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Current Affairs 01 September 2023

CONTENTS:

  1. Economy grows 7.8%, fastest in 4 quarters.
  2. Centre forms panel on ‘one-nation, one- election’ with ex- President Ram Nath Kovind as head.
  3. Oncologist Ravi Kannan R is set to be honored with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his commendable work in providing cancer care.
  4. The increase in tea production in India in the month of July- 6.2%.
  5. UPI Achieves Milestone of 10 Billion Transactions in August.
  6. Core Sectors Expand by 8% in July, Experience 2.2% Contraction from June Levels

Economy Grows 7.8%, fastest in 4 quarters


Context:

The growth of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Gross Value Added (GVA) within the economy accelerated to a four-quarter peak of 7.8% during the initial quarter of this fiscal year.

Relevance: GS3-Economy

Dimensions of the article:

  1. Growth across various sectors
  2. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  3. Gross Value Added (GVA)
  4. Relation between GDP and GVA
  5. NSO

Growth across various sectors

  • Manufacturing GVA experienced its second consecutive quarter of growth, rebounding from six months of contraction. The rate of growth increased marginally to 4.7% in the first quarter (Q1) of the year, compared to 4.5% in the preceding quarter.
  • In the same period (April to June), Agriculture, forestry, and fishing GVA expanded by 3.5%.
  • However, it was the services sectors that underwent the most substantial surge, significantly boosting the estimates revealed by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on Thursday.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) quantifies the monetary valuation of all “final” goods and services, which refers to those acquired by end-users, generated within a country during a specific timeframe.

Four Principal “Drivers of GDP Growth”:

  1. The total expenditure made by Indians for their individual consumption, termed Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE).
  2. The aggregate funds spent by the government on its ongoing consumption, encompassing salaries and similar outlays, denoted as Government Final Consumption Expenditure (GFCE).
  3. The total funds allocated towards investments aimed at enhancing the economy’s productive capacity. This includes business entities investing in facilities and government initiatives in constructing infrastructure like roads and bridges, known as Gross Fixed Capital Expenditure.
  4. The net outcome of exports (money spent by foreign entities on our goods) and imports (expenditure by Indians on foreign-produced items), recognized as Net Exports (NX).

GDP Computation: GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government investment + government spending + (exports – imports)

Gross Value Added (GVA)

  • Gross Value Added (GVA) is a significant economic gauge that gauges the contributions made by distinct sectors within an economy to its comprehensive economic output. It offers insights into the value generated by individual sectors prior to factoring in intermediate consumption, which involves the utilization of goods and services during the production process.
  • GVA is a fundamental metric employed to evaluate the productive capacity and performance of diverse sectors. This metric plays a pivotal role in economic analysis, the formulation of policies, and comprehending the overall well-being of an economy.
  • GVA is computed for every sector within an economy, spanning agriculture, industry, and services. The summation of sector-specific GVAs contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation.

Relation between GDP and GVA:

  • GDP is determined based on the GVA information.
  • The connection between GDP and GVA is expressed through the equation: GDP = (GVA) + (Taxes collected by the government) — (Subsidies offered by the government).
  • Consequently, if the government’s tax earnings surpass the subsidies granted, the GDP will surpass the GVA. GDP data holds greater significance when analyzing yearly economic expansion and when comparing a country’s economic growth either with its historical progress or with another nation.

NSO (National Statistical Office):

  • The NSO serves as the Statistics Division of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation within the Government of India. Functioning as the central body for the planned enhancement of the nation’s statistical framework, the NSO establishes and maintains statistical regulations and standards.
  • On a monthly basis, it assembles and releases the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), conducts the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), and furnishes statistical information for analyzing shifts in the growth, composition, and structure of the organized manufacturing sector.
  • In 2017, the NSO introduced the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) recognizing the significance of having labor force data available at more frequent intervals.
  • Annually, the NSO issues four quarterly updates on GDP data to facilitate observers in evaluating the prevailing condition of the Indian economy.
  • Each of these releases includes information pertaining to two crucial variables within the economy: total demand and total supply.

