nirbhar Bharat Mission:

  • Atmanirbhar  means ‘self-reliant’. On May 12, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in his address to the nation an economic package of Rs 20 trillion to tide over the coronavirus crisis under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. 
  • He said the economic package would play an important role in making India ‘self reliant’ and that it would benefit labourers, farmers, honest tax payers, MSMEs and the cottage industry. 
  • He said making the country self-reliant was the only way to make the 21st century belong to India. According to the government, it is not protectionist in nature.

 

Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)

Context: 

  • Recently, the National Statistical Office (NSO) released the quarterly Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for October-December 2019.

Key points:

  • This dataset differs from the Annual Report of Periodic Labour Force Survey, which covers both rural and urban areas.
  • However, unemployment data for urban areas is released quarterly.

Key Highlights of the report:

  • Unemployment Rate is eased in urban areas to 7.9% in October-December 2019 compared to 9.9% in October-December 2018.
  • Female unemployment rate decreased to 9.8% in October-December 2019 compared to 12.3% in October-December 2018.
  • Male unemployment rate moderated to 7.3% in October-December 2019 from 9.2% in October-December 2018.
  • However, state-wise data showed that urban unemployment rate was higher than the national average in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Labour Force Participation Rate rose to 37.2% in October-December 2019 from 36.3% in October-December 2018.

About Terminologies of PLFS:

  • Unemployment Rate (UR): UR is defined as the percentage of persons unemployed among the persons in the labour force.
  • Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR): LFPR is defined as the percentage of persons in the labour force (i.e. working or seeking or available for work) in the population.
  • Worker Population Ratio (WPR): WPR is defined as the percentage of employed persons in the population.
  • Activity Status: The activity status of a person is determined on the basis of the activities pursued by the person during the specified reference period.
  • Usual Status: The activity status determined on the basis of the reference period of the last 365 days preceding the date of survey, it is known as the usual activity status of the person.
  • Current Weekly Status (CWS): The activity status determined on the basis of a reference period of the last 7 days preceding the date of survey is known as the current weekly status (CWS) of the person.

About National Statistical Office (NSO):

  • Recently cabinet approved the merger of CSO and NSSO into National Statistics Office.
  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation approved merging of the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) into a single statistics wing, which will be known as the National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • The NSO would be headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. A committee will be constituted to recommend the operational steps required
  • For the merger. Note that a proposal to create the NSO by merging the NSSO and CSO had been made earlier in July 2005.
  • Currently, the CSO, an attached office of the Ministry, coordinates statistical activities in the country and evolves statistical standards. The NSSO, a subordinate office (field agency) under the Ministry, conducts large scale sample surveys across diverse fields on an all India basis and publishes the results.
  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation comprises of
    • The Statistics wing (National Statistical Organisation), and
    • The Programme Implementation wing.
  • The National Statistical Organisation consists of the Central Statistics Office (CSO), and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).

 

Centre sets up commission to tackle NCR pollution

Context:

  • The Centre has constituted the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas.

Key points:

  • It was brought in via an ordinance. However, the commission awaits a formal scrutiny by the Supreme Court before it can be brought into effect.
  • It is a permanent body that replaces the 22-year-old Environmental Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA).
  • Encompassing Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, the body assumes several powers:
    • To coordinate action among States.
    • Levy fines ranging up to ₹1 crore or five years in prison to address air pollution.

Composition of the commission:

  • The panel will have at least six permanent members.
  • It will be headed by a former or incumbent Secretary to the Central government, or a Chief Secretary to a State government.
  • It will have members from Ministries as well as representatives from States.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board and its State branches have the powers to implement provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act for air, water and land pollution. In case of dispute or a clash of jurisdictions, the commission’s writ will prevail specific to matters concerning air pollution.

 

SERB – POWER initiative

Context: 

  • Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan,  launched a Scheme called “SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research)” on October 29, 2020. 

Key points:

  • The initiative is exclusively meant for women scientists on an e-platform.
  • The scheme has been launched by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB).
  • It has been launched to mitigate gender disparity in science and engineering research within the S&T programs.
  • a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has been contemplating to institute a scheme.

About SERB – POWER Scheme:

  • The scheme has two components-  SERB-POWER Fellowship and SERB- POWER Research Grants.
  • SERB-POWER Fellowship
    • The scheme targets women researchers in the age group of 35-55 years. 
    • The scheme provides for a fellowship of Rs 15,000/- per month apart from regular income, Research grant of Rs 10 lakh annually and Overhead of Rs 90,000 on annual basis. 
    • The duration of the fellowship would be of Three years.
  • SERB – POWER Research Grants:
    • These POWER Grants seek to empower women researchers by funding them under two categories.  
    • Under Level I  category, scale of funding is up to 60 lakhs for three years while under Level II category, scale of funding is up to 30 lakhs for three years. 
    • The POWER Grant will be regulated through Science and Engineering Research Board-Core Research Grant (SERB-CRG) guidelines.
  • Search-cum-Selection Committee:
    • The committee was constituted to help in identifying the POWER Fellowship. 
    • Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) mechanism will be used to select the POWER Research Grants. It has been proposed to institute 25 POWER Fellowships annually.

 

Maritime India Vision 2030

Context: 

  • It is a ten-year blueprint for the maritime sector which will be released at the Maritime India Summit in November 2020.

More about news:

  • It will supersede the Sagarmala initiative and aims to boost waterways, give a fillip to the shipbuilding industry and encourage cruise tourism in India.
  • Key Features of the vision:
  • Maritime Development Fund: A Rs. 25,000-crore fund, which will provide low cost, long-tenure financing to the sector with the Centre contributing Rs. 2,500 crore over seven years.
  • Port Regulatory Authority: A pan-India port authority will be set up under the new Indian Ports Act (to replace the old Indian Ports Act 1908) for enabling oversight across major and non-major ports, enhance institutional coverage for ports and provide for structured growth of the ports sector to boost investor confidence.
  • Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid project: It will aim to develop regional connectivity with Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.
  • Riverine Development Fund: Calls for extending low cost, long-term financing for inland vessels with the support of a Riverine Development Fund (RDF) and for extending the coverage of the tonnage tax scheme (applicable to ocean-going ships and dredgers) to inland vessels also to enhance the availability of such vessels.
  • Rationalisation of Port Charges: It will make them more competitive, besides doing away with all hidden charges levied by ship liners to bring in more transparency.

Promotion of Water Transport: For decongestion of urban areas, and developing waterways as an alternative means of urban transport.