According to the Economic Survey
2019,India needs to have a mandatory national-level minimum wage to
promote social justice and curb distress migration.
At present,minimum wages are fixed on the
basis of the skill level, geographical areas,nature of work.This has led
to a proliferation of minimum wages making enforcement a challenging task.
The Survey’s recommendations are in line
with the revised wage code bill which says fixing minimum wages based on
either the level of skill or the geographical region or both.
This simplification in the structure is
expected to bring down the number of minimum wages to 300 from about 2,500
wage rates that exist today.
Under this architecture,the Centre would
notify a national floor minimum wage that could vary across the five
geographical regions identified in the survey.This would serve as a floor
wage.States have the option of fixing the wages at higher levels.
Further,these wages would be regularly
adjusted presumably by the state-wise consumer price index for industrial
workers.The wage should also be extended to all sectors of the economy
covering both the formal and the informal sector.
According to the Economic Survey
2018-19,contract enforcement remains the single biggest hurdle to improve
India’s ease of doing business ranking.
India has climbed to 77th position in the
World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking that captured the performance
of 190 countries.
The Ease of Doing Business assessment
provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement
across 190 economies on ten parameters affecting a business through its
Among various indicators,India’s worse
performance was highlighted in enforcing contracts where the country
ranked 163rd in 2018.
The survey says that the solution is to
improve the judicial system, particularly in lower courts where 3.5 crore
cases remain pending.The survey said two key issues need to be dealt with in
order to make the judiciary more efficient and to clear the ‘legal
Firstly,the courts must achieve a 100%
case clearance rate(CCR) so that there is zero accumulation to the
existing pendency.CCR is the ratio of the number of cases disposed of in a
given year to the number of cases instituted in that year.
Secondly,the backlog of cases already
present in the system must be removed.District and Subordinate (D&S)
courts which account for the bulk of pendency received 1.5 crore
additional cases in 2018 and had a backlog of 2.87 crore as on January 1,
The survey has also suggested (a)improving
the efficiency of the courts, (b)increasing number of working days of
courts (c)establishment of Indian Courts and Tribunal Services and
(d)deployment of technology in the legal system.
The Economic Survey 2019 has suggested
that the government should increase the retirement age from the current 60
years.The survey cited improved life expectancy for this move.
The survey has said that India is set to
witness a sharp slowdown in population growth over the next two decades.
The total fertility rate which is a
measure of how many children an average woman of reproductive age is
likely to have in her lifetime will dip below the replacement 2.1 by 2021.
Going with the trend,the Survey suggests
that policy makers need to prepare for ageing which will need investments
in health care as well as a plan for increasing the retirement age in a
The Survey has suggested that a higher
retirement age would also be crucial for the viability of the pension
system which was in a nascent stage,apart from increasing female labour force
participation in older age groups.
Currently,the retirement age for most
government employees is 60 years and most private companies have aligned
their age of superannuation to the Centre and state governments.
The survey also quoted the retirement age
reforms being implemented or under consideration in countries like Germany
(66 by 2023), Australia, US, UK and Japan (where increasing the retirement
age to 70 is under consideration).
According to the Economic Survey,the
government can improve its delivery of public goods and services by
creating a central welfare database of citizens by merging various
The survey said that the government can
collect four kinds of data namely (a)administrative data (b)survey data
(c)transactions data and (d) institutional data
The administrative data can consist of
birth, death, pensions, tax and marriage records.The survey data consists
of census data and National Sample Survey data.
On the other hand,transactions data should
consists of datasets from e-NAM (National Agriculture Market) and United
Payments Interface. Institutional data should consist of data from public
schools and hospitals.
The government could utilise the
information embedded in these distinct datasets to enhance (a)ease of living
for citizens (b)improve targeting in welfare schemes (c)integrate
fragmented markets and (d)bring greater accountability in public services.
The survey also suggests critical rules
that ensure strong privacy framework so that data is not tampered with and
citizens still have a choice to opt out of some choices.
First,while any ministry should be able to
view the complete database, a given ministry can manipulate only those
data fields for which it is responsible.Second,updating of data should
happen in real time and in such a way that one ministry’s engagement with
the database does not affect other ministries access.
The survey has also recommended granting
access to select database to private sector for a fee given that stringent
technological mechanisms exist to safeguard data privacy.
The Economic Survey 2018-19 has suggested
that the Government should shift its focus from ‘land productivity’ to
‘irrigation water productivity’.
This shift could happen if India provides
incentives to farmers to adopt efficient water use to avert a looming
The survey has suggested India should
introduce (a)improved irrigation methods (b)use technologies and (c)change
cropping patterns to reduce the use of groundwater.
