Context About 80 per cent of cold-form blister packaging is currently imported and the aim is to bring that figure down to zero. What’s happening? The more than $25 billion Indian packaging industry, growing at a rate of about 10 per cent, is initiating major steps to develop innovative packaging for all segments, but mainly for pharmaceutical and food products, even as the country bids to radically boost its exports. Need for such steps Reducing the import of packaging material: These efforts are aimed at reducing the import of packaging materials and to produce those materials in India so that the country becomes self-reliant and emerges as a key supplier base for the world Present situation:Currently, India imports large volumes of packaging material. India imports packaging materials of more than Rs.360 crore per year for packaging of pharmaceutical products alone.  Need for cold-form blister packaging Developed countries use, and demand, advanced packaging for pharmaceuticals to keep products safe. These are done through cold-form blister packaging which is used extensively around the world. Situation in India: Currently, 80 per cent of cold-form blister packaging is imported Tsutsumi In packaging, India has traditionally looked to post-World War II Japan for inspiration. While the industry there derived from western packaging methods, they were integrated with the traditional Japanese concept of packaging called Tsutsumi – which is described as the concept of gentle concealment, which in turn, is a part of the traditional Japanese sense of beauty. Modified atmosphere packaging Since India is one of the largest producers of agriculture products, mainly fruits and vegetables, maximum emphasis is now given to increase the shelf life of these products and to reduce wastage through innovative packaging. As per rough calculations, up to 40 per cent of such produce gets wasted at farms due to lack of appropriate logistics and a cold chain To deal with this problem, the packaging industry has developed modified atmosphere packaging which is based on the respiratory rate of the items Gold Medal: The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) of America, regarded as tops in the field of packaging, awarded India a gold medal, its highest recognition for modified atmosphere packaging because it has extended the shelf life of fruits and flowers being exported from India  Benefits to economy A higher standard for packaging has advantages for businesses organisations but more importantly, it has potential to bring significant benefits to the country’s economy. More than just the basic price: Every day huge amount of raw meat is exported to the Middle Eastern countries and we just get the basic price as value addition is done there. It is the same old story. Cotton was grown in India and sent to England for processing so value addition went there. The hard work was done here. So why can’t we do the value-addition here by processing, packaging and supplying The industry also has scope for providing large scale employment Higher Certification standards in India soon India has its own packaging standard in the form of BIS certification which is voluntary in nature but a far higher standard, at par with the developed world is in the works and would be made mandatory for packaging of products for the export markets Committee formed: The Union Commerce Ministry has constituted an expert committee comprising importers, players from the packaging industry and other experts to review existing standards and formulate new standards which will be implemented within a couple of years. Capturing a part of global market Worldwide, packaging is a $975 billion industry and is expected to reach close to $1000 billion this year. The Indian packaging industry is estimated at $25 billion and is set to grow to $30 billion by 2020. The ultimate target is to capture a significant portion of the abovementioned global market. Make in India Developing indigenous packaging standards coupled with home-grown innovation in this field underlines the vision of “Make-in India”....

Publishes on : 08-Jan-2017 10:39 AM
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bharat ias - Quota demands will only grow with jobless growth

