Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India)
India crosses a crucial milestone in the fight against COVID-19
Tests more than 1 million people in a day
Keeping to its promise of exponentially increasing the daily COVID-19 tests to 10 lakhs, India has crossed the significant milestone in its fight against COVID on 22 August 2020. In a testament to the determined, focused, consistent and coordinated efforts of the Centre and the State/UT governments, India has conducted 1 million tests in the past 24 hours. With 10,23,836 tests done 21 August, India has achieved its resolve to test 1 million samples daily. The recovery rate > 79% whereas the fatality rate declined to 1.6 %.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on May 12th, 2020, announced the Special economic and comprehensive package of Rs. 20 lakh crores (US $ 277 billion) - equivalent to 10% of India’s GDP – to fight COVID-19 pandemic in India. He gave a clarion call for Aatma Nirbhar Bharat or Self-Reliant India Movement. He also outlined five pillars of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat – Economy, Infrastructure, System, Vibrant Demography and Demand.
The borrowing limits of state governments will be increased from 3% to 5% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for the year 2020-21. This is estimated to give states extra resources of Rs 4.28 lakh crore. A fund of funds with a corpus of Rs 10,000 crore will be set up for MSMEs. This will provide equity funding for MSMEs with growth potential and viability.
A Special Liquidity Scheme was announced under which Rs 30,000 crore of investment will be made by the government in both primary and secondary market transactions in investment grade debt paper of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)/Housing Finance Companies (HFCs)/Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs). The central government will provide 100% guarantee for these securities.
Under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, the government paid 12% of employer and 12% of employee contribution into the EPF accounts of eligible establishments for the months of March, April and May. This will be continued for three more months (June, July and August). This is estimated to provide liquidity relief of Rs 2,500 crore to businesses and workers.
Statutory PF contribution of both the employer and employee will be reduced from 12% to 10% each for all establishments covered by EPFO for next three months. This scheme will apply to workers who are not eligible for the 24% EPF support under PM Garib Kalyan Package and its extension.
A special scheme will be launched within a month to facilitate easy access to credit for street vendors. Under this scheme, bank credit will be provided to each vendor for an initial working capital of up to Rs 10,000. This is estimated to generate liquidity of Rs 5,000 crore.
A special insolvency resolution framework for MSMEs under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 will be notified.
The rates of Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) for the non-salaried specified payments made to residents and Tax Collected at Source (TCS) will be reduced by 25% from the existing rates. This reduction will apply from May 14, 2020 to March 31, 2021. This is estimated to provide liquidity of Rs 50,000 crore.
Kisan Credit Card
In an effort to buffer the agricultural sector from the shock of COVID-19, a special saturation drive is underway to provide concessional credit to farmers through Kisan Credit Card (KCC). As on 17.08.2020, 1.22 crore KCCs have been sanctioned with credit limit of Rs. 1,02,065 crore. This will go a long way in reviving the rural economy and accelerating agricultural growth. It may be recalled that as part of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package, the Government had announced provision of a concessional credit of Rs. 2 lakh crore which is likely to benefit 2.5 crore farmers, including fishermen and dairy farmers.
Agriculture infrastructure projects
A fund of one lakh crore rupees will be created for development of agriculture infrastructure projects at farm-gate and aggregation points (such as cooperative societies and Farmer Producer Organizations). Farm gate refers to the market where buyers can buy products directly from the farmers.
An additional fund of Rs 30,000 crore will be released as emergency working capital for farmers. This fund will be disbursed through NABARD to Rural Cooperative Banks (RCBs) and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) for meeting their crop loans requirements. This fund is expected to benefit three crore small and marginal farmers. This is in addition to the financial support of Rs 90,000 crore that will be provided by NABARD to RCBs and RRBs to meet the crop loan demand this year.
The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) will be launched for integrated, sustainable, and inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries. Under this scheme, Rs 11,000 crore will be spent on activities in Marine, Inland fisheries and Aquaculture and Rs 9,000 crore will be spent for developing infrastructure (such as fishing harbours, cold chain, markets).
Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund
An Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund of Rs 15,000 crore will be set up, with the aim of supporting private investment in dairy processing, value addition, and cattle feed infrastructure. Incentives will be given for establishing plants for export of niche dairy products.
Transforming agriculture in the country and raising farmers’ incomes, the Parliament passed the The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020.
The Government has taken several landmark decisions in last six years to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices for their produce, and for raising farmers’ incomes and livelihood status. The procurement at Minimum Support Price will continue.
The new legislation will create an ecosystem where the farmers and traders will enjoy freedom of choice of sale and purchase of agri-produce.
It will also promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations.
The farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their produce and will not have to bear transport costs.
The Bill also proposes an electronic trading in transaction platform for ensuring a seamless trade electronically.
In addition to mandis, freedom to do trading at farmgate, cold storage, warehouse, processing units etc.
Farmers will be able to engage in direct marketing thereby eliminating intermediaries resulting in full realization of price.
The new legislation will empower farmers for engaging with processors, wholesalers, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers, exporters etc., on a level playing field. Price assurance to farmers even before sowing of crops. In case of higher market price, farmers will be entitled to this price over and above the minimum price.
It will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor. Due to prior price determination, farmers will be shielded from the rise and fall of market prices.
It will also enable the farmer to access modern technology, better seed and other inputs.
It will reduce cost of marketing and improve income of farmers.
Effective dispute resolution mechanism has been provided for with clear time lines for redressal.
Impetus to research and new technology in agriculture sector
The definition of MSMEs will be changed by amending the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006. As per the proposed definition, the investment limit will be increased from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore for micro enterprises, from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore for small enterprises, and from Rs 10 crore to Rs 20 crore for medium enterprises. A new criterion of annual turnover will be introduced. The turnover limit for Micro, Small and Medium enterprises will be Rs 5 crore, Rs 50 crore, and Rs 100 crore, respectively.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020
While India has become surplus in most Agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export as the entrepreneurial spirit gets dampened due to Essential Commodities Act. Farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 with provisions to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes was passed by the Parliament. It aims to remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector. It will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernization of food supply chain.
The Government, while liberalizing the regulatory environment, has also ensured that interests of consumers are safeguarded. It has been provided in the Amendment, that in situations such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity, such agricultural foodstuff can be regulated. However, the installed capacity of a value chain participant and the export demand of an exporter will remain exempted from such stock limit imposition so as to ensure that investments in agriculture are not discouraged.
The legislation will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernization of food supply chain. It will help both farmers and consumers while bringing in price stability. It will create competitive market environment and also prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities.
Migrant workers will be able to access the Public Distribution System (Ration) from any Fair Price Shop in India by March 2021 under the scheme of One Nation One Card. The scheme will introduce the inter-state portability of access to ration for migrant labourers. By August 2020 the scheme is estimated to cover 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states (83% of PDS population). All states/union territories are required to complete full automation of fair price shops by March 2021 for achieving 100% national portability.
Migrant workers who are not beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act ration card or state card will be provided 5 kg of grains per person and 1 kg of chana per family per month till November 2020.
The migrant labour/urban poor will be provided living facilities at affordable rent under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). This will be achieved by: (i) converting government funded housing in the cities into ARHCs through PPPs, and (ii) incentivising manufacturing units, industries, institutions, associations to develop ARHCs on their private land and operate them.
Restrictions on utilisation of the Indian Air Space will be eased so that civilian flying becomes more efficient. This is estimated to allow optimal utilisation of airspace, reduction in fuel use, and time, and save about Rs 1,000 crore per year for the aviation sector.
World-class airports will be built through PPP model. In the first round, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has awarded three airports (Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru) out of six bid for operation and maintenance on PPP basis. Six more airports have been identified for 2nd and 3rd round of bidding process each. The private sector investment in these 12 airports is expected to be around Rs 13,000 crore.
FDI limit in defence manufacturing under automatic route will be increased from 49% to 74%.
