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Article
03 Dec 2022

Maritime Stocktaking

Context

  • As India celebrates the Navy Day on December 4, the article highlights the need to focus on maritime security and building a strong navy to meet India’s global aspirations.
  • The Indian Navy Day is being celebrated to commemorate the Indian Navy’s counter-attack in Operation Trident during the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971.

Indian Naval feats in the past

  • The navy of 10th century South Indian Emperor Rajendra Chola vanquished the Sumatra-based Sri Vijaya to establish Chola power across present-day Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • The Zamorins of Kozhikode waged a 90-year-long naval campaign led by the captains of the Kunjali Marakkar clan to eject the Portuguese from Malabar.
  • The 17th century Maratha Konkan fleet actively attacked the British, Dutch and Portuguese, scoring many victories.
  • In 1736, Bombay’s Lovji Nusserwanji Wadia started Wadia master shipbuilders constructing merchantmen and warships for the British.
  • In 1941, Seth Walchand Hirachand resurrected Indian shipbuilding by founding Scindia Shipyard Ltd. in Visakhapatnam and built first modern, Indian-built merchant vessel, MV Jalusha in 1948.
    • It was later nationalized in 1961 and renamed as Hindustan Shipyard Limited and brought under the Ministry of Shipping.
    • In 2010, Ministry of Defence took it under its control.

Capacity building of Indian navy after independence

  • INS Nilgiri: Mazagon Docks delivered India’s first warship in 1972. According to the Defence Ministry website, the Indian Navy’s present force level is of about 150 ships and submarines.
  • INS Arihant: The Indian Navy has developed the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant in 2016.
  • INS Vikrant: India launched its largest indigenously built warship, which is an aircraft carrier capable of operating the Russian MiG-29K.
  • INS Visakhapatnam: It is a stealth guided-missile destroyer ship inducted in the Indian Navy in 2021.
  • INS Surat and Udaygiri: Indian Navy in 2022 launched two frontline warships, INS Surat - a Project 15B Destroyer, and INS Udaygiri - a Project 17A Frigate.
    • The Project 15B class of ships are the next-generation stealth-guided missile destroyers of the Indian Navy.
    • Under the P17A programme, various novel concepts and technologies have been adopted for the first time in indigenous warship design and construction in this project.
  • Marine Commandos (MARCOS): This special force unit of the Indian Navy, trained to conduct amphibious warfare, counter-terrorism, etc. were the first to respond to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Major operations of Indian Navy

  • Operation Trident: It was a counter-attack by the Indian Navy on the Karachi harbour during the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971.
    • In this operation, India used anti-ship missiles (such as INS Veer) for the first time during this operation and destroyed the Pakistani destroyer ship PNS Khaibar.
  • Op Python: It was launched after Op Trident in which Karachi port was attacked during Indo- Pak war 1971.
  • Op Cactus: It was conducted to pacify the situation in Maldives and Sri Lanka in 1988. INS Godavari and INS Betwa were involved in the operation at the Sri Lankan coast.
  • Op Talwar: It was planned during Kargil war in 1999 when Indian Navy prepared a blockade for the Pakistani boats near the Karachi port to stop the supply of oil and fuel.
    • Indian Navy also threatened to cut the trade routes of the Pakistan and started patrolling in the Arabian Sea.

Need for India to strengthen maritime security

  • For national security and territorial integrity: India is predominantly peninsular in nature with a coastline of 7,517 km and 1,197 islands which are important from aspect of national security.
    • Preventing sea-based threats such as piracy, illegal immigration, weapon smuggling, terrorist attacks etc. are critical to India’s territorial integrity.
  • Securing Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs): India’s exports and imports take place mostly across the shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean. Therefore, securing SLOCs is critical for smooth and constant trade.
  • Hostile neighbourhood: China’s aggressive posturing and growing military presence in the Indian Ocean as depicted by the military base at Djibouti, the satellite and missile tracking ship, Yuan Wang 5 in Hambantota Port, Sri Lanka etc., stresses upon the security imperative of Indian navy.
  • Regional Uncertainty: The conflicts in countries such as in Somalia, Yemen, Iran, and other countries which lie in Indian Ocean region (IOR) makes maritime security more significant.

Issues with Indian navy’s indigenization

  • Imported items: Many of the ship’s major systems, including gas-turbine engines, guns, missiles and radars, are still imported.
    • Also, various aviation-related facilities such as workshops, aircraft lifts, arrester-wires and landing-aids, vital for flying operations are of foreign origin.
  • Slow pace of indigenization: New, indigenously designed, destroyers and stealth frigates, fielding long-range sensors and heavily armed with missiles, guns and anti-submarine weapons are being delivered at a slow but steady pace by domestic shipyards.

