Contents

  1. Planned injustice: On Donald Trump’s peace plan for Israel and Palestine
  2. A mindset problem
  3. Time to prioritize education and health
  4. Compromising scientific curiosity for marketability
  5. A road map for robust trade ties

PLANNED INJUSTICE: ON DONALD TRUMP’S PEACE PLAN FOR ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

Why in news?

  • U.S. President has proposed creation of a Palestinian state with capital in eastern Jerusalem, dependent on Palestinians taking steps to become self-governing, as part of a peace plan to end decades of conflict in the region.
  • In exchange, Israel would agree to accept a four-year freeze on new settlement activity while Palestinian statehood is negotiated.
  • Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza and Israeli troops reinforced positions near a flashpoint site between the Palestinian city of Ramallah and the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the West Bank

What does the plan say?

  1. According to the plan, Israel can annex the Jordan Valley as well as the Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
  2. It also recognizes Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel, while the Palestinian capital could come up in the eastern outskirts of the city.
  3. It proposes to enlarge Gaza and swap the Arab-populated towns in southeast Israel with Palestine for parts of the West Bank.
  4. In effect, the Palestinians would lose roughly 30% of the West Bank, their claim to Jerusalem and the right to return of refugees.
  5. In return, they will get an independent state in a shrunken West Bank and an enlarged Gaza connected through a tunnel that would practically be encircled by Israel.

A MINDSET PROBLEM

Context

  • With the ongoing economic slowdown resulting in depressed rural wages and the lack of adequate opportunity to work, the demand for MGNREGS has peaked in recent times.
  • The report that 15 States have already overshot budgets for the scheme’s implementation and many have not been able to pay wage dues should be a cause for concern.
  • Compounding the situation is the fact that the Centre is on the verge of running out of funds.

More about scheme

  • Large proportion of those availing the scheme are from the 18-30 age group, which suggests that this has addressed the problem of youth unemployment, which has peaked in recent years.
  • Besides, other studies have also shown that MGNREGS has improved agricultural productivity where it has been implemented properly. 

Role of government

  • By paying wages adequately, and on time, to rural workers, the government could allow for more spending and consumption and stimulate the economy.
  • A more meaningful allocation for the scheme in the budget is therefore a much needed imperative.

TIME TO PRIORITIZE EDUCATION AND HEALTH

  • Government is taking various measures to tackle the present condition of economic slowdown.
  • Government resorted Easing FDI norms, relaxing taxation rates and creation of business friendly environment to spur the investment as key measures.
  • Abhijit Banerjee, a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, has been one of the few economists making a case for transferring income to the poor who are likely to spend the additional income to buy goods and services,
  • An enhanced production of such goods and services will offer the chance for reversing the current slowdown.
  • Most mainstream economists and policymakers also believe that public expenditure in social sectors can only have a long- term impact on growth, and what is now needed is macroeconomic policies which can have immediate or very short-term impact.
  • This belief is deeply flawed, as it can be demonstrated that increased public expenditure in social sectors in the magnitudes required for meeting the constitutionally mandated objectives can have short- and medium-term effect of enhancing employment, generating demand and attracting investment.

Example of RTE

RTE resulted into the recruitment of 5.7 million additional teachers over a period of five years because of few millions of children going to schools.

Health sector

  • Similarly, in the health field, there is a vast number of vacant posts for professionals at these levels.
  • There is a huge deficit of paramedical workers, middle-level health workers, nurses and trained doctors.
  • This is evident from the long queues of patients in the ill-equipped and inadequate primary health centres and government hospitals.

COMPROMISING SCIENTIFIC CURIOSITY FOR MARKETABILITY

Why in news?

Recently 107th national science congress concluded in Bengaluru.

Details:

  • The present government has been directing laboratories and other research centres to earn their own revenue from external sources by marketing their expertise and investing the surplus to develop technologies for national missions.
  • This policy position can be traced to the ‘Dehradun declaration’ prepared by the directors of the CSIR labs in 2015, where it was decided to market patents as a means to self-finance research.
  • This market-driven revenue model is expected to encourage the research centres, including the universities, to reorient themselves to conduct what is marketable.

State of research in India

  • 40 CSIR laboratories and a few premier research institutions like the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institutes of Technology, there are over 600 universities, meeting the educational requirements of about 29 million students.
  • International-level research is hardly done in the Indian universities.
  • Our impact on global science continues to be minimal, except for a few isolated bright spots

R&D funding in India

  • Government spending in R&D has continued to remain static for about a decade, at a paltry 0.9% of the GDP, as compared to China
  • China’s spending during the 2000-2017 period grew at an average of 17%, its growth being more than that of the U.S.A.
  • Even the country’s premier technology colleges, the Indian Institutes of Technology, are reaching out to their alumni for funds

A ROAD MAP FOR ROBUST TRADE TIES

India Australia ties

  • Soft power rather than hard economics has traditionally been the driving force behind India-Australia relations.
  • Cricket is a dominant theme that connects the two countries
  • The challenge before the two nations is transforming these people-to-people contacts into a trade relationship.
  • The trade between the two countries has been at a modest $31 billion, largely composed of resources like coal and other minerals.
  • Negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement, which began in 2011, have not moved forward significantly.

India economic strategy 2035

  • One of the most widely commended initiatives has been the Australian government’s release of an India Economic Strategy 2035 Report prepared by Peter Varghese, a diplomat and former Australian High Commissioner to India.
  • It observes that no single market over the next 20 years will offer more growth opportunities for Australia than India.
  • It lays down a comprehensive road map for strengthening Australia’s trade engagement with India.

How to create trade relations?

  • Australia is a brand-conscious market while India has not created a single consumer brand of international acceptance.
  • Only when India’s textiles, leather products, cars and two-wheelers, kitchen equipment and other products are visible across the world’s shopping malls and supermarkets displaying their own brands that India will be recognised as a major player in the global markets
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