Make in India initiative will be promoted in the defence sector aiming to make the country independent in terms of production. A list of weapons/platforms will be released which will be banned for import based on a year wise timeline. Further, the government has planned to improve the autonomy, accountability and efficiency in Ordnance Supplies by corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board.
A liquidity support of Rs 90,000 crore will be provided to power discoms. These will be in the form of funds from Power Finance Corporation and Rural Electrification Corporation. Discoms will also be provided with state government guaranteed loans exclusively for discharging their liabilities to power generation companies.
Rs 50,000 crore will be spent on infrastructure development for evacuation of coal. This includes Rs 18,000 crore worth of investment in mechanised transfer of coal (conveyor belts) from mines to railway sidings.
Inefficiencies of discoms will not be passed on to the consumers. Standards of Service and associated penalties for DISCOMs will be defined prompting discoms to ensure adequate power and avoiding load-shedding. Regulatory assets in the power sector will be eliminated. Regulatory asset is the fund which belongs to discom due to approved tariff hike. This is not realised in revenue as it not passed on to the consumers to avoid instability among them. The discoms are allowed to recover this fund at a later stage from state governments or from consumers in form of an approved surcharge. As of now, significant capital is held in form of regulatory assets across different states which could be used by discoms of the respective states as liquidity.
In March 2020, the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill was passed, which opened up the coal sector for commercial mining. Auctions will be conducted for allocation of coal mines. Any party can bid for a coal block and sell in the open market. Entry norms will be liberalised and nearly 50 blocks will be offered immediately.
The Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Group (annual income between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 18 lakh) will be extended by one year up to March 2021. The government has estimated that this will lead to an investment of over Rs 70,000 crore in the housing sector.
COVID 19 will be treated as an event of “Force Majeure” under Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) by states/union territories and their Regulatory Authorities. An extension of six months will be given on registration and completion dates of all registered projects expiring on or after March 25, 2020 without individual applications, which can be further increased by three more months at the discretion of the Regulatory Authorities. Partial bank guarantees will also be released by government agencies to ease cash flows.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched and dedicated to the nation, the submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) connecting Andaman &Nicobar Islands to the mainland through video conferencing on 10 August 2020. The foundation stone for this project was laid by the PM on 30th December 2018 at Port Blair. Prime Minister Modi said the connectivity would now enable endless opportunities in the islands. He said the laying of the 2300 KMs submarine cable and completing it before the set target is very praise worthy. The service had begun on a major chunk of the islands from Chennai to Port Blair, Port Blair to Little Andaman and Port Blair to Swaraj Island. The Prime Minister admired the laying of cables for about 2300 kilometers under the sea as surveying in the deep sea, maintaining the quality of the cable and laying of the cable with specialised vessels is not an easy task. The project also had to overcome challenges such as high waves, storms and monsoons and the tough times owing to Corona Pandemic. Optical Fibre Project which links A&N Islands with the rest of the country is an example of the commitment of the Government towards ease of living. Submarine Cable will help A&N in getting cheaper & better connectivity and all the benefits of Digital India, especially in improving online education, tele-medicine, banking system, online trading and in boosting tourism.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the World’s longest Highway tunnel – Atal Tunnel at its south portal in Manali on 3 October. The 9.02 Km long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier the valley was cut off for about 6 months each year owing to heavy snowfall. The Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 Mtrs (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL). The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours. It has state of the art electromechanical systems including semi-transverse ventilation, SCADA controlled fire fighting, illumination and monitoring systems. The Tunnel has ample safety features built into it. Atal Tunnel is a shining example of the country’s resolve to become AatmaNirbhar (Self Reliant).
