- Autocratisation Goes Viral report
- Appropriation Bill gets the nod of Lok Sabha
- Anganwadi food will be tested by FSSAI
- Re-evaluating inflation targeting
- India-Finland Virtual Summit 2021
Autocratisation Goes Viral report
Context:India has been classified as an “electoral autocracy” in the annual report named Autocratisation Goes Viral of Sweden-based Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute.
- This report comes just after the US watchdog Freedom House downgraded India’s status to “partly free” in its ‘Freedom in the World 2021’ report.
- The V-Dem Institute, an independent research organization founded in 2014 by Swedish political scientist Staffan Lindberg.
- It produces its annual report on the state of democracy around the world based on a dataset of almost 30 million data points for 202 countries.
- The global decline of liberal democracies was ‘steep’ in the past 10 years in the Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.
- Apart from India, countries like Brazil and Turkey figured among the top 10 countries that slipped in rankings that were part of the G-20 nations.
- India was previously classified as an electoral democracy, however, the latest report classified it as an electoral autocracy.
- India is now as autocratic as is Pakistan, and worse than both its neighbors Bangladesh and Nepal.
- Political rights and civil liberties in the country have deteriorated since 2014, with increased pressure on human rights organizations, rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a spate of bigoted attacks, including lynchings, aimed at Muslims.
Appropriation Bill gets the nod of Lok Sabha
- The Lok Sabha cleared the Appropriation Bill, allowing the Central government to draw funds from the Consolidated Fund of India for its operational requirements and implementation of various programmes.
- The Bill was passed after Speaker put it through guillotine, a legislative mechanism to approve the fast-tracking of the passage of outstanding demands for grants without discussion.
- Appropriation Bill is a money bill that allows the government to withdraw funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet its expenses during the course of a financial year.
- As per article 114 of the Constitution, the government can withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund only after receiving approval from Parliament.
- To put it simply, the Finance Bill contains provisions on financing the expenditure of the government, and Appropriation Bill specifies the quantum and purpose for withdrawing money.
Anganwadi food will be tested by FSSAI
Context:Mission POSHAN 2.0, likely to be sent for Union Cabinet approval soon, provides for testing of meals and food packets distributed at anganwadis for nutritional standards and quality by FSSAI labs.
- The government proposes to rope in National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) notified by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and also use rapid food testing kits approved by the regulator.
- The latter will mitigate the need for samples to be sent to the laboratories for testing.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development, the nodal Ministry for implementing the Mission POSHAN, will also partner with the Panchayati Raj Ministry so that FSSAI and the National Institute of Nutrition can train Panchayati Raj functionaries at village level and anganwadi workers in maintaining and monitoring quality.
Mission Poshan 2.0
- Mission Poshan 2.0 was announced by Finance Minister as a part of the Union Budget 2021-22 presentation on February 1, 2021
- The supplementary nutrition programme and the Poshan Abhiyaan has been merged to launch Mission Poshan 2.0.
- The programme will be aimed at improving and strengthening nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcomes.
- The government will adopt an intensified strategy to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 aspirational districts.
- Recently, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has decided to classify all of its major programmes under three Umbrella Schemes- Mission Shakti, Mission POSHAN 2.0, and Mission Vatsalya.
- This step has been taken to ensure the effective implementation of various programmes and schemes of the Ministry
Re-evaluating inflation targeting
- As the term of the original agreement between the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on inflation targeting ends on March 31, evaluations of this aspect of monetary policy have begun to emerge in the public domain.
- Two points have been made: first, that the inflation rate has remained within the prescribed band of 2% to 6% since 2016, when inflation targeting was introduced, and secondly that the RBI has succeeded in anchoring inflationary expectations.
- In fact, the lower inflation rate has been seen as the outcome of the latter.
- Our long-term research on inflation in India suggests that the evidence, however, is not conclusive on the efficacy claimed for inflation targeting.
- Though macroeconomic policy may not be of wide interest, a rudimentary understanding of what is meant by inflation targeting may be useful.
- Inflation targeting is only one of a set of imagined inflation control policies.
- Globally, inflation control became de rigueur after the high inflation that followed the oil shock in the early 1970s.
- In fact, well before inflation targeting was advanced, Milton Friedman had brought inflation control to the centre stage through his relentless highlighting of the ever-lurking threat of inflation.
- On the other hand, in India, policymakers had engaged with inflation since the 1950s, when plans to industrialise met the challenge of inflation.
- Thus, scepticism about inflation targeting as a strategy of inflation control does not imply that inflation control is not a legitimate objective of economic policy.
- While the monetarist Friedman had prescribed money-supply targeting as the means to control inflation, inflation targeting prescribes the use of the interest rate to target inflation.
- So, really, what is new about inflation targeting is only the instrument chosen, not the goal itself.
- There is, however, the vague suggestion that it is likely to be more effective than the monetarist approach, as the instrument, the policy interest rate, is under the direct control of the central bank.
India-Finland Virtual Summit 2021
- The India-Finland Virtual Summit was held on March 16, 2021, with the participation of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of the Republic of Finland Ms Sanna Marin.
- The virtual summit was organised to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral issues as well as other regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.
- The two leaders reviewed the ongoing bilateral engagements and committed to further expand and diversify the relationship across sectors such as trade and investment, innovation, education, emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence, 5G/6G, and quantum computing.
- The two leaders also discussed the Covid-19 situation including their respective vaccination drives and emphasized the importance of global efforts for urgent and affordable access to vaccines across all nations.
- The leaders exchanged views on regional and global issues, including the India-EU partnership, cooperation in the Arctic region, WTO and UN reforms. Both sides noted the potential for India and Finland to cooperate in undertaking developmental activities in Africa.