31 January 2015

Senior IPS officer Krishna Chaudhary appointed as new ITBP DG

Senior IPS officer Krishna Chaudhary has been appointed the new Director General (DG) of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
His name was announced by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will be in office till June 2017.
Krishna Chaudhary is 1979-batch Bihar cadre officer. Before this appointment he was working as the Director General of the Railway Protection Force.
  • The post of ITBP DG has been vacant since 1 January 2015 after the retirement of Subhas Goswami on 31 December 2014.
  • Till the vacant time, CRPF DG Prakash Mishra was holding the additional charge of the ITBP chief.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)

  • It is one of the eight statutory Central Armed Police Forces of India and was established on 24 October 1962, under the CRPF Act, in the wake of India- China War of 1962.
  • Later Parliament enacted the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force Act, 1992 to provide full autonomy to ITBP.
  • At present ITBP has about 50,000 personnel strong force, to secure the 3,488 km border with China along Tibet Autonomous Region and operates under Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • ITBP force also render in a variety of internal security tasks in the country  including civil Medical Camp, disaster management, nuclear, biological and chemical disasters and UN peacekeeping missions around the world.

Maharashtra government has given nod to confined genetically modified (GM) food trails in state.

In this regard, state government has granted no-objection certificates (NOC) for open field trials of 5 genetically modified (GM) crops. They are rice, chana (chickpeas), maize, brinjal and cotton.
NOC was granted by state government after state-level Committee, headed by Anil Kakodkar had given clearance for field test of these five GM crops.
Based upon the results of these trials, government take further steps.
With this decision, Maharashtra has become the fourth state after Punjab, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh to approve open field trials in GM crops.
Confined trials: It is typically carried out in small plots of one hectare or less. It is primarily meant to collect data on the potential bio-safety impact of the GM crop lines.

Why state governments NOC are required for GM food trails?

  • Earlier, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the previous UPA Environment Ministry had permitted field trials of GM food in India.
  • But GEAC had inserted mandatory condition of separate NOCs from states for such trials.
  • So, states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have banned such research activities.

Food insecurity acts

The Shanta Kumar Committee’s recommendations to unbundle the Food Corporation of India are in tune with U.S.-led demands raised in the World Trade Organization

The Shanta Kumar Committee report, released last week, on a range of issues relating to procurement, storage and distribution of food grains is not only deeply flawed in its reading of the situation on food security, but also short on facts. It was prepared under the guidance of the Prime Minister’s Office.
For example, the report asserts that only six per cent of all farmers have benefited from Minimum Support Price (MSP) through sale of food grains to an official procurement agency, according to data of the National Sample Survey Organisation’s 70th round. But analysts have found discrepancies between the survey’s estimates of the food grains sold to official procurement agencies and the actual amount of grains procured by official agencies for that year.
For kharif, the NSSO survey estimates that 13 million tonnes were sold to a procurement agency while the actual procurement that year by government agencies was 34 million tonnes. For rabi, the gap is even larger: 10 million tonnes estimated in the survey while the actual amount procured by an official agency was 38 million tonnes.
Selling at distress prices
Why did the Shanta Kumar Committee overlook these possible underestimates? Was it just to arrive at the sensational figure of six per cent and then argue that since only six per cent of farmers get the benefit of MSP and procurement, why have the Food Corporation of India (FCI) at all?
But there is another way of looking at it. It is true that large numbers of farmers are deprived of the benefits of MSP. It is not because they do not want to sell to the procurement agencies but because they do not have access to official procurement centre, which are set up only in selective States and regions. The majority of farmers sell at distress prices which push them deeper into debt. For this large section of rural India, reforming the system would mean a substantial increase in the number of procurement centres and easier access, so as to enable it to benefit from MSP.
As soon as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed office, the first thing it did was to bring down the rate of increase of MSP to just about three per cent over the previous year — this when the prices of farm inputs have increased phenomenally.
Some States under pressure from Kisan movements decided to give a bonus over and above the MSP to help farmers. The Modi government stepped in to “punish” such States. It decreed that it would not procure any food grains over and above the requirement for the Public Distribution System (PDS) from such States which gave the farmers a bonus.
Confronted with the Central government’s policy, the Chhattisgarh government, for example, which had given such a bonus, issued a circular that it would procure only 10 quintals of paddy per acre from individual farmers. Andhra Pradesh has also limited its procurement. Thus, open-ended procurement which ensured India’s food security and farmer security is now in the process of being whittled down while the rate of increase of MSP is delinked from the increases in the cost of production and adequate profit margins. This is in contrast to the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation for MSP to be calculated at the cost of production plus 50 per cent profit, to keep agriculture viable.
The immediate impact in Chhattisgarh has been distress sales by farmers to private traders who can dictate prices, buoyed by the assurance from the government that it would not procure more grains.
The Shanta Kumar Committee report takes these dangerous steps further by advocating limited procurement as the officially declared policy.
This is directly linked to its recommendation to scrap the existing Food Security Act (FSA). The Committee wants to reduce the coverage from 67 per cent to 40 per cent of the population. It also wants to double the prices that these food grains are to be sold at under the present Act by linking the price to the MSP. This means resurrecting the fraudulent and discredited Above Poverty Line and Below Poverty Line estimations and depriving equally poor people of subsidised grains. In fact, as the Left has consistently argued and fought for, it is only a universalised PDS that can meet the requirement to make India hunger-free. The Shanta Kumar Committee wants to eliminate even the inadequate provisions under the existing FSA and push the country back to the worst days of food insecurity.
Ironically, such a recommendation comes at a time when the United Nations agencies monitoring country-wise performances towards meeting the Millennium goals have praised India for its reduction of malnutrition, giving credit for this to food security systems like the “ICDS [Integrated Child Development Services] as well as the public distribution system.” In spite of the reduction, which brings India from the “most alarming category” to the “seriously affected” category, the country is still home to the largest malnourished population in the world; its rank in the Global Hunger Index at 55 out of 76 emerging economies is only slightly ahead of Pakistan and Bangladesh but worse than Sri Lanka and Nepal.
As in the case of procurement, the Modi government has started to subvert the FSA in the case of implementation too. The FSA became law in September 2013. More than a year later, it is being implemented in only 11 States. The Central government has excluded 25 States and Union Territories from the ambit of the Act. According to a release on November 28, 2014, these States and Union Territories “have not completed the preparatory measures required for the implementation of the Act.” It was further stated that “the Central Government extended the deadline for the implementation of the Act by another six months, namely till April 2014.”
The Government of India has no right to make the implementation of the Act conditional to “preparedness” on the basis of parameters it has decided arbitrarily. There is no such legal provision in the Act, nor is there any legal deadline. But the official release reflects clearly the present government’s hostility towards taking any responsibility for food security. This is also reflected in the allocation of food grains. If the FSA is to be implemented, then according to the calculations of the Food Ministry, the allocations will go up to 550 lakh tonnes of food grains compared to the pre-FSA allocations in 2012-2013 of 504 lakh tonnes.
Shift to direct cash transfers
According to the Ministry’s food grains bulletin till December 2014, allocations to the States were just 388 lakh tonnes of food grains. This is roughly the same as it was the previous year, before the Act was passed. In other words, the Modi government has already stayed the implementation of the FSA. It is preparing to shift to direct cash transfers for a more restricted number of families.
The Shanta Kumar Committee’s recommendations to unbundle the FCI, allowing the free play of market forces in procurement and storage of food grains, and restricting the FSA are in tune with the demands raised by the western world led by the U.S. in the World Trade Organisation against India’s systems of procurement, storage and distribution. The India-U.S. agreement to end the stalemate in the WTO process is clearly premised on the changes being suggested by the Committee.
The government can be expected to try and bulldoze the required amendments to the FSA through Parliament using its majority. But undoubtedly it will face the resistance of the people.

