Current Affairs of Economy

Henley Passport Index

 In latest edition of Henley Passport Index, Japan has topped While Indian passport ranked 84th closer to the bottom.

About the index

  • The Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
  • It also allows you to compare the strength of passports and understand how you might improve your travel freedom with alternative citizenship. 

Key finding of index

  • India has a score of 58. That is the number of destinations an Indian passport holder can travel today without pre-departure government approval. That is the same as a citizen of any country, on an average, could travel to 13 years ago; this number had nearly doubled to 107.
  • India ranks below other BRICS countries, with which are at a similar stage in their economic development. 
  • Global social mobility report

India has been ranked at 76th place out of 82 countries on a First Social Mobility Index compiled by the World Economic Forum, while Denmark has topped the charts.

About the index

The WEF’s Global Social Mobility Index assesses the 82 economies on “10 pillars” spread across the following five key dimensions of social mobility: Health; Education (access, quality and equity, lifelong learning); Technology; Work (opportunities, wages, conditions); Protection and Institutions (social protection and inclusive institutions).

Key finding of the Report

  • Economies that would gain the most from increases in social mobility: China followed by US, India, Japan, Germany and Russia.
  • Increasing social mobility by 10% would benefit social cohesion and boost the world’s economies by nearly 5% by 2030.
  • The report also makes a powerful case for (interests of all stakeholders)capitalism. By comparison, economies that are organized more on “shareholder value maximization”, or “state capitalism”, tend to perform less well.
  • Improving tax progressivity, policies addressing wealth concentration and broadly rebalancing the sources of taxation can support the social mobility agenda.
  • Democracy Index 2019

India has slipped 10 places in the 2019 Democracy Index to 51st position prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

About democracy index

In Democracy index each country is classified as one of four types of regimes:

  • Full democracy (scores greater than 8);
  • Flawed democracy (greater than 6 and up to 8);
  • Hybrid regime (greater than 4 and up to 6); and
  • Authoritarian regime (less than or equal to 4).

 Parameters of ranking

  • Civil liberties,
  • Electoral process and pluralism;
  • Functioning of government;
  • Political participation; and
  • Political culture.

Performance of India

India’s score of 7.23 places it in the “flawed democracy” category due to Primary Cause: Erosion of civil liberties in the country. Specified examples include like Stripping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, The exclusion of 1.9 million people from the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) and On the Citizenship Amendment Act, the report said that the law has enraged the large Muslim population, stoked communal tensions and generated large protests in major cities.

  • World Sustainable Development Summit

In its 2020 addition, World Sustainable Development Summit will focus on the theme “Towards 2030 Goals: Making the Decade Count”.

About the summit

  • The World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) is the annual flagship event of Think-tank the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
  • It is the Summit on global issues taking place in the developing world and discuss and deliberate over climatic issues of universal importance.
  • Its precursor was Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was initiated in 2001 with the aim of making ‘sustainable development’ a globally shared goal.
  • Zero Budget Natural Farming

The Andhra Pradesh government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with German firm KfW to promote Zero Budget Natural Farming.

About Zero Budget Natural Farming

  • Himachal Pradesh has launched Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) project to promote organic farming.
  • The purpose of the project is to increase agriculture produce and the income of farmers by the year 2022.
  • Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is a farming practice in harmony with the principles of Agro ecology that believes in natural growth of crops without adding any fertilizers and pesticides or any other foreign elements.
  • The word Zero Budget refers to the zero net cost of production of all crops (inter crops, border crops, multi crops). The inputs used for seed treatments and other inoculations are locally available in the form of cow dung and cow urine.
  • A ZBNF practicing farmer has lower cost of inputs and thus has better capacity to increase the incomes. At the same time, ZBNF crops helps in retaining soil fertilizing and is climate change resilient.
  • Its uniqueness is that it is based on the latest scientific discoveries in Agriculture, and, at the same time it is rooted in Indian tradition. UN-FAO in April 2018 urged all countries to move towards the adoption of Agro ecology to meet the twin goals of global food security and conservation of the environment. 

Four wheel of zero budget natural farming

  1. The father of ZBNF and Padma Shri Awardee, Sh. Subash Palekar has provided four important non-negotiable guidelines:
  2. 1.Bijamrita (Seed Treatment using local cowdung and cow urine),
  3. 2.Jiwamrita (applying inoculation made of local cowdung and cow urine without any fertilizers and pesticides),
  4. 3.Mulching (activities to ensure favorable microclimate in the soil),
  5. 4.Waaphasa (soil aeration).

Benefits of Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF):

  • It reduces farmers’ costs by eliminating external inputs & using in-situ resources to rejuvenate soils, whilst simultaneously increasing incomes by restoring ecosystem health and leveraging diverse, multi-layered cropping systems.
  • It is beneficial for farmers by enhancing farm biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • As demand for organic food is increasing worldwide, farmer might get better realization of prices and enhance their income.
  • Cow dung from local cows is believed to have anywhere between 300 to 500 crore beneficial micro-organisms. These micro-organisms decompose the dried biomass on the soil and convert it into ready-to-use nutrients for plants.
  • Zero budget natural farming requires only 10 per cent water & electricity than what is required under chemical and organic farming. It may improve the potential of crops to adapt to and be produced for evolving climatic conditions
  • PM – KISAN scheme

To provide an assured income support to the small and marginal farmers, the Government is launching the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN). Scheme has been extended to include all eligible farmer families irrespective of the size of land holdings.

About PM-KISAN

  • Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land up to 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year.
  • This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal installments of Rs. 2,000 each.
  • This programme will be funded by Government of India. Around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit from this.
  • M-KISAN would not only provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families, but would also meet their emergent needs especially before the harvest season.