The survey has said that one of the key
reasons for the shrinking ground water level is the cropping pattern which
is skewed toward crops that use more water.Rice and sugarcane crops
together consume more than 60% of water available for irrigation.
The survey said that States such as Tamil
Nadu,Karnataka,Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh which have high land
productivity tend to have very low irrigation water productivity reflecting
inefficient use of water and the need to re-calibrate cropping pattern
According to a 2018 report by NITI
Aayog,India is one of the world’s biggest users of ground water and its
depleting levels are the main reason for the country’s severe
shortages.About 600 million Indians are facing high-to-extreme water
stress and the situation is set to worsen as water requirements rise.
According to the India Meteorological
Department,India is already facing a severe water crisis with about 60% of
the country having received deficient rainfall from June 1-July 4,2019.
According to the Economic Survey
2018-19,Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was a complete success producing
significant health benefits.
The Survey claimed that 30 states / Union
territories had cent per cent coverage of household toilets.Nearly 90% of
all SBM toilets have been geo-tagged.
The target was achieved due to
(a)community participation (b)flexibility in choice (c)capacity building
(d)behaviour change and (e)use of information technology and social media.
The survey said that the next big goal on
the Swachh Bharat journey is 100% safe and scientific disposal of solid
and liquid waste.
However,it emphasises that the large
resources needed to reach this milestone will need to be met through crowd
and corporate funding, private partnerships and innovative financing
mechanisms along with government allocations.
Some of the areas which must be dealt with
in this next phase are (a) sewer construction and water availability
(b)scientific techniques for waste disposal (c)treatment of industrial
effluent (d)drain bio-remediation (e)river surface cleaning and
(f)sustained rural sanitation.
Apart from financial resources,the survey
said that mindset change is the other major ingredient required for
sustained progress in sanitation.
The survey said that swachh grahis or
village level ambassadors who have already been recruited for Phase 1 of
the programme are key to maintaining momentum.
Swachh Bharat Mission(Gramin)aims
to make India an open defecation free(ODF) country.It seeks to improve the
levels of cleanliness in rural areas through Solid and Liquid Waste
Management activities and making villages Open Defecation Free (ODF) and
According to the Economic Survey
2019,incident of train collisions has come down to zero in the year
2018-19 in Indian Railways.
The incidents of derailment have also
decreased from 78 in 2016-17 to 46 in the year 2018-19.However,the
incidents of fire has increased to six in 2018-19.
Additionally,the survey said that in
2018-19,Indian Railways had carried 1221.39 million tonnes of revenue
earning freight,an increase of 61.84 million tonnes or 5.33% over 2017-18.
Indian Railways has also initiated a major
electrification program for electrifying 100% of its broad gauge
network.This would reduce the nation’s dependence on imported diesel oil.
Addressing the ‘Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat’
mission of Indian Railways, the Survey ranks ‘Beas’ station as first in
India in the case of cleanliness among ‘A’ category stations and
‘Visakhapatnam tops the list among ‘A1’ category station.
Further,the survey has said that there is
also a rise in the number of bio toilets in passenger coaches,plastic
bottle crusher machines,mechanised cleaning and housekeeping at major
stations in the country
The International Court of Justice(ICJ)
has said that it will deliver its verdict on July 17 in the case relating
to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav.
Kulbhushan Jadhav,an Indian national was
convicted of conducting ‘subversive activities’ for the Indian government
in Pakistan and has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military
court.However, India have denied all these charges and said that he was abducted
India had approached the ICJ on the
grounds that Pakistan had breached Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
by refusing consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav.Further,India had got a
stay order preventing Pakistan from executing former naval officer.
The Vienna Convention of 1961 is an
international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations
between independent countries. Article 36 of this treaty states that
foreign nationals who are arrested should have the right to inform about
their arrest at its consulate.
The International Court of Justice was
established in 1945 at Hague,Netherlands.It is composed of 15 judges
elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General
Assembly and the Security Council.Its objective is to settle legal
disputes submitted to it by (a)states (b) duly authorized international
branches and (c) UN General Assembly.
The Economic Survey which is usually
presented a day before the annual Union Budget has been tabled in
Economic Survey is an assessment documents
that presents a picture of the Economic Landscape of the country.The
Economic Survey is presented by the Chief Economic Adviser to the
Government of India.
The theme of the Economic Survey 2019 is
about enabling a “shifting of gears” to sustained economic growth for
objective of $5 trillion by 2024-25.