Centre Forms Panel On ‘One-Nation, One- Election’ With ex- President Ram Nath Kovind as Head


Context:

The government has established a panel led by former president Ram Nath Kovind to examine the feasibility of implementing the concept of “one nation, one election” .This initiative follows a decision by the government to convene a special session of Parliament from September 18 to 22. The specifics of the agenda for this session have not been disclosed.

Relevance:

GS2- Government Policies And Intervention

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About ‘one-nation, one- election’
  2. Historical background of ‘one-nation, one- election’
  3. Merits of ‘one-nation, one- election’
  4. Demerits of ‘one-nation, one- election’
  5. Way Forward

About ‘one-nation, one- election’

  • The concept of “One Nation One Election” proposes the synchronization of elections for all states and the Lok Sabha within a five-year span. This entails restructuring the electoral cycle in India so that elections at both the state and central levels align. This would mean voters casting their ballots for members of both the Lok Sabha and state assemblies on a single day, concurrently or in phases if necessary.
  • Recent developments have seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocating for “One Nation One Election,” underscoring its significance during the 80th All India Presiding Officers Conference.

Historical background of ‘one-nation, one- election’

  • Historically, simultaneous elections have occurred in India in the years 1952, 1957, 1962, and 1967. However, this practice was discontinued following the dissolution of certain Legislative Assemblies in the late 1960s, leading to separate elections for the Centre and states.
  • The idea of returning to simultaneous elections was initially suggested in the Election Commission’s 1983 report and was mentioned in the Law Commission’s 1999 report as well. Since 2014, the BJP government has ardently supported the notion.
  • In 2018, the Law Commission released a draft report endorsing the implementation of simultaneous elections and suggesting necessary amendments to electoral laws and relevant Articles. The report addressed legal and constitutional challenges linked with conducting simultaneous elections and advocated for constitutional amendments ratified by at least 50% of the states.

 

Merits of ‘one-nation, one- election’

  • Cost Reduction: The concurrent conduct of elections minimizes expenses associated with multiple elections, including time, labor, and financial costs, which arise due to movement of security personnel and diversion of state resources.
  • Enhanced Voter Turnout: Simultaneous polls could potentially boost voter participation.
  • Better Use of Security Forces: Frequent elections limit the availability of security forces for other crucial tasks.
  • Focus on Governance: Continuous elections divert the focus of governance towards short-term electoral gains, sidelining long-term policies and programs.

Demerits of ‘one-nation, one- election’

  • Constitutional and Anti-Federal Concerns: Critics argue that the move might impact the federal nature of the Indian political system, as national and state issues differ.
  • Accountability: Fixed tenures might lead to a lack of accountability among government officials.
  • Difficulty in Synchronization: Maintaining synchronized elections is challenging, especially given the likelihood of government assemblies losing confidence.
  • Tampering with Democracy: Altering the election system could impact people’s democratic will.

Way forward:

  • Synchronize Local Body Elections: Consider holding elections for local bodies simultaneously as well.
  • Adjust State Legislative Assembly Terms: Align state legislative assembly terms with those of the Lok Sabha, possibly necessitating constitutional amendments.
  • Synchronize Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Elections: Only synchronize elections for these two chambers.
  • Comprehensive Debate: Engage in extensive discussions across the political spectrum to address concerns of regional parties and facilitate smoother implementation.
  • Enhance Governance: If simultaneous elections reduce the time taken for polls, political parties can dedicate more time to addressing national issues and improving governance.

In conclusion, “One Nation One Election” is an idea gaining traction. However, its implementation requires thorough deliberation to address constitutional, federal, and logistical considerations.

The concept, if executed thoughtfully, could lead to increased efficiency and enhanced governance in the Indian electoral system.


