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10th January 2024 (11 Topics)

10th January 2024

QUIZ - 10th January 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes

Editorials

Context:

The significant and expanding disparity between cereal production and its known applications is challenging due to substantial data gaps.

Production and Consumption Discrepancy

  • Cereal Production Surplus: India's annual cereal production exceeds consumption requirements by about 100 million tonnes, raising concerns and posing questions about the reasons behind this substantial surplus.
  • Declining Per Capita Cereal Consumption: Per capita cereal consumption (PCCC) has been steadily decreasing, potentially reaching levels below the 2011-12 estimates. Urbanization, education, and dietary diversification contribute to this trend.
  • Impact on Economic Policy: The surplus raises critical policy questions, emphasizing the need for strategic planning in agricultural production and potential diversification away from traditional cereals like rice and wheat.

Analyzing Production and Consumption Figures

  • Inflated Net Availability Estimates: Discrepancies emerge between net availability and household consumption figures. The Economic Survey's calculation includes seed, feed, and wastage (SFW) but may be inflated, leading to a significant gap.
  • Growing Discrepancy: The gap between net availability and household consumption has been growing, reaching 36 million tonnes in 2020-21 and 33 million tonnes in 2021-22. Exports, including record numbers, fail to close this gap.
  • Policy Implications: The government's commitment to ensuring remunerative prices for farmers necessitates understanding the actual demand for cereals at these prices, prompting crucial policy considerations.

Addressing Policy Challenges and Planning for the Future

  • Policy Responses: Policymakers must address the statistical puzzle of the cereal gap, considering factors like potential increases in cereal consumption, expanded public distribution, and industrial uses.
  • Need for Agricultural Diversification: With cereal production growth at nearly 3% annually, there is a call for planning agricultural diversification. The policy must explore possibilities, outlets, and potential benefits, including the feasibility of expanding cereal exports.
  • Navigating Economic Uncertainties: The statistical confusion in India's economic data, exemplified by adjustments in SFW allowances, underscores the need for a coherent and reliable statistical system to guide economic planning.
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Editorials

Context:

Growth appears to be sustained largely through government spending.

Sectoral Challenges in Economic Growth

  • Agriculture Slowdown: The first advance estimates reveal a slowdown in the agriculture sector, with growth at 1.8%, the slowest in eight years, raising concerns about the rural economy.
  • Services Conundrum: The trade, hotels, transport, communication, and broadcasting sector face a growth deceleration to 6.3%, highlighting the waning momentum in post-pandemic service sector recovery.
  • GVA Slowdown: Despite an overall GDP growth projection of 7.3%, the Gross Value Added (GVA) is expected to slow down to 6.9%, reflecting sector-specific challenges and loss of momentum.

Demand Dynamics and Consumption Challenges

  • Consumption Slowdown: Private final consumption expenditure is estimated to have its slowest non-pandemic year expansion in over two decades, growing at just 4.4%.
  • Rural Struggles: Weakness in farm output due to monsoon vagaries has hampered rural demand, impacting various consumer goods industries, including soaps, detergents, packaged foods, and two-wheelers.
  • Government Capital Spending: Gross fixed capital formation (GFCF), including government capital spending, remains a key driver of momentum, growing at 10.3% and reaching a record 34.9% share of GDP.

Policy Dilemma and Future Outlook:

  • Policymaker's Challenge: With the general election looming, policymakers face a dilemma between maintaining robust government spending to support growth, risking fiscal slippage, or tightening fiscal measures and risking further economic slowdown.
  • Fiscal Tightrope: The choice between keeping the spending spigot open and tightening the purse strings becomes crucial, determining the trajectory of economic growth amid political considerations.
  • Election Impact: The economic scenario adds complexity to policy decisions, as the government balances the need for growth stimulation with fiscal prudence in the run-up to the general election.
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Editorials

Context:

Modern-day India dismisses the ANA's promising paradigm with a characteristic aloofness of purpose, both in terminology and outlook.

India's Role in the Emergence of ANA

  • Initiation of ANA by India: India, led by NarendraModi, played a pivotal role in the initiation of Active Non-Alignment (ANA) during the Russo-Ukrainian war, refusing to condemn Russia and engaging in oil trade despite Western sanctions.
  • ANA's Global Significance: ANA gained momentum globally as nations, especially in Latin America, distanced themselves from the Western Axis. The rejection of Western offers by Latin American countries and their alignment with China marked a shift.
  • India's Unique Stand: While embracing ANA principles, India prefers the term "multi-alignment." Foreign Minister’s concept of seeking "strategic convergence" reflects India's nuanced approach, potentially missing an opportunity to lead the ANA paradigm.

Challenges and Implications of ANA

  • Anti-Western Axis Stance: ANA, seemingly anti-Western Axis, challenges the existing global order. The rejection of Washington's offer by Latin American nations and their move towards China demonstrates the paradigm's impact.
  • China's Role in ANA: ANA aligns with China's interests, with nations joining its New Silk Road. China's pragmatic approach, devoid of ideological imposition, contrasts with Western strategies, making ANA appealing to diverse nations.
  • India's Aloofness and Missed Leadership:India's aloofness towards ANA, preferring "multi-alignment," reflects a missed leadership opportunity.

Implications for International Relations

  • ANA's Impact on International Dynamics: ANA's emergence reshapes international dynamics, challenging traditional alignments. The rejection of hegemonic pressures and pursuit of national interests redefine global power equations and diplomatic norms.
  • China's Soft Power in ANA: China's soft-power approach aligns with ANA, fostering partnerships without ideological imposition. This pragmatic stance enhances China's influence, providing an alternative model for global cooperation.
  • India's Evolving Role: India's evolving role, oscillating between ANA and multi-alignment, shapes its influence on the global stage. The decision to lead or follow ANA principles will determine India's position in the changing world order.
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