Quota demands will only grow with jobless growth

 Context While its demographic dynamism requires the creation of more than eight million jobs a year, India is not doing well on that front the recent agitations for reservation by various communities in India, like Patidars/patels in Gujarat Jats in Haryana and neighboring states – a pretty violent affair Marathas in Maharashtra – after a young Maratha girl was allegedly raped by a Dalit but this movement was a non-violent in nature Kapus in Andhra Pradesh What these movements reflect? these movements reflect the differentiation among the big caste groups along class lines: While those in the upper strata have benefited from growth, those at the bottom of the pyramid have been badly affected by the crisis of India’s agriculture According to a 2016 report of the Labour Bureau, 42 per cent of the rural population is underemployed. This causes a flow of migrants to towns and cities — but those who leave their homes in villages to find a job in the private sector are often frustrated too Lack of jobs: Jobless growth the demographic condition requires creation of more than eight million jobs a year, India is not doing well on that front Stats: According to the Labour Bureau, which has been surveying 8 sectors of industry since 2009 (textiles/apparel, leather, metals, automobiles, gems and jewellery, transport, information technology/business process outsourcing and handloom/powerloom), The number of jobs created by these industries is declining: From 6,40,000 in 2009 to 1,17,000 in 2014, in spite of a 7 to 8 per cent growth rate Foreign investment although foreign corporates have committed to invest $ 225 billion over five years. However, these FDIs will officially translate into only six million jobs because of the highly capitalistic nature of these companies. Lack of well-paying jobs Not only are the jobs too few, they are precarious and do not pay well. Earning in private sector: In the private sector, the average daily earnings of workers was Rs 249 in 2011-12, according to the Labour Bureau and those of all employees was Rs 388 Earning in public sector:By contrast, wages in the public sector are almost three times more: Rs 679 for workers and Rs 945 for all employees. The seventh pay commission recently recommended an increase in the minimum monthly salary from Rs 7,000 to Rs 18,000. Quota: Not a solution all of the above points explain the demands for job quotas by dominant castes but quota is not a solution because Few opportunities: Opportunities are very few. There were 19.5 million jobs in the public sector in 1992-1993 when India’s population was 839 million. While the country’s population is now 1.3 billion, the number of jobs in the public sector has shrunk to 17.6 million Unconstitutional: Positive discrimination has been designed in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes by our constitution. Most dominant castes are not backward; only a fraction are. For that reason, the courts systematically strike down the quotas introduced by governments for such castes. The courts also strike down additional quotas because they push up the proportion of reservation above the 50 per cent limit set by the Supreme Court Suggestions Focus on job creation: Instead of a providing class-based reservations government should focus on creating jobs Facilitating SMEs: Governments should facilitate small and medium enterprises which have labor intensity about four times that of large firms. Many such enterprises are in bad shape, not just because of financial problems caused by demonetization, but also because their access to credit is shrinking.  ...

Publishes on : 08-Jan-2017 10:09 AM
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bharat ias - All is not well in the Army

