- EX LAMITYE:-Indo Seychelles Joint Military Exercise started commenced recently
- India and Seychelles share historical socio-cultural ties and people to people contact due to Seychelles’ strategic location connecting eastern African and south Asian sea lanes of trade and communication. This 116 island nation is located 1350 to 1800 kilometers from the East African coast, and the pluralistic society of Seychelles encompasses people of French, British, Indian, Iranian and Chinese descent. Over 10 percent of its 90,000 population is of Indian origin. India established diplomatic ties with Seychelles soon after its independence in 1976.
Why Seychelles is Important for India?
Seychelles’ strategic importance traces back to the Napoleonic era when Britain gained control over this island which straddled the trade route to the East Indies. Given its proximity to the oil sea lanes and oil producing nations, US wanted to build a base at Aldabra Island in the Seychelles, but had to shift it to Diego Garcia due to political constraints.
India is trying to influence Indian Ocean Region by extending economic, military and diplomatic cooperation and through strategic partnership. From 2005, India has embarked upon a policy to engage four western Indian Ocean island nations and Seychelles forms a crucial part of it.
Apart from its strategic location on international sea lanes of communication as discussed earlier, Seychelles is a leader among SIDS group (Small Island Developing States) which has multifold areas of convergence with India. It is a leader in advancing the concept of ‘blue economy’, which covers a huge panoply of aspects like environment, hydrocarbons, marine economy, renewable energy and exploration of continental shelf and as Modi said, ‘this Ocean Economy is indispensable to meeting our future challenges.’
This island nation also forms the entry gate to eastern Africa with which India has had historical socio-commercial links and now forms a huge market for Indian firms.
Swachh Sarvekshan Survey
Background:- Swacch Sarvekshan Survey was conducted by the Quality Council of India.The survey was commissioned in 73 cities as part of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’
Objectives of the survey:-
The objectives of the survey is do a healthy field-level analysis there by providing the necessary insights to the cities on what they need to do and where do they lack as long as sanitation is concerned.
Components of the Survey:-
- Open defecation and Integrated solid waste management.
- Efforts for education and behavioural change.
- Methods for sweeping and door-to-door collection and transportation.
- Processing and disposal of solid waste.
- Provision of public and community toilet seats.
- Construction of household individual toilets.
Highlights of the survey:-
- Mysore was voted India’s cleanest city. Followed by Chandigarh, Tiruchirapalli ,New Delhi Municipal Council , Vishakapatnam, Surat , Rajkot ,Gangtok,Pimpri Chindwada and Mumbai
Swachh Bharat Mission:
It was officially launched on Gandhi Jayanti ( 2 October 2014 ). The mission seeks to achieve clean India and aims to provide access to toilets to all households in the country.
Objectives of the mission:-
- Eliminate open defecation.
- Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets.
- Eradication of manual scavenging.
- 100% collection and scientific processing/disposal reuse/recycle of Municipal Solid Waste.
- To bring about a behavioral change in people regarding healthy sanitation practices.
- Generate awareness among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health.
- Strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems.
- To create enabling environment for private sector participation in Capital Expenditure and Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs.
Components of the Mission:-
- Construction of individual sanitary latrines for households below the poverty line with subsidy (80%) where demand exists.
- Conversion of dry latrines into low-cost sanitary latrines.
- Construction of exclusive village sanitary complexes for women providing facilities for hand pumping, bathing, sanitation and washing on a selective basis where there is not adequate land or space within houses and where village panchayats are willing to maintain the facilities.
- Setting up of sanitary marts.
- Total sanitation of villages through the construction of drains, soakage pits, solid and liquid waste disposal.
- Intensive campaign for awareness generation and health education to create a felt need for personal, household and environmental sanitation facilities.
National Capital Goods Policy:-
- A National Policy on Capital Goods was prepared by the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI)- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Joint Task Force on Capital Goods and Engineering.
- What is Capital Goods:-
- Goods that are used in producing other goods, rather than being bought by consumers.They are used to produce consumable goods.
- “Capital Goods” sector comprises of plant and machinery, equipment / accessories required for manufacture / production, either directly or indirectly, of goods or for rendering services, including those required for replacement, modernization, technological upgradation and expansion.
- The Policy:-
- In a challenging global environment, India has earned the distinction of being one of the fastest growing economies in the world over the last decade. During this period manufacturing sector has exhibited a growth rate of ~7%, and has been a strong contributor to overall GDP growth
- However GDP contribution of manufacturing at ~18% is still low when compared to other developing countries (25-35%). This promises a significant upside for manufacturing in the coming decades, provided the fundamental enablers to create a vibrant manufacturing ecosystem are in place.
