IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


27th May, 2020


How India can become self-reliant


- Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the necessity of a self-reliant India.

Not Globally Competitive:

- India did not modernise its state-run heavy industries and strategic sectors to climb higher up the technological ladder.

- The private sector, which had backed the state-run core sector approach in its Bombay Plan, stayed content with near-monopoly conditions in non-core sectors in a protected market.

- India’s industrial ecosystem was thus characterised by low productivity, poor quality and low technology and was globally uncompetitive.

- India completely missed out on the ‘third industrial revolution’ comprising electronic goods, micro-processors, personal computers, mobile phones and decentralised manufacturing and global value chains during the so-called lost decade(s).

- India manufactures only a small fraction of solar photovoltaic cells and modules currently used with ambitious future targets.

Advent of LPG:

Reduced role of PSU:

- During LPG, the very concept of self-reliance was rubbished, in the belief that it was tantamount to re-inventing the wheel when advanced technologies could simply be bought from anywhere at lower costs.

- Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) were made by definition, inefficient and sluggish for the competitive globalised scenario.

- No effort was made to engender either real autonomy or a transition to new technological directions.

- PSUs with capability and scale for the task were undermined or abandoned, along with many nascent research and development (R&D) efforts (for instance, in photovoltaics, semiconductors and advanced materials).

Role of Private Players:

- The private sector displayed little interest in these heavy industries and showed no appetite for technology up-gradation.

- With entry of foreign corporations, most Indian private companies retreated into technology imports or collaborations.

- Even today, most R&D in India is conducted by PSUs and much of the smaller but rising proportion of private sector R&D is by foreign corporations in information technology and biotechnology/pharma.

Other Idea / Challenges with FDI:

- FDI majors would bring new technologies into India’s industrial ecosystem, obviating the need for indigenous efforts towards self-reliance.

- However, mere setting up of manufacturing facilities in India is no guarantee of absorption of technologies (the ability to independently take them to higher levels).

- There is no evidence from any sector that this has taken place or has even been attempted.

- The fact is, foreign majors jealously guard commercially significant or strategic technologies in off-shore manufacturing bases.

- The key problem of self-reliance is therefore neither external finance nor domestic off-shore manufacturing, but resolute indigenous endeavour including R&D.

Experience from other countries:

- South Korea climbed determinedly up the technology ladder and value chains in electronic goods, consumer durables, automobiles, micro-processors, personal computers and heavy machinery.

- It emerged as a global powerhouse in manufacturing, but also in indigenously developed technologies.

- Taiwan developed technologies and manufacturing capacities in robotics and micro-processors.

- Singapore and Hong Kong adapted advanced technologies in niche areas.

- Countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam have focused on off-shore manufacturing lower down the value chain and without the thrust on self-reliance.

Chinese Experience:

- China is determined to become a superpower not just geopolitically but also in self-reliant S&T and industrial capability.

- China advanced purposefully from low-end mass manufacturing to a dominant role in global supply chains.

- China has now decided on shifting to advanced manufacturing and has set itself a target of becoming a world leader by 2035 in 5G, supercomputing, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, biotech/pharma and other technologies of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’.

Way Forward:

- Given the disinclination of most of the private sector towards R&D and high-tech manufacturing, significant government reinvestment in PSUs and R&D is essential for self-reliance.

- Success of east Asian self-reliant capabilities were enabled by planned state investments in R&D including basic research (3-5% of GDP), technology and policy support to private corporations, infrastructure and, importantly, education and skill development (4-6% of GDP).

- Self-reliant capabilities in electric and fuel cell vehicles, electricity storage systems, solar cells and modules, aircraft including UAVs, AI, robotics and automation, biotech/pharma and others are well within reach.

- State-funded R&D, including in basic research, by PSUs and research institutions and universities needs to be scaled-up significantly, well above the dismal 1% of GDP currently.

- Upgraded and reoriented PSUs would also be crucial given their distinctive place in the ecosystem.

- Private sector support to delivery oriented R&D activities can linked at appropriate supply chain level.

- There is need to enhance expenditure on Public education, health and skill development.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/how-india-can-become-self-reliant/article31681288.ece



‘No WHO bar on India testing HCQ as preventive’


- ICMR initiated clinical trials of HCQ on 2,000 doctors; healthcare and sanitation workers who work in five dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across the country were afforded.

WHO comments:

- WHO has consistently said that the best way of proving the efficacy of a drug for prevention or treatment is through well-conducted randomised clinical trials.