Gold award for the Income Tax Department under National Award on E-Governance 2014-15

The Income Tax Department has been awarded GOLD by the Government of India under category “Cat-I-Excellence in Government Process Re-engineering” for National Award on e-governance 2014-15. The award has been conferred for “TDS Reconciliation Analysis & Correction Enabling System (TRACES)” project launched by the Department. The Project marks a major step in ensuring TDS compliance through the processing of TDS returns and comprehensive data processing of TDS statements using technology driven end-to-end processes. At present 15 Lakh deductors and 2.5 crore tax payers are using various e-enabled online services through the CPC (TDS). The award was presented today during the 18th National Conference on e-governance held at Mahatma Mandir, Gandhinagar, Gujarat. This third award on e-governance to the Income Tax Department in the last 5 years speaks volumes about the commitment of the Department to e-governance and to move towards a non-adversarial and tax-payer friendly regime. 

Nuclear deal no cause for celebration

Any understanding between Narendra Modi and Barack Obama on circumventing the Indian nuclear liability law to protect American reactor suppliers should be a matter of concern

At their recent meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama discussed methods of circumventing the Indian nuclear liability law to protect American reactor suppliers from the consequences of accidents caused by design defects. Although public details are scarce, if they have indeed reached an understanding on the issue, then this is not a cause for celebration; it should be a matter of deep concern.
The importance of supplier liability is illustrated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. When the reactors were hit by the tsunami that year, the weakness of the General Electric (GE) Mark I design was cruelly exposed. The reactors’ inadequate containment was unable to prevent the spread of radioactivity when the cooling systems failed and pressure built up inside the reactors. Although this design defect was first noted about 40 years ago, just as the Fukushima reactors were commissioned, the industry resisted regulatory changes that could have ameliorated the disaster.
Framework of impunity
The Japan Center for Economic Research estimated that the cost of cleanup at Fukushima may reach $200 billion. A 2013 expert study “Accounting for long-term doses in worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident” published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science estimated that the disaster may lead to about a thousand excess deaths due to cancer. However, it is unlikely that GE will ever be held accountable for its poor design choice. Under Japanese law, the supplier is indemnified from liability for an accident. This is the framework of impunity under which nuclear suppliers like to operate.
Legal indemnity for suppliers creates a “moral hazard”— encouraging suppliers to take excessive risks since they don’t have to pay for the consequences. The case of GE not strengthening the Mark I containment is not an exception. The Presidential commission appointed to study the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster, which saw a partial nuclear meltdown, pointed out that the supplier, Babcock and Wilcox, was already aware of design defects that contributed to the accident, but never bothered to resolve them.
Nevertheless, suppliers have ferociously defended their privilege of being free of liability, and they exerted tremendous pressure on the Indian government when the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act was framed in 2010. Contrary to the industry’s propaganda, this is not a “tough” law. Indeed, several clauses in the law were directly lifted from an annex to the “Convention on Supplementary Compensation,” created by the U.S. government to benefit its nuclear industry.
The law channels primary liability for an accident to the operator — the public sector Nuclear Power Corporation of India — and caps it at Rs. 1,500 crore. This overrides the absolute liability judgment of the Supreme Court, passed after the Bhopal gas leak disaster, which had no such limit. The cap is about a thousand times smaller than estimates of the damage that a serious nuclear accident could cause. Therefore, the law is designed to protect the financial interests of the operators and the supplier; victims or the taxpayers will simply have to bear costs beyond this cap.
Multinational suppliers are unhappy because a relatively minor clause allows the operator to recoup this compensation. By the scales of nuclear commerce, the amount of money involved is minuscule. A single reactor may cost up to an estimated Rs. 60,000 crore — 40 times the maximum amount the supplier could be liable for. The figures of each unit have been arrived at from studying plants under construction in Finland and France. If imposing liability on suppliers leads to cost increases, it can only mean that they are using the law as an excuse to escalate prices.
A close reading of the statements made by advocates of their interests reveals what suppliers are really concerned about: the Indian law could set a precedent that could undermine the iniquitous international system of impunity that they enjoy. “If litigants were able to file suit against suppliers, essentially it could destroy the whole industry,” declared Ashley Tellis, an American negotiator for the nuclear deal.
The United Progressive Alliance government repeatedly tried to subvert the law, earning a sharp rebuke from Arun Jaitley who wrote in 2013 that “a leopard never changes its spots. The government’s intention to dilute the right of recourse … [has] continued.” He should explain why his own government is pursuing a similar policy. The current proposal of using a “legal memorandum” to reinterpret the law is similar to the UPA’s attempt to sign away its “right of recourse” on various pretexts.
No tangible benefits
