- Birds of same Feather
- Nutrition and the Budget
- Riding on Data for Mobility
- Balancing the Needs: 15th FC
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
- When he visits India for the first time later in February 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump can expect thronging crowds in Gujarat and perhaps a substantive discussion on trade policy in New Delhi
- There will always be areas of untapped potential in bilateral cooperation, things could hardly be better between the two nations at this time of global turbulence, in trade and security
- U.S.’s termination of its Generalized System of Preferences toward India last year, there is hope for at least a limited trade deal pegged at $10-billion
- India is reportedly moving toward approving a $2.6-billion deal for 24 Lockheed Martin-built MH-60 Seahawk helicopters. An agreement to buy a $1.867-billion integrated air defence weapons system
NUTRITION AND THE BUDGET
- Global Hunger Index, reported that India suffers from “serious” hunger, ranked 102 out of 117 countries, and that just a tenth of children between six to 23 months are fed a minimum acceptable diet
- The Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh which was launched in 2019 by Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a recent attempt to bridge this gap
Deficiency in Calorific value
The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme provides a package of services including supplementary nutrition, nutrition and health education, health check-ups and referral services addressing children, pregnant and lactating mothers and adolescent girls, key groups to address community malnutrition, and which also tackle calorific deficiency and beyond
Pulses are a major contributor to address protein hunger.
A scheme for State and Union Territories aims to reach pulses into welfare schemes (Mid-Day Meal, Public Distribution System, ICDS
The Horticulture Mission can be one of the ways to address micronutrient deficiency effectively, but here too implementation is low.
Agriculture and malnutrition link
Three-fifths of rural households are agricultural in India (National Sample Survey Office, 70th round) and malnutrition rates, particularly in rural areas are high
Malnutrition affects cognitive ability, workforce days and health, impacting as much as 16% of GDP (World Food Programme and World Bank
RIDING ON DATA FOR MOBILITY
The digital revolution has made interactions between humans and machines, and among citizens, governments and businesses, seamless and efficient
Data usage in transport sector
An efficient transportation system would help ease congestion, reduce travel time and cost, and provide greater convenience.
Data from multiple sources such as CCTV cameras, automatic traffic counters, map services, and transportation service providers could be used.
Closer home, the Hyderabad Open Transit Data, launched by Open Data Telangana, is the country’s first data portal publishing datasets on bus stops, bus routes, metro routes, metro stations, schedules, fares, and frequency of public transit services.
BALANCING THE NEEDS: 15th FC
The interim report of 15th FC has left some uncomfortable issues unanswered, which need to be resolved
- Under the current arrangement, states were supposed to be compensated for any shortfall in their GST collections for a five-year period.
- Lack of clarity about Centre’s obligation to compensate states if collections from the compensation cess fall short of what is needed to compensate states for their shortfall in revenue, the five-year compensation period ends in 2022.
- With GST collections falling short of expectations, states have demanded that the compensation period be extended.
- There is no clear indication either on its continuation after 2022, or whether it will be distributed to states, and if so to what extent.
- This ambiguity may pose a grave risk to state finances, impacting both stability and predictability of their budgets.
- It also makes the job of the commission to project states’ revenue for the balance period difficult, affecting its ability to make a fair assessment of their requirements
- It has proposed performance-based incentives for states in six areas
- Issue is of Funding- how will this be funded? Will the Commission, while keeping overall transfers to states at the existing level, reduce tax devolution to states, thereby creating fiscal space for providing these incentives?
- The creation of a separate mechanism for funding defence and internal security, if carved out of gross tax revenues, will further reduce the divisible tax pool that is shared with states.
- A cash-strapped Centre will undoubtedly welcome any proposal that provides it with greater fiscal space
- As a constitutional body, the Finance Commission should impartially assess the fiscal position and expenditure requirements of both the Centre and states while finalising its report.