Why You Should Know?
• Ministry of Ayush in collaboration with state Government of Assam is organizing a grand event at Rang Ghar Grounds, Sivasagar, Assam on 2nd May 2022 to mark 50th countdown day to upcoming 8th International Day of Yoga 2022.
• Ministry of Ayush, through its autonomous body Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY) and support of State Government of Assam will organize this event. The aim of this event is to give a wider promotion and publicity to various dimensions of Yoga, its utility and to promote the countdown campaign to IDY 2022 for health and wellness.
• The Ministry of Ayush is the nodal Ministry for observation of the International Day of Yoga. Every year, the main event of IDY is observed as a Mass Yoga Demonstration which is led by Prime Minister himself. The preparations for IDY 2022 are already under way.
• The Ministry with its various stakeholders has chalked out a 100 days’ countdown programme for 8th International Day of Yoga wherein 100 organizations are promoting yoga in 100 places/cities.
• It is worth mentioning that 50 days’ countdown is an important event in observation of International day of Yoga every year. The Ministry hopes to inspire a “Mass Movement for Health and Wellbeing” through Yoga in the countdown to IDY 2022.
• As the upcoming 8th International Day of Yoga is falling in “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” year, the Ministry has proposed to observe IDY 2022 at 75 iconic sites across the country. This countdown program is already in progress and observation of IDY-2022 is gaining momentum.
• Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India and aim to control (yoke) and still the mind, recognizing a detached witness-consciousness untouched by the mind (Chitta) and mundane suffering (Duḥkha).
• There is a wide variety of schools of yoga, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and traditional and modern yoga is practiced worldwide.
• As approved by the Commission, the word ‘ayush’ will have the meaning “Traditional and Non-Conventional Systems of Health Care and Healing which include Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa, Homoeopathy etc
• The Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology has decided to adopt the word ‘AYUSH’ in Hindi and English languages for scientific and technical purposes.
• The “AYUSH” became popular as the acronym for five traditional and complementary systems of medicine, namely Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy and successfully adopted and used in all Government communications. The decision follows a proposal from the Ministry of AYUSH in this regards.
• As approved by the Commission, the word ‘ayush’ will have the meaning “Traditional and Non-Conventional Systems of Health Care and Healing which include Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa, Homoeopathy etc. Following the Commission’s recognition, the word is expected to gain currency in popular usage in a short span of time.
• Despite many commonalities, the practice of the Ayush systems of healthcare in India have remained fragmented in system-specific silos. Today’s decision would, in the long term, highlight the unifying features of the different systems.
• It would facilitate projects and activities of larger scope to emerge, and thereby promote faster development of these systems.
• This decision will also give a boost to India’s efforts to find a place for the Indian Systems of Healthcare in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) of the World Health Organization.
• The Indian systems finding a place in ICD will lead to their international acceptance, increased rigor of research in them and their over-all development.
India’s Edible Oil Position is Comfortable despite Ban by Indonesia
Why You Should Know?
• India has optimum stock of all Edible Oils. As per the industry sources, the present stock of all edible oils in the country is 21 LMT approx. and 12 LMT approx. is in transit arriving in May, 2022. Therefore, the country has sufficient to cover the lean period due to ban on export by Indonesia.
• On the oilseeds front, DA&FW’s second advance estimate released in February, 2022 shows a very positive picture of Soyabean production for the year 20221-22 at 126.10 LMT which is higher than last year’s production of 112 LMT.
• As a result of higher sowing of Mustard seeds by 37% in all major producing States including Rajasthan in comparison with last year, the production may rise to 114 LMT in 2021-22 season.
• The Department of Food and Public Distribution is monitoring the price and availability situation and meetings are held regularly with major Edible Oil processing Associations to discuss further reduction in the domestic edible oil prices and MRP to give relief to consumers.
Palm oil situation
• Palm oil (Crude + Refined) constitutes roughly around 62% of the total edible oils imported and are imported mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, while Soyabean oil (22%) is imported from Argentina and Brazil and Sunflower oil (15%) is imported mainly from Ukraine and Russia.
• International prices of Edible Oils are under pressure due to shortfall in global production and increase in export tax/levies by the exporting countries.
• India is one of the largest producers of oilseeds in the world and this sector occupies an important position in the agricultural economy, accounting for the estimated production of 37.14 million tons of nine cultivated oilseeds during the year 2021-22 as per the 2nd Advance Estimates released by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
• A close watch is being kept on day to day basis on prices of Edible oils so that appropriate measures can be taken to keep a check on the prices of edible oil for ensuring that the prices remain stable and interest of consumers are protected.
