07-09-2021 (Important News Clippings)

07 Sep 2021
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Drone’s Economic Impact Will Match Internet’s

A light-touch policy is in place to encourage the next big thing in technology

Jyotiraditya Scindia , [ The writer is Union Minister of Civil Aviation]

In a virtual interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, a Pune farmer narrated a village’s fascinating encounter with drone technology. A property mapping of the village undertaken using drones helped the residents get their property titles in the shortest time span ever. The process of obtaining documents took at least a year, and was marred by corruption and arbitrariness. With the use of drones, this could be completed in a transparent manner within a month! In another pilot project conducted in Bengaluru, drones were used to transport medicines to a remote village in just 7-8 minutes, which otherwise took 25-30 minutes by road.

What’s driving drones?

Drones are not new to India. They are already transforming multiple industries. However, until now, never had we taken a serious plunge to grow this reticent undercurrent into an internet-like revolution that pervades our daily lives. It is due to the forwardlooking vision of PM Modi that India is now embracing technologies such as drones to power its growth agenda. Secondly, India enjoys a comparative advantage in terms of a large IT and engineering talent pool, as well as a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. The third and the most important ingredient for any technology to thrive is a conducive regulatory system that balances compliance without clipping its wings.

After several iterations and stakeholder consultations, and a strong push from the PM himself, the New Drone Rules 2021 were rolled out last month. Riding on the fundamentals of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring, the new rules mark a new paradigm for light-touch governance. Right from procuring a Unique Identification Number necessary to register drones to self-generated permissions, ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ runs as a common thread with a clear delineation of the government’s role as a facilitator, and not an overbearing regulator.

To enable ease of doing business and remove red tape, many approvals and clearances have been abolished – the number of forms has been reduced from 25 to 5; fee categories have gone down from 72 to 4; the quantum of fee has been brought down significantly; and security clearance before registration or licensing has been done away with.

The task ahead of us now is to tackle the elephant in the room – execution. In this regard, a single window clearance system called the ‘Digital Sky Platform’ for obtaining permissions, and an airspace map for identifying zonal restrictions will be released soon.

Where will drones work?

Once drones take off in full force, opportunities in the areas of manufacturing and drone services will be unlocked. Its potential as an economic force multiplier, however, will be unleashed on the back of a diverse value chain of industries that comes into play.

In the manufacturing sector itself, there are hardware components which form the skeleton of a drone. Far more critical is the brain of the drone i.e. the software, which tells the drone where to go and what to do while flying from point A to B. Each of these components needs to be designed differently depending on the kind of drone application. For example, the algorithms for drones used in land mapping will be different from those of say, using drones for medicine delivery. Then comes a whole array of post-flight analytics of drone footage, for instance – advising farmers on yield improvement or developing digital property cards under the landmark SVAMITVA Scheme. The economic benefits, therefore, can be unprecedented, given that by developing the drone industry, you also develop an entire ecosystem creating a positive impact on multiple sectors.

What are the positive spin-offs?

The emerging ecosystem would also trigger a multiplier effect in employment, as new job opportunities shall arise across the value chain, including but not limited to drone manufacturing, sales, insurance, pilots, counter-drone systems, drone repairs and so on. It is worth noting that the impact will be widespread, employing people with varying levels of education. Even a 12th grader with a remote pilot licence could earn up to Rs 30,000 per month or more depending on her skill-set!

Entrepreneurship will witness an explosion in terms of a whole new set of innovative startups. These would catalyse virtuous demand and supply cycles that would help realise the PM’s Atmanirbhar Bharat vision.

Our eyes are set on the destination – the goal of India becoming the global drone hub for R&D, testing, manufacturing and operations by 2030.


Good Ideas to Revamp Urban Co-op Banks


An RBI expert committee on urban cooperative banks (UCB) has rightly called for a tiered regulatory framework and liberal approach on oversight and branch expansion for larger UCBs, given marked heterogeneity in the segment. As of March 31, 2020, 94% of the entities in the banking sector were UCBs, numbering 1,539 albeit primarily concentrated in the western region. However, the UCBs’ corresponding share in bank deposits and advances is in the low single digits. But UCBs have much potential to provide inclusive banking services and credit access to the unbanked. And the recent Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act 2020 does provide clear RBI regulatory oversight over UCBs instead of the dual regulatory approach earlier, with both the states and the Centre (for multi-state UCBs) having a role.