The economic survey says that GDP growth
in the country has averaged 7.5% over the past five years.The survey has
predicted 7% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in FY-20 on stable
The survey provisionally estimates 2.9%
growth rate for agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors in FY20.It sees
fiscal deficit at 5.8% in FY19 versus 6.4% in FY18.
The survey has said that to achieve the
vision of $5 trillion economy by 2024,India needs to shift its gears to
accelerate and sustain a real GDP growth rate of 8%.
The growth is achievable through
investment especially private investment.It said that Investment is the
key driver of simultaneous growth in demand,jobs,exports &
The survey also talks about the virtuous
cycle of savings,investment and exports supported by a favorable
demographic phase is required for sustainable growth.
The Survey added that the accommodative
stance of the Reserve Bank of India(RBI) will help to reduce real lending
rates in the financial sector.
The Survey also expects that the decline
in non-performing assets (NPA) will lead to capital formation.
The Survey expects the oil prices to
decline in 2019-20 which in turn, would push consumption in the
economy.However,it does not rule out the possibility of an upward pressure
due to rising global growth which can impact the government’s fiscal math.
The Survey has said that increased
uncertainty over trade tensions and lower global growth could hit exports
and suggested that an aggressive export strategy must be part of
The survey has said that rural wages
growth which was declining seems to have bottomed out and has started to
increase since mid-2018.It said that the pick up in food prices should
help in increasing rural incomes and spending capacity.
The survey has warned that prospects of
export growth remained weak for 2019-20 if status quo is
maintained.However,it said that reorientation of export policies to target
countries/markets based on our own relative comparative advantage and the
importing country’s exposure to Indian goods can foster export
The Survey stressed on the importance of
supporting dwarf or smaller firms to create jobs.The survey has proposed
complete overhaul of minimum wages in India.It has also proposed to
increase the retirement age.
According to the Economic survey,the
virtuous cycle of savings, investment and exports supported by a favorable
demographic phase is required for sustainable growth.
The survey says that In order to trigger
this virtuous cycle,we have to rely on some of FDI.They can come in and
start investment and once this happens,that will enhance productivity
which creates jobs,fosters exports and thereby demand.
The survey has also said that the
government is expected to further ease the foreign direct investment(FDI)
norms with a view to bridge the widening current account deficit(CAD).
Current account deficit is one of the key
indicators of an economy’s health.It measures the difference between the
value of the goods and services a country imports and the value of its
The survey also stated that among the
major economies running current account deficit,India is the largest
foreign exchange reserve holder and eighth-largest among all countries of
Further, talking about India’s exports, it
said the composition of exports and import basket has almost remained
unchanged in 2018-19 over 2017-18.
The Union Cabinet has given approval for
the MoU between India and Maldives for the establishment of passenger and
cargo services by sea, which was signed during the visit of Prime Minister
of India to Maldives.
The MoU will pave way for ferry services
between Maldives and Kerala by Connecting Kochi with Male &
Kulhudhuffushi in Maldives by Sea route.
Further,this proposed ferry service will
contribute in a big way to promote people to people (P2P) contact and to
boost bilateral trade.
At present,connectivity between the two
countries is through flights to Male and seaplanes to resorts which is an
This sea connectivity will also help to
promote inbound tourism particularly health and wellness tourism for
India.Besides,large number of Maldivians also travel to Kerala and other
South Indian cities for educational purposes.
Male is the capital and most populous city
of Maldives is situated at a distance of 708 Kms from Kochi.Kulhudhuffushi
is the third most populous city of Maldives and is situated at a distance
of 509km from Kochi.
The Henley Passport Index 2019 has been
The index has ranked India at 86th
position.India’s mobility score is 58 which means that Indian passport
holders can access 58 countries around the world without a prior visa.
As per the Index,Japan and Singapore have
the world’s most powerful passports.Both the countries secured top
position out of 199 countries, due to passports which allow visa-free or
visa-on-arrival travel to 189 places.
Further,South Korea has been ranked in
second place on the index along with Finland and Germany with citizens of
all three countries having access to 187 destinations around the world
without a prior visa.
The UK and the US now share sixth
place,the lowest position either has held since 2010.The pair was top of
the list in 2014.
Henley and Partners’ annual passport
passports based on the number of countries a holder can go to without a
visa or the number of countries a holder can go to where they can obtain a
visa,visitor’s permit, or electronic travel authority upon arrival.
The ranking is based on exclusive data
from the International Air Transport Association(IATA) which maintains the
world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information.
Bangladesh Prime Minister is on a visit to
China.During the visit,nine agreements were signed in different sectors
ranging from aid for the Rohingyas and economic and technical cooperation,
investment, power,culture and tourism.
