23RD FEBRUARY CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile

News: Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted two successful launches of Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM).

Details:

  • The launches were carried out today from a static vertical launcher from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Odisha.
  • Indigenously designed and developed by DRDO for Indian Navy, VL-SRSAM is meant for neutralizing various aerial threats at close ranges including sea-skimming targets.
  • The current launches were carried out for demonstration of vertical launch capability as part of its maiden launch campaign.
  • On both occasions, the missiles intercepted the simulated targets with pinpoint accuracy. The missiles were tested for minimum and maximum range.
  • VL-SRSAM with Weapon Control System (WCS) were deployed during the trials.
  • The launches were monitored by senior scientists from various DRDO labs involved in the design and development of the system such as DRDL, RCI, Hyderabad and R&D Engineers, Pune.
  • During the test launches, flight path and vehicle performance parameters were monitored using flight data, captured by various Range instruments such as Radar, EOTS and Telemetry systems deployed by ITR, Chandipur.
  • The present trials have proved the effectiveness of the weapon system and few more trials will be conducted shortly before deployment on Indian Naval ships. Once deployed, the VL-SRSAM system will prove to be a force multiplier for the Indian Navy.

2. One Nation One Standard

News: Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal has stressed on the need for ‘One Nation One Standard’ to bring uniformity and said labs testing in India should be of global standards. The minister said this while reviewing the work of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

Why do we need such mission?

  • The strength and character of a nation is often exemplified by the standards it sets for the quality of its products and services. Bringing a national uniformity and standardization in all kinds of public procurement and tendering can be an immediate deliverable.
  • The uniform national standards will help in making it mandatory for more products.

Details:

  • The ‘One Nation One Standard’ Mission was first deliberated in September, 2019.
  • The mission was envisioned on the line of ‘one nation, one ration card’ scheme in order to ensure quality products in the country. The purpose is to converge multiple standards with the BIS which is a recognised national body for standardisation in India.

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS):

  • BIS is the only national body that frames standards. It works under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India.
  • BIS is responsible for the harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • The Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) Act 2016establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India.
  • The Act enables the Central Government to appoint any authority/agency, in addition to the BIS, to verify the conformity of products and services with the established standard and issue certificate of conformity.
  • There is a provision for repair or recall, of the products (bearing Standard Mark) that do not conform to the relevant Indian Standard.

3. Making Peace with Nature Report

News: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the ‘Making Peace with Nature’ report, ahead of the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5). The Report explains how climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution add up to three self-inflicted planetary emergencies that are closely interconnected and put the well-being of current and future generations at unacceptable risk.

Details:

  • Climate change is increasing the chances of the Arctic Ocean being ice-free in summer, further disrupting ocean circulation and Arctic ecosystems. Climate change drives changes in wildfires and water stress and combines with biodiversity loss to degrade land and enhance drought in some regions.
  • More than one million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species are increasingly at risk of extinction. Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to climate changeand are projected to decline to 10-30% of their former cover at 1.5°C of warming and to less than 1% at 2°C of warming, compromising food provision, tourism and coastal protection.
  • Every year, nine million people die prematurely due to pollution. Up to 400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other industrial wastes enter the world’s waters annually.
  • Human prosperity is strained by widening inequalities, whereby the burden of environmental decline weighs heaviest on the poor and vulnerable and looms even larger over today’s youth and future generations. Inequity in economic growth has left 1.3 billion people poor.
  • Current and projected changes in climate, biodiversity loss and pollution make achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)even more challenging. The current mode of development degrades the Earth’s finite capacity to sustain human well-being.
  • Society is failing to meet most of its commitments to limit environmental damage. Society is not on course to achieve land degradation neutrality, Aichi Targets and targets of the Paris Agreement.

Suggestions:

  • Human knowledge, ingenuity, technology and cooperation can transform societies and economies and secure a sustainable future. Given the interconnected nature of climate change, loss of biodiversity, land degradation, and air and water pollution, it is essential that these problems are tackled together.
  • Governments must scale up and accelerate action to meet the Paris Agreement goals and limit dangerous climate change. Economic and financial systems can and must be transformed to lead and power the shift toward sustainability.
  • Moving to circular economic systems that reuse resources, reduce emissions and weed out the chemicals and toxins that are causing millions of premature deaths – all while creating jobs.

4. Dream of Economic Recovery

Background:

  • The Economic Survey, the Union budget, and the RBI credit policy attest that the economy is on the recovery path. The fourth quarter will register a positive growth rate, and as a consequence, the contraction for the full year will be between 7.5-8 per cent.
  • The contraction sets the pace for growth in 2021-22 which is now going to be critical as it is the foundation for the fructification of the budget revenue targets. But consider this: GDP in 2019-20 was Rs 146 lakh crore, which has come down to Rs 134 lakh crore in 2020-21.
  • Hence, a 10 per cent growth will take the Indian economy to Rs 147 lakh crore— when compared to Rs 145 lakh crore, this reflects modest growth. Therefore, expectations should be tempered when we talk of growth next year. There will be a revival in economic activity on all ends which will probably bear fruit in 2022-23 — FY 2021-22 will be a year of consolidation.

Efforts by the Govt.:

  • The government has brought in a cogent policy framework right from the time of the Atmanirbhar announcements, culminating in the budget. There is a focus on infrastructure as well as providing incentives to investment through the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.
  • Real estate, power and construction saw several policy reforms last year.
  • There is a strong capex push by the government and there will more action taken here.

Efforts by RBI:

  • The RBI has promised to continue accommodative policies, which sends a signal of managing liquidity considering the large borrowing programme of the government of Rs 12.8 lakh crore.
  • RBI will carry out more open market operations, and long-term repo operations during the year to ensure that interest rates remain stable. However, there will be concern around state government borrowings too, which will exert pressure on the availability of funds.
  • Hence, there will be more central bank intervention in the market to ensure that funds are available.

Role of Inflation:

  • Inflation is a concern as global commodity prices have already started going up and this has led to core inflation rising. Given that the monsoon has been good in the last four years, there is a possibility of an adverse season this time which can affect food prices. 
  • In India, too, we have seen that the price of petrol and diesel is rising sharply.
  • Add to this rising manufactured goods inflation witnessed of late, and there is a possibility of inflation rising above the MPC’s tolerance levels.

Status of consumption:

  • For growth to take place, consumption growth has to be real and rapid. Consumption growth has been affected by the absence of commensurate job creation. Consumption growth is unlikely too soon as consumption is dependent on job creation. Jobs get created when growth is high and hence there is circular reasoning here. Income has been affected in 2020 due to the pandemic which has led to job losses as well as salary cuts. This has affected the sustainability of the pent-up demand seen in October and November.

State of Investment:

  • Investment has lagged with gross fixed capital formation falling to a low of2 per cent in 2019-20 from 34.3 per cent in 2011-12. Reversing this decline will be challenging because the demand for such projects has slowed down and banks have been wary of lending for infrastructure.
  • There is also surplus capacity in industry with the capacity utilisation rate being 63.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2020-21. Therefore, private investment will rise only gradually and the onus is on governments to manage their targets. Private investment will follow, but at a slower pace and realistically speaking, will fire more in 2022-23 rather than 2021-22.

Conclusion

  • The year 2021-22 will be one of cautious optimism. Growth will trend upwards, but it has to be interpreted with caution, keeping a check on the consumption while pushing the investment while arresting the inflation.