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The Hindu Editorial

11-December-2023

1. Calibrating a strategy for India’s future growth.

Topic: GS2 – health sector

India’s Economic Growth Projection:

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) projects India’s growth at 7% in 2023-24.
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank estimate a slightly lower growth at 6.3%.

Current Growth Trends:

  • India witnessed growth rates of 7.8% and 7.6% in the first two quarters of 2023-24.
  • The second quarter saw a broad-based recovery, indicating alignment with RBI’s projected 7% growth.

Changing Global Conditions:

  • Global movement towards deglobalization noted.
  • Ongoing geopolitical conflicts, like Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas wars, lead to sanctions, disrupting supply chains.
  • World real GDP growth decline reduces demand for global exports.

Shift in India’s Export Strategy:

  • India’s export-led growth strategy faces challenges.
  • Export share of GDP peaked at 25% in 2013-14, declined to 22.8% in 2022-23.

Medium-Term Investment Focus:

  • India needs to rely more on domestic growth drivers.
  • Domestic savings crucial for sustaining 7% plus real growth.
  • Nominal saving rate estimated at 29% in 2022-23.

Concerns in Household Savings:

  • Household sector’s savings in financial assets fell to 5.1% of GDP in 2022-23.
  • A potential risk to growth if the trend persists.

Investment Rate and Growth Strategy:

  • Estimated nominal investment rate was 29.2% in 2022-23.
  • Need to increase investible resources to 35% of GDP for 7% growth.
  • Employment growth and GDP growth interlinked.

Enhancing Employment Strategies:

  • India faces the challenge of employability in the next three decades.
  • Allocation of resources for training and skilling the growing working-age population crucial.

Environmental Considerations:

  • Commitment to reduce carbon emissions with targets set in COP26 Summit.
  • Emphasis on climate-friendly service sector growth.

Fiscal Responsibility:

  • Adherence to fiscal responsibility targets is critical for sustaining growth.
  • Combined fiscal deficit and debt to GDP ratios need to be controlled for a balanced revenue account.

Medium-Term Growth Outlook:

  • Feasibility of a 6.5% growth rate in the next two years.
  • Focus areas for sustaining 7% to 7.5% growth include raising savings and investment rates, improving skill acquisition, and adopting employment-friendly technology mix.

Question: Discuss the key factors influencing India’s economic growth strategy and the challenges it faces in achieving sustainable development, particularly considering changing global conditions.

 

2. No more hot air about air pollution

Topic: GS3 – air pollution.

Neglected Promises on Pollution:

  • BJP’s 2014 manifesto emphasized Climate Change mitigation and pollution control mechanisms.
  • 2019 manifesto pledged the National Clean Air Plan, targeting a 35% reduction in pollution in 102 cities.

Persisting Air Pollution Issues:

  • Despite promises, major cities, including Delhi, still face severe air pollution.
  • IQAir’s World Air Quality Report 2022 lists 39 Indian cities among the 50 most polluted globally.
  • Air pollution identified as the second biggest risk factor for disease in India.

Health Impacts and Disease Burden:

  • Respiratory diseases like COPD and asthma significantly prevalent, contributing to disease burden.
  • Lancet study attributes nearly 1.6 million deaths in India to air pollution in 2019.
  • India’s air pollution linked to reduced life expectancy by nine years.

Economic Cost of Air Pollution:

  • World Economic Forum reports an annual cost of ₹7.91 lakh crore to India due to air pollution.
  • Negligence and ineffectiveness of the National Clean Air Programme, launched in 2019 for 131 polluted cities.

Environmental Legislation Amendments:

  • Modi government’s amendments in forest and environment-related legislations criticized for favoring destruction over protection.
  • Great Nicobar Development Plan and Central Vista project highlighted as environmentally damaging.

Capital-Centric Development Critique:

  • Karl Marx’s characterization of bourgeois government as an “executive committee for managing the general affairs of the capitalists” relevant in the context of India’s development.
  • Critique of market-driven development at the expense of people’s well-being.

Call for Urgent Action:

  • Urgent need for a proactive government plan to address air pollution and protect life expectancy.
  • Emphasis on prioritizing people’s lives over government cronies’ profits.
  • Suggestions for examining and adopting practices like “wind path forests” and India’s “Social Forestry.”

Political Action and All-Party Meeting:

  • Urgent call for the Prime Minister to convene an all-party meeting to address the air pollution crisis.
  • Emphasis on discussing and implementing effective measures during the winter session of Parliament.
  • A plea for government seriousness and commitment to ensuring safe air and environment for the citizens.

Question: Examine the persistent challenges of air pollution in major Indian cities. Evaluate the health, environmental, and economic implications of the existing air pollution crisis.

3. The hypocrisy of Western democracy

Topic: GS2 – International relations

 

Casualties and Tragedy:

  • A staggering 17,000 Gazans have been killed since October 7, constituting one of Palestine’s greatest tragedies.

Enabling by the West:

  • The West supports Israel’s “right to defend,” reducing Palestine to Hamas.
  • Critiques of Zionism and Israel are conflated with anti-Semitism.
  • The Holocaust is weaponized, and attempts are made to erase historical context.

Freedom of Expression Constraints:

  • Western societies limit freedom of expression, especially in universities.
  • Pro-Palestine students at Ivy League institutions face exposure of private details.
  • Funding withdrawal from universities due to perceived inaction against anti-Semitism.
  • University administrations condemn only Hamas, fostering a biased environment.
  • Scholars advocating for Palestinian freedom experience harassment.

Media Bias:

  • Media exhibits historical bias towards Israel, neglecting root causes and international law.
  • Key terms like apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and settler colonialism are omitted in discourse.

Entertainment Industry’s Role:

  • Initial lack of response from Hollywood unions results in a backlash.
  • About 700 individuals from the entertainment industry sign a letter supporting Israel.
  • Pro-Palestinian voices opt for anonymity to avoid doxxing or blacklisting.

Actions in Europe:

  • European countries like the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy emphatically support Israel.
  • Bans on pro-Palestinian protests are imposed in some European countries.
  • Contradictions exist in Europe’s claim of free speech, with bans justified on specific phrases.

Root Cause:

  • Western complicity in Palestinian oppression is rooted in colonialism and imperialism.
  • Democracy’s facade masks the perpetuation of colonialism and imperialism.

Resistance and Exposé:

  • Marginalized groups and Jewish dissenters resist complicity.
  • Media coverage shifts, providing more space for Palestinian stories.
  • Changing opinions reflected in recent U.S. polls, with disapproval of President Biden’s support for Israel.

Conclusion:

  • The West must acknowledge its complicity and address hypocrisies in its democracy.
  • A truthful reckoning is essential for justice in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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