- Observational studies are always subject to the risk of bias and can sometimes produce misleading results.

- It was “very rare,” for a drug to fail at treating moderate or severe disease but to be effective in working as a preventive.

- HCQ was one of four drug-combinations being tested in a global clinical trial, called Solidarity Trial, coordinated by the WHO.

- Four hundred hospitals in 35 countries would be comparing the benefits to COVID patients from taking either Remdesivir; Lopinavir/Ritonavir; Lopinavir/Ritonavir with Interferon beta-1a; and hydroxychloroquine.

- They are all drugs for other diseases but have shown varying degrees of promise in blunting the COVID-19 infection.

Lancet Study:

- Lancet found no evidence to support the case that hydroxychloroquine works.

- The study was not a clinical trial–it was based on observational analysis run between December 20, 2019 and April 14, 2020.

- Another eight studies have so far concluded that hydroxychloroquine is inefficient in its treatment of Covid-19.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/no-who-bar-on-india-testing-hcq-as-preventive/article31683124.ece



PM reviews LAC standoff with NSA, CDS and 3 Service Chiefs


Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the current situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the ongoing standoff with China, with the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the three Service Chiefs. The meeting comes a day before the biannual Army Commanders conference.

About The Meeting:

- Defence Minister, at a meeting to review ongoing military reforms with the CDS, the three Service Chiefs and other officials of the Ministry, also discussed the situation along the LAC.

- The meeting was to review the implementation of the recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee.

Shekatkar Committee:

- India’s defence budget should be in the range of 2.5 to 3 per cent of the GDP, keeping in mind possible future threats.

- Establishment of Joint Services War College for training middle-level officers.

- Conversion of Military Intelligence School at Pune to a tri-service intelligence training establishment.

- Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army.

- The Army has started implementing the Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) model for its base workshops and ordnance depots, aiming to improve operational efficiency as recommended by the committee.

- The creation of the post of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

- Optimisation of Signals establishments, restructuring of repair echelons, redeployment of Ordnance echelons, better utilisation of supply and transportation echelons and animal transport units,

- Closure of military farms and Army postal establishments in peace locations, enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army, improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/pm-reviews-lac-standoff-with-nsa-cds-and-3-service-chiefs/article31683175.ece


AarogyaSetu app is now open source, says govt.


- Amid concerns over privacy of data being collected by AarogyaSetu – the COVID-19 contact-tracing app, the government said it was open sourcing the application.

About the “Bug Bounty” Programme:

- The government has also launched a “Bug Bounty” programme.

- Under the programme, financial rewards will be given to security researchers for finding any vulnerability in the application or suggesting improvements to the source code.

- With the release of the source code in the public domain, the government is looking to expand collaboration and leverage the expertise of top technical brains to collectively build a robust and secure technology solution to help support the work of frontline health workers in fighting this pandemic together.

- The “Bug Bounty” programme will be open to Indian and foreign nationals, but only Indians will be eligible for rewards offered under the scheme.

- Anyone who points out security vulnerability in the app source code will be eligible for a reward of up to ₹3 lakh, and up to ₹1 lakh for pointing out a suggestion or improvement in the source code.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/aarogya-setu-app-is-now-open-source-says-govt/article31683152.ece



Fisheries scheme has no relief component


- Fisheries Minister said that the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) would increase fish production by 9%, double incomes of fishers and double export earnings by 2024-25.

About Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana:

- PMMSY is a scheme to bring about Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector in India under two components namely, Central Sector Scheme (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS).

- Central Sector Scheme (CS) – The entire project/unit cost will be borne by the Central government (i.e. 100% central funding).

The Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) Component is further segregated into three heads:

- Enhancement of Production and Productivity.

- Infrastructure and Post-Harvest Management.

- Fisheries Management and Regulatory Framework.

- The scheme is focused on infrastructure investments that will help fish workers to boost their incomes.

- It involves investments of more than ₹20,000 crore from the Centre, the States and beneficiaries over a five-year period.


- It does not seem to contain any components aimed at relief or financial assistance to provide immediate help for the hard-hit fisheries sector.

- Due to coronavirus restrictions and previous climate reasons, fishers have not been able to go to sea for several months.

- Now Cyclone Amphan has also hit fish workers on the east coast.

- The annual monsoon fishing ban will come into effect in a few days.

- Quoting these reasons, a demand has been made to the Centre to give a financial assistance of ₹10,000-15,000 a month for each fish worker family by the general secretary of the National Fish workers Forum (NFF).