The most baffling feature of the current agreement is that it holds no tangible benefits for India. The United States has offered to sell two reactor designs — both of which are expensive and untested. The Westinghouse AP1000, which has been chosen for Mithi Virdi (Gujarat) is not in commercial operation anywhere and has encountered difficulties wherever it is being built. At Plant Vogtle, in the U.S. state of Georgia, Westinghouse and its partner Georgia Power have sued each other for a billion dollars over cost increases and delays. Even in China, the AP1000 has been delayed by about two years because of problems with reactor coolant pumps.
Even less can be said for GE’s Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR), selected for Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh). After years of questions about ESBWR’s steam dryer, the design obtained regulatory approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission — the first step before construction can commence — only in September 2014. There are no firm orders for the ESBWR.
The Vogtle plants were initially estimated to cost about $7 billion apiece. Even accounting for lower construction costs in India we showed — in a detailed study “Cost of Electricity from the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant” published in the Economic and Political Weekly — could translate into electricity tariffs that are as high as Rs. 15 per unit. If the government is looking for cheap electricity to promote development, importing American reactors hardly seems like a smart choice.
Last week, the residents of Mithi Virdi wrote an open letter to Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi reminding them that the “gram panchayats of four most-affected villages … [have] passed a resolution declaring the entire … region as [a] nuclear free zone.” The leaders of the “world’s largest democracies” face a clear choice. They can channel billions of dollars into nuclear corporations by sacrificing safety and economic prudence. Or they can heed the democratic voices from Mithi Virdi and cancel these unnecessary deals.

Agni-V's maiden canister trial a roaring success

India on Saturday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed, intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile 'Agni-5', which has a strike range of over 5000 kms and can carry a nuclear warhead of over one tonne, from Wheeler's Island off Odisha coast.
The three stage, solid propellant "missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 8.06 hours," ITR director MVKV Prasad said.
Prasad told PTI that the canister version of Agni-5 missile was successfully test launched on Saturday.
"The missile, witnessed a flawless 'auto launch' and detailed results will be known after all data retrieved from different radars and network systems."
An eye-witness said, "The sleek missile, just within a few seconds of its blast-off from the Island launchpad roared majestically into a clear sunny sky leaving behind in its trajectory a trail of thin orange and white column of smoke and within seconds it pierced the sky".
Saturday's launch was the third developmental trial of the long range missile. The first test was conducted on 19 April, 2012 and the second test on 15 September, 2013 from the same base.
The indigenously developed surface-to-surface missile Agni-5 is capable of striking a range more than 5000 km. It is about 17 meters long, 2 metres wide and has a launch weight of around 50 tonnes. The missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.
Unlike other missiles of Agni series, the latest one 'AGNI-5', is most advanced having some new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine, Prasad said.
"Lot of new technologies developed indigenously were successfully tested in the first Agni-5 trial. The very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) had ensured the Missile reach the target point within few meters of accuracy.
"The high speed onboard computer and fault tolerant software along with robust and reliable bus guided the missile flawlessly," said an official.
India has at present in its armoury of Agni series, Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with 2000 km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2500 km to more than 3500 range. After a few more trials, Agni-5 will be inducted into the services.


18th National Conference on e-Governance

Chief Minister of Gujarat inaugurates 18th National Conference on e-Governance
The 18th National Conference on e-Governance was inaugurated by Chief Minister of Gujarat, Smt. Anandiben Patel in Gandhinagar, Gujarat today. The two-day Conference held on January 30th & 31st, 2015 is being organized by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG), and Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY), Government of India in collaboration with the Department of Science & Technology, Government of Gujarat.

During the occasion, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi gave his message on Twitter. While expressing his confidence that this conference will become a focal point of several innovational ideas that will help our Nation in the year to come, the Prime Minister urged the participants to explore ways to provide as many services as possible through mobile phones to bring the world into our mobile. He reiterated his commitment to realize the dream of a Digital India - with a vision to make India a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

While inaugurating the Conference, Smt. Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister Gujarat thanked Government of India for selecting Gujarat to host the Conference and observed that the theme of the Conference – ‘Digital Governance-New Frontier’ is very relevant. She mentioned that Gujarat has been pioneering several innovative e-Governance Applications like SWAGAT, Public Distribution System, Mutation linked with Registration, e-Nagar, e-Mamta, etc. This has not only helped Government to improve the service delivery but also facilitated the citizens to access services in their own taluka or village.