• The Inter-Ministerial Committee held weekly on Agri-Commodities chaired by Secretary (Food) closely monitors the prices and availability of agricultural commodities including edible oil keeping in view the interest of the farmers, industry and consumers.
• The committee reviews price situation on weekly basis, consider relevant measures in relation to edible oils and other food items depending on the domestic production, demand, domestic and international prices and international trade volumes.
• Special teams have also been constituted by both Central & State Governments to prevent hoarding and profiteering under the Essential Commodities Act. These surprise checks shall continue to check unscrupulous elements.
About Palm Oil
• Grown only in the tropics, the oil palm tree produces high-quality oil used primarily for cooking in developing countries. It is also used in food products, detergents, cosmetics and, to a small extent, biofuel.
• Palm oil is a small ingredient in the U.S. diet, but more than half of all packaged products Americans consume contain palm oil—it’s found in lipstick, soaps, detergents and even ice cream.
• Palm oil is a very productive crop. It offers a far greater yield at a lower cost of production than other vegetable oils. Global production of and demand for palm oil is increasing rapidly.
• Plantations are spreading across Asia, Africa and Latin America. But such expansion comes at the expense of tropical forests—which form critical habitats for many endangered species and a lifeline for some human communities.
Why You Should Know?
• In order to realise vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to turn India into a thriving semiconductor hub, multiple number of agreements/pacts have been announced on third and last day of SemiconIndia 2022. The SemiconIndia 2022, a 3 day conference, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 29th April, 2022.
• Speaking about the SemiconIndia, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar expressed his satisfaction on the progress made during the three day conference in terms of collaborations, partnerships between start ups, industry and government.
• He further added that India’s ambitions are very clear. It’s a land of opportunities in semiconductor sector & that’s the future we’re building the semiconductor ecosystem for an India’s Techade.
• The Minister mentioned that beneficiaries of our Semicon Policy will be current and future startups and the talented human capital of India. We are committed for enabling and empowering them to capitalize on the opportunities.
• “In the Past, world heard Intel Inside, in the future the world should hear Digital India Inside”, Mr. RajeevChandrasekhar said.
Major Point Of SemiconIndia 2022:
1. India Semiconductor Mission hasannounced an MoU between Cyient, WiSig Networks and IIT Hyderabadto enable mass production of “5G Narrowband-IoT- the Koala Chip, Architected and Designed in India”.
• Cyient, a leading India-headquartered globalE-R&D & technology solutions company, has partnered with WiSig Networks, a start-up incubated at IIT Hyderabad, to enable volume production of Koala– NB IoT-SoC (Narrowband-IoT System-on-Chip), designed and architected in India.
• Volume production of the Koala NB-IoTSoC includes the development of a package, test solution suited for volume production, silicon fabrication, volume testing of the IC, and supply management ofthechip.
• 5G NB-IoT is a fast growing technology that enables low bit rate IoT applications and extends device battery life by upto 10 years.
• This chip will be used in many applications such as Smart Meters, Asset tracking, Digital Healthcare and many more.
1. MoU between Signal chip Innovations, MeitY and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) for not only design and manufacture but also deployment and maintenance of 10 Lakh Integrated NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) and GPS Receivers. Signalchip, an Indian Fabless semiconductor company has developed “Agumbe” series of baseband, modem and radio frequency (RF) chipsets for 5G/4G networks with integrated support for global navigation satellite systems including NavIC.
• These multi-standard chipsets can serve as base station chipset for a wide range of form factors from low-cost indoor small cells to high performance base stations. They have been designed to be suitable for low-cost and low-power systems.
• They already support positioning using satellite navigation system, including NavIC, to enable several network features.Signalchip has invested and developed almost all the IPs in these chipsets indigenously.
• Leveraging the IPs created for these chipsets allows Signalchip to quickly build chipsets specifically optimized for navigation systems.
• The NavIC chipset that will be developed can be used in any device requiring navigation capabilities like mobile phones, vehicles with built-in navigation (e.g. electric vehicles) and tracking devices. They can also be used in low power IoT devices in combination with other technologies like NB-IoT.
1. Partnership was announced with Synopsys, Cadence Design Systems, Siemens EDA and Silvaco for making available their Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools & design solutions for Chips to Startup (C2S) Programme being implemented by CDAC, a scientific society under Ministry of Electronics and IT, Govt. of Indiaat 100+ Institutions for 5 years.
