9 PM Daily Brief – November 9, 2020

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GS 2

How the US economy and its policy choices likely to affect India

India-Maldives bilateral relations

US Federal Election Commission Vs Indian Election commission

GS 3

COVID-19, climate and carbon neutrality

Foreign Investment in India


9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLY

How the US economy and its policy choices likely to affect India

Context: How a Biden presidency likely to benefit India’s economy

More in News

  • “In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it”-Thucydides 431 BC.

What is the Significance of the US to India’s Economy?

Trade:

  • India enjoys a trade surplus with the U.S over the past 20 years. The trade surplus has widened from $5.2 billion in 2001-02 to $17.3 billion in 2019-20.
  • Also, India accounts for nearly 5 per cent of USA’s global services import. In 2019, US imports of services from India were around $29.7 billion.

Investment:

  • The US is the fifth-biggest source for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India after Mauritius, Singapore, Netherlands, and Japan.
  • The US also accounts for one-third of all Foreign Portfolio Investments (that is, investment in financial assets) into India. US accounted for Rs 11.21 lakh crore of FPI as of September 2020.

How the US economy and its policy choices likely to affect India?

On Trade aspects

  • Biden’s administration is expected to support a strong rule-based order as well as a move away from the protectionist approach.
  • Biden understands the need to control the Covid pandemic before any sustainable economic recovery. With the control of Covid infections and the economic recovery, the US could provide a growth impulse to the global economy that has benefits to countries like India to boost their exports.
  • Under a Biden administration, the view that trade is a zero-sum game is likely to change.
  • Also, under Biden there are chances of reconsidering India’s exclusion from the US’ Generalized System of Preference.
  • All these changes are likely to help India to get a renewed push in a trade from the dip since 2017-18.

On H1B Visa

  • H1-B visa issue affects Indian youth far more than the youth of any other country.
  • Visa regime was severely curtailed under Trump’s administration that favored “America first policy”
  • This could change under Biden, who is unlikely to view immigrants and workers from India with suspicion.

Better resolution on existing issues

  • Data localization, capping prices of medicines, and medical devices have remained a contentious issue between India and the US.
  • With Biden, moving away from a radical approach to Pragmatism all these issues stand a better chance of getting towards a resolution.

Normalisation of US-Iran relationship

  • US sanctions on Iran severely limited India’s sourcing of cheap crude oil.
  • normalization of the US-Iran relationship leading to the lifting of sanctions would benefit the Indian economy which needs a regular supply of cheap oil to grow fast.

Climate change

  • The US under Biden is expected to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. This will help countries like India in dealing with, both technical and financial challenges related to climate change mitigation.

Democracy

  • Civil liberties and democratic rights in India will be monitored closely an aspect which the Trump administration largely ignored.

India-Maldives bilateral relations

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2 –  India and its neighborhood- relations.

Context- The upcoming visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to the Maldives and significance of the Maldives ‘India out’ campaign.

What are the significances of India-Maldives bilateral relationships?

  1. India’s Neighborhood First Policy: India announced a financial assistance package of $1.4 billion for the Maldives in the form of budgetary support, currency swap agreements, and concessional lines of credit to fulfill socio-economic development programs.
  2. Connectivity: The two nations emphasized connectivity through the establishment of enabling infrastructure that would promote the exchange of goods and services, information, ideas, culture, and people.
  • Direct Cargo Ferry Service– It will be run between India and Maldives.
  1. Bilateral relations– Maldivian students attend educational institutions in India and patients come to India for healthcare, aided by a liberal visa-free regime extended by India.
  2. Air Travel Bubble between India and Maldives– Tourism is the mainstay of the Maldivian economy. The travel bubble will facilitate the movement of people for employment, tourism, and medical emergencies.
  • The Maldives is the first neighboring country of India with which an air bubble is being operationalized.
  1. Quotas for Supply of Essential Commodities – Given the geographical limitations imposed on the Maldives, India has exempted the nation from export curbs on essential commodities.
  2. Financial Aid – At the peak of the continuing COVID-19 disruption, financial aid of 250 million USD will be provided to the Maldives by India.

History-

  • Operation Cactus– In 1988, in response to a request from the Maldives, India activated Operation Cactus to deploy its military and ensure regime continuity in Male.
  • Disaster management– The Government of India has provided large-scale assistance to the Maldives in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and during the 2014 Male water crisis.

What is ‘India out’ campaign?

Main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s Parliamentary Group leader the Yameen camp has launched an ‘India Out’ campaign instigated against India-Maldives relations aims to create unrest in the country to divert attention from the many corruption allegations raised against the higher-ups of the opposition.

  • Maldivian protesters recently converted their demand for the early release of Mr. Yameen, sentenced to five years of imprisonment in a money laundering case, pending appeal.

Concern for India-

  • India should be concerned about the protests as well as the occasional rumblings within the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), apparently between President Solih and Speaker and former President Nasheed may pose serious challenge, especially after Mr. Nasheed sought the removal of certain Ministers- accusing them of corruption.
  • Nasheed has also been pushing for a parliamentary system. There is concern within the government that his moves might undermine the President, who is trying to work with the coalition partners.
  • The Maldives has maintained a close relationship with China, especially in financial terms, under its previous government.

Way forward-

India’s increasing geostrategic concerns in the shared seas, taking forward the multifaceted cooperation to the next stage quickly could also be at the focus of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit.

US Federal Election Commission Vs Indian Election commission

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Comparison of the Indian Constitutional Scheme with that of Other Countries.