Welcoming the delegates, Shri D. J. Pandian, Chief Secretary of Gujarat informed the gathering about the e-Governance policy of Gujarat towards institutionalizing the State e-Governance Model of ‘Digital Gujarat’ to extend the reach and scope of transparent, affordable and efficient Public Services on the principle of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’.

Shri Alok Rawat, Secretary DARPG, Government of India in his address stated that IT is only a tool and re-engineering the system and processes with the use of this tool is significant. He informed about various e-governance initiatives which have won the National e-Governance Awards for 2014-15 and stated that the Department is disseminating the best practices in the form of publications, case studies, documentary films etc. for adaptation, replication & further innovation of these practices. He stated that the ensuing Conference will provide a unique opportunity for all States to ponder as to what we have so far achieved in the field of e-Governance and what further can be achieved in future. He mentioned that the Central Govt. has introduced “Jeevan Pramaan” for pensioners, under which the Central pensioners can use biometric verification and Aadhaar number avoiding physical presence for annual verification. Another Software called as Bhavishya online has also been introduced for submitting pension forms online through which Central pensioners can track the progress of their pension sanction process, incorporation of additional DA installment etc.

Shri R. S. Sharma, Secretary, DeitY, Government of India in his address mentioned that India has been at the forefront of ICT in terms of writing software for the world; however, we have not been able to implement the same software and systems in our governance. He mentioned that three numbers are going to represent Indian citizen in future; they are Aadhar for identity, Mobile No. for public service delivery and bank account No. for financial inclusion. These numbers are for empowerment through which every citizen should participate in digital world.

Shri R.Chandrashekhar, Chairman NASSCOM stated that there is a need for Government and industry to work in integrated manner for improving the service delivery mechanism.

During the inaugural Session, the National Awards on e-Governance for the year 2014-15 were presented by the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Smt. Anandiben Patel. These awards were given in twelve different categories concerning various aspects of e-Governance. These Awards distinguish some of the best Government to Government (G2G), Government to Citizen (G2C), Government to Business (G2B) initiatives by various government departments and public sector units. Exhibition of various initiatives of Central and State Government, and Industry was also organised.

The objective of conferring these awards is to recognize and promote excellence in implementation of e-Governance initiatives. These awards recognize achievements in the area of e-Governance; disseminate knowledge on effective methods of designing and implementing sustainable e-Governance initiatives; encourage horizontal transfer of successful e-Governance solutions; promote and exchange experiences in solving problems, mitigating risks, resolving issues and planning for success. 

New Series Estimates of National Income, Consumption Expenditure, Saving and Capital Formation (Base Year 2011-12)

The Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation has released the new series of national accounts, revising the base year from 2004-05 to 2011-12. The base year of national accounts was last revised in January 2010.

2.         Base year revisions differ from annual revisions in National Accounts primarily because of nature of changes. In annual revisions, changes are made only on the basis of updated data becoming available without making any changes in the conceptual framework or using any new data source, to ensure strict comparison over years. In case of base year revisions, apart from a shift in the reference year for measuring the real growth, conceptual changes, as recommended by the international guidelines, are incorporated.  Further, statistical changes like revisions in the methodology of compilation, adoption of latest classification systems, and, inclusion of new and recent data sources are also made.  Changes are also made in the presentation of estimates to improve ease of understanding for analysis and facilitate international comparability.

3.         Improvements as noted above, especially incorporation of new datasets, have resulted in a correction in the level of GDP, which is likely to affect a wide range of indicators where it is used as a reference point: for instance, trends in public expenditure, taxes and public sector debt that are conventionally analysed in terms of their ratios to nominal GDP. It may be noted that the level of revision in the present base revision is not large enough to affect any of these ratios significantly.

4.         Users are requested to note that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at factor cost will no longer be discussed in the press releases. As is the practice internationally, industry-wise estimates will be presented as Gross Value Added (GVA) at basic prices, while ‘GDP at market prices’ will henceforth be referred to as GDP. Estimates of GVA at factor cost (earlier called GDP at factor cost) can be compiled by using the estimates of GVA at basic prices and production taxes less subsidies as given in Statement 3.1 of this note. For the years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, GVA at factor cost have been compiled and are presented in Statements 10.1 & 10.2.

5.         A brief note on the conceptual and statistical changes made in the new series, and its effect on the key estimates are given in Annex. A short publication giving more details of the revision shall be made available in public domain by the last week of February 2015.

6.         The salient features of the key macro-economic aggregates are indicated in the following paragraphs.

Gross Domestic Product
7.         GDP for the base year 2011-12 is estimated as Rs. 88.3 lakh crore. Nominal GDP or GDP at current prices for the year 2012-13 is estimated as Rs. 99.9 lakh crore while that for the year 2013-14 is estimated as Rs. 113.5 lakh crore, exhibiting a growth of 13.1 percent and 13.6 percent during the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively.

8.         Real GDP or GDP at constant (2011-12) prices stands at Rs.92.8 lakh crore and Rs.99.2 lakh crore, respectively for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14, showing growth of 5.1 percent during 2012-13, and 6.9 percent during 2013-14.

Industry-wise Analysis
9.         The percentage changes in the Gross Value Added (GVA) at basic prices in different sectors of the economy are presented in Statements 4.1 and 4.2. At the aggregate level, nominal GVA at basic prices increased by 13.2 percent during 2013-14, as against 12.9 percent during 2012-13 (Statement 1.1). In terms of real GVA, i.e., GVA at constant (2011-12) basic prices, there has been a growth of 6.6 percent in 2013-14, as against growth of 4.9 percent in 2012-13.

10.       The growth in GVA during 2013-14 has been higher than that in 2012-13 due to higher growth in ‘trade & repair services’ (14.3%), ‘communication and services related to broadcasting’ (13.4%), ‘other services’ (10.7%), ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’ (3.7%), ‘construction’ (2.5%) and ‘public administration & defence’ (4.9%).