Some efforts taken to boost Indian navy

  • Indian Navy Indigenization Plan (INIP) 2015-2030: It aims to enable indigenous development of equipment and system e.g., machinery, electrical, weapon spares etc. over the next 15 years.
  • Naval Aviation Indigenization Roadmap (NAIR) 2022-2027: The objective of this roadmap is to indigenize more than 550 components, including all fast-moving aircraft mandatory spares and high-cost indigenous repairs.
    • It also seeks tap the expertise of indigenous aviation elements viz. Aero Cluster Labs, ISRO, HAL, Pawan Hans, IAF, Academia and Industry.
  • Naval Innovation and Indigenization Organisation (NIIO): It was launched in August 2020 to provide a flexible and accessible interface for academia and industry with Indian Navy capability development apparatus.

What’s more to be done?

  • Boosting Navy-industry relationship: It needs to be founded more on partnership rather than a mere customer-supplier relationship.
    • This will help accommodate evolutionary designs of state-of-the-art equipment to meet the rising aspirations of the naval staff
    • This will help both parties for sharing the risks of development as well as the benefits of new technology with reduced costs.

Conclusion

  • The need is to cut down on defence imports and boost domestic manufacturing has gained further urgency due to ongoing Russian war in Ukraine and the large-scale dependency of Indian military on Russian arms and equipment.
  • Given India’s political leadership’s regional and global aspirations, the indigenization can make significant contribution to outshine India as a regional “net security provider”.
Editorial Analysis

Current Affairs
Dec. 3, 2022

Rabi Crops
According to the Union Ministry of Agriculture, area under rabi crops increases 6% higher from the year-ago period.
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About:

  • Farmers have sown rabi crops in over 70 per cent of the 633.80 lakh hectares (lh) of the normal area so far, some 6 per cent higher from the year-ago period.
  • Higher acreage and potentially conducive weather throughout the season may help the country to have another year of bumper harvest.
  • The total rabi acreage is 450.61 lh as of December 2 against 423.52 lh in the corresponding period a year ago.
  • Wheat, the key winter-grown cereal, has been planted on 211.62 lh against 200.85 lh, up 5.4 per cent.
  • The absolute increase in area under wheat from the year-ago level has narrowed down for the first time after rising almost every week since the beginning of the sowing season.
  • Many parts of north-west India, the key producing region of wheat, mustard and chana (gram), may see a warmer winter season primarily due to likely subdued activity of western disturbances.
  • The area under winter paddy has increased to 10.62 lh from 9.53 lh while coarse cereals acreage is up at 32.63 lh from 29.02 lh.
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 3, 2022

PM Daksh Program
According to the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment about 5 lakh people got benefits under PM Daksh Program.
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About:

  • PM-DAKSH (Pradhan Mantri Dakshta Aur Kushalta Sampann Hitgrahi) Yojana was launched by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MoSJ&E) in 2020-21.
  • It is a National Action Plan for skilling marginalized persons covering SCs, OBCs, EBCs, DNTs, Sanitation workers including waste pickers.

Objective:

  • The main objective of the PM-DAKSH Yojana is to increase the skill levels of the target youth by providing them short term and long term skills, followed by assistance in wage/self-employment.

Target Group:

  • It aims to improve all-round competency of 2.7 lakh persons, over the next 5 years, beginning with nearly 0.5 lakh youth in the first year i.e. 2021-22, from the following sections of the target group:
  • Artisans- who may be able to improve their revenue generation capacities within their practicing vocations;
  • Women- who may be able to enter into self-employment and financially empower themselves without neglecting their domestic activities; and
  • Youth- who may acquire long-term training and specialization in employable vocations and gain a better standing in the job market.