Bangladesh PM has obtained rice aid for
the Rohingya refugee crisis.China will provide 2,500 tonnes of rice for
Rohingyas living in Bangladesh after being forcibly displaced from
China has also taken a lead under
Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor by extending a $31 billion
funding package for infrastructure development in Bangladesh.
BCIM corridor aims to connect China’s eastern city of Kunming with
India’s Kolkata through Dhaka in Bangladesh and Mandalay in Myanmar. It
envisages formation of a thriving economic belt focusing on cross-border
transport,energy and telecommunication networks.
India has not opposed the BCIM corridor
but it has concerns about China expanding its influence in its eastern
neighbouring countries.It also fears the project would open its
northeastern region to China.
Further,China’s financial investment in
Bangladesh now appears to be its second-biggest after the $60 billion
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
CPEC refers to a number of major infrastructure works currently
under way in Pakistan intended to link Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang
province to Gwadar deep sea port close to Pakistan’s border with Iran.The
project seeks to expand and upgrade infrastructure across the length and
breadth of Pakistan.
The US has dragged India to the World
Trade Organization(WTO) for according less favorable treatment to its
India had levied higher tariffs on
American products in response to the US imposing a global additional
tariff of 25% and 10% on import of steel and aluminium product
The US has said that the additional duties
imposed by India appears to nullify or impair the benefits accruing to the
US directly or indirectly under the GATT 1994.
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(GATT) is a WTO pact, signed by all member countries of the multilateral
body.It aims to promote trade by reducing or eliminating trade barriers
like customs duties.
The US has alleged that the duties imposed
by India appears to be inconsistent with two norms of GATT.
Firstly,India does not impose these duties
on like products originating in the territory of any other WTO member
nation.Secondly,India also appears to be applying rates of duty to US
imports greater than the rates of duty set out in India’s schedule of
However,India’s argument in support of its
duties is that retaliation is permitted under the WTO’s Agreement on
To this,the US has said that its tariffs
are not a safeguard measure but were taken under Section 232 of the US
Trade Expansion Act of 1962 on grounds of national security.
If the dispute consultations between the
two countries fail to resolve the matter then the US can ask the WTO to
set up a panel to decide on the matter.
Indian Government will engage in three
sets of important trade talks with the European Union (EU), the United
States and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
The talks will focus on resolving its
pending talks on trade and dispelling criticism that India has been
protectionist and held up Free Trade Agreement(FTA) negotiations.
The chief negotiator of the EU and the
Commerce Ministry will meet in an effort to restart talks on the Bilateral
Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) which was suspended in 2013.
BTIA is a Free Trade Agreement between
India and EU which was initiated in 2007.Even after a decade of
negotiations,India and EU have failed to resolve certain issues which have
led to a deadlock.
Further,a three-member delegation of ASEAN
will also visit India to discuss on the Regional Comprehensive Economic
The Assistant USTR (United States Trade
Representative) will also be in India to restart talks as decided by
Indian Prime Minister and the U.S. President when they met on the
sidelines of the G20 summit.
The two leaders had agreed that trade
issues need to be discussed and trade ministers of both countries will be
meeting soon to resolve issues.
In 2014,the Indian government had decided
to scrap all its FTA agreements with a view to negotiating new more
equitable ones with various countries.
But it has yet to close a deal on any one
of them as it has been accused of imposing non tariff barriers on goods
and asking for more access for Indian services.
On the other hand, the election of trade
hardliners in the U.S., Europe and other countries means that there may be
less flexibility on the part of the negotiators visiting India next week.
India will be hosting the 3rd
International Sunflower Seed and Oil Conference(ISSOC) 2019 on July 19 and
20 in Mumbai.
It is organized by the International
Sunflower Oil Association (ISOA and will be hosted by the Solvent
Extractors’ Association of India (SEA).
International Sunflower Oil Association
(ISOA) was established in 2015 in Rome by National Associations and
Companies from China,Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Spain and Argentina.
It aims to encourage and promote better
communications among sunflower oil producers,industry groups, academic
researchers and local governments, as well as enhancing sunflower oil
value addition and enlarging the field of its commercial application.
The first International Sunflower Oil
Symposium was held in 2015 at Shanghai,China and the second conference was
held in 2017 at Odessa,Ukraine.
Further,India is the largest importer of
sunflower oil with imports of about 2.8 million tonnes.The global imports
of sunflower oil is around 9.6 million tonnes.
Sunflower seed is seen as a healthy
table-seed and culinary seed having wide applications in a variety of food
preparations including cakes and pastries.