All is not well in the Army

Context A military force with sharp internal divisions and discontent in the ranks has far-reaching national security implications. It’s time the defence establishment got its act together. Issue: Various issues plaguing the Indian army Addressing the problems there is an urgent need to address the Lopsided promotion trends in the Army Shortage of over 9000 officers Rising infighting within the force, and their implications for India’s national security. Controversial appointment Appointment of Gen Rawat has been a controversial one as he has been made army chief by superseding two of his seniors. Those people who are supporting his appointment, are missing few points, 1.       No compelling reason: To breach a well-established tradition in a conservative and hierarchical institution like the Army, the government should have a convincing and compelling reason which it doesn’t seem to have 2.      Merit argument is flawed: The argument of merit is largely redundant at the topmost levels of an organisation where all officers are equally competent, failing which they wouldn’t have made it to the Lt. Gen. rank in the first place 3.      Subjective criteria: There is no objective criteria for deciding merit at the senior levels of the Army brass besides previous annual confidential reports and civilian considerations, both of which are subjective 4.      Coordinator not an operational commander: The argument that Gen. Rawat has the required experience in certain theatres is again beside the point because the “Chief of the Army Staff” is not an operational commander but a coordinator and chief strategist 5.      Politicisation of armed forces: Non-traditional appointments without a compelling rationale set a bad precedent and could potentially lead to the politicisation of the armed forces. Imagine senior Generals of the Army running around ruling party politicians to make it to the top! Politically Wrong signal The justification of Gen. Rawat’s appointment as stemming from his experience in dealing with insurgency is also indicative of the deeply entrenched tactical thinking within the government at the Centre. This then means that the present government considers anti-militancy and counter-insurgency operations to be the fundamental job description of the Indian Army ignoring the other important aspects like strategic planning and an appreciation of the long-term strategic environment.  Promotion-related discrimination Disproportionate opportunities: Infantry and artillery officers frequently get appointed to the top ranks in the army. Officers from other wings, especially the Armoured Corps and Mechanised Infantry, have been publicly voicing their concerns. This is over and above the fact that only officers from the fighting arms of the Army make it to the top, meaning that those from Engineers and Signals don’t even stand a chance of doing so.  This already existing discrimination is getting even more glaring thanks to the new promotion policy adopted by the Army. The victims of the new policy have been fighting it out in the Supreme Court. Chiefs often promote officers from their own regiment ill-designed reservation policy Kargil Review Committee report: The current debate about the Army’s promotion policy has its genesis in the Kargil Review Committee report which recommended that promotion to the Colonel and Brigadier levels should be made quicker so that younger officers can command battalions and brigades AVSC Committee: The AjaiVikram Singh Committee (AVSC) made some important recommendations in 2001 to restructure the officer cadre in the Army. Among other things, it recommended, Command Exit Model: The implementation of the Command Exit model (as opposed to the pro rata basis) for promotion to the colonel level. The pro-rata basis model gave advantage to infantry and artillery officers and the Command Exit model gives even more advantage to infantry Command Exit Model prescribed differentiated command tenures (that is, the length of the tenures of commanding officers i.e., colonels before promotion to the next level) Tenures fixed under AVSC: the AVSC fixed the command tenure of Infantry officers at 2.5 years, that of Armoured/Mechanised Infantry and Artillery at three years, and Engineers and Signals at four years. This has not only led to quicker promotions for officers from the Infantry but they have also successively managed to corner the Army chief’s post as well, including the last four times. The last four Army Chiefs, including the current one, have been infantry officers.  Violates of Article 14 This ill-designed policy was challenged by serving officers in the Armed Forces Tribunal, which squashed the new promotion policy, holding that it violated Article 14 of the Constitution. SC upheld the policy: However, the Supreme Court in February 2016 upheld the policy, at the same time asking the government to create 141 additional posts at the rank of colonel to be granted to officers from Engineers, Signals and Air Defence Present situation: Around 350 senior Army officers have again approached the Supreme Court seeking a review of its February judgment   Need for reform an armed force suffering with sharp internal divisions and discontent in the ranks can pose challenges for the country’s national security and the morale and cohesion of the fighting forces. Conclusion Government and the new army chief should take urgent measures to address the source of the problems of the growing discontent within the armed forces. Also, the senior Army leadership needs to rise above parochial regimental considerations and look after the interests of the force as a whole rather than those of their own regiments.    ...

Publishes on : 07-Jan-2017 11:06 AM
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bharat ias - When women eat last