• Chips to Startup (C2S) Programme of MeitYaims to create85,000 specialized engineersat B.Tech, M.Tech, PhD level forexpanding Indian Semiconductor talent in the area of VLSI and Embedded System Design at 100+ institutions across the country.
• Under C2S Programme, the access to leading EDA Tools & design solution from Synopsys, Siemens-EDA, Cadence Design Systems and Silvacowill enable students and researchers to use Industry Grade semiconductor chip design flows and methodologies thereby generating specialized manpower for Semiconductor Design Industry.
1. An MoU was announced between Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) USA and IIT Bombay to focus on bringing together SRC’s industry experts and India’s R&D talent to create a compelling industry driven world-class R&D program.
• SRC is a world-renowned, high technology-based consortium that serves to enable collaboration between technology companies, academia, government agencies, and SRC’s highly regarded engineers and scientists.
• IIT Bombay is a premier Institute of National importance with major thrusts in education and innovation in technology, circuits and systems. The MoU signed between SRC and IIT Bombay is focused on bringing together SRC’s industry experts and India’s R&D talent to create a compelling industry driven world-class R&D program.
• Through this program, SRC will engage with Indian academia through a public-private partnership (PPP) model co-funded by MeitY.
• Such industry-driven R&D in semiconductors is the need of the hour as India embarks on the journey to semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem development and technology leadership.
1. MeitY announced that Prof. Rao Tummala from Georgia Tech University, USA has consented to be a part of the Advisory Committee of India Semiconductor Mission.
• Prof Rao is a Distinguished and Endowed Chair Professor and Director Emeritus at Georgia Tech in the USA. He is well known as an industrial technologist, technology pioneer and educator.
1. MoU between Global Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE India) and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) was announcedfor skill and technical standards development in semiconductor electronics focusing on VLSI design and Electromagnetic interference (EMI)/ Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).
• The Agreement between IEEE and C-DAC will be used to create specific blended learning programs in the area of semiconductor technologies, cybersecurity; standardization activities; outreach and skill development.
• CDAC has specific activities focused on skilling, outreach and technology development in the area of semiconductor technologies, IoT and cybersecurity. This will strengthen the semiconductor chip design ecosystem in the country and facilitating access to semiconductor design infrastructure for the start-ups and MSMEs.
Indian-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)
Why You Should Know?
• The historic India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which was signed between the two nations on 18 February 2022, officially entered into force today.
• Secretary, Department of Commerce, Shri BVR Subrahmanyam flagged off the first consignment of goods comprising of Jewellery products from India to UAE under the India-UAE CEPA at a function in New Customs House in New Delhi today.
• In a symbolic gesture operationalizing the landmark Agreement, Shri B V R Subrahmanyam, Hon’ble Commerce Secretary to Government of India, handed over Certificates of Origin to three exporters from the Gems & Jewellery sector.
• The aforementioned consignment which will now attract zero customs duty under this Agreement is expected to reach Dubai today, 01 May 2022.
• Gems & Jewellery sector contributes a substantial portion of India’s exports to the UAE and is a sector that is expected to benefit significantly from the tariff concessions obtained for Indian products under the India-UAE CEPA.
• Overall, India will benefit from preferential market access provided by the UAE on over 97 % of its tariff lines which account for 99% of Indian exports to the UAE in value terms particularly from labour-intensive sectors such as Gems and Jewellery, Textiles, leather, footwear, sports goods, plastics, furniture, agricultural and wood products, engineering products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and Automobiles.
• As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have enhanced access to around 111 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors.
• CEPA is expected to increase the total value of bilateral trade in goods to over US$100 billion and trade in services to over US$ 15 billion within five years.
• Speaking at the ceremony, Commerce Secretary said it was a momentous occasion. Highlighting the immense potential for strategic partnership between the two nations, he said that the agreement is a trendsetter because of the short time in which it was negotiated.
• He added that although the agreement had envisioned a target of USD 100 billion worth of trade, given the size of India’s market and the access that UAE would give to India, much more could be achieved.
• Noting that the agreement was an outcome of the vision of the leaders of the two nations, the Commerce Secretary said that for India, UAE would be a gateway to the world.
• Underscoring the need for India products to be competitive in the international market, the Secretary said that there was a need to build and augment our capacities.
• He also added that the government was working on reducing the logistics cost so that the products from hinterland could also be competitive.
UK, Canada & EU Situation
• The Commerce Secretary informed that India was negotiating trade agreements at a very fast pace with complementary economies and that talks were ongoing with UK, Canada and EU.