Net National Income
11.       Nominal Net National Income (NNI) for the year 2011-12 stands at Rs. 78.5 lakh crore, while the estimates for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 are Rs. 88.4 lakh crore and Rs. 100.6 lakh crore, showing an increase of 12.7 percent and 13.7 percent during 2012-13 and 2013-14 rsepectively.

Gross National Disposable Income
12.       Gross National Disposable Income (GNDI) at current prices is estimated as Rs.90.6 lakh crore for the year 2011-12, while the estimates for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 stand at 102.2 lakh crore and Rs.116.0 lakh crore, respectively.

13.       Gross Saving during 2011-12 is estimated as Rs.29.9 lakh crore, and the estimates for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 are Rs. 31.8 lakh crore and Rs. 34.8 lakh crore respectively. Rate of Saving to GNDI for the years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 is estimated as 33.0 percent, 31.1 percent and 30.0 percent respectively.

14.       The highest contributor to the Gross Saving is the household sector, with a share of 59.4 percent in the year 2013-14. However, the share has declined from 67.3 percent in 2011-12 and 63.4 percent in 2012-13. This decline can be attributed to the decline in household savings in physical assets, which has declined from Rs.13.4 lakh crore in 2011-12 to Rs. 12.1 lakh crore in 2013-14. On the other hand, the share of Non-Financial Corporations has increased from 29.3 percent in 2011-12 to 34.5 percent in 2013-14. The share of Financial Corporations has been around 9 percent in all these years, while the dis-saving of General Government has decreased from 5.4 percent in 2011-12 to 3.2 percent in 2013-14.

Capital Formation
15.       Gross Capital Formation (GCF) at current and constant prices is estimated by two approaches – (i) through flow of funds, derived as Gross Saving plus net capital inflow from abroad; and (ii) by the commodity flow approach, derived by the type of assets. The estimates of GCF through the flow of funds approach are treated as the firmer estimates, and the difference between the two approaches is taken as “errors and omissions”. However, GCF by industry of use and by institutional sectors does not include “valuables”, and therefore, these estimates are lower than the estimates available from commodity flow.

16.       Gross Capital Formation (GCF) at current prices is estimated as Rs. 33.7 lakh crore for the year 2011-12, while the estimates for both the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 stand at Rs. 36.6 lakh crore. Since GCF did not increase during 2013-14, the rate to GDP declined during the year to 32.3 percent as against 36.6 during 2012-13. The rate of GCF to GDP excluding valuables stands at 33.9 percent and 31 percent during 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively. The rate of capital formation in the years 2011-12 to 2013-14 has been higher than the rate of saving because of net capital inflow from Rest of the World (ROW).

17.       In terms of the share to the total GCF (at current prices), the highest contributor is Non-Financial Corporations, with the share rising steadily from 46.6 percent in 2011-12 to 51.5 percent in 2013-14. Share of household sector in GCF is also significant, which has declined from 42 percent in 2011-12 to 34.2 percent in 2013-14. The share of General Government in GCF has increased from 10 percent in 2011-12 to 13.2 percent in 2013-14.

18.       The rate of Gross Capital Formation at constant (2011-12) prices has decreased from 37.2 in 2012-13 to 33.4 in 2013-14.

19.       Within the Gross Capital Formation at current prices, the Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) amounted to Rs. 33.7 lakh crore in 2013-14 as against Rs. 31.4 lakh crore and Rs. 29.7 lakh crore in 2012-13 and 2011-12 respectively.  The change in stocks of inventories, at current prices, decreased from Rs. 2.2 lakh crore in 2011-12 to Rs. 1.8 lakh crore in 2013-14, while the valuables decreased from Rs. 2.5 lakh crore in 2011-12  to Rs. 1.5 lakh crore in 2013-14.

Consumption Expenditure
20.       Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE) at current prices is estimated at Rs. 50.9 lakh crore for the base year 2011-12, increasing to Rs. 58.8 lakh crore in 2012-13 and further to Rs. 67.7 lakh crore in 2013-14. In terms of GDP, the rates of PFCE at current prices during 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 are estimated at 57.6 percent, 58.8 percent and 59.7 percent respectively.

21.       At constant (2011-12) prices, the PFCE is estimated at Rs. 53.7 lakh crore and Rs. 57.0 lakh crore for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively. The corresponding rates of PFCE for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 are 57.9 percent and 57.5 percent respectively.

22.       Government Final Consumption Expenditure (GFCE) is estimated at Rs. 9.9 lakh crore for the year 2011-12. The estimates of GFCE at current prices for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 stand at Rs. 10.9 lakh crore and Rs. 12.8 lakh crore, respectively. At constant (2011-12) prices, the estimates of GFCE for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 stand at Rs. 10.0 lakh crore and Rs. 10.9 lakh crore respectively.

Estimates at per capita level
23.       For the purpose of estimation of Per Capita Income and Per Capita PFCE, Population Projections compiled on the basis of Census 2011 have been used. Per Capita Income at current prices, estimated as Per Capita Net National Income at current prices, is estimated at Rs. 64316, Rs. 71593 and Rs. 80388 for the years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively.  Correspondingly, Per Capita PFCE at current prices, for the years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 is estimated as Rs. 41728, Rs. 47572 and Rs. 54133, respectively.

24.       Details of these estimates are available in Statements 1-10 appended with this Press Note.

25.       The upcoming releases on GDP are indicated below:
        i.            Advance Estimates for the year 2014-15 alongwith quarterly estimates for Q1, Q2 and Q3 of 2014-15 on February 9, 2015; and
      ii.            Provisional Estimates for the year 2014-15 alongwith estimates for all the four quarters of the year on May 29, 2015.

