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1 May April 2024 : Indian Express Editorial Analysis

1. The new productive force

Topic: GS2 – International Relations

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains as the analysis of China’s technological ambitions, the US response, and global technological coalitions sheds light on contemporary international relations dynamics.

 

Context:
  • The discourse surrounding technology policy is often considered esoteric in India’s current political landscape. However, with rapidly unfolding technological changes impacting major economies, geopolitical rivalries, and global governance, the next government in Delhi will face significant challenges.
  • This analysis delves into the implications of China’s aggressive campaign to master new productive forces, the Biden administration’s efforts to regain US leadership in advanced technology sectors, Macron’s call for Europe to reclaim technological power, and India’s historical and current approach to science and technology in its developmental strategy.

China’s Pursuit of Technological Dominance:

  • China’s recent campaign to master new productive forces, as championed by President Xi Jinping, signifies Beijing’s ambition to overtake Washington in advanced science and technology.
  • This campaign, rooted in classical communist theory, aims to transition China from labor-intensive to technology-intensive production.
  • Under Xi’s leadership, China has made significant strides in various sectors but still lags behind the US in areas like semiconductor production and generative AI.

US Response and Global Technological Coalitions:

  • The Biden administration has enacted a robust industrial policy to renew American leadership in advanced technologies, including bipartisan legislation and efforts to limit support for Chinese technological development.
  • The US is also fostering global technology coalitions, such as the Quadrilateral forum and the Chip-4 alliance, to counter China’s technological rise.
  • These initiatives highlight the intensifying global competition for technological dominance.

Europe’s Quest for Technological Sovereignty:

  • French President Emmanuel Macron has emphasized Europe’s urgent need to reclaim technological power and close the gap with the US and China.
  • Macron advocates for substantial investments in AI, quantum computing, space, biotechnology, and new energy technologies.
  • His call for strengthening Europe’s industrial and technological sovereignty underscores the continent’s aspirations in the global technological landscape.

India’s Historical and Current Approach to Science and Technology:

  • India has long prioritized science and technology in its developmental strategy, with initiatives under Prime Minister Narendra Modi focusing on digital technologies, renewable energy, semiconductor production, and AI capabilities.
  • Technology also plays a significant role in India’s foreign policy, particularly in strategic partnerships with the US and Europe.
  • The BJP’s election manifesto underscores India’s ambitions to become a leading space power and promote innovation through robust R&D infrastructure and investment in quantum computing.

Challenges and Recommendations for India:

  • To compete in the global race for mastery over new productive forces, India must undertake sweeping reforms in its technology departments, increase national expenditure on R&D, and foster greater private sector participation in technology development.
  • Addressing entrenched S&T monopolies and modernizing the technological foundation of the economy are imperative for India to achieve its goal of becoming a significant player in the global technological landscape.

Conclusion:

  • As the world witnesses a race for technological dominance, India stands at a critical juncture where strategic decisions regarding technology policy will shape its future trajectory.
  • The next government in Delhi must prioritize modernization, innovation, and global collaboration to position India as a leading force in the era of new and high-quality forces of production.
What is India’s approach to Science & Technology policy?
·       India’s approach to Science & Technology (S&T) policy is multifaceted, aiming to foster innovation, research, and development across various sectors. It emphasizes indigenous technology development, collaboration with international partners, and leveraging S&T for socio-economic development.

  • ·       The policy framework prioritizes areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, renewable energy, space exploration, and information technology to address national challenges and enhance global competitiveness.
  • How does India promote research and innovation in Science & Technology?
  • ·       India promotes research and innovation in S&T through various mechanisms such as funding initiatives, establishment of research institutions, and fostering collaborations between academia, industry, and government.
  • ·       Programs like the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) provide grants, fellowships, and incentives to support R&D activities.
  • ·       Additionally, initiatives like the Atal Innovation Mission and Startup India encourage entrepreneurship and technology-driven solutions.
  • What measures does India take to address societal challenges through Science & Technology?
  • India integrates S&T into policy frameworks to address societal challenges such as healthcare, agriculture, education, and environmental sustainability.
  • For instance, initiatives like the National Health Mission focus on leveraging technology for affordable healthcare delivery, while schemes like the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture promote innovations in agriculture and rural development.
  • Furthermore, programs like Digital India and Smart Cities Mission harness technology for inclusive growth and urban development.
  • How does India collaborate internationally in the field of Science & Technology?
  • India actively collaborates with international partners in S&T through bilateral agreements, joint research projects, and participation in global initiatives.
  • Collaborative efforts include partnerships with countries like the United States, Japan, and European Union members, as well as engagement with multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and UNESCO.
  • These collaborations facilitate knowledge exchange, technology transfer, and capacity building, contributing to global scientific advancements and addressing shared challenges.
  • What is India’s vision for the future of Science & Technology policy?
  • India’s vision for the future of S&T policy is centered on fostering innovation-driven growth, enhancing global competitiveness, and addressing emerging challenges through advanced technologies.
  • Key priorities include promoting interdisciplinary research, strengthening the innovation ecosystem, enhancing R&D infrastructure, and increasing investments in transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and quantum computing.
  • The goal is to position India as a leading global hub for scientific research, technological innovation, and sustainable development.