Oncologist Ravi Kannan R is Set to be Honored with the Ramon Magsaysay Award


Context:

  • Ravi Kannan R made the decision to leave a prestigious position in Chennai to serve in Silchar town of Assam. He is recognized for his significant contributions to pro-people health care and cancer treatment.
  • Ravi Kannan R, who is the director of the non-profit Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (CCHRC), will be the first recipient of this award from Assam. When he joined CCHRC, the hospital had limited facilities. Under his leadership, the hospital now boasts 28 departments encompassing oncology, pathology, radiology, microbiology, epidemiology, tumour registry, palliative care, and other specialized services. The hospital’s staff has grown from 23 individuals to 451 employees, as noted in the citation.
  • CCHRC introduced several pro-poor initiatives, including free treatment, accommodation, and food, as well as temporary employment for caregivers and a homecare program.

Relevance:

GS2- Social Justice- Health

GS3-Science- Diseases in news

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About cancer
  2. Prevalence of Cancer in India
  3. Government schemes that target cancer cases
  4. Way Forward
  5. Ramon Magsaysay Award

About Cancer:

  • Regarding cancer, it is a collective term encompassing a broad array of diseases affecting various parts of the body. Commonly referred to as malignant tumors or neoplasms, cancer entails the rapid proliferation of abnormal cells that surpass their normal boundaries, invading neighboring body parts and spreading to other organs—known as metastasis. Metastasis is a leading cause of death related to cancer.
  • Genetic changes disrupting the orderly cell growth process initiate cancer. These cells may accumulate to form a mass known as a tumor. Tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors do not spread, while malignant tumors are capable of growth and metastasis.

Cancer is categorized based on its origin within the body:

  1. Carcinomas: Begin in skin or tissue covering internal organs and glands, forming solid tumors. Examples include lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers.
  2. Sarcomas: Originate in tissues that support and connect the body, such as muscles, nerves, and bone.
  3. Leukemias: Affect blood cells and lead to their uncontrollable growth. Types include acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia.
  4. Lymphomas: Cancer originating in the lymphatic system, with Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma as two primary subtypes.

Prevalence of Cancer in India:

  • Ravi Kannan R’s recognition aligns with the broader context of cancer in India. According to an ICMR study, one in nine Indians will develop cancer in their lifetime. While certain cancers, like cervical cancer, have declined due to factors like vaccination and improved hygiene, others such as breast cancer are on the rise due to factors like delayed marriage and changes in lifestyle.

Government schemes that target cancer cases:

 

  • The National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Stroke (NPCDCS) is being executed as part of the National Health Mission (NHM), focusing on activities at the district level.
  • Within the framework of Ayushman Bharat, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) is being put into practice to alleviate the financial burden experienced by underprivileged and vulnerable groups due to catastrophic hospital events. Its primary objective is to ensure access to high-quality healthcare services.
  • The National Cancer Grid (NCG) is a collaborative network comprising major cancer centers, research institutions, patient organizations, and charitable entities across India. Its mission is to establish consistent standards of patient care, promote cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, offer specialized training and education in oncology, and facilitate cooperative efforts in basic, translational, and clinical cancer research. This network was established in August 2012.
  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) introduced a Pilot on Trade Margin Rationalization for 42 anti-cancer drugs in February 2020. This initiative aimed to make healthcare more affordable for individuals suffering from illnesses. As a result, drug prices saw a reduction, ultimately benefiting patients in need.

Way forward:

For the future, improving screening and treatment centers, strengthening linkages between screening and hospitals, and ensuring timely diagnosis and treatment remain crucial to reducing cancer-related mortality in the country. Coordination among existing government programs and the establishment of more cancer care facilities are also essential steps forward.

Ramon Magsaysay Award

  • The Ramon Magsaysay Award, established in 1957, is widely regarded as Asia’s most prestigious and highest honor. It is named in honor of Ramon Magsaysay, the third president of the Republic of the Philippines.
  • This award recognizes and celebrates individuals and organizations in Asia, regardless of their race, creed, gender, or nationality, who have demonstrated outstanding achievements and have generously contributed to the well-being of others without seeking public acclaim.
  • Traditionally, the awards were presented in five categories: Government service, public service, community leadership, journalism, literature, and creative communication arts, as well as peace and international understanding. However, since 2009, the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation has been selecting awardees in the field of Emergent Leadership on an annual basis.
  • Recipients of the award are presented with a certificate, a medallion featuring an embossed image of Ramon Magsaysay, and a cash prize. This award holds international recognition and is often referred to as the Asian counterpart to the Nobel Prize.