30 January 2015

The new entente with the U.S

The Obama visit is so overwhelming a development that it has hardly evoked dissent. Not since India signed the peace and friendship treaty with the Soviet Union has New Delhi aligned itself so closely with a great power. Anti-Americanism, once the conventional wisdom of the Indian elite, seems almost antediluvian today

Robert Blackwill, former Ambassador of the United States and Harvard academic, used to often recount at his dinner roundtables in New Delhi’s Roosevelt House an intriguing story about how he was persuaded to take up the job. In 2001, President George W. Bush called him to his ranch in Texas and said: “Bob, imagine: India, a billion people, a democracy, 150 million Muslims and no Al Qaeda. Wow!” More than a decade after President Bush’s first exclamation, India-U.S. relations have truly reached their ‘wow’ moment.
President Barack Obama’s visit is so obvious a watershed in India’s foreign policy, and so overwhelming a development, that voices of dissent are mute or feeble. Not since India signed the treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation with the Soviet Union in 1971 has New Delhi aligned itself so closely with a great power. More important, outside the Left, both within India and in the U.S. the consensus across the mainstream of political opinion favours stronger relations between the two countries. Anti-Americanism, once the conventional wisdom of the Indian elite, seems almost antediluvian today.
Behind the change

The reason for the drastic change in the geostrategic outlook can be summarised quickly. The 1971 treaty was a response to the continuing U.S. tilt towards Pakistan and the beginnings of a Washington-Beijing entente (President Richard Nixon’s then National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, went secretly to Beijing via Islamabad a month before India signed the treaty with the Soviet Union). In contrast, in 2015, it is the prospect of a powerful, belligerent and potentially hegemonic China in the Indo-Pacific region that is helping to cement the relationship. While this may seem like a parsimonious explanation, it is rooted in an understanding of the manner in which great powers, rising powers and emerging powers have responded to changes in the balance of power in the international system since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
Clearly, the pièce de résistance of the Obama visit has been removing the final hurdles in the civilian nuclear agreement to pave the way for its commercialisation, almost a decade after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Bush first issued a joint statement, in July 2005, on civilian nuclear cooperation. As we know, two sticking points were holding up an agreement: differences over liability in case of a nuclear accident, and over administrative arrangements governing the transfer of nuclear materials to India.
Consider first the latter. For more than a year, the U.S. has refused to accept an Indian draft agreement that was based on the sound principle that New Delhi would be accountable only for the totality of nuclear material supplied to it, and under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Given India’s closed fuel cycle, allowing nuclear material from different countries to be tracked and audited separately could be unnecessarily intrusive and could undermine the confidentiality of its nuclear programme. While the Canadians saw reason and accepted India’s draft in 2012, the non-proliferation lobby in Washington seemed to have had the upper hand as the political leadership seemed reluctant to take a call even though it was against the letter and spirit of the 123 agreement: the fundamental basis of the civil nuclear agreement between India and the U.S.
Nuclear liability issue

The deal has been done only because President Obama has now put his personal weight behind it, to marginalise those who still see India’s nuclear programme through the prism of Washington’s non-proliferation policies of the 1990s towards New Delhi. With the U.S. accepting the Canadian model, it will be easier for India to negotiate with Japan and Australia, the other two countries still holding out for tracking and audit of nuclear material based on national flags. Hopefully, the deal will pave the way for GE, Westinghouse and other leading businesses in the nuclear industry to begin commercial operations in India.
Similarly, on the issue of nuclear liability, where American companies were concerned by the unlimited liability they could face in case of a nuclear accident under Sections 17(b) and 46 of the Indian Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act of 2010, a compromise seems to have been found.
New Delhi has agreed to create a publicly funded insurance pool and the Attorney General of India is likely to issue an explanatory memorandum on Section 46 which will potentially clarify the limits of tort claims by accident victims against the suppliers of nuclear reactors. The latter, however, as Indian officials have said, is still a work in progress. Given the collective national memory of the Bhopal gas tragedy, this could still stir a public controversy if the limits are in absolute terms. Rather, the claims could be linked to compensations offered contemporaneously to victims of industrial accidents in the U.S.
The vision statement

No less important is the commitment of President Obama and his team to support India’s membership of international export control regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group, and the Missile Technology Control Regime that will help to further mainstream India’s nuclear programme. Given that similar promises have been made in the past, it is important that India uses the goodwill of the Obama visit to ensure that Washington presses for this to happen as soon as possible — despite the obvious reluctance of some members of these regimes.
The media focus has been on the nuclear issue — yet the U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region is no less significant. It is a major advance on the early initiatives made during last September’s Obama-Modi summit in Washington. Indeed, given India’s traditional strategic caution, the vision statement could be even seen as radical by its standards. Shorn of the homilies, the vision statement has three significant features.
The first is the clear link between economic prosperity and security, and the critical importance of freedom of the seas in the region. The statement could not be more explicit: “We affirm the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea.”
Second is the commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and to “pursue resolution of territorial and maritime disputes through all peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law.”
Third is the agreement to work with other countries to better respond to diplomatic, economic and security challenges in the region. The five-year vision includes strengthening regional dialogues, making trilateral consultations with third countries in the region more robust, deepening regional integration, strengthening regional forums, and exploring additional multilateral opportunities for engagement.
China factor