The expert panel finds that financial inclusion furthered organic growth of the larger UCBs, with asset sizes in the ₹5,000-10,000 crore range. For smaller UCBs, what is recommended is an umbrella organisation (UO) as a non-banking financial company to be floated by RBI that can perform as a self-regulatory body for the sub-segment. The idea is that the UO would provide cloud-based information technology and other standardised services to the smaller UCBs, whose asset bases can be well below ₹100 crore. The suggestion is that the UO extend branding and hand-holding expertise and duly leverage channel networks so that the smaller UCBs are also able to provide mutual funds, insurance and pension products.

The bottomline is that with proximity to the borrower and better understanding of local requirements, the larger UCBs can well be empowered to provide more complex banking services with higher capital adequacy and professional management.


Spirit of federalism lies in consultation

Unilateral legislation without taking States into confidence will see more protests on the streets

Mukund P. Unny is an advocate practising in the Supreme Court.

Recently, various State governments raised concerns about Central unilateralism in the enactment of critical laws on subjects in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stated that it is not in the essence of federalism for the Union government to legislate unilaterally, avoiding discussions with the States on the subjects in the Concurrent List. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin raised the issue by calling on other Chief Ministers against the Union government usurping powers under the State and Concurrent Lists. The Kerala Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, while the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed a resolution against the controversial farm laws. The States and the Legislative Assemblies standing up for their rights assumes significance in the wake of the Union government introducing a number of laws without taking the States into confidence, thereby undermining the federal principles.

Around a year back, Parliament passed the farm laws without consulting the States. The laws, essentially related to Entry 14 (agriculture clause) belonging to the State List, were purportedly passed by Parliament citing Entry 33 (trade and commerce clause) in the Concurrent List. According to various decisions of the Supreme Court, beginning from the State of Bombay vs F.N. Balsara case, if an enactment falls within one of the matters assigned to the State List and reconciliation is not possible with any entry in the Concurrent or Union List after employing the doctrine of “pith and substance”, the legislative domain of the State Legislature must prevail.

The farm laws were passed by Parliament even as it does not have legislative competence to deal with agriculture. The lack of consultation in a matter that intrinsically deals with millions of farmers also led to massive protests that, incidentally, still continue in streets across India.

‘Redundancy of local laws’

When the Major Ports Authorities Act, 2021, was passed by Parliament earlier this year, even the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled State government in Goa objected to the law, stating that it would lead to the redundancy of the local laws, including the Goa Town and Country Planning Act, the Goa Municipalities Act, the Goa Panchayat Raj Act, the Goa Land Development and Building Construction Regulations, 2010, and the Goa Land Revenue Code.

When it comes to non-major ports, the field for legislation is located in Entry 31 of the Concurrent List. According to the Indian Ports Act, 1908, which presently governs the field related to non-major ports, the power to regulate and control the minor ports remained with the State governments. However, the new draft Indian Ports Bill, 2021, proposes to change the status quo by transferring the powers related to planning, developing and regulating the non-major ports to the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC), which is overwhelmingly controlled by the Union government. Coastal States like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have objected to the Bill that proposes to seize the power of the State government with respect to non-major ports.

Various States like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have also come forward against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The field related to electricity is traceable to Entry 38 of the Concurrent List. The power to regulate the sector was vested with the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs), which were ostensibly manned by individuals appointed by the State government.

However, the proposed amendment seeks to change the regulatory regime from head-to-toe with the establishment of a National Selection Committee, dominated by members nominated by the Union government that will make appointments to the SERCs. Further, the amendment proposes the establishment of a Centrally-appointed Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority (ECEA) as the sole authority having jurisdiction over matters regarding the performance of obligations under a contract related to the sale, purchase or transmission of electricity.

In effect, the power to regulate the electricity sector would be taken away from the State government. This is apart from other proposed changes, including changing the licensing regime to facilitate private sector entry without State government approval.

Cause of concern

The Union government increasingly extending its hands on subjects in the Concurrent List is a cause of grave concern as the balance of the Constitution is now turned on its head. The model envisioned in the Government of India Act, 1935, was adopted by the framers of the Constitution and certain subjects were put in the Concurrent List by giving the Union and the State Legislatures concurrent powers regarding them.

The fields in the Concurrent List were to be of common interest to the Union and the States, and the power to legislate on these subjects to be shared with the Union so that there would be uniformity in law across the country. However, one of the worst fears of Constituent Assembly member K.T.M. Ahmad Ibrahim Sahib Bahadur has now come true, with subjects in the Concurrent List being transferred to the Union List over a period of time due to the Union government’s high-handedness.

The Sarkaria Commission Report had specifically recommended that there should be a “coordination of policy and action in all areas of concurrent or overlapping jurisdiction through a process of mutual consultation and cooperation is, therefore, a prerequisite of smooth and harmonious working of the dual system”. It was further recommended that the Union government, while exercising powers under the Concurrent List, limit itself to the purpose of ensuring uniformity in basic issues of national policy and not more.