Eligibility:

  • Candidates of age group 18-45 yearsbelonging to any of the following categories can apply for the training programme under PM-DAKSH:
    • Persons belonging to Scheduled Castes.
    • Other Backward Classes (OBCs) having annual family income below Rs. 3 lakh.
    • Economically Backward Classes (EBCs) having annual family income below Rs. 1 lakh.
    • De-Notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribe (DNT).
    • Safai Karamcharis (including waste pickers) and their dependants.
Source : PIB
Government Schemes and Initiatives

Current Affairs
Dec. 3, 2022

Four-tiered Regulatory Framework for Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently announced a four-tiered regulatory framework for categorisation of Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs).
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About:

  • According to RBI, such framework is needed to balance the spirit of mutuality and co-operation more prevalent in banks of smaller sizes and those with limited area of operation vis-a-vis the growth ambitions of the large-sized UCBs and undertake more complex business activities.
  • Based on size of deposits of the UCBs, the four-tiered regulatory framework will come into force with immediate effect.
  • The extant regulatory framework classifies UCBs into two tiers – Tier I and Tier II.
    • The RBI has categorised all unit UCBs and salary earners' UCBs (irrespective of deposit size), and all other UCBs having deposits up to ₹100 crore in Tier 1.
    • In Tier 2, it has placed UCBs with deposits more than ₹100 crore and up to ₹1,000 crore.
    • Tier 3 will cover banks with deposits more than ₹1,000 crore and up to ₹10,000 crore.
    • UCBs with deposits more than ₹10,000 crore have been categorised in Tier 4.
  • Net worth and capital adequacy:
    • RBI also has come out with norms pertaining to the net worth and capital adequacy of these banks.
    • Tier 1 UCBs operating in a single district should have minimum net worth of ₹2 crore.
    • For all other UCBs (in Tier 1, 2 and 3) tiers), the minimum net worth should be ₹5 crore.
    • The UCBs, which currently do not meet the revised minimum net worth requirement, will have to achieve the minimum net worth of ₹2 crore or ₹5 crore (as applicable) in a phased manner.
  • Minimum capital to risk weighted assets ratio:
    • The central bank also prescribed minimum capital to risk weighted assets ratio requirement for UCBs.
    • Tier 1 UCBs have to maintain a minimum capital to risk weighted assets ratio of 9 per cent of Risk Weighted Assets (RWAs) on an ongoing basis.
    • Tier 2 to 4 UCBs have to maintain a minimum capital to risk weighted assets of 12 per cent of RWAs on an ongoing basis.
Source : Mint
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 3, 2022

B-21 Raider
Northrop Grumman Corp recently rolled out its new B-21 "Raider" jet, the first of a new fleet of long-range stealth nuclear bombers for the United States Air Force.
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About:

  • The B-21 Raider will employ cutting-edge stealth technologies to carry out nuclear missions and long-range bombing.
  • Each aircraft costing about $2 billion or Rs 1624 Crore to be built.
  • The B-21 Raider will be a subsonic aircraft.
  • Speed: Average of 563 miles per hour.
  • The B-21 Raider, which takes its name from the 1942 Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, will be slightly smaller than the B-2 to increase its range.
  • Other changes likely include advanced materials used in coatings to make the bomber harder to detect, new ways to control electronic emissions.
  • So the bomber could spoof adversary radars and disguise itself as another object, and use of new propulsion technologies.

Modernisation:

  • The bomber is part of the Pentagon's efforts to modernise all three legs of its nuclear triad, which includes silo-launched nuclear ballistic missiles and submarine-launched warheads, as it shifts from the counterterrorism campaigns of recent decades to meet China's rapid military modernisation.
  • The U.S Air Force plans to build 100 that can deploy either nuclear weapons or conventional bombs and can be used with or without a human crew.
Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Dec. 3, 2022

Silchar-Sylhet Festival
The first festival celebrating the linguistic and cultural ties between the Barak Valley region of Assam and the Sylhet segment of Bangladesh began recently.
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About:

  • Southern Assam’s Silchar town is hosting the two-day Silchar-Sylhet Festival that coincides with the 75th year of India’s independence and the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan.
  • It is organised by the India Foundation.
  • The festival underlines the commonalities between India and Bangladesh, specifically the Sylheti variant of the Bengali language and the Sylheti culture.
  • The festival will showcase tribal culture, cuisine, arts, crafts and local produce, entertainment and bring together eminent people from both sides to discuss and deliberate on issues of mutual growth and opportunity.
Source : The Hindu
Art and Culture

Mains Daily Question
Dec. 3, 2022

“UPI is the flag-bearer of the ongoing financial revolution in India.” In light of this statement briefly explain the benefits of this ecosystem to its participants. (10 Marks)

Article
03 Dec 2022

India to head Wassenaar plenary from January

In News:

  • India will assume chairmanship of the plenary of the Wassenaar Arrangement for a year on January 1, 2023.

