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9 February 2024 : The Hindu Editorial Notes PDF

The Hindu Editorial

9-February-2024

1. Charting a path for the population committee

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government Policies

Crucial for UPSC as it involves demographic trends, policy formulation, and socio-economic development, reflecting broader governance and development issues.

Context
  • The interim budget announces a groundbreaking high-powered committee to address challenges arising from India’s rapid population growth.
  • The committee aims to formulate policies and strategies, drawing on interdisciplinary expertise, to manage population growth and enhance socio-economic development, focusing on health, education, employment, and evidence-based decision-making.
  • Introduction
    1. Announcement of a high-powered committee in the interim budget to address challenges of rapid population growth and demographic changes.
    2. Multifaceted mandate to make recommendations in line with the goal of ‘Viksit Bharat’ (Developed India).
    3. Interdisciplinary approach needed, drawing expertise from demography, public health, economics, sociology, and governance.
  • Committee’s Mandate and Approach
    1. Formulation of policies and strategies for managing population growth.
    2. Addressing issues such as family planning, maternal and child health, education, employment, and socio-economic development.
    3. Rigorous research, data analysis, and monitoring of demographic trends for evidence-based decision-making.
    4. Collaboration with various stakeholders including government agencies, NGOs, civil society, academia, and the private sector.
  • III. Past, Present, and Future of India’s Demographics
    1. Shifts in demographic landscape over the years.
    2. India’s population expected to reach 1.46 billion by 2030, comprising 17% of the world’s population.
    3. Decline in fertility rates and demographic transition towards a higher working-age population.
    4. Demographic dividend presents an opportunity for economic growth.
    5. Investments needed in health, education, and skill development to harness demographic potential.
  • Health, Education, and Employment Challenges
    1. Challenges in ensuring access to quality healthcare and education.
    2. Public spending on health has remained stagnant around 1% of GDP.
    3. Challenges in nutrition, water availability, and sanitation.
    4. Investments in education and skill development crucial for realizing demographic dividend are lacking.
    5. COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated challenges in education.
  • Evidence-Based Decision Making
    1. Challenge of non-availability of accurate and timely data.
    2. Need for modernising data infrastructure through technology adoption and capacity building.
    3. Importance of regular and comprehensive national censuses and surveys.
    4. Implementing validation and quality assurance mechanisms.
    5. Promotion of open data initiatives and transparency in data sharing.
    6. Collaboration with international organizations for global best practices and funding opportunities.

Recommendations

  • India’s demographic landscape presents opportunities and challenges.
  • Holistic approach needed for inclusive and sustainable development.
  • Investments in health, education, employment, and statistical systems should be the top most priority
  • Promoting gender equality and social inclusion is very important to attend all inclusive development.
  • Strategic planning, effective implementation, and international collaboration are essential for navigating demographic transition.

Conclusion:

  • In conclusion, India’s demographic transition demands strategic policies. The high-powered committee presents an opportunity for evidence-based solutions, fostering inclusive development.
  • Timely action in health, education, and data management is crucial for steering India towards global leadership.
India’s Democratic Dividend
Opportunities of India’s Democratic Dividend:

  • Demographic Advantage: Large youth population presents a significant workforce potential.
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Young and dynamic population foster creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Market Expansion: Rising middle class contributes to increased consumer demand and market growth.
  • Global Workforce: Skilled English-speaking workforce enhances India’s position in the global job market.

Challenges of India’s Democratic Dividend:

  • Employment Gap: Rapid population growth may outpace job creation, leading to unemployment challenges.
  • Education Disparities: Unequal access to quality education hinders skill development and economic participation.
  • Infrastructure Strain: Overpopulation strains urban infrastructure, impacting quality of life and economic productivity.
  • Social Inequality: Disparities in income and opportunities may widen, posing social cohesion and inclusivity issues.
PYQ: “Demographic Dividend in India will remain only theoretical unless our manpower becomes more educated, aware, skilled and creative.” What measures have been taken by the government to enhance the capacity of our population to be more productive and employable?
(200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2016)
Practice Question:  In the context of India’s demographic challenges, discuss the significance of the recently announced high-powered committee and its potential impact on sustainable socio-economic development.
(150 words/10 m)

2. R&D spend — golden intervention or smoke and mirrors.

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy  – Government Budgeting

Critical for UPSC as it addresses India’s R&D challenges, private sector involvement, and the efficacy of proposed financial interventions.