The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC), or the Venkatachaliah Commission, had recommended that individual and collective consultation with the States should be undertaken through the Inter-State Council established under Article 263 of the Constitution.

As the Supreme Court itself had held in the S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case, the States are not mere appendages of the Union. The Union government should ensure that the power of the States is not trampled with. The intention of the framers of the Constitution is to ensure that public welfare is subserved and the key to that lies in listening to stakeholders. The essence of cooperative federalism lies in consultation and dialogue, and unilateral legislation without taking the States into confidence will lead to more protests on the streets.


आसानी से नहीं झुकेगा तालिबान

भरत झुनझुनवाला , (लेखक आर्थिक मामलों के जानकार हैं)

बीते बीस वर्षो में अफगानिस्तान की अर्थव्यवस्था पूरी तरह पश्चिमी मदद पर आश्रित हो गई थी। सरकार के बजट की 75 प्रतिशत रकम विदेशी मदद से मिल रही थी। तालिबान के कब्जे के बाद अंतरराष्ट्रीय मुद्रा कोष, अमेरिकी सरकार और अन्य पश्चिमी देशों द्वारा अफगानिस्तान को आर्थिक मदद न देने से अफगानिस्तान निश्चित ही घोर आर्थिक संकट में घिरेगा। अफगानिस्तान के पास विकल्प भी नहीं दिखते हैं। विश्व में अफीम का 80 प्रतिशत उत्पादन अफगानिस्तान में होता है, लेकिन अनुमान है कि इससे तालिबान को मात्र 30 करोड़ डालर सालाना ही प्राप्त होते थे। तालिबान को इससे अधिक आय वैध व्यापार पर अवैध टैक्स वसूलने से होती थी। भारत के साथ विदेश व्यापार प्रतिबंधित करने से भी अफगानिस्तान की आर्थिक समस्याएं बढ़ेंगी। भारत अफगानिस्तान के माल का तीसरा सबसे बड़ा खरीदार रहा है। अफगानिस्तानी फल, ड्राई फ्रूट और खनिज निर्यातकों की दिक्कतें बढ़ेंगी। अफगानिस्तान के पास कथित रूप से एक लाख करोड़ रुपये के खनिज संसाधन हैं। यदि उनके व्यापार से अफगानिस्तान को आय हो सकती थी तो बीते 20 वर्षो में उनके खनन में व्यापक वृद्धि हुई होती। खनन में वृद्धि का न होना यही बताता है कि उनके वाणिज्यिक उपयोग में अवरोध हैं। उदाहरण के लिए चीन द्वारा 2007 में तांबे की खदान का अनुबंध किया गया था, जिससे आज तक उत्पादन शुरू नहीं हो सका है। अफगानिस्तान चारों तरफ से घिरा हुआ है। घरेलू अर्थव्यवस्था खोखली हो गई है। विदेशी मदद बंद हो चुकी है। अफीम का व्यापार सीमित है, विदेश व्यापार प्रतिबंधित है और खनिज पदार्थो का दोहन कठिन है। ऐसे में अफगानिस्तान में महंगाई का बढ़ना तय है। वहां से पूंजी का पलायन होगा और आम अफगान के लिए हालात लगातार खराब होते जाएंगे।

तमाम आर्थिक संकट के बावजूद तालिबान के घुटने टेक देने के कोई आसार नहीं दिखते। हमारे सामने सीरिया, ईरान, उत्तर कोरिया, क्यूबा और वेनेजुएला के उदाहरण मौजूद हैं, जहां आर्थिक संकट के बावजूद लोगों ने कष्ट सहे, लेकिन घुटने नहीं टेके। इसलिए हमें किसी भ्रम में नहीं रहना चाहिए कि आर्थिक संकट के कारण तालिबान अपनी विचारधारा से समझौता करने को तैयार हो जाएगा। विशेषकर इसलिए कि तालिबान धार्मिक उद्देश्यों से प्रेरित संगठन है। 2013 में अमेरिका के फारेन पालिसी रिसर्च इंस्टीट्यूट के अध्ययन के अनुसार तालिबानी अपने मजहब की रक्षा के लिए मरने को तैयार हैं। वे वर्षो से लेकर दशकों तक युद्ध करने को संकल्पित हैं। 2014 के यूनाइटेड स्टेट्स इंस्टीट्यूट आफ पीस के अध्ययन के अनुसार तालिबान के कुछ प्रमुख मुद्दे सैन्य ताकत, जिहाद और अफगानिस्तान में इस्लामिक एमिरेट को स्थापित करना है।