What’s in today’s article:

  • About Wassenaar Arrangement (History, Purpose, Working, Members, etc.)
  • News Summary

 About Wassenaar Arrangement:

  • The Wassenaar Arrangement is a voluntary export control regime.
  • Purpose –
    • To promote transparency and greater responsibilities for transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods, as well as technologies, to prevent destabilizing actions.
  • The body came into being in 1996 to succeed the Cold War-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls.
  • The name comes from Wassenaar, a suburb of the Hague, Netherlands, where the agreement to start such a multi-lateral cooperation was reached in 1995.
  • Headquarters – Vienna, Austria

Working:

  • The group works by regularly exchanging information in respect of technology, both conventional and nuclear-capable, that is sold to, or denied to countries outside the grouping.
  • This is done through maintenance and updating of detailed lists of chemicals, technologies, processes and products that are considered militarily significant.
  • Through this exchange of information, the group aims at controlling the movement of technology, material or components to countries or entities which undermine international security and stability.
  • The aim, according to WA, is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.

What are Wassenaar Control Lists?

  • The Arrangement works according to what it calls WA Control Lists.
  • WA members agree to exchange information on sensitive dual-use goods and technologies and report on such transfers and denials of controlled items to non-participants.
  • The controls are subject to ratification by the participants.

Members:

  • The WA has 42 members.
  • India became a member of the WA in 2017.
  • With the exception of China, all the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are signatories of the WA.

News Summary:

  • On December 1, 2022, at the 26th annual plenary of the Wassenaar arrangement in Vienna, Ambassador of Ireland handed over the chairmanship to India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Jaideep Mazumdar.
  • As a chair of the plenary, India would be in a position to steer discussions of the group to further strengthen the export controls to prevent arms diversion to terrorists or to sovereign nations supporting terrorism.

Significance of India’s Chairmanship:

  • India’s chairmanship of the WA Plenary is also significant in the long run considering the recent spurt in investment and activity in the local defence and space sectors.
  • As the chair of the WA, India could play a significant role in democratising access to technologies and processes that can serve as crucial building blocks for the newly emerging defence and space manufacturing sectors in India.
  • India is slowly emerging as a low-cost producer of several items in the WA’s control lists.
  • At the helm of the plenary, India’s chair-ship would go a long way in establishing the credibility of the country as a responsible stakeholder in the global non-proliferation architecture.
International Relations

Article
03 Dec 2022

Govt to extend PM Gati Shakti project to cover social sector

In News:

  • The Commerce and Industry Ministry's Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has begun working with five social sector departments, to improve the efficiency of social sector infrastructure with the help of PM Gati Shakti initiative.
  • The social sector departments include the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Rural Development among others.

What’s in today’s article:

  • About PM GatiShakti
  • News Summary

PM Gati Shakti - National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity:

  • About:
    • It is a master plan for multi-modal connectivity (launched in October 2021), to give more speed (Gati) and power (Shakti) to infrastructure projects by connecting 16 Ministries, including Railways and Roadways, on one digital platform.
    • While the Government has not specified the size of the programme in financial terms, it will subsume the Rs 110 lakh crore National Infrastructure Pipeline (launched in 2019).
  • Six pillars of PM GatiShakti:
    • Comprehensiveness: It will include all the existing and planned initiatives of various ministries and departments with one centralised portal.
      • For example, it will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various Ministries and State Governments like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, UDAN etc.
      • It will also cover economic zones like textile clusters, electronic parks, etc.
    • Prioritisation: It will enable different departments to prioritise their projects through cross-sectoral interactions.
    • Optimisation: It will assist different ministries in planning for projects after the identification of critical gaps. For example, for the transportation of goods the plan will help in selecting the most optimum route in terms of time and cost.
    • Synchronisation: It will help in synchronising the activities (different layers of governance) of each department in a holistic manner by ensuring coordination of work between them.
    • Analytical: It will provide the entire data at one place with GIS-based spatial planning, enabling better visibility to the executing agency.
      • For this, spatial planning tools with ISRO imagery developed by BiSAG-N (Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics) will be leveraged.
    • Dynamic: All ministries and departments will now be able to visualise, review and monitor the progress of cross-sectoral projects.
  • Significance:
    • Integrated planning and coordinated implementation.
    • Institutionalising holistic planning for stakeholders.
    • Integrated and seamless connectivity.
    • Better feedback and review mechanism: The GIS platform will give on-ground progress of the projects.
    • Easy planning and execution of projects.
    • Improves Ease of Living as well as Ease of Doing Business.
    • Boosting the Indian economy: Reducing logistics costs → strengthening supply chains → boost the global competitiveness of local products → help India become an attractive investment destination.