- Capital goods sector is extremely crucial for the development of the country’s economy for the following two important reasons:-
- Capital Goods is considered as a strategic sector and development of domestic capabilities is essential from a national self-reliance and security perspective
- Capital Goods sector has multiplier effect and has a bearing on the growth of user industries as it provides critical inputs, i.e., machinery and equipment to the remaining sectors covered under the manufacturing activity
- The capital goods sector contributes 12% to the total manufacturing activity (which is about 15% of the GDP).The sector has grown at the rate of 15% per annum over the last decade.
- The capital goods component in industrial production has lagged in recent years due to slow pace of domestic demand leading to growing dependence on imports and following slow growth in the world economy.Further, in the globalized world and as trade barriers in the form of tariffs are reduced, not all capital goods manufacturers have been able to tap the global opportunity.
- Vision and Mission:-
- To increase the share of capital goods contribution from present 12% to 20% of total manufacturing activity by 2025.Become one amongst top 10 capital goods producing nations of the world.
- To determine enablers and set mission for each enabler, complementing vision. For example enablers such as availability of Finance, Raw Material, Innovation and Technology (R&D), Skills Development, Productivity, Quality & Environment Friendly Manufacturing Practices (No Defect, No Effect), Exports (Share in the Global Markets), Domestic Demand, etc.
- Creating an Eco-system for globally competitive Capital Goods Sector
- Creation and Expansion of Market for Capital Goods Sector
- Promotion of Exports
- Human Resource Development development in this sector
- Technology & IPR utilization and realizing the best of technology
- Introduction of Mandatory Standards to safeguard the sector
- Focus on SME Development which can empower and employ many
- To increase production of capital goods from Rs. 2.30 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs. 7.50 lakh crore in 2025 and raise direct and indirect employment from the current 8.4 million to 30 million.
Securing India’s energy interests in West Asia
Energy security, of course, is a key ingredient of India’s interest in West Asia. It is dependent on imports for 80% of its oil needs, of which roughly 55% is sourced from the Persian Gulf region. The ratio could decline slowly as India diversifies with an increased focus on African producers. But the rate at which India’s energy demand is growing—it is currently the world’s fourth biggest oil consumer with import dependence projected to increase to 90% by 2031—offsets this in absolute terms.
The current glut in the oil market and plunge in prices means it is, for the time being, a buyer’s market. That gives India an opportunity to dictate terms as it shops around. Indian refiners have already begun to take advantage of the price drop to switch long-term contracts with West Asian suppliers for African oil spot purchases. And some of the former like Saudi Arabia—looking to enhance its share of the growing Indian energy market as it drives a supplier price war to shake loose more marginal producers—have responded. For instance, Riyadh has reportedly been in talks to ship crude to India on its own tankers, saving on shipping costs and passing on the benefits to Indian refiners.
India must drive home its advantage. This goes beyond a buyer-seller paradigm. By some estimates, India’s own reserves remain 60-70% under-explored. Various competing demands on the public exchequer mean that the required investment to make headway here cannot—and should not—come entirely from the government. West Asian oil companies have typically steered away from upstream investments globally, but this is by no means uniform. Abu Dhabi, for one, has entered into a strategic partnership in energy with New Delhi, including upstream and downstream investments. Qatar is pivoting towards investing internationally as well.
Given the relationship New Delhi has forged with countries in the region over the past few years—India entered into an extraordinary defence agreement with Qatar in 2008, committing to protect its assets and interests from external threats, has a security understanding and growing economic ties with Saudi Arabia and strong links with Bahrain—they could be viable sources of investment in India’s energy sector. But for this, New Delhi’s oil and gas exploration policy is important. Its shift towards a revenue-sharing model from a production-sharing one—the latter has admittedly had its share of problems—could disincentivize private investment if not calibrated carefully.
India’s increasingly multidimensional relations with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states buttress these energy security efforts. The Indian diaspora in the Arab states is seven million strong—a valuable connection and responsible for some $40 billion in remittances annually. And the possibilities for investment go beyond the energy sector. The UAE has agreed to invest $75 billion in Indian infrastructure, Bahrain is looking to invest in financial services and high value-added manufacturing among other areas, and countries like Kuwait have sovereign funds ripe for targeting.
Security and geopolitical considerations are, naturally, threaded through these economic engagements. Since Atal Bihari Vajpayee revitalized ties with GCC states, India has shown an admirable pragmatism, juggling its relationships with competing power centres like Riyadh and Tehran—even in light of the witches’ cauldron of proxy struggles and sectarian conflicts that is currently West Asia. This is the hallmark of mature diplomacy. The pay-off has been visible, from Saudi Arabia extraditing terror suspects to India to Qatari aid when Indian nationals have been endangered by the Islamic State and in Afghanistan.
Factor in India’s potential role as a maritime net security provider for the Gulf states, reliant as they are on energy shipping through the Indian Ocean Region. According to the Indian Navy’s Maritime Security Strategy released last year, the Persian Gulf is a primary area of interest. The possibilities for cooperation are significant.
In the period to 2040, India will overtake China as the largest source of rising demand for oil. The time to begin securing its interests in West Asia is now when it holds the advantage.