Reading Time: 6 mins The Union Budget allotted over Rs.80,000 crore for the up-gradation of 1.25 lakh km roads under the phase III of the PMGSY. This government initiative has greatly enhanced India’s rural population’s standard of living and is one of the significant steps towards inclusive economic growth. Not only is this scheme intending to promote inclusive growth but is also taking into account the need for sustainability of the environment by making use of green technology while constructing the road. Under the first two phases of PMGSY, a total of 1.25 lakh km of rural roads have been built across various villages in the country. The government has set a target to construct 7, 000 km of roads under this initiative during 2019-20. This scheme as a whole, until now, has brought in a significant improvement in ease of living for India’s very large rural population.
Reading Time: 8 mins Housing is one of the basic requirements of human survival. Normal citizen owning a house provides significant economic and social security status in society. For a shelter-less person, a house with basic necessity brings about a profound change in his existence, endowing him with an identity, thus integrating him with his immediate social milieu. With this in mind, the government had launched Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in 2015 to provide housing for all by 2022. Numerous challenges are faced by the government while undertaking this momentous scheme. These need to be addressed for this vision to be implemented within the deadline.
Reading Time: 8 mins Recently, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority – EPCA had declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region as the pollution levels crossed the threshold of the “severe-plus” category. The air pollution is said to reach “Severe plus” or emergency levels when PM2.5 levels cross 300 µg/m3 or PM10 levels crosses 500µg/m3. As per the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), these levels, which are about 5-times the standard, need to persist for 48 hours or more before the emergency level can be declared. This is worrisome because, according to the plan, during severe or emergency levels of air pollution, those suffering from heart diseases, asthma and other respiratory diseases may suffer the most and has a direct impact on morality. According to WHO, air pollution kills 7 million people worldwide. And the health effects of air pollution are serious – about one-third of the deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease are caused by the same. It is having an equivalent effect to that of smoking tobacco.
Reading Time: 6 mins The bilateral ties between Bhutan and India have always been close and both nations share a ‘special friendship’ and have been through the test of times. India, to date remains influential over Bhutan’s foreign policy, defence, and Commerce. However, India must not exploit this position for its selfish interests and must ensure that there are mutual benefits for both sides.
Reading Time: 8 mins Since time immemorial, Nepal and India have been bonded together through historical, cultural, religious, social, economic and political ties. Yet, there are obvious differences in the interests and views of these neighbours in the current times leading to drift in the relationship. Nepal is strategically important for India and has a high influence on India’s national interests. Therefore, the government must take steps to improve its diplomatic relationship with Nepal.
Reading Time: 7 mins India is a victim of numerous road accidents annually. Road safety is a necessary measure that needs to be taken for the safety of all road users. It is the all-encompassing methods and measures used to prevent road users from being killed or injured. The typical road users include pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, vehicle passengers and passengers of on-road public transport. India’s road safety is the worst in the record. About 149,000 people lost their lives on Indian roads in 2018 alone. India accounts for about 2% of motor vehicles globally. Yet, it is the home for more than 11% of the world’s road traffic deaths. According to a UN study, India loses 3% of its GDP to road accidents by removing prime age adults from the workforce. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 was enacted this year to address the hazard of deaths and injuries due to road accidents. According to Union Transport Minister, it could come down by half if the provisions of this Act are implemented stringently.
Reading Time: 8 mins Skills and knowledge drive economic growth and social development of a country. Nations with higher levels and better standards of skilled workforce can deal with challenges and opportunities in the domestic and global market. India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It is currently celebrating demographic dividend with two-third of 1.3 billion people under the age of 30 years. However, a big challenge lies ahead as estimates show that India has a very few skilled labour force. According to Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), over 30% of the youth aged between 15 to 29 years are ‘not in employment’ which refers to those who are not searching for jobs either due to unavailability or there are no jobs that match their skills. Despite the government’s initiatives to promote jobs, unemployment is turning out to be a new norm. This is because India is facing challenges at many levels. Skill India, that seeks to improve the skills of the Indians, is showing very limited results. This is because of the limitations that exist within the various government initiatives. It is necessary to address these issues so that India can become a $5 trillion economy.
Reading Time: 8 mins Smart Cities Mission is a step taken by the Indian government to provide a better lifestyle and amenities to the people. It is considered to be a key player in the direction of comprehensively developing physical, institutional, social and economic infrastructure of the cities, that are all important in improving the quality of life and attracting people and investments to the city, thereby setting in motion a virtuous cycle of growth and development. Four years since its launch, there is no doubt that expectation will continue to be high. Technically, only one more year is left but a large number of projects are still under implementation. It is facing numerous challenges and these need to be addressed for this programme to yield the intended benefit.