When women eat last

Context India has a major child malnutrition problem. Women’s undernourishment contributes substantially to India’s unacceptably high rates of child stunting. Issue: the problem of child stunting with mal nourishment faced Indian mothers   Mal nourishment problem in India India has a major child malnutrition problem. The Rapid Survey on Children (2012-13) found that about 4 in 10 children are stunted Impact of stunting On average, children who are stunted do less well in school, earn less, and die sooner than children who are not  Causes of stunting There are many causes of child stunting. Poverty Illiteracy Poor sanitation: Research shows that poor sanitation spreads diseases that sap children’s energy and stunts their growth Maternal health: The health of a child’s mother matters critically for whether or not the child is stunted The first two years of life are the most important time for a child’s physical and cognitive growth. During this time, she depends heavily on her mother for nutrition. As a growing fetus, she gets all her food from her mother’s bloodstream Maternal undernourishment: A potent contributor to child stunting in India Research shows that many Indian women start pregnancy underweight and gain little weight during pregnancy. This leads to low birth weight babies, high rates of neonatal mortality, and less successful breastfeeding. Women’s undernourishment contributes substantially to India’s unacceptably high rates of child stunting. Why are Indian women so malnourished? Here, too, poverty and sanitation play a role. But a recent survey that author conducted with a team of economics and sociology researchers suggests that widespread discrimination against women in their own homes likely plays an important role too. Survey by SARI Social Attitudes Research for India (SARI) is a new phone survey that seeks to interview representative samples of 18-65-year-olds. One of the things SARI measures is discrimination against women. Measuring discrimination in food intake One aspect of discrimination against women that matters for health is whether women eat less or worse quality food than men.  In order to measure discrimination in women’s food intake, SARI used a question that was previously tested and used by the India Human Development Survey (2011): “When your family eats lunch or dinner, do the women usually eat with the men? Or do the women usually eat first? Or do the men usually eat first?”  How the above question matters? Answers to these questions have implications for nutrition because in households with a limited food budget, or where there is no refrigerator to store leftover food, the person who eats last very often gets less or lower quality food than people who eat before her. Observations The IHDS 2011 survey interviewed married women aged 15-49 and found that one in five women in Delhi and half of the women in Uttar Pradesh said they ate after men did. Situation worsens 5 years later: When SARI included the same question in the survey five years later, it found even higher numbers. One in three adults in Delhi, and six in ten adults in U.P. said they lived in households where men eat first Suggestions While the results may vary, the underlying problem remains the same ie  the practice of making women eat last is widespread in India, and that it has important implications for a child’s health   Promoting gender equality: While the government cannot force people to give women an equal share of food, it could do a lot more to promote gender equality It could publicise and condemn this practice. It could also more aggressively pursue policies to address discrimination against women in other domains Encouraging girls’ education, discouraging dowry, supporting marriage choice, and encouraging female labour force participation would all give women more power to challenge this damaging practice. ...

Publishes on : 07-Jan-2017 10:43 AM
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bharat ias - Financial data management body mooted

Financial data management body mooted


Context A committee set up under the Department of Economic Affairs has recommended the creation of a statutory body that will standardise data from all financial sector regulators in a single database and provide analytical insights based on the data. Issue: Report of the committee to study the financial data management legal framework in India Report suggests Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC): The passage of a Bill in Parliament — the Financial Data Management Centre Bill 2016 — to create the statutory body, as recommended by Finance Minister ArunJaitley. As per the proposed act, Purpose of the FDMC: Subject to the provisions of this Act, or any other law for the time being in force, it shall be the duty of the Data Centre to take measures to standardise data from regulators in consultation with the regulators, enable financial service providers to submit data in a standardised electronic format, analyse the data and maintain a financial system database Powers of FDMC:The powers of the Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC) will include the establishment, operation and maintenance of the financial system database along with collecting financial regulatory data and providing access to it. The body will also provide analytical support to the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) on issues relating to financial stability RBI’s objection Breach of confidentiality: In 2015, when the FSDC first suggested the creation of such a body, the Reserve Bank had objected to sharing company-specific data with the body as it was not statutory in nature, and sharing such data would be a breach of confidentiality.  View of Department of legal affairs on FDMC The majority of the financial sector regulators being statutory in nature, it is not clear from the proposal how the non-statutory FDMC will collect data from such regulators Backdrop Keeping the abovementioned concerns in mind, the Department of Economic Affairs re-examined the issue and obtained the Finance Minister’s approval to establish a statutory FDMC, following which a committee was formed to recommend the way forward What is Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)? Financial sector regulation is a vital service for bringing healthy and efficient financial system in the economy. There are different regulators for various segments of financial sectors, like the RBI for commercial banks and NBFCs, SEBI for capital market etc. At the same time, there should be coordination among these financial sector regulators to ensure better efficiency as well as for avoiding overlapping of functions. For this, the Government has formed the Financial Stability and Development Council in December 2010, with the Finance Minister as the Chairman The immediate reason for the establishment of the FSDC was the tussle between SEBI and IRDA on the regulation of ULIPs.    ...

Publishes on : 06-Jan-2017 11:12 AM
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