• The need to communicate the benefits of such trade agreements to the exporter community in layman’s language so that they understand the provisions of the agreement and make the best possible use of it.
• Highlighting the need for market intelligence and data analytics, which the government would be focusing on in future, the Secretary urged the exporters to take advantage of free trade agreements.
• Stating that USD 670 bn of exports (goods and service) during last fiscal year constituted 22-23% of the GDP, Shri Subrahmanyam said that exports are an important engine of growth in every economy and added that the world was looking to India as a reliable partner.
• Conveying a vision for India’s future in 2047, the Secretary said that we would be a USD 40 trillion economy in the next 25 years.
• He asserted that the Department of Commerce has also been strengthening itself to be future ready and meet the challenges of tomorrow with focus on trade promotion.
• A comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) is a free trade agreement between two countries.
Why You Should Know?
• India has been in the grip of what seems like an eternity of heat waves. April temperatures over northwest and central India are the highest in 122 years.
• During April 1 to 28, the average monthly maximum temperature over northwest India was 35.9° Celsius and the same over central India was 37.78° C.
Averages Belie Measurements By India Meteorological Department
• These averages belie measurements at the district and sub-divisional level where several parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, and Maharashtra have seen temperatures inch towards the mid-40s and breach normal.
• There is little respite expected in May, which is anyway the hottest month, though the India Meteorological Department (IMD) says that while north and west India will continue to sizzle on expected lines, and must likely brace for more heat waves, the rest of the country is unlikely to see the levels of March and April.
• A heat wave is declared when the maximum temperature is over 40°C and at least 4.5 notches above normal. A severe heat wave is declared if the departure from normal temperature is more than 6.4° C, according to the IMD.
• The proximate causes for the searing heat are an absence of rain-bearing Western Disturbances, or tropical storms that bring rain from the Mediterranean over north India.
• Cool temperatures in the central Pacific, or a La Niña, that normally aid rain in India, too have failed to bolster rainfall this year. This is an unusual occurrence.
• Despite five Western Disturbances forming in April, none was strong enough to bring significant rain and depress temperatures.
• The IMD has forecast a ‘normal’ monsoon or 99% of the Long Period Average (LPA) of 87 cm and is expected to forecast the monsoon’s arrival over Kerala later in May.
• On the surface, there is no direct bearing between the intensity of heat waves and the arrival and performance of the monsoon.
• In fact, even as northern India baked for want of rain, April saw monthly rainfall break a four-year record with high rainfall in several parts of southern and north-eastern India.
• May too is expected to see 9% more rain over India than is usual for the month, though it must be kept in mind that base rainfall is so low in this month that it is unlikely to make a mark.
• While individual weather events cannot be linked to greenhouse gas levels, a warming globe means increased instances of extreme rain events and extended rain-less spells.
• What is better known is it helps to have disaster management plans in place that help States better deal with heat waves and their impact on health.
• The official toll due to heat waves in the last 50 years is put at over 17,000 people, according to research from the IMD.
• The heat island effect means urbanisation adds degrees to the already searing conditions, and so, heat wave deaths must be treated as a disaster that merits compensation. Private and public workplaces too must be better equipped to factor heat wave risk.
Nand Mulchandani CIA’s First-ever Chief Technology Officer
Why You Should Know?
• NAND MULCHANDANI, an Indian-American Silicon Valley IT expert who has studied at a Delhi school, was appointed the CIA’s first-ever chief technology officer.
• The announcement was made by CIA director William J Burns. According to the CIA, Mulchandani has more than 25 years of expertise working in Silicon Valley.
• Prior to joining the CIA, Mulchandani has served as the CTO and acting director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center of the US Department of Defence.
Portable Desalination Unit
Why You Should Know?
• MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a portable desalination unit, weighing less than 10 kg, that can remove particles and salts to generate drinking water.
WHAT IT DOES:
• The suitcase-sized device requires less power to operate than a cell phone charger. It can also be driven by a small, portable solar panel, which can be purchased online for around $50 (about Rs 3,800 at current exchange rates), MIT said in a news release.
• It said the device automatically generates drinking water that exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) quality standards. The device runs with the push of one button.
• While other portable desalination units that require water to pass through filters, this device utilizes electrical power to remove particles from drinking water. Eliminating the need for replacement filters greatly reduces the long-term maintenance requirements.
• This, the release said, could enable the unit to be deployed in remote and severely resource-limited areas. It could also be used to aid refugees fleeing natural disasters or by soldiers carrying out long-term military operations, it said.