The Increase in Tea Production in India in the Month of July- 6.2%


Context:

Tea production in July rose to 165.01 million kg, up from 155.29 million kg in the same period of the previous year. North Indian tea production in July amounted to 143.05 million kg.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper – 2-Growth & Development
  • GS Paper – 3
  • Distribution of Key Natural Resources
  • Agricultural Resources
  • Cropping Patterns

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About tea
  2. Cultivation of tea
  3. Production of tea
  4. Consumption of tea
  5. Exports of tea
  6. GI tag
  7. Tea Board of India

About tea:

  • Tea is a popular beverage crafted from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and ranks as the second most-consumed drink globally, following water.
  • Tea’s origins trace back to the northeastern regions of India, northern Myanmar, and southwestern China. However, pinpointing the exact location of the plant’s initial growth remains uncertain. Historical evidence suggests that tea consumption dates back 5,000 years in China.

Cultivation of tea:

  • Climate: Tea thrives in tropical and sub-tropical climates, flourishing in hot and humid conditions.
  • Temperature: Optimal growth occurs within temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C, while extremes above 35°C and below 10°C prove detrimental to the plants.
  • Rainfall: Tea requires an annual rainfall of 150-300 cm, evenly distributed throughout the year.
  • Soil: Suitable soil for tea cultivation is slightly acidic, with porous subsoil permitting efficient water percolation.
  • Production: India stands as the world’s second-largest tea producer. The northern part of the country contributes about 83% of the annual tea output in 2021-22, with Assam and West Bengal being major contributors.

 

 In Assam, tea is primarily cultivated in the Assam valley and Cachar regions, while in West Bengal, the Dooars, Terai, and Darjeeling are prominent tea-producing areas. Southern India accounts for around 17% of the nation’s total production, with Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka as key states. The country’s tea production for the fiscal year 2020-21 reached 1,283 million kg.

 

  • Consumption: India ranks among the world’s leading tea-consuming nations, with 80% of domestically produced tea consumed by its population.
  • Exports: India ranks among the top five tea-exporting countries, contributing around 10% of global tea exports. In 2021, tea exports from India amounted to approximately USD 687.9 million. During 2021-22, India exported 201 million kg of tea. Notably, the majority of India’s tea exports consist of black tea, making up about 96% of total exports.
  • Geographical Indication (GI) Tag: Indian teas, such as Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri, hold esteemed global recognition due to factors like geographical indications, substantial investments in tea processing, ongoing innovation, diversified product offerings, and strategic market expansion.
  • Notably, Darjeeling Tea, often referred to as the “Champagne of teas,” was the first product to receive a GI tag. Other variants like Green and White tea from Darjeeling also boast GI tags.
  • Tea Board of India: The Tea Board of India, established in 1953, operates as a statutory body under the Ministry of Commerce. Its primary objective is to foster the development of India’s tea industry. The board commenced its operations in 1954.

UPI Achieves Milestone of 10 Billion Transactions in August


Context:

Unified Payments Interface (UPI), an instant payment system, has achieved a significant milestone by surpassing 10 billion transactions in the month of August, according to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

In July, UPI recorded 9.96 billion transactions with a total value of Rs 15.34 lakh crore, based on data from NPCI.

Relevance:

GS3-Indian Economy

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About UPI
  2. About NPCI
  3. Status of digital transaction in India
  4. Positive Impacts of UPI
  5. Negative Impacts of UPI
  6. Way Forward

About UPI:

  • UPI is an enhanced version of the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), offering round-the-clock funds transfer for quicker, smoother, and easier cashless transactions. It integrates multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application, consolidating various banking features such as seamless fund routing and merchant payments.
  • NPCI manages various payment systems, and UPI stands as the largest among them, including the National Automated Clearing House (NACH), IMPS, Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS), Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), and RuPay.
  • Prominent UPI applications include PhonePe, Paytm, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and BHIM, the latter being a government initiative. As part of an agreement, India’s UPI will be linked to Singapore’s PayNow.
  • NPCI introduced UPI with the collaboration of 21 member banks in 2016.