While India has traditionally favoured a policy of deep engagement with all major powers, the special relationship with the U.S. today, especially the “vision” statement, is rooted in great apprehensions in New Delhi about China’s aggressive “peripheral diplomacy,” particularly after the intrusions in Chumar during President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last year. That the new Chinese leadership had abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s ‘24 Character Strategy’ of biding time, hiding its capacities and not attracting attention has been clear for some time now, but what is intriguing is that Beijing has managed to alienate nearly all its neighbours, except North Korea and Pakistan, by its malevolence. Not surprisingly, a rising China is a cause of trepidation in most capitals of the world today. Will Beijing now introspect and recalibrate? For it must realise that New Delhi’s closeness to Washington is also a function of its strategic distance from Beijing.
In late 2005, amidst the negotiations over the civil nuclear agreement with the U.S., Dr. Singh, appointed a task force on global strategic developments headed by the doyen of India’s strategic thinking, K. Subrahmanyam. As a member of the task force, I remember the meetings essentially became a series of inspiring lectures by Mr. Subrahmanyam on geopolitics. Mr. Subrahmanyam was an architect of many of India’s key strategic decisions, including the policy that led to the creation of Bangladesh, the Indo-Soviet treaty, as well as the nuclear tests of 1998. But throughout the meetings, Mr. Subrahmanyam, with a mind as agile as that of a restless teenage prodigy, would emphasise the importance of arriving at a modus vivendi with the U.S., the overriding importance of the nuclear deal, how it was in Washington’s own interest to support a rising India and how New Delhi should grab that opportunity. As the United States and India finally “recognise” each other and promise to realise each other’s potential, the new entente between the two countries is a fitting tribute to the legacy of India’s modern-day Chanakya, just days after his 86th birthday.

Charles Townes, Nobel winner for co-inventing laser, dies aged 99

Townes shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics with Russian physicists Aleksandr M. Prokhorov and Nicolai G. Basov.

Charles H. Townes’ inspiration for the predecessor of the laser came to him while sitting on a park bench, waiting for a restaurant to open for breakfast.
On the tranquil morning hours of April 26, 1951, Townes scribbled a theory on scrap paper that would lead to the laser, the invention he’s known for and which transformed everyday life and led to other scientific discoveries.
Townes, who was also known for his strong religious faith, famously compared that moment to a religious revelation.
The 99-year-old Nobel Prize-winning physicist died on Thursday.
In 1954, his theory was realised when Townes and his students developed the laser’s predecessor, the maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation).
“I realised there would be many applications for the laser,” Townes told Esquire magazine in 2001, “but it never occurred to me we’d get such power from it.”
The laser paved the way for other scientific discoveries that revolutionize everything from medicine to manufacturing, including DVD players, gun sights, printers, computer networks, metal cutters, tattoo removal and vision correction.
“Charlie Townes had an enormous impact on physics and society in general,” Steven Boggs, the chairman of the physics department at Berkeley, said Wednesday.
Townes shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics with Russian physicists Aleksandr M. Prokhorov and Nicolai G. Basov.
A devoted member of the United Church of Christ, Townes drew praise and scepticism later in his career with speeches and essays investigating the similarities between science and religion.
“Science tries to understand what our universe is like and how it works, including us humans,” Townes wrote in 2005 upon being awarded the Templeton Prize worth more than $1.5 million for his contributions in “affirming life’s spiritual dimension.”
“My own view is that, while science and religion may seem different, they have many similarities, and should interact and enlighten each other,” he wrote.
Born on July 28, 1915, in Greenville, South Carolina, Townes found his calling during his sophomore year at Furman University and went on to earn a master’s degree from Duke University in physics and a doctorate at the California Institute of Technology.
Demonstrating that masers could be made to operate in optical and infrared capacities, Townes and his brother-in-law, the late Stanford professor Arthur L. Schawlow, jointly published a theory in 1958 on the feasibility of optical and infrared masers, or lasers.
A laser controls the way that energised atoms release photons, or light particles.
“I feel that very rarely have I done any work in my life,” he told Esquire. “I have a good time. I’m exploring. I’m playing a game, solving puzzles, and having fun, and for some reason people have been willing to pay me for it.”
Townes is survived by his wife and four daughters, Linda Rosenwein, Ellen Townes-Anderson, Carla Kessler, and Holly Townes.In this March 9, 2005 photo, Charles Townes speaks after winning the Templeton Prize in New York. Townes, the co-inventor of the laser and a Nobel laureate in physics, has died. He was 99.

Takeaways from the Obama visit

Twenty years ago, the talking points of U.S. policy were to ‘cap and eventually eliminate’ the subcontinent’s nuclear programmes. Now, to have the U.S. President at the Republic Day parade in 2015 while negotiators worked out ways to operationalise civil nuclear cooperation shows how far India-U.S. ties have progressed

The rain during the Republic Day parade apart, United States President Barack Obama’s visit to India was a near-perfect one. Indeed, his sojourn is likely to be viewed as one of the most important and defining moments in the history of India-U.S. relations.
The pomp and symbolism of Mr. Obama being the first U.S. President to attend the parade was expected. But the substance of the visit, particularly its focus on defence and strategic cooperation, confirms that both Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are serious about bolstering ties.
Progress on strategic agenda

