PM announces ₹20 lakh crore economic stimulus package
Paper: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
Sub Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Why in news:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said a new look Lockdown 4.0 beyond May 17 was in the offing, while announcing an economic stimulus package for ₹20 lakh crore (estimated at 10% of the GDP), with a clearly defined leap towards economic reforms that will, in his words, lead to Atmanirbhar Bharat, or a self-reliant, resilient India.
- The economic package amount includes already announced at the beginning of the lockdown, incorporating a slew of measures from the RBI and the payouts under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
- By self-reliance it does not mean insularity and suspicion of the world as in the past, but embracing the world in the spirit of Vasudheva Kutumbakam (the world is one family).
- The new edifice of this self-reliant India would be based on the five pillars of the economy, infrastructure, demography, technologically driven systems and to strengthen demand and supply chains, with the supply chains being based on local sourcing.
Issues and Concerns:
- PM has included the actions of RBI, India’s central bank, as part of the government’s fiscal package, even though only the government controls the fiscal policy and not the RBI (which controls the ‘monetary’ policy).
- Direct expenditure by a government — either by way of wage subsidy or direct benefit transfer or payment of salaries or payment for construction of a new hospital, etc. — immediately and necessarily stimulates the economy.
- Credit easing by the RBI, that is, making more money available to the banks so that they can lend to the broader economy is not like government expenditure. That’s because, especially in times of crisis, banks may take that money from RBI and elsewhere and, instead of lending it, park it back with the RBI.
- At the last count, Indian banks had parked Rs 8.5 lakh crore with the central bank. So, in terms of calculations, RBI has given a stimulus of Rs 6 lakh crore.
- It would benefit labourers, farmers, honest tax payers, MSMEs and cottage industry
- The goal of the country would be to become self-reliant, and identified economy and infrastructure as key drivers for it.
- It will strengthen the markets, production and local chain supply.
- It is time to be a vocal for local, giving boost to make in India approach.
- The package will have emphasis on land, labour, liquidity and laws, and will pave the way for a self-reliant India.
the contours of the package will be announced soon therefore the clarity will come after that
Aarogya Setu app mandatory for returning NRIs, migrants
Paper : General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.
Sub-Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Why in news:
Expanding the ambit of the Aarogya Setu app, the Union Health Ministry has directed that downloading it be made compulsory for all returnees (migrant labourers and those coming from abroad) for better contact surveillance and suitable medical intervention.
- The Health Ministry has directed the States to focus on more effective surveillance, contact tracing, adequate testing and timely treatment of all the returnees, including testing at the point of disembarking, quarantining and offering further treatment.
- It has also asked the States to ramp up surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) or Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) to detect any possible hidden infection at an early stage to ensure timely containment.
The AarogyaSetu app, developed by the National Informatics Centre, under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, is the main contact tracing technology being endorsed by the Central Government.
Working of the app:
- The app is designed to keep track of other AarogyaSetu users that a person came in contact with, and alerts him or her if any of the contacts tests positive for COVID-19.
- The app uses the phone’s Bluetooth and GPS capabilities.The app will keep a record of all other AarogyaSetu users that it detected nearby using Bluetooth, and also a GPS log of all the places that the device had been at 15-minute intervals.
- While registering, the app collects a set of personal information such as name, sex, age, phone number, current location and travel history that is uploaded to government servers, which then generates a unique digital identityfor that user.
- When the Bluetooths of two AarogyaSetu users identify each other out, this unique digital identity is exchanged along with the time and location of the meeting.
- When an app user tests positive, all unique digital identities in his or her records get an alert on the risk they face and instructions on self-isolation and next steps.
The success of the AarogyaSetu app is people dependent. It needs widespread usage and self-reporting to be effective.
- The total number of users of the app is bound to be only a small subset of smartphone owners in India, and there are bound to be variations in the levels of self-reporting.
- Digital divideis a major concern in India.
- As per the policy, “persons carrying out medical and administrative interventions necessary in relation to COVID-19” will have access to the data.
- There seems to be no clear-cut regulation on use of the data which could lead to inter-departmental exchanges of people’s personal information.
- The unique digital identity in AarogyaSetu is a static number, which increases the probability of identity breaches. A better approach would be the usage of constantly-changing digital identification keys.
- AarogyaSetu uses both Bluetooth and GPS reference points. Other apps such as TraceTogether use only Bluetooth.
- The abundance of datacollected may be potentially problematic.
The best practices could be adopted from other similar apps in use worldwide like Google and Apple’s joint contact tracing technology and TraceTogether app of Singapore.
India caught in U.S. China spat over Taiwan’s status at WHO
Paper: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.
Sub-Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Why in news:
The External Affairs Minister attended a seven-nation virtual meeting of Foreign Ministers, convened by the U.S. Secretary of State.
- The meeting was held on the same day the U.S. Senate passed an Act to direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization, beginning with its decision-making body, the World Health Agency (WHA).
- The meeting appeared to be part of the U. S’s efforts to gain support for its move to effect changes at the WHO. The meeting also discussed “strengthening and reforming” the WHO.
- Meanwhile, China has also stepped up warnings on any attempt to include or support Taiwan’s role at the WHA, referring to the “One-China” principle as a widely accepted universal consensus of the international community including the Indian government.
- The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Australia, Brazil, India, Israel, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
- Significantly, all invitees other than India are major non-NATO allies of the United States, who would be expected to support Washington’s call.
- The U.S. has, in the recent past, accused WHO of acting as a PR agency for China during the pandemic.
- India is set to take over as the next Chairperson of the World Health Organization’s decision-making executive body in May 2020.
- India is likely to hold the post for the next three years.
- The timing of the appointment is crucial, given the worldwide debate on the role of the WHO during the pandemic, and criticism of the WHO Director.
- As tensions between the U.S. and China rise over the novel coronavirus pandemic, India is faced with a major choice on whether to support a U.S. move to reinstate Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) or to China’s opposition to it.
- If anything, the difference between India and China has only grown — every economic indicator will tell that.
- China’s $13.6 trillion GDP (in 2018) contrasts significantly with India’s lowly $2.7 trillion GDP.
- India won’t take sides in the ongoing US-China spat about the origins of the coronavirus in a government-controlled lab in Wuhan or at the wet markets in that city or whether it should be punished for not telling the world about the coronavirus sooner.