A 7500 MW solar park is being built in Ladakh for electricity and infrastructure development in the region. The Ladakh, Leh and Kargil region will be developed and declared to be a carbon neutral region, PM Modi said in his Independence Day speech. While the concept of carbon neutral villages has been considered in India in the past and some villages in Kerala and Manipur have adopted it, this will be the first large region to be carbon neutral. Carbon neutrality means annual zero net anthropogenic (human caused or influenced) CO2 emissions by a certain date. “By definition, carbon neutrality means every ton of anthropogenic CO2 emitted is compensated with an equivalent amount of CO2 removed,” according to World Resources Institute. Many countries have announced to be carbon neutral by 2050 as part of the Paris Agreement. Just like Sikkim has positioned itself as an organic state, the Ladakh, Kargil and Leh region is moving in the direction of becoming carbon neutral. This will be achieved with participation from local people. India is now among top 5 countries in renewable energy generation.
The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi dedicated to the Nation the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Power project to the Nation. It is Asia's largest power project. Rewa project will make the entire region a major hub for pure and clean energy in this decade. The Prime Minister praised the effort in that it will also supply power to the Delhi Metro, along with the entire region surrounding Rewa. Solar Energy would be a major medium for providing the energy needs of an aspirational India in the 21st Century. He described Solar Energy as one which is ‘Sure, Pure & Secure’. Sure because of the continuous supply of Energy from the Sun, Pure as it is environment friendly and Secure because it is a secure source for our energy needs. The Prime Minister said that the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was launched with the motive to unite the entire World in terms of solar energy. He said the spirit behind was One World, One Sun, One Grid. Prime Minister said India is also focussing reducing its dependence on imports of various hardware needed for solar plants, like Photovoltaic Cells, Battery and Storage.
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19 August approved the proposal to set up the National Recruitment Agency (NRA), marking a paradigm shift in government recruitment. At present, candidates seeking government jobs have to appear for separate examinations conducted by multiple recruiting agencies for various posts. Candidates have to pay fee to multiple recruiting agencies and also have to travel long distances for appearing in various exams. Approximately 1.25 lakh government jobs are advertised every year for which 2.5 crore aspirants appear in various examinations. A common eligibility Test would enable these candidates to appear once and apply to any or all of these recruitment agencies for the higher level of examination. The NRA will conduct the Common Eligibility Test (CET) for recruitment to non-gazetted posts in government and public sector banks. This test aims to replace multiple examinations conducted by different recruiting agencies for selection to government jobs advertised each year, with single online test. It is envisioned that the NRA would be a specialist body bringing the state-of-the-art technology and best practices to the field of Central Government recruitment.
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is focused on enhancing forest quality and increasing tree cover for maximizing carbon stock. Many initiatives have been taken to bring out transformational changes in the policies and programmes and implement several schemes which includes massive tree plantation, promoting urban forestry through Nagar Van Scheme, Landscape based catchment treatment of 13 major rivers, LiDAR based survey of degraded forest areas for soil moisture conservation projects and launch of National Transit Portal to facilitate smooth movement of Forest produce. These efforts are critical to meet our national and international goals under National Forest Policy, Nationally Determined Commitments and restoration of degraded forest land. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his independence day speech had announced the launch of Project Lion and Project Dolphin. The Union Environment Minister said that the government will launch a holistic Project Dolphin in a fortnight, for the conservation and protection of the Dolphins in the rivers and in oceans of the country. Project Dolphin will involve conservation of Dolphins and the aquatic habitat through use of modern technology specially in enumeration and anti-poaching activities. The project will engage the fishermen and other river/ ocean dependent population and will strive for improving the livelihood of the local communities. The conservation of Dolphin will also envisage activities which will also help in the mitigation of pollution in rivers and in the oceans.
Google US $ 10 billion
Walmart US $ 1.2 billion
Foxconn US $ 1 billion dollars
Facebook US $ 5.7 billion
Samsung Investment – entire range of 18 smart watches in India
India has received over $22 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) amid the coronavirus pandemic, showcasing the country as one of the most attractive destinations for investment globally. Almost 90 per cent plus of the USD 22 billion foreign direct investment in India during the pandemic came through the automatic route. India has jumped up about 79 positions in the World Bank’s ease of doing business and with the recent reforms it is expected that the ranking will further improve. The various structural reforms undertaken by India in even previously restricted sectors such as space, defence and atomic energy for greater private participation.