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16th September Current Affairs

The Eastern Economic Forum and India’s balancing act

(GS-II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings involving India and affecting India’s interests etc)

In News:

Russia hosted the seventh Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) Vladivostok.

Details:

The forum is a platform for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses into Russia’s Far East (RFE).

What is the Eastern Economic Forum?

It was established in 2015 to encourage foreign investments in the RFE.

The EEF displays:

  • Economic potential
  • Suitable business conditions
  • Investment opportunities in the region.
  • The agreements focus on:
  • Infrastructure
  • Transportation projects
  • Mineral excavations
  • Construction
  • Industry
  • Agriculture

Who are the major investors in the Forum?

China:

China is the biggest investor in the region as it sees potential in promoting the Belt and Road Initiative and the Polar Sea Route in the RFE.

China’s investments in the region account for 90% of the total investments.

China is also looking to develop its Heilongjiang province which connects with the RFE.

South Korea:

It has invested in:

  • Shipbuilding projects
  • Manufacturing of electrical equipment
  • Gas-liquefying plants
  • Agricultural production and fisheries.

Japan:

It has identified eight areas of economic cooperation and pushed private businesses to invest in the development of the RFE.

India:

India is keen in:

  • cooperation in energy
  • pharmaceuticals
  • maritime connectivity
  • healthcare
  • tourism
  • diamond industry
  • Arctic

In 2019, India also offered a $1 billion line of credit to develop infrastructure in the region.

Aim of EEF:

FDI: To increase the Foreign Direct Investments in the RFE.

Rich resources: To harness rich natural resources such as fish, oil, natural gas, wood, diamonds and other minerals.

Connect: The Russian government’s aim of connecting Russia to the Asian trading route.

A balance between the EEF and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework(IPEF):

Investment in EEF: India has not shied away from investing in the Russia-initiated EEF despite the current international conditions.

Acceptance to IPEF: India has given its confirmation and acceptance to three of the four pillars in the IPEF.

Importance of IPEF for India:

Ideal opportunity for India to act in the region: without being part of the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Disengage from Supply Chains: It will help in disengaging from supply chains that are dependent on China and will also make it a part of the global supply chain network.

New sources of raw materials and other essential products: It will further reduce India’s reliance on China for raw materials.

Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF):

It was announced in 2021 to set regional standards for cooperation and to encourage regional economies to “decouple” from the Chinese market by leading them to alternative supply chains.

Delay in PMAY-G to invite penalty

In News:

The Union Ministry of Rural Development has come up with a set of penalties that the State governments will have to bear for any further delay.

Details:

West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Odisha and Assam are the leading four laggard States who are far behind their targets.

Penalties:

Sanction of the house is delayed for more than one month from the date of issue of the target: the State government will be penalized ₹10 per house for the first month of delay and ₹20 per house for each subsequent month of delay.

The first instalment to the beneficiary is delayed for more than seven days from the date of sanction: State governments will have to pay ₹10 per house per week of delay.

No penalty: If the central funds are not available with the State.

PMAY- G:

Under the Ministry of Rural Development.

Aim: Provide a pucca house, with basic amenities, to all houseless householders and those households living in kutcha and dilapidated houses, by 2024.

Target: Construction of 95 crore houses with all basic amenities by the year 2024.

Cost sharing: Shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio of 60:40 in plain areas and 90: 10 for North Eastern and the Himalayan State

Objectives:

  • Training of Rural Masons
  • Improving workmanship and quality of construction of houses
  • The increasing availability of skilled masons
  • Enhancing the employability of such masons.

Selection of beneficiaries: Based on housing deprivation parameters of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011, subject to 13-point exclusion criteria, followed by Gram Sabha verification.

Localization of SDGs

In News:

Institute of Rural Management (Anand, Gujarat) will collaborate in making Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) to localize and customize SDG goals for villages in India.

Why is localizing SDGs important?

Localizing the SDGs can provide a framework for local development policy, esp. as the 14th Finance commission devolved more funds for Local bodies and over 65% of India’s population still lives in rural areas.

GPDP: Panchayats have been mandated the preparation of the Panchayat Development Plan (PDP) for economic development and social justice by utilizing the resources available to them.

 How can we develop Gram Panchayat?

The Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) should be comprehensive and based on a participatory process involving the community, particularly Gram Sabha, and will be in convergence with schemes of all related Central Ministries / Line Departments related to 29 subjects listed in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.

The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) (a UN body) is the most inclusive intergovernmental platform in the Asia-Pacific region, promoting the localization of SDGs.

National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Energy storage

In News:

NITI Aayog has released a report on the ‘National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Energy storage’.

Key highlights:

The reports emphasise the role of Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes in this programme to meet India’s battery demand by 2030.

About the Scheme:

Under the PLI scheme, the Manufacturer will source at least 25% of value addition from domestic sources (within 2 years) and at least 60% (within 5 years)

Background: Government had approved PLI Scheme for the ‘National Programme on ACC Energy storage’ with the aim to achieve a manufacturing target of 50 GWh of ACC.

Basics:

Advanced chemistry cells are the new generation technologies that can store electric energy either as electrochemical or as chemical energy and convert it back to electric energy as and when required.

Shoonya Campaign: Consumer awareness campaign to reduce air pollution and use of EVs.

EV 30@30 goals: Aim to reach a 30% sales share for EVs by 2030.