Other Similar programmes by states

  • The Rythu Bandhu scheme (Telangana) provides ₹4,000 per acre for every season to all the farmers of the state.
  • Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana (MP) is to provide relief to farmers by providing the difference between MSPs and market prices.
  • Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income augmentation (KALIA) ( Odisha) is more complicated in design and implementation and committed Rs 10,000 a year.
  • Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA)

A Farmer Connect Portal has been set up by APEDA on its website for providing a platform for Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) to interact with exporters.

About APEDA

  • The APEDA was established under the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, through the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act 1985, by replacing the Processed Food Export Promotion Council (PFEPC).
  • Its objective is to promote export of agricultural and processed food products from India.

HSN Code

India will not to allow imports without HSN (Harmonized System of Nomenclature) code. 

About HSN code

  • Harmonized System of Nomenclature is a six-digit identification code developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
  • It’s called the “universal economic language” for goods used for taxation purposes by helping to identify the rate of tax applicable to a specific product in a country that is under review. It can also be used in calculations that involve claiming benefits.
  • HS code is used by Customs authorities, statistical agencies, and other government regulatory bodies, to monitor and control the import and export of commodities through:
  • The system helps in harmonizing of customs and trade procedures, thus reducing costs in international trade.
  • National Infrastructure Pipeline

Finance Minister of India has unveiled a 102 lakh crore national infrastructure pipeline, to fulfill government’s vision to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2024.

About National Infrastructure Pipeline

  • It will help in stepping-up annual infrastructure investment to achieve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $5 trillion by 2024-25.
  • The central government & state governments would have an equal share of 39% each in the NIP. The private sector, on the other hand, would have 22% share which the government expects to increase to 30% by 2025.
  • Infrastructure is a pre-requisite to achieve broad-based and inclusive growth on a sustainable basis. National Infrastructure Pipeline will ensure that infrastructure projects are adequately prepared and launched.
  • Each Ministry/ Department would be responsible for the monitoring of projects so as to ensure their timely and within-cost implementation.
  • FAME-II Scheme

The Department of Heavy Industries has sanctioned 2636 charging stations in 62 cities across 24 States/UTs under FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India) scheme phase II.

About FAME

  • FAME India is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. Main thrust of FAME is to encourage electric vehicles by providing subsidies.
  • FAME focuses on 4 areas
  • Technology development,
  • Demand Creation,
  • Pilot Projects              
  • Charging Infrastructure
  • FAME 2 scheme aims to boost electric mobility and increase the number of electric vehicles in commercial fleets.
  • The government will offer the incentives for electric buses, three-wheelers and four-wheelers to be used for commercial purposes.
  • Plug-in hybrid vehicles and those with a sizeable lithium-ion battery and electric motor will also be included in the scheme and fiscal support offered depending on the size of the battery.

How will this scheme help improve charging infrastructure?

  • The centre will invest in setting up charging stations, with the active participation of public sector units and private players.
  • It has also been proposed to provide one slow-charging unit for every electric bus and one fast-charging station for 10 electric buses.
  • Projects for charging infrastructure will include those needed to extend electrification for running vehicles such as pantograph charging and flash charging.
  • FAME 2 will also encourage interlinking of renewable energy sources with charging infrastructure.
  • State Energy Efficiency Index 2019

2ND State Energy Efficiency Index 2019 has been released by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in association with the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE).

About the index

  • The objective of this Index is to help states in contributing towards national goals on energy security and climate action by Helping drive energy efficiency policies and program implementation at the state and local level and Tracking progress in managing the states’ and India’s energy footprint.
  • The Index has categories as ‘Front Runner’, ‘Achiever’, ‘Contender’ and ‘Aspirant’ based on their efforts and achievements towards energy efficiency implementation. This year there isn’t any ‘front runner’ state.
  • Infrastructure Investment Trust

Cabinet gives it nod to NHAI to set up Infrastructure Investment Trust and monetize National Highway projects.

About Infrastructure Investment Trusts

  • Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvIT) are like a mutual fund, which enables direct investment of small amounts of money from possible individual/institutional investors in infrastructure to earn a the income as return.
  • InvITs can be treated as the modified version of REITs designed to suit the specific circumstances of the infrastructure sector. But they invest in infrastructure projects such as roads or highways so need some time to generate steady cash flows.
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) is also like a mutual fund that invests in real estate but there are many differences too.
  • The basic deal on REITs is that you own a share of property, and so an appropriate share of the income from it will come to you, after deducting an appropriate share of expenses.
  • In simple terms it’s like a group of people pooling their money to buy real estate but in REITs that it’s on a large scale and is regulated.
  • Government Owned Contractor Operated model

The Army has initiated the process of identifying potential industry partners to implement the Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) model for its base workshops and ordnance depots intended to improve operational efficiency.

About GOCO model

  • The GOCO model was one of the recommendations of the Lt. Gen. DB Shekatkar committee to “enhance combat capability and re-balancing defense expenditure.”
  • The assets owned by government will be operated by the private industries so private companies don’t need to make investments on land, machinery and other support systems.
  • The missions are set by government and the private sectors are given full independence in implementing the missions using their best practices.
  • The main advantage of the model is that the targets are achieved in lesser time frame. Also, it will boost competitiveness among the private entities paving way to newer technologies.
  • Global Investment Trend Monitor report

The Global Investment Trend Monitor report, compiled by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has been released.

Finding of the report

  • The United States remained the largest recipient of FDI, followed by China with flows of $140 billion and Singapore with $110 billion.
  • India was among the top 10 recipients of Foreign Direct Investment in 2019, attracting $49 billion in inflows, a 16 per cent increase from the previous year.
  • Developing economies continue to absorb more than half of global FDI flows while FDI flows to developed countries remained at a historically low level.