Logistics Sector gets Infrastructure Status to help boost GDP
- The logistics sector has been granted infrastructure status which will help it access loans on easier terms, encourage manufacturing in the country and help improve economic growth, the government said today.
- The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) has widened the category of infrastructure sub-sectors to transport and logistics from the earlier sub-head of transport.
- DEA has updated the ‘Harmonised Master List of Infrastructure Sub-sectors’.
- The list also includes
- It covers cold chain, warehousing facilities and multimodal parks comprising Inland Container Depot (ICD) subject to certain conditions.
- Roads and bridges, ports, shipyards, inland waterways, airports, railway tracks, tunnels, viaducts, terminal infrastructure including stations and adjoining commercial infrastructure are all part of the transport and logistics classification.
What was the need of guaranteeing Infrastructure status to Logistics sector?
- The cost of logistics in India is very high compared to developed countries and it reduces the competitiveness of Indian goods both in domestic as well as export market.
- The sector’s development will provide a boost to domestic as well as external demand, encouraging manufacturing and job creation.
- It will enable the logistics sector to avail infrastructure lending at easier terms with enhanced limits, access to larger amounts of funds as External Commercial Borrowings, access to longer tenor funds from insurance companies and pension funds.
- The sectoral players would also be eligible to borrow from India Infrastructure Financing Company Ltd (IIFCL).
- This will in turn be instrumental in improving country’s GDP.
New J&K surrender policy
- The new surrender policy is considering provision of
> “passports and jobs to any local youth who gives up the gun” and
> “support for his full assimilation into society”
- Meanwhile, parents of two more militants have appealed through the media to their sons to give up militancy and rejoin the family
- Around 60 boys have already been brought back into the main stream
What was the old policy?
- Earlier, the surrender policy was limited to those who crossed the Line of Control into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in the early 1990s and were stuck there
Reaching the bottom of India’s digital pyramid
How Digitization has received a significant policy push in India?
- There has been an emphasis on
(1) linking bank accounts and mobile number with Aadhaar
(2) maintaining digital records,
(3) enforcing digital payments through demonetization or Aadhaar-enabled payments systems
(4) and making digitization as one of the core requirements in GST (goods and services tax) filings
Is this policy push enough for becoming a digital economy?
- The policy push towards digitization is one leg of the story
- Its success crucially depends also on its adoption by the majority of the population living in far-flung rural areas
- Without that, it can’t be achieved
Digitization through Smartphones
- Smartphones are expected to share the bulk of the workload in digital India
- However, their share currently is around 33% of the mobile users (expected to reach around 40% by 2019)
- The mobile phone internet user penetration among Indian population is still about 24% and even by 2020 is expected to reach just 35%
- These figures point to an opportunity for digital inclusion for sure, but there are many issues
Issues which are halting the targets of Digital India
(1) Financial exclusion of a significant part of the population
- There are still snags in the outreach of Indian financial system where digitization is expected to play an enabling role
- A recent study by Assocham and EY reports that 19% of the Indian population remains unbanked or financially excluded
- Without addressing issues like this will only magnify the digital inequality in the country
(2) Uninterrupted access to power
- Uninterrupted access to power is an essential ingredient to fuel a digital economy. However, existing statistics look somewhat disappointing
- Around 22% of rural households (roughly 40 million) across the country still do not have access to electricity
What should be done?
Absorption capacity of Digitization tools
- Users with prior working knowledge of internet and smartphone applications are more likely to accept digitization tools
- It emphasizes the need for internet and mobile application training aimed at less educated and the low-income groups
Need based technological tools
- People has opined that digitization tools and technology should meet their needs
- t emphasizes the need to identify the requirements of people at the bottom of the digital pyramid which could get served by digitization, take it to them and incorporate their views to enhance its acceptance (co-creation to be precise)
Service charges on digitization services
- The service charges should be commensurate with the benefits of digitization
- It will continue to remain a challenge for people at the bottom of the digital pyramid who stay stretched to make both ends meet on a daily basis
Ensuring security would increase adaptability
- Existence of technological and legal institutions to ensure security would increase adaptability
- The right to privacy is possibly the first step in that direction
- A beginning no doubt, but it will take time before India’s data protection regime comes on a par with standards set in jurisdictions like the European Union or the US
- Last but not the least, the aptitude to read, write, comprehend and communicate is a must to participate in the digitization movement
- India’s current literacy rate is at 80%, and there are expectations of achieving 100% over the next five years
- However, literacy would lead to participation and empowerment in a digital India only when it can ensure lifelong reading ability
An app to get tiger numbers right
Field data collection for tiger enumeration to go digital
- In order to reduce human error and provide more reliable estimates, field data collection for tiger enumeration in the country is set to go digital
- In the forthcoming All-India Tiger Estimation, to be taken up in December-January, the authorities plan to eliminate the process of manual recording of signs of the carnivore and other habitat details
M-STRiPES to be used
- An app named M-STRiPES (Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) developed by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun will be used for the first time
- Though the app has already been in place in some national parks, its usage and application has been made mandatory only now, for the fourth All-India Tiger Estimation
- With the availability of M-STRiPES, human error will be eliminated and the use of the app would ensure a more robust estimate
About the app
- It is a free app that will be made available to staff participating in the tiger census exercise, and they will feed in their observation during the carnivore sign survey and transect marking
- Details such as pellet density, vegetation status, and human disturbance, if any, will also be recorded
Not the first time that an app is being used
- Bandipur had Hejje or Pugmark, an Android-based app, while BRT started with Huli
- The GIS-based app will give real-time data on forest habitats besides providing live update of monitoring and patrolling activities
About National Tiger estimates
- The national tiger estimates are conducted once in four years, with the first conducted in 2006
- The last nationwide assessment, held in 2014, pegged the tiger figures across the country at 2,226
- Karnataka alone was home to 400 tigers, a bulk of them in Bandipur and Nagarahole