Mitras Analysis of News : 21-6-2017

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1.Defence and security on the cards: PM’s proposed visit to India(Live Mint)

2.Need of a knowledge based economy (Indian Express)

3.What lies behind India’s falling infant mortality rate? (The Live mint)

 

1.Defence and security on the cards: PM’s proposed visit to India (Live Mint)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the scheduled meeting of Indian PM with USA’s President and the prospects related with meet. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Prime Minister will pay a first visit to the US after Donald Trump became president earlier this year. Contentious issues such as the Climate Change Agreement and H1-B visa are likely to figure in the talks between the two leaders.

Introduction

  • Modi-Trump discussions will provide a new direction for deeper bilateral engagement. This will be the first meeting between the two leaders.
  • Prime Minister will hold official talks with President Trump on June 26. Their discussions will provide a new direction for deeper bilateral engagement on issues of mutual interest and consolidation of multi-dimensional strategic partnership between India and the US.
  • Trump recently pulled US out of the Paris accord, accusing India of receiving “billions of dollars” in exchange for signing it. India hit back saying there was no truth in Trump’s claims.
  • Trump’s “America first” policy has also put a considerable strain on Indian tech companies’ earnings. The Trump administration is also looking to put a cap on the H1-B work visa, there by putting thousands of Indian engineers at risk of losing their jobs.

Moving forward on defence

  • One area of natural convergence between two nations, is the defence and security realm.
  • Part of the bilateral security agenda involves developing India’s capacity to assume a bigger role as a net security provider in the region. Unlike parts of Europe and Asia, India is not dependent on US security guarantees, and is eager to have a larger military presence, particularly in the Indian Ocean.
  • Indian efforts have complemented US interests, including in patrols of the Strait of Malacca, counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the evacuation of civilians from Yemen.
  • But to play an enhanced role in the Indo-Pacific, India will have to upgrade its military capacity. Defence sales and co-production offer an area to do exactly that, while creating jobs in the US and achieving some of “Make in India” objectives.
  • Continuing the joint working group on aircraft carrier technology cooperation and negotiating the sale of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) represent ongoing efforts to accelerate this process. Given India’s recent acquisition of US military transport aeroplanes, maritime surveillance aircraft, and towed artillery pieces, there may be other possibilities worth exploring.
  • This could extend even further in the homeland security and counter-terrorism space, including at municipal and state levels when it comes to law enforcement, and in terms of cybersecurity at the national level.
  • Another element of strategic cooperation involves information sharing. The two countries talk more regularly and frankly about strategic developments than at possibly any time in the past. These conversations have been particularly fruitful when it comes to developments in India’s east, including in trilateral dialogues with Japan, and it is still important to discuss perceptions of China frankly.

Humanitarian assistance

  • Beyond those kinds of engagements, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations and military exercises offer concrete ways for the two countries’ armed services to work together.
  • The Malabar exercises have significantly helped in building trust and enhancing cooperation between the two navies, with another edition scheduled for July. Since 2004, the Yudh Abhyas exercises have increased familiarity between the two armies, although on a small scale.
  • Bilateral air force engagements, including Cope India and Red Flag, have been fruitful, if episodic. Beyond existing patterns of military exercises, some creative thinking may be required to further institutionalize military-to-military interactions.
  • Efforts at leveraging military education and training, enhancing coordination between civilian defence bureaucracies, and promoting joint or multi-service initiatives remain underdeveloped.

Way ahead

  • Forthcoming visit is, therefore, a chance to boost security cooperation, understand each other’s strategic priorities, and build constituencies for the bilateral relationship in both countries. While greater clarity on issues such as China will facilitate cooperation, uncertainty can impede these efforts. There will continue to be differences, and these too should be addressed candidly.
  • India will also need to follow up words with actions, and promises with performance. But on security and strategic matters, India has a good story to tell. Prime minister’s visit provides an opportunity to highlight for Trump the value of an India that is willing to buy American military equipment, play a greater burden-sharing role, enhance dialogue on regional security, and work more seamlessly with the US military to meet common objectives.

Question:  What are the prospects of nurturing relationship with USA with regard to defence modernisation in India?