• The researchers have described the device in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.
• “We worked for years on the physics behind individual desalination processes, but pushing all those advances into a box, building a system, and demonstrating it in the ocean, that was a really meaningful and rewarding experience for me,” the release quoted senior author Jongyoon Han, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering, as saying.
HOW IT WORKS:
• The unit relies on a technique called ion concentration polarisation, which was pioneered by Han’s group more than 10 years ago, the release said.
• Rather than filtering water, the process applies an electrical field that causes positively or negatively charged particles – including salt molecules, bacteria, viruses – to be repelled as they flow past.
• The charged particles are funnelled into a second stream of water that is eventually discharged. The process removes solids, allowing clean water to pass through the channel.
• Portable Seawater Desalination System for Generating Drinkable Water in Remote Locations’, Junghyo Yoon et al, Environmental Science & Technology.
Why You Should Know?
• It augurs well for the future that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the first authentic indication that the operation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) may come to an end in the whole of the north-eastern region, if ongoing efforts to normalize the situation bear fruit.
• Mr. Modi’s remark that a good deal of work is being done in that direction, not only in Assam but also Nagaland and Manipur, may be rooted in his keenness to demonstrate the level of progress achieved in the region under his regime; but it will bring immense relief to the citizens, nevertheless.
ASPA UNDER DISTURBED AREAS
• Areas notified as ‘disturbed areas’ under AFSPA have been progressively reduced in the last few years, mainly due to the improvement in the security situation.
• About a month ago, the Union Home Ministry reduced such notified areas considerably in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.
• There was a substantial reduction in Assam, where AFSPA was removed entirely in 23 districts and partially in one.
• In Nagaland, after the removal of the law from 15 police stations in seven districts, it remains in areas under 57 police stations, spread across 13 districts.
• Areas under 82 police stations are still notified under the Act in Manipur, even though 15 police station areas were excluded from the notification from April 1.
• Mr. Modi, who spoke at a ‘peace, unity and development rally’ in Diphu in Assam last week, cited “better administration” and the “return of peace” as the reasons for the removal of AFSPA in these areas in a region that has seen insurgencies for decades.
• AFSPA was revoked in Tripura in 2015 and in Meghalaya in 2018. It is not unforeseeable that other States will also be excluded from its purview at some point of time.
• It is convenient to link the exclusion of an area from AFSPA’s purview with reduction in violence by armed groups, improvement in the security situation and an increase in development activity, but what is important is the recognition that the law created an atmosphere of impunity and led to the commission of excesses and atrocities.
• It was hardly four months ago that 15 civilians were killed in Mon district in Nagaland in a botched military operation.
• Therefore, alongside the gradual reduction in the areas under the Act, there should be serious efforts to procure justice for victims of past excesses too.
• On the political side, it is indeed true that much headway has been made in moving towards a political solution to some of the multifarious disputes in the region, in the form of peace accords, ceasefire and creation of sub-regional administrative arrangements.
• The removal of AFSPA from the entire region will be an inevitable step in the process. But irrespective of the security situation, AFSPA should not have allowed such impunity to the armed forces.
THE ARMED FORCES (SPECIAL POWERS) ACT, 1958
• Violence became the way of life in north-eastern States of India. State administration became incapable to maintain its internal disturbance.
• Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Ordinance was promulgated by the President on 22nd May of 1958.
• In which some special powers have been given to the members of the armed forces in disturbed areas in the State of Assam and Union Territory of Manipur.
• Later the Ordinance was replaced by the armed Forces Special Powers Bill.
STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
• An ordinance entitled the Armed forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Ordinance, 1958, was promulgated by the President on the 22nd May, 1958.
• Section 3 of the Ordinance powers the Governor of Assam and the Chief Commissioner of Manipur to declare the whole or any part of Assam or the Union territory of Manipur, as the case may be, to be a disturbed area.
• On such a declaration being made in the Official Gazette, any Commissioned Officer, Warrant Officer, non-commissioned officer or any other person of equivalent rank in the armed forces may exercise, in the disturbed area, the powers conferred by section 4 and 5 of the Ordinance.
The significance of PM Modi’s Europe tour
Why You Should Know?
• PM Narendra Modi is travelling to Germany, Denmarkand France from May 2 to 4. His first foreign trip this year, it comes at a time when awarin the heart of Europe has up ended seven decades of global order.