 

Practice Question:  Discuss the role of technology policy in shaping India’s economic growth and global competitiveness. How can India leverage emerging technologies to address socio-economic challenges and enhance its position in the global arena? (250 words/15 m)

 

2. CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to growth

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains as the analysis provides insights into India’s economic growth trajectory, highlighting recent performance and future projections.

 

Context:
  • The Indian economy surpassed expectations last year, with the National Statistical Office’s second advance estimates projecting a growth rate of 7.6 percent for the full year.
  • This positive trajectory is corroborated by international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which labeled India as a “source of repeated positive growth surprises” in its Regional Economic Outlook report.
  • The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook has revised upwards its growth projections for India, forecasting a growth rate of 6.8 percent for 2024-25, an increase from the earlier projection of 6.5 percent.
  • Similarly, the Reserve Bank of India and the Asian Development Bank have expressed optimism, projecting growth rates of 7 percent for the current year.

Variability in Growth Projections:

  • Despite overall optimism, there exists variability in growth projections among different institutions.
  • While the World Bank expects a slightly lower growth rate of 6 percent, rating agencies such as Crisil and ICRA offer estimates ranging from 6.5 to 6.8 percent.
  • Nonetheless, this range of GDP growth estimates indicates India’s potential to maintain its position as the fastest-growing large economy globally.

Factors Driving Optimism:

Several factors contribute to the optimistic growth outlook for India.

  • Forecasts of an above-normal southwest monsoon by the India Meteorological Department raise expectations for robust food production, potentially stimulating rural demand.
  • Additionally, expectations of increased private investment, driven by rising capacity utilization rates and healthy bank and corporate balance sheets, further buoy economic prospects.
  • However, concerns linger regarding the possible slowdown in government capital expenditure due to upcoming elections and the uncertain global trade environment characterized by geopolitical conflicts.

Challenges and Priorities:

  • While India’s demographic dividend presents an opportunity for economic growth, it also poses challenges in terms of providing productive employment opportunities for the millions entering the workforce annually.
  • Addressing this challenge should be a top priority for the government. Moreover, the imperative of fiscal consolidation and debt reduction cannot be overlooked amidst the push for economic growth.
  • The next government must navigate these challenges while sustaining and enhancing India’s growth momentum.

Conclusion:

  • India’s economic outlook appears optimistic, with growth projections revised upwards by international institutions.
  • However, variability in estimates and challenges such as ensuring productive employment and fiscal consolidation underscore the need for prudent policymaking and sustained efforts to propel India’s economic growth trajectory forward.
What Steps can be Taken to Make this Growth more Robust and Sustainable?
  • Reaping the Demographic Dividend: India has a large and young population that can provide a huge potential workforce for the economy. However, this also requires creating enough jobs, improving the quality of education and skills, and increasing the labour force participation, especially of women.
  • Boosting Private Investment: Private investment is a key driver of economic growth, as it increases productivity, innovation and competitiveness. The government has taken several initiatives to improve the ease of doing business, reduce corporate tax, provide credit guarantees, and attract foreign direct investment. However, more reforms are needed in areas such as land, labour and logistics to reduce the cost and risk of doing business in India.
  • Increasing Competitiveness: India needs to enhance its competitiveness in the global market by diversifying its exports, improving its infrastructure, promoting innovation and digitalization, and integrating with regional and global value chains.
  • The government has announced several schemes to support manufacturing, such as Production Linked Incentive (PLI), Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP), and Make in India.
  • However, these schemes need to be complemented by trade liberalization and regulatory simplification to ensure a level playing field for domestic and foreign firms.
  • Promoting Green Growth: India has committed to reduce its carbon intensity and increase its renewable energy capacity as part of its climate change goals. The government has also introduced green bonds to finance green infrastructure projects. However, more efforts are needed to address the environmental challenges such as air pollution, water scarcity, waste management and biodiversity loss that pose a threat to India’s growth and well-being.
  • Maintain Stability in the Economy: India could maintain a stable and low inflation rate, which can foster confidence and investment. India could also ensure adequate liquidity and credit availability for productive sectors, especially for small and medium enterprises. India could also develop its financial markets and institutions to facilitate savings and investment.
  • Increase Integration with the Global Economy: India could increase its integration with the global economy by reducing trade barriers, diversifying its export basket, and enhancing its competitiveness. India could also pursue regional and bilateral trade agreements that can create new markets and opportunities for its products and services.
  • Promote the Key Sectors: India could promote the development of key sectors that have high potential for growth, employment, and innovation, such as manufacturing, services, agriculture, and renewable energy.

 

PYQ: Increase in absolute and per capita real GNP do not connote a higher level of economic development, if: (2018)

(a) Industrial output fails to keep pace with agricultural output.

(b) Agricultural output fails to keep pace with industrial output.

(c) Poverty and unemployment increase.

(d) Imports grow faster than exports.

Ans: (c)

Practice Question:  Discuss the recent performance and growth projections of the Indian economy as per various reports by international organizations. Highlight the factors contributing to India’s positive growth outlook and identify key challenges that could potentially hinder economic momentum. Suggest policy measures to address these challenges and ensure sustained and inclusive economic growth in India. (250 words/15 m)

 

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