2.Need of a knowledge based economy (Indian Express)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the need to develop knowledge economy to reap the benefits of rapid development. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • India has the potential to become a leading knowledge-based economy with its youth population and growing information technology though it should overcome some barriers in this regard.
  • But making this a reality will require many steps like putting in place supportive laws, improving infrastructure, dismantling barriers to trade and investment, upskilling the labor force, boosting research and development spending, and providing innovative financing options for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Need for a shift towards knowledge economy (certain examples)

  • The Indian readymade garments industry has been a vital enabler of our export trade. Each year it exports to the West, ready-to-wear apparel worth several billion dollars. Trade analysts, in the recent past, have been quite gung-ho about this sector’s prospects.
  • Where do countries like India, China and others in the region derive the strength that adds so much value to their economies? It is not as if nimble fingers and skilled tailoring hands do not exist in developed nations. The answer lies is in the availability of cheap labour.
  • Unfortunately, this advantage is likely to disappear in the near future. We simply need to delve into the realm of robotics and artificial intelligence to gauge the situation.
  • There are many lessons that need to be imbibed by us in India from this troubling future of the garments industry. These lessons transcend the garments industry and need to be brought to the attention of educationists, policymakers and several arms of the government.
  • The success of this robotic stitching device provides us with a near-perfect example of the power of a knowledge-based economy.
  • As another illustration, we need to wake up to the fact that Nike has been experimenting with the use of 3D printers to manufacture shoes. These areas of high-end technology have a rapid rate of convergence. It is well nigh possible that our shoe manufacturing industry could be hard-hit in no time.
  • Institutions have to move out of traditional modes of thinking and must recognise that knowledge can exist in all realms, not just in formal systems around academia.

Way ahead

  • the learning that stares us in the face is the need to develop and nurture educational institutions in a manner that ensures their linkages to the needs and challenges of the nation — including its economic needs. This requires inducing young minds to grapple with the challenges of the nation and society.
  • The other learning that also mocks us is the fact that no red alerts seem to have been issued in this context by any economic agency, think tank or any institution of knowledge. Knowledge without action is meaningless, as stated by the Mimansa school of philosophy long ago.

Question:  How government should intervene to develop high-end knowledge based courses to imbibe the spirit of high-end manufacturing?

 

3.What lies behind India’s falling infant mortality rate? (The Live mint) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the improvement in public health as per latest National Family Health Survey. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Despite rapid growth, India’s inability to improve health outcomes significantly has been one of the country’s major failings.
  • However the latest round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) shows the infant mortality rate (IMR), an important summary measure of a country’s health, saw a marked improvement over the past decade, declining from 57 per 1,000 live births in 2005-06 to 41 per 1,000 live births in 2015-16.
  • The survey also stated that sex ratio at birth (number of females per 1,000 males) improved from 914 to 919 at the national level over the last decade with the highest in Kerala (1,047), followed by Meghalaya (1,009) and Chhattisgarh (977).
  • According to the health minister, after the launch of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in 2005, significant improvements have taken place in building the health infrastructure in the country, the visibility of NRHM, now called National Health Mission, is reflected in progress towards achieving targets for the reduction of Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Total fertility Rate (TFR) and other indicators.

Decline in IMR

  • This improvement in IMR has coincided with an improvement in public health spending, and the rollout of a National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) focusing on the healthcare needs of under-served rural areas in 2005.
  • Despite leakages, the mission helped set up rural health infrastructure in areas where it was non-existent earlier, and helped raise a cadre of community health workers (ASHA workers) who worked as the frontline staff of the mission in improving health outcomes, especially of women and new-borns.
  • The improvement over the past decade has been much faster than in the rest of the post-liberalization era. The IMR declined at a nearly constant pace of 2.5% per annum between 1992-93 and 2005-06. But the pace of decline accelerated over the past 10 years, with the IMR registering an annual decline of 3.24% per annum.
  • There is a significant improvement in terms of absolute numbers of lives saved. Between 2004 and 2014, public health expenditure increased from 1% to 1.4% of the GDP, a 40% increase over a decade.
  • The Journal of Development Studies, examined data for states and Union territories in India over the period 1983-84 to 2011-12 to estimate the causal impact of public health expenditure on the IMR. Studies found that there is an increase in public health expenditure by 1% of state-level GDP leads to a decline in the IMR by about 9 deaths per 1,000 live births, even after controlling for all other factors.

Way ahead

  • There is an increase in full immunization coverage in Punjab, Bihar and Meghalaya by 29 percentage point each, while in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh it increased by 28 percentage points each, which has attributed to improvement in key health indicators.

Question:  What is the state of India’s health with regard to National family health survey? What more can be done in this regard?

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