About the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI):

  • The National Payments Corporation of India serves as the umbrella organization for various retail payments systems in India. Established with guidance and support from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), its objectives include streamlining and integrating multiple systems into a standardized national process for retail payments. The goal is to provide affordable payment mechanisms for the general public across the country, fostering financial inclusion.
  • The digital payments sector in India is projected to grow from Rs. 2,153 trillion at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27% to Rs. 7,092 trillion by 2025. In 2022, India emerged as the global leader in digital payments, accounting for 46% of global real-time payments and surpassing other top countries in terms of combined digital payments.

Positive Impacts of UPI:

  • Ease of usage: Simplified digital transactions via smartphones.
  • Financial Inclusion: Access to digital payments for all individuals.
  • Decreased Cash Dependency: Curbing illicit transactions and risks.
  • Boost to Digital Economy: Promoting digital entrepreneurship and innovation.

Negative Impacts of UPI:

  • UPI as Petty Cash Alternative: Growing reliance on UPI for smaller transactions, replacing petty cash.
  • Limited Transaction Flexibility: Confusing limits set by various apps and banks impacting transaction flexibility.
  • Infrastructure Challenges: Difficulties keeping up with the surge in UPI payments, necessitating infrastructure upgrades.
  • Security and Fraud Prevention: Rising cyber threats and fraud risks requiring robust security measures.

Way Forward:

  • Agile Infrastructure Development: Invest in advanced infrastructure and technology solutions to manage increased UPI transaction volume.
  • Personalized Financial Insights: Utilize data analytics and AI to offer tailored financial insights to UPI users.
  • Blockchain Integration: Explore integrating blockchain for enhanced security and scalability.
  • AI-Powered Fraud Prevention: Implement AI and machine learning for real-time fraud detection and prevention.

These measures can contribute to a seamless and secure UPI experience for both users and banks, facilitating the continued growth of digital payments in India.


Core Sectors Expand by 8% in July, Experience 2.2% Contraction from June Levels


Context:

In a noteworthy development, all eight of India’s key infrastructure industries demonstrated year-on-year growth in July, marking the first occurrence of such growth in 14 months.

Relevance: GS3-Indian Economy

Dimensions of the article:

  • Trends in core sectors
  • About core sectors of the economy
  • Eight core sectors

Trends in core sectors:

The core sectors collectively exhibited an average output increase of 8%, following a robust surge of 8.3% in June. Data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry highlighted a growth of 2.1% in crude oil production in July, signaling an upward trend for the first time since May 2022, which was the last instance when all eight infrastructure sectors had reported growth. Consequently, the Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) recorded a notable 19.3% year-on-year rise.

About core sectors of the economy:

  • These core sectors are pivotal components of the economy and constitute 40.27% of the total weight of items incorporated in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). Compiled on a monthly basis, the Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) is prepared collaboratively by the Office of the Economic Adviser (OEA), the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), and the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

The eight core industries encompass the following sectors within the Indian economy:

  1. Coal – Excluding coking coal, this includes coal production.
  2. Electricity – Covers electricity generation from thermal, nuclear, hydro sources, and imports from Bhutan.
  3. Crude Oil – Encompasses total crude oil production.
  4. Cement – Includes production in both large and mini plants.
  5. Natural Gas – Encompasses total natural gas production.
  6. Steel – Refers to the production of alloy and non-alloy steel.
  7. Refinery Products – Encompasses overall refinery production.
  8. Fertilizer – Includes products like urea, ammonium sulfate, calcium ammonium nitrate, complex-grade fertilizer, single superphosphate, among others.

The eight core industries, ranked in descending order of weightage, are Refinery Products, Electricity, Steel, Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Cement, and Fertilizers.


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