• Germany is one of India’s most important partners in Europe, with deep bilateral relations, and also because of its key role in the European Union. India was among the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Federal Republic of Germany after WWII.
• India and Germany have a “Strategic Partnership since May 2000, and it has been strengthened with the launch of the Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) in 2011 at the level of heads of government. India is among a select group of countries with which Germany has such a dialogue mechanism. During Modi’s visit the 6th IGC will take place, postponed from last year due to the pandemic.
• Germany has a new Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who assumed office last December. Scholz, a former finance minister, visited India in 2012 when he was the Mayor of Hamburg Scholz was the first foreign leader with whom Modi had a phone conversation in 2022.
• Germany has made key strategic choices in the Russia-Ukraine war. It has promised to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, and decided to increase defence spending a significant move, given its post-WWII posture. With India too dependent on Russia for defence supplies, it will be important for New Delhi and Berlin to exchange notes on strategic choices and moving away from Russia for their respective needs.
• Germany holds the G-7 Presidency, and with India taking a different view from Europe’s by not condemning Russia directly, it will be significant to see if India gets invited to the G-7 outreach summit in June.
• India and Germany have a shared interest in upholding democratic values, a rules based international order, and reform of multilateral institutions. These issues are expected to figure in the discussions, especially in the context of China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
• Bilateral relations were elevated to the level of a “Green Strategic Partnership” during the Virtual Summit held in September 2020 between Modi and Danish PM Mette Frederiksen, Frederiksen was in India on a state visit from October 9 to 11, 2021, the first visit by a Head of Government following the pandemic.
• The first India Nordic Summit took place in April 2018 to explore new areas of cooperation. This format is special the only other country with which the Nordic countries -Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland -have this kind of engagement is with the US.
• While economic growth, climate change and global security were identified as key areas of cooperation, the summit is taking place at a time when two Nordic countries are looking at joining NATO amid a sense of insecurity in Europe.
• “Nordic countries are pioneers in innovation, clean energy, green technologies, education, health-care, human rights, rule of law – this presentsenomous opportunities for India to expand its own strengths by collaborating with these countries….” Ankita Dutta, a research fellow at the India Council of World Affairs wrote in a paper.
• For Nordic countries, Dutta wrote, “it makes sense to step-up their engagement, as India today represents a fast growing economy with annual GDP growth of 7-7.5% over the last few years. India presents an ideal opportunity to these countries because of its large market.
• Many new flagship schemes have been launched by India-like Make in India, Smart Cities Mission Start-up India, Clean Ganga etc. in which Nordic countries can take active part and provide their expertise.”
• The visit to France has been planned after President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected in a tough election India and France have traditionally had close relations. In 1998, the two entered into a Strategic Partnership with de fence & security cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation being its pillars. India and France also have a robust economic partnership, and are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation.
• France was among the few western countries to not condemn India after the 1998 Pokhran tests. It has continued to support India’s claim for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council France’s support was vital in India’s accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group France continues to support India’s bid foraccession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
• Following the Pulwama attack in February 2019, France nationally listed the Pakistan based global terrorist Hafiz Saeed, which was followed up with his listing at the UN. France has also supported India’s requests to block at tempts by Pakistan to enlist Indian citizens under the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee.
• The current visit will give the two leaders an opportunity to exchange notes on the Ukraine crisis, China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific, and defence and security cooperation including the delivery of Rafale aircraft.
• Modi and Macron are some of the few world leaders who have maintained open communication channels with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
• The conversation with France will also be important since it is holding the Presidency of the European Union this year.
India & Europe
• To sum it up, Modi’s visit signifies the importance attached to India’s ties with Europe For the past few years, Europeans have always felt that-as a whole-the Modi government gives more thrust to other strategic partners like the US, Japan and even Australia and the UAE, than Europe.
• Over the last few weeks, the intensity of engagement has increased in the wake of the war in Ukraine, with foreign ministers from UK, Poland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway among others and the President of the European Commission visiting India.
• Although India in 1962 had been one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community–the precursor of the European Union – the relationship focused initially on trade and economic cooperation. A Cooperation Agreement signed in 1994 broad-based the relationship to include ministerial meetings and a political dialogue.
• These ties have expanded to include political and security issues, climate change and clean energy, information and communications technology. space and nuclear, health, agriculture and food security, and education and culture.
• Modi’s visit to Europe is likely to set the stage for the India EU summit and a boost in Free Trade Agreement negotiations, which have been ongoing for a decade and a half now.
Funding Woes Haunt Indian Science
Why You Should Know?