Context
  • The article discusses the Union Finance Minister’s announcement of a ₹1 lakh crore corpus for interest-free loans to encourage private sector investment in research and innovation.
  • It analyzes India’s R&D landscape, emphasizing the need for clarity and effective utilization of funds to foster meaningful innovation.

 Introduction:

  • The Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced the establishment of a ₹1 lakh crore corpus with fifty-year interest-free loans in the interim Budget.
  • The aim is to encourage private sector investment in research and innovation, particularly in sunrise sectors.
  • However, questions arise about the efficacy of such a move, considering the current state of India’s R&D landscape.

Private Sector Contribution to R&D:

  • Private sector’s R&D contribution in India is low, accounting for 36.4% of the national gross expenditure on R&D (2020-21).
  • Comparison with global science ‘superpowers’ like Germany, South Korea, and the United States, where private sector contributions range from 67% to 79%.

Declining R&D as a Fraction of GDP:

  • India’s R&D expenditure has increased in absolute terms but declined as a fraction of GDP (82% in 2009-10 to 0.64% in 2020-21).
  • Leading technologically advanced countries allocate at least 1% of GDP to R&D.
  • There is a debate on whether private sector contributions should lead public sector counterparts.

Expanded Purpose of Innovation:

  • Innovation’s purpose now extends beyond economic growth to include environmental justice and sustainability.
  • Research and development should also emphasize on equitable growth and the role of the state in steering innovation.

Need for Increased Public Sector R&D:

  • The article advocates for increased public sector R&D, especially at the State level, to enhance research facilities and address locally relevant issues.
  • It slso underlines that innovation’s value is limited without the seamless transition from lab bench to factory floor.

The Catch of Private Sector Contribution:

  • Acknowledgment of the need for increased private sector contribution, considering India’s focus on technological prowess.
  • There are Concerns about the distribution of the ₹1 lakh crore corpus among various domains, especially resource-intensive ‘sunrise sectors.’

Challenges and Questions:

  • Recognition of the corpus as potentially insufficient for meaningful innovation in resource-intensive sectors.
  • The importance of defining goals, domain-wise allocations, targets, time frames, beneficiary selection, and the possibility of corpus replenishment.

Conclusion:

  • Emphasis on the need for clarity in government objectives, domain-wise allocations, and transparent processes to ensure the effectiveness of the ₹1 lakh crore corpus for research and innovation.
  • In conclusion, the article underscores the imperative of transparent allocation and effective utilization of the ₹1 lakh crore corpus, emphasizing the need for a strategic and inclusive approach to propel India’s research and innovation landscape.

Need for private sector involvement in research and development
  • Financial Resources: Private sector brings substantial financial resources, enabling sustained investment in research and development (R&D) initiatives.
  • Innovation and Competitiveness: Profit-driven entities foster innovation, leading to the development of cutting-edge technologies, products, and services, enhancing national competitiveness.
  • Market Orientation: Private firms align R&D efforts with market demands, ensuring practical applications and economic viability of innovations.
  • Efficiency and Agility: Private sector’s streamlined decision-making processes and adaptability allow quicker responses to emerging trends and technological advancements.
  • Global Collaboration: Private entities engage in international collaborations, promoting knowledge exchange, and contributing to a global pool of scientific advancements.
  • Job Creation: R&D activities by private firms generate employment opportunities, supporting economic growth and human resource development.
  • Risk-Taking Capability: Private sector’s risk appetite facilitates exploration of unconventional ideas, essential for breakthrough innovations with high societal impact.
  • Diverse Expertise: Industries bring diverse skill sets and expertise, enhancing the multidisciplinary nature of research and development endeavours.

PYQ: Scientific research in Indian universities is declining, because a career in science is not as attractive as our business operations, engineering or administration, and the universities are becoming consumer oriented. Critically comment. (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2014)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of the proposed ₹1 lakh crore corpus for private sector R&D in India, considering the nation’s innovation challenges.  (150 words/10 m)

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