अपनी रणनीति बनाने के लिए हमें सामरिक दृष्टि से तालिबान की स्थिति को पाकिस्तान, ईरान, चीन और अमेरिका के दायरे में समझना होगा। तालिबान का पाकिस्तान से घनिष्ठ संबंध जगजाहिर है। पाकिस्तान की तरह तालिबान का एक उद्देश्य कश्मीर में दखल देना है। इसलिए पाकिस्तान हमारे विरुद्ध और तालिबान के साथ ही खड़ा रहेगा। ईरान की स्थिति भिन्न है। अफगानिस्तान मूल रूप से सुन्नी बहुल देश है। यहां शिया समुदाय की संख्या लगभग 20 प्रतिशत है। शियों पर लगातार अत्याचार किए जाते रहे हैं। ईरान शिया बहुल देश है। इसलिए ईरान का स्वाभाविक झुकाव तालिबान के विरुद्ध होगा। वह अपने अल्पसंख्यक शिया समुदाय की रक्षा करना चाहेगा। चीन के सामने दो परस्पर विरोधी उद्देश्य हैं। एक तरफ अफगानिस्तान को वह अपने बेल्ट एंड रोड कार्यक्रम में जोड़ना चाहेगा, जिससे वह अफगानिस्तान के खनिजों का दोहन कर सके। दूसरी तरफ उसे शिनजियांग क्षेत्र के मुस्लिम समुदाय में कट्टर विचारधारा के प्रसार पर भी नियंत्रण करना है। इसलिए चीन चाहेगा कि अफगानिस्तान के साथ आर्थिक संबंध बनाए, लेकिन संभवत: वह गहरा संबंध नहीं बनाना चाहेगा। अमेरिका और अन्य पश्चिमी देशों को तालिबान नैतिक रूप से भ्रष्ट और अपना सबसे बड़ा दुश्मन मानता है। चूंकि भारत के अमेरिका से घनिष्ठ संबंध है इसलिए भारत स्वत: तालिबान का दुश्मन बन जाता है। अमेरिका की आर्थिक ताकत विफल है। मौजूदा परिस्थिति में अमेरिका के साथ जुड़कर भी हमें लाभ नहीं मिलने वाला। वैसे भी अमेरिका का आíथक सूर्यास्त हो ही रहा है, जबकि चीन का आíथक सूर्योदय हो रहा है। तालिबान न तो आíथक संकट से टूटेगा और न ही अमेरिकी दबाव में आएगा। इस स्थिति में भारत को अमेरिका से हटकर ईरान के साथ मिलकर तालिबान-पाकिस्तान के गठबंधन को घेरने का प्रयास करना चाहिए। ईरान हमारे साथ हमारा सहयोग कर सकता है, क्योंकि उसे अफगानिस्तान में अपने शिया समुदाय की रक्षा करनी है। वहीं चीन को भी इस्लामिक कट्टरता से मुकाबला करना है।

हमारे सामने पहला विकल्प है कि अमेरिका के साथ सहयोग कर तालिबान की दुश्मनी मोल लें। इससे हम ईरान और चीन दोनों को ही कुपित करेंगे। तब हमारे सामने तालिबान-पाकिस्तान-ईरान-चीन की चौकड़ी दिखेगी। चीन यदि तालिबान को आर्थिक सहायता देगा तो हमें तालिबान का सामना करने में और मुश्किलों का सामना करना पड़ेगा। अत: हमें दूसरे विकल्प पर विचार करना चाहिए। ऐसे में हमें अमेरिका के गठबंधन से अलग होकर ईरान और चीन के साथ समन्वय कर तालिबान-पाकिस्तान के विरोध में ईरान-चीन-भारत की तिकड़ी बनाने का प्रयास करना चाहिए।

हमें इससे आगे भी सोचना है। विषय आर्थिक अथवा सैन्य स्तर पर समाप्त होता नहीं दिख रहा। विषय हिंदू बनाम इस्लाम से जुड़ा हुआ है। यदि भारत को विश्वगुरु की भूमिका निभानी है तो ईसाई और इस्लाम मतों के साथ संवाद करना होगा। साझा समझ बनानी होगी। हमें एक तरफ ईरान और चीन के साथ सामरिक गठबंधन बनाना होगा और दूसरी तरफ इस्लाम और हिंदू धर्म के बीच संवाद स्थापित करना होगा। तभी हम इस मसले का सही समाधान निकाल सकेंगे। अमेरिका द्वारा तालिबान पर प्रतिबंध लगाकर आर्थिक दबाव बनाने की रणनीति के साथ खड़े होकर हम स्वयं को और गहरे संकट में डालेंगे।


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