• Far back in time, science, like monasticism, attracted people who were singularly driven by a passion for seeking the truth. Largely ignored by the rulers and the state machinery of those days, science was either supported by the enlightened and munificent elites or by the investigators themselves from their personal funds.
• The times have changed since, and we have never had so many people supported by the state, whose purported purpose of work is to understand the world better.
• Thus, knowledge generation of the natural world has become a highly competitive endeavor among the nations and science funding has often been touted as a marker of social advancement.
India’s R&D expenditure
• With very little participation from the private sector in the country that includes some of the richest by global standards, curiosity-driven basic research in India is primarily sustained by direct funding from the government.
• Still, it remains static in India and hovers between a paltry 0.6 to 0.8% of GDP over a decade, way below the United States, China, Japan, the European Union countries and South Korea.
• While India’s global R&D expenditure remains static at 1-3% of the global total, the U.S. and China accounted for 25% and 23%, respectively. This trend of under-funding is also reflected in the low proportion of qualified researchers available in India, considering its huge population.
The World Bank statistics
• The World Bank statistics indicate that India had 255 researchers per million people in 2017 – a minuscule fraction for its size and population, in contrast to 8,342 per million in Israel, 7,597 in Sweden and 7,498 in South Korea. Compared to 111 in the U.S. and 423 in China, India has only 15 researchers per 1,00,000 population.
• The budgetary allocations over the last several years show a consistent downward trend. Much of the total of the funding available goes to DRDO, Department of Space and Atomic Energy, leaving only 30 to 40% for agencies such as Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR); it is from this last-mentioned allocation that the extra-mural research from the individual investigators are supported.
• The current financial year (2022-23) is no exemption, borne out by the budgetary allocations for scientific research. The Union Ministry of Science and Technology has earmarked 14,217 crore in the 20222023 Union Budget – a drop of 3.9% from last year: the DST and DBT are supposed to receive Rs.5,240 crore and Rs.2,961 crore, respectively.
• While the funding trend remained frozen between 2011 and 2018, the number of universities jumped from 752 to 1,016, and doctoral degrees escalated from 10,111 to 24,474, which means that the available number of people required to do scientific work as a career option enlarged exponentially.
• Probably realising this demand from the new generation of researchers from the universities, the 2021-22 budget offered 10,000 crore ($1.37 billion) every year starting from 2021, over the next five years, for a new funding agency called the National Research Foundation (NRF).
• This agency is expected to boost un iversity science research, as well as the work in social sciences. The journal Nature in its editorial dated February 9, 2021, in a somewhat euphoric tone, called it “a ground-breaking change”, giving the fullest credit to the then Principal Scientific Adviser K. Vijay Raghavan for seeding this idea to the point of fruition.
National Education Policy 2020
• “The NRF will provide a reliable base of merit-based but equitable peer-reviewed research funding, helping to develop a culture of research in the country through suitable incentives for and recognition of outstanding research, and by undertaking major initiatives to seed and grow research at state universities and other public institutions where research capability is currently limited”.
• The NRF’s importance Despite the announcement of the NRF and a huge fund infusion in the science budget, the 2021 budget speech had also expressed the intention of investing about 4,000 crore over five years for deep-ocean research and biodiversity conservation; and promised to four centres for virological research and a commitment to developing hydrogen energy.
• Planned to be an autonomous body and therefore less bureaucratic, the NRF was expected to bring thousands of colleges and universities under its ambit.
• As most of the country’s scientific research is being conducted by government laboratories and a few premier institutes, this new forum was thought to be a game-changer by its intent of democratization of the knowledge base.
• But it is anybody’s guess why the current-year budget was eloquently silent on this initiative of the last financial year, which is yet to be approved by the Cabinet.
• Such a lack of continuity in government policy towards science funding is a huge deterrent to achieving the fullest potential in scientific research in India.
• Gallup poll of sorts among the researchers would surely nail the biggest hindrance in Indian science – the financial bureaucracy, again a legacy of British colonial governance To unleash the fullest potential of Indian science, a vibrant and responsive financial system is required.
• Such a system should be autonomous and more participatory, and less bureaucratic – a problem also compounded by the fact that the finance person is made more accountable to the ministry rather than the secretary of the department.
• It is widely felt that it is often less difficult to have a project approved than to have funds periodically released. A corollary question is how to regain the autonomy of scientific institutions in financial management that has undergone considerable erosion.
• India must choose to break the bureaucratic barriers that exist in the government departments and develop innovative ways to help basic research flourish.