Context: Comparison between Indian U.S. Federal Election Commission and Indian Election commission

What are the Issues pertaining to the functions of U.S. Federal Election Commission?

Vacancies:

  • The Commission has hardly been able to function in the last year because of resignations.
  • The Commission haven’t passed a single order since August 2019, owing to lack of quorum, for which at least four members are needed.
  • As a result, several hundred matters lie pending before the Federal Election Commission.

Lack of consensus:

  • The six posts of Commissioner are supposed to be equally shared by Democrats and Republicans.
  • This has created a situation where decision making was often divided on partisan lines.

Powerless:

  • During the recent Presidential election, when there are allegations over election process the President decided to appeal only to the U.S. Supreme Court without any reference to the Federal Election Commission.

How different is U.S. Federal Election Commission compared to Indian Election commission?

  • Origin: The Federal Election Commission was established recently in 1975, with the special mandate to regulate campaign finance issues. Whereas Election commission of India came in to force on 25th January 1950.
  • Members: The Federal Election Commission is led by six Commissioners. Whereas Indian Election commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
  • Scope: Federal Election Commission has a much narrower mandate than its Indian equivalent. In India, by virtue of being the custodian of the electoral roll, all matters related to keeping the roll updated, fall under the ECI’s domain and ECI enjoys enormous power.
  • Role of Judiciary: In India the role of the judiciary is limited post the election period. Our constitutional makers were clear that if election-related petitions were entertained during the course of the election process, it would impede the process and delay election results.
  • Scope of Postal ballot: In the 2016 U.S. election, almost a quarter of the votes counted arose from postal ballots. In India we have confined postal ballots to only a few categories, of largely government staff, the police or armed forces.

Ever since our first election in 1951-2 our political parties, both losers and winners, have invariably accepted the results declared by the Election Commission of India, allowing the transfer of power  to be passed on in a smooth manner.

COVID-19, climate and carbon neutrality

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context: Environmental problems have profound public health consequences both in terms of morbidity and mortality and hence demand urgent actions in the post covid-19 world.

How are environment and public health inter-related ?

  • Human intrusions: Evidence has gathered that loss of biodiversity and ever-increasing human intrusions into the natural world have contributed heavily to the outbreak and spread of epidemic diseases.
  • The three Es: evolution, ecology and the environment will be key to identifying potential pandemics.
    • COVID-19 also reinforces the need to pay far greater attention to the biosciences that underpin agriculture, health and the environment that are going to be deeply impacted by the current pandemic.
  • Environmental problems such as air pollution, water pollution, chemical contamination, deforestation, waste generation and accumulation, land degradation and excessive use of pesticides all have deep public health consequences.
  • The traditional ‘grow now, pay later’ model is not only unsustainable in the medium- to long-term but also dangerous to public health in the short term.
  • A report of the Ministry of Earth Sciences called ‘Assessment of climate change over the Indian region’ points to the need for making our future science and technology strategy in different areas with an understanding of the impacts of climate change caused by continued emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • The depletion of the ozone layer has been fixed more or less, but HFCs are a potent threat from a climate change perspective since their global warming potential is a thousand times that of carbon dioxide.

What is carbon neutrality?

  • Carbon neutrality refers to that situation when carbon emissions are equal to absorptions in carbon sinks, of which forests are one.
  • Carbon neutrality, is a far bolder and worthwhile goal, the attainment of which has to be consciously engineered.
  • It will involve massive scientific invention and technological innovation especially when it comes to removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Way forward

  • India can and should show to the world how the measurement of economic growth can take place while taking into account both ecological pluses and minuses.

Foreign Investment in India

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context- Prime Minister has chaired the Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR), with an aim to attract investment.

What Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR) 2020 conference?

It is an exclusive dialogue between leading global institutional investors, Indian business leaders and the highest decision-makers from the Government of India and Financial Market Regulators.

  • Organized by– Ministry of Finance and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
  • Focus for 2020– Discussions around India’s economic and investment outlook, structural reforms and the government’s vision for the path to a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024-25.

Key highlights of the conference-

Read also :- Current affairs

  • National Infrastructure Pipeline– Under it, India has an ambitious plan to invest USD 1.5 trillion in various social and economic infrastructure projects, aimed for faster economic growth and alleviation of poverty in the country.
  • India as safest investment hub– Prime minister in this conference pitched India as the ideal destination and the country offered returns with reliability, demand with democracy, stability with sustainability and growth with a green approach.

What are the challenges for revival of investment?

  1. Low FDI inflow in India –Contraction in investment since July-September quarter in 2019 and then the Pandemic has caused a further shock.
  • Fixed investment has continues to face an uncertain outlook given the weak consumption because of the Demand shock caused by pandemic.
  • Lack of funds– the government’s ability to apportion more funds for growth-spurring capital projects is hamstrung by a widening fiscal deficit amid border stand-off, the health crisis and revenue shortfall.
  1. The three-fourths of FDI equity inflows in 2019-20 fiscal-year being accounted by single large telecom company, a bulk of this investment is unlikely to manifest as new job-creating factories or businesses.
  2. Lack of policy stability – Bureaucratic procedures and corruption continue to make India less attractive to foreign investors.
  3. Infrastructure is also one of the issues that need to be addressed.

Possible solutions

  • Assurance of stability– India needs to ensure that assurance of stability is buttressed by actions that dispel investors’ concerns over unstable policy.

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