News Summary:

  • Gati Shakti - National Master Plan, launched last year to reduce logistic costs, is a technology-based tool for effective and integrated infrastructure development in the country.
  • Under the PM Gati Shakti plan, all logistics and connectivity infrastructure projects worth more than 500 crore are channelled through the Network Planning Group (NPG).
  • Over 250 critical infrastructure projects of different ministries, including rail, road and ports, have been examined and recommended by the NPG since last October 2021.
  • Over 1,994 layers of data, including that of land, ports, forests and highways, are available on the portal.
  • According to the DPIIT, the PM Gati Shakti program is working well for infrastructure development projects and has just begun collaborating with social sector departments to see how the initiative may be used to enhance the functioning of these sectors.
  • For example, apart from building schools and hospitals, the projects could also include transporting children from villages to a larger school, planning anganwadi locations using the data layers through PM Gati Shakti.
  • The five departments are health, ministry of women and child development, department of rural development and panchayat raj, education, and ministry of housing and urban affairs.
  • Furthermore, it is proposed that the scope be broadened to include the culture ministry in order to strengthen the infrastructure surrounding monuments.
Economics

Article
03 Dec 2022

NPCI extends UPI market cap deadline by 2 yrs

In News:

  • The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has extended the deadline for Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to meet the market cap deadline of 30% to December 31, 2024.
  • The earlier deadline to meet the market cap norms was December 31, 2022.

What’s in today’s article:

  • National Payments Corporation of India (About, Products)
  • Unified Payment System - about, features, benefits, transaction statistics
  • News Summary

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

  • NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
  • It is an initiative of RBI and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  • The objective of NPCI is to create a robust Payment & Settlement Infrastructure in India.
    • For this, NPCI was incorporated as a “Not for Profit” Company.

Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

  • UPI is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank).
  • It does so by merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
  • In other words, UPI is an interface via which one can transfer money between bank accounts across a single window.
  • It was launched in 2016, by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

Features

  • Immediate money transfer through mobile device round the clock 24*7 and 365 days
  • Single mobile application for accessing different bank accounts
  • Hassle free transactions as customers are not required to enter the details such as Card no, Account number, IFSC etc.

Benefits

  • For Banks
    • A universal application for recording transactions;
    • A single click Two Factor authentication;
    • Safer and more secure; Enables easy transactions;
    • Unique Identifier
  • For Merchants
    • Easier fund collection; In-App Payments (IAP)
    • No risk of storing the customer's virtual address;
    • Tap customers not having credit/debit cards
  • For Customers
    • Single application for accessing various bank accounts;
    • Round the clock availability;
    • One can easily raise a complaint from the mobile app directly;
    • Use of Virtual ID is secure

UPI Transaction: Statistics

  • As of November 2022, the unified payment interface (UPI) transactions included:
    • of Banks live on UPI - 373
    • Volume of transaction - 7,309.45 million
    • Value of total transaction - 11,90,593.39 Cr.

Background:

  • In November 2020, the NPCI issued guidelines capping the share of transactions handled by a third-party application providers (TPAPs) at 30% each.
    • TPAPs refer to the Application Programming Interface (API) designed in UPI exclusively for banks.
    • These are either standalone applications or applications that add functionality to an existing parent program / system.
    • In the financial space, third party apps are often connected to a banking application to provide a variety of services.
  • The norms aimed to reduce any single-point failure risk by ensuring that UPI volumes do not get concentrated in the hands of a few players.
    • In March 2020, when Yes Bank was placed under moratorium, PhonePe had to work overnight to switch banks as its transactions were handled by UPI.

News Summary

  • Payment apps PhonePe and Google Pay have received a breather, with the NPCI giving them two more years to comply with guidelines on volume caps.
    • Flipkart-owned PhonePe and Google Pay have 47% and 33% market share respectively.
  • If NPCI enforced the caps immediately, it would result in UPI transactions shrinking dramatically. Hence, it has extended the deadline for two years.

Criticism of guidelines on volume caps

  • Analysts protested the idea because there is no way for any market participant to reduce their own market share without actively denying service to the end customer.
    • E.g., PhonePe has a market share of 47%. To reduce UPI market share to 30%, it would be forced to deny UPI payment services to crores of Indians.
  • As per the guidelines, the burden is on other existing and new UPI players to invest more time, effort & money to increase their own UPI market share.
  • Failing that, the organic market share of participants in the UPI industry will not change significantly, and NPCI will have to keep extending the market cap indefinitely.
Economics
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