The most significant achievement was the progress made in military and defence cooperation. The renewal of the 10-year framework for the U.S.-India Defence Relationship; the announcement of joint projects, including the co-production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and specialised equipment for military transport aircraft; the establishment of contact groups to explore co-development of jet engine technology and aircraft carrier systems, and the decision to upgrade bilateral, annual naval exercises represent substantive steps that will deepen the defence partnership.
The establishment of a hotline between the two leaders and their national security advisers are also an indicator of the two countries taking ties to a deeper, strategic level.
U.S. companies are apparently still studying the Indian proposal for a nuclear insurance pool to mitigate investment risks, so it may be too early to claim victory on the civil nuclear front.
The forward movement on civil nuclear issues was a surprise, given the antagonistic position of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) towards the civil nuclear deal when it was in the Opposition. But details on the “breakthrough understanding” are sparse. And Mr. Obama has himself acknowledged that U.S. companies will have the final say on whether India’s proposal for an insurance pool will be sufficient to mitigate investment risks in light of Indian legislation that holds suppliers liable for damages in the event of a nuclear accident. The companies are apparently still studying the proposal, so it may be too early to claim victory on the civil nuclear front.
Nonetheless, U.S. officials seem to appreciate the effort India’s negotiators are making in trying to resolve the civil nuclear deadlock. Many were sceptical that Mr. Modi would invest much political capital in trying to move the deal forward since it was initiated under the previous government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh. The time and the attention the Indian side has devoted in trying to resolve differences over the nuclear liability issue shows that the Modi government is taking ownership of the deal.
China factor

Forming the backdrop of progress on India-U.S. defence and strategic ties is undoubtedly the military and economic rise of China. The Joint Statement’s call for freedom of navigation and overflight, especially in the South China Sea, should be viewed as a veiled reference to Chinese assertiveness in the region.
By demonstrating that China is very much on his mind, Mr. Modi has reportedly raised the idea of reviving the Quad (security collaboration between Australia, India, Japan and the U.S.). Shinzo Abe, during his previous stint as Prime Minister of Japan, proposed the idea of the Quad almost nine years ago. The four countries backed away from the proposal when China raised strong objections. Mr. Modi’s mention of the Quad may have been aimed at convincing China to back down from its assertive position with regard to their border disputes. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September 2014 was overshadowed by border tensions provoked by unusual movements of Chinese soldiers along the disputed frontier in northern Kashmir.
Incidentally, the Washington-based Heritage Foundation will join the Delhi-based Vivekananda International Foundation, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Tokyo Foundation, and the Jakarta-based Habibie Center in Bali, Indonesia, next week for a Track II Quad-Plus dialogue to discuss ways to enhance cooperation in defence, regional security and counterterrorism.
China has reacted warily to Mr. Obama’s visit to India. In a commentary that ran in a state-owned Chinese newspaper, its author cautioned India not to fall into America’s “trap” of trying to counter China.
Counterterrorism cooperation

The two sides advanced their counterterrorism dialogue and recommitted to cooperating against Pakistan-based groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). There is confusion about whether Pakistan is cracking down on the LeT front organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), led by the LeT founder, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.
The Pakistani media reported last week that Islamabad had frozen JuD assets and banned its leaders from international travel. But Hafiz Saeed’s recent announcement of the JuD launching a new ambulance service in Karachi, shows that the organisation is not feeling much heat from the government’s purported actions.
Washington should push Pakistan to try in the newly established military courts, the seven LeT members in Pakistani custody for their alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistan has set up these special military courts to overcome weaknesses in the civilian court system in dealing with terrorist cases. One major problem has been the ability of terrorists to intimidate civilian lawyers and judges in order to influence the system in their favour.
Washington has not adequately leveraged its aid and influence in Pakistan to convince the authorities to crack down on terrorist groups that focus on attacking India, but also pose an international threat. The U.S.’s increased willingness to work with India to target these groups is welcome, but not enough.
Until Washington makes clear that it places the threat from LeT on a par with that from al-Qaeda, Pakistani military and intelligence services will continue to allow the LeT and the JuD to operate relatively freely.
Women’s rights, religious freedom

On the final day of the visit, Mr. Obama’s speech, which focussed on women’s rights and religious freedom, was appropriate. The treatment of women in India has garnered a great deal of attention in the last couple of years, especially following wide media coverage after a brutal gang rape on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012 that left the young woman dead.
The issue of religious freedom has also come in the spotlight following reports of mass ceremonies where Muslims and Christians are being converted to Hinduism. Parliament was paralysed for several days last month when reports surfaced that a BJP leader planned to hold one of these ceremonies on Christmas Day (December 25). Eventually the group organising the event agreed to cancel it.
Amid the controversy, some BJP leaders have proposed passing a national anti-conversion law — legislation purportedly aimed at preventing forced conversions. But India’s religious minorities worry that such laws would be used to harass or intimidate them. There is also concern that allowing law enforcement or judicial authorities to determine whether a conversion has been forced or manipulated allows the state to intervene too heavily in religious matters that involve personal and ethical choices.
Mr. Modi has stayed away from communal politicking and has signalled that he is more interested in focussing on his economic agenda, rather than in pursuing Hindutva policies. He has taken steps to reach out to the Muslim community. For instance, during his first speech to Parliament last June, he said it was unacceptable that the Muslim minority often lagged behind the rest of the country in socio-economic terms.
But he needs to reaffirm his commitment to religious freedom and show that he is not beholden to those pushing a hardline Hindutva agenda. Failing to do so could harm the BJP government’s international reputation and dampen India-U.S. ties.
As a young diplomat heading to South Asia nearly 20 years ago, I remember being coached with very specific talking points on U.S. policy, which was to “cap, roll back, and eventually eliminate” the nuclear programmes of both India and Pakistan. To now see the U.S. President at a spectacular parade where India’s strategic weapons capabilities were on full display, while U.S. and Indian negotiators hashed out ways to operationalise civil nuclear cooperation, vividly illustrates just how far the relationship has progressed in recent years.
The Joint Statement released during the visit is notable for its length, spelling out several achievements in the relationship but also detailing the work that lies ahead. The India-U.S. collaboration that now stretches across a broad array of issues and the vision set forth by the two leaders shows that we are no longer striving for a strategic partnership. We have arrived at one.

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