R&D Spending In India
• India cannot aspire to be a global leader in scientific research if enough funds are not injected into basic research by committing to raise the R&D spending to at least 1% of the GDP.
• It is also important for the private sector to chip in. But for that to happen, the government should incentivise the private players by giving them tax breaks, etc.
• The promise to set up NRF, independent of political interference, and the related financial commitment needs to be realised.
• Another option is to upgrade the SERB (Science Engineering Research Board) to play the role assigned to the NRF. There are a lot of cues to be obtained from China on how it managed to become a world leader in scientific research.
• For all this to achieve, a foremost requirement is a dynamic R&D ecosystem, which India lacks today.
Present Situation of Ayush industry
Why You Should Know?
• The global market for herbal medicine was valued at $657.5 billion in 2020. It is expected to grow to $746.9 billion in 2022.
• In China, the traditional medicine industry had total revenue of $37.41 billion in 2018, according to an IBIS World report.
• In fact, the Healthy China 2030 plan forecasts that the value of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) market may reach $737.9 billion within China and globally by 2030.
• The growth of the TCM industry in China is attributed to the immense attention the sector has received in the country.
• In 1982, the Constitution of China gave full recognition to TCM. Since 2009, there has been continuous support for TCM in health policies.
• China has focused upon developing quality infrastructure for TCM to co-exist with modern medicine under the same roof.
The NAM Scheme
• The NAM scheme In India, the National Ayush Mission (NAM) was launched in 2014 by the Department of Ayush, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to promote Ayush systems and address the needs of the sector in a comprehensive way.
• Providing cost-effective services, strengthening educational systems, quality control of drugs and sustainable availability of raw materials are the main objectives of NAM.
• The industry is projected to reach $23.3 billion in 2022, according to a Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), 2021, report. The Indian herbal medicine market is worth $18.1 billion.
• The Indian Ayush sector has grown by 17% between 2014 and 2020. Related segments such as plant derivatives grew by 21%, plant extracts by 14.7%, and herbal plants by 14.3% during the same period.
• Under the Medicinal Plants’ component of the NAM scheme (2015-16 to 2020-21), the cultivation of prioritized medicinal plants in identified clusters/zones is being supported.
• Cultivation of plants on farmer’s land, establishment of nurseries with backward linkages, post-harvest management with forward linkages, and primary processing, marketing, etc., are all covered under the scheme.
• For the cultivation of plants, subsidies at 30%, 50% and 75% of the cultivation cost for 140 medicinal plants are being provided. So far, approximately 56,396 hectares are under the cultivation of medicinal plants, as per the Ministry of Ayush.
• Further, last year Union Ayush Minister Sarbananda Sonowal announced that medicinal plants will be cultivated on 75,000 hectares of land. The Ministry of Finance has also announced a 4000-crore package under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan for the promotion of herbal cultivation.
• There is no doubt about the potential of the sector and the above measures will surely help. However, the Ayush sector requires a multi-dimensional thrust, ranging from initiatives at the institutional level, massive awareness and promotion of cultivation of medicinal plants by farmers, to trade-related interventions and quality focus measures.
The National Medicinal Plant Board
• SMPBs to be strengthened The National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB) implements the medicinal plant component of Ayush through state bodies-State Medicinal Plant Boards (SMPBs).
• The organisational structure of SMPBs needs to be strengthened. They should have experts for conservation, cultivation, R&D, herbal garden and nurseries, IEC and marketing and trade of medicinal plants.
• On the trade front, developing comprehensive databases on Ayush trade, products and raw materials is needed.
Indian System of Medicine
• To date, most ISM (Indian System of Medicine) products, herbal products and medici nal plants products are not identified under specific HS (Harmonised system) codes.
• Expansion of HS national lines to accommodate various features of traditional medicine and medicinal plant products based on existing requirements is required to provide more comprehensive trade data on Ayurvedic products.
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the WHO-Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar on April 19, 2022. This will be the first and only global outpost centre for traditional medicine across the world.
• NITI Aayog has already constituted a committee and four working groups on integrative medicine, with more than 50 experts across the country, to provide deeper insights and recommendations in the areas of education, research, clinical practice and public health and administration. Considerable progress has been made by the committee for the finalisation of the report.
• Integration of Ayush systems into mainstream systems will certainly give wider acceptance for traditional systems of the country
• The Ayush industry in India can provide cost-effective healthcare to people across States. It has all the ingredients of success, to co-exist with the modern health systems, as a choice-based system of traditional medicine.