1. ‘States not passing on fuel duty cut to people’
PM flays non-BJP governments for not reducing VAT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that fuel prices were too high in some States ruled by BJP rivals and they were not passing on the benefits of the Centre’s excise duty cut to the people.
“These States should bring in immediate remedial measures to stop this injustice,” Mr. Modi said during an interaction with Chief Ministers to discuss the emerging COVID-19 situation.
“This harms the neighbouring States also. States like Karnataka and Gujarat undertook the tax reduction for the welfare of the people despite revenue loss, while their neighbouring States earned revenue by not reducing tax,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that last November a request was made to reduce VAT, but many States, most of which are non-BJP-ruled ones like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Jharkhand, did not do so for some reason.
He appealed to the States to ensure Centre-State cooperation, stating that this is the need of the hour because of the war situation when the global community is under stress and is facing challenges caused by disruption in the supply chain and rising cases of COVID-19.
The Prime Minister said that along with the pandemic-related challenges, the global community and the common man are facing the fallout of a war. “The situation of war which has arisen has affected the supply chain,” Mr. Modi said in a reference to the Russia–Ukraine conflict.
“In the current global scenario, for the strength of India’s economy, coordination between the Centre and States in economic decisions is necessary. In the conditions imposed by global events, this spirit of cooperative federalism becomes important,” he said in the context of fuel prices.
2. ‘Delhi should be under Centre’s control’
National capital can’t be left to the ‘small mercies’ of a State legislature, says S-G
The Central government on Wednesday argued that Delhi, the nation’s capital and a sprawling metropolis, should be under its control.
Delhi cannot be left to the “small mercies and smaller resources” of a State legislature, it reasoned.
The Centre was justifying the intent behind the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, or GNCTD Act, of 2021. Parliament later also enacted the Transaction of Business of Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act.
The Delhi government has contended in the Supreme Court that the amended sections of the GNCTD Act diminish the constitutionally guaranteed powers and functions of the elected Legislative Assembly.
A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana is hearing a plea by the Delhi government to quash the amended sections of the GNCTD Act and several Rules of the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993.
Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, compared Delhi to London, saying the Capital was the country’s most visible and recognised destination. “There are issues concerning Delhi which have an all-India point of view. There should not be a state of perpetual friction between the Centre and the State. The important issues concerning the Capital should be exclusively legislated by Parliament,” he submitted.
“A metropolis of a large country like ours cannot depend on the small mercies and smaller resources of a State legislature,” he said in court. Mr. Mehta urged the three-judge Bench to refer the case to a larger Bench.
The Delhi government has contended that the amendments in 2021 violate the doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution. The Centre, through its amendments, has given more power to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) than the elected government of the people of Delhi, it argued.
In the petition, the Delhi government has stated that the amendments overturn the constitutionally stipulated balance between the State and the Union government. The amendments, it said, authorised the L-G to withhold consent from Bills that, in his judgment, may be “incidentally” outside the scope of the Assembly’s legislative powers.
The Delhi government further sought to argue that the new laws encroach on the scope of the Assembly’s core legislative functions by interfering with the power of the House to frame its own rules of business or to hold the government to account, which was a core function of any legislature.
3. SSLV ‘development flights’ likely in 2022
All three missions will carry payloads, ISRO chairman S. Somanath has said
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is hoping to have all three development flights planned for its ‘baby rocket’ — the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) — in 2022 itself.
“Three development flights have been approved. 2022 is our target [for all three],” ISRO chairman S. Somanath told The Hindu during a recent visit to the city.
All three missions, to be carried out from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, would carry payloads, Mr. Somanath said.
The first development flight is expected to take place in June.
Designed as a ‘launch on demand’ and a cheaper alternative for placing small payloads in orbit, it would have multiple mounting options for nano, micro and small satellites, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) sources said.
Physically, the SSLV is a three-stage rocket with a height of 34 metres and lift-off weight of 120 tonnes. By comparison, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) — ISRO’s ‘reliable workhorse’ — stands 44 metres tall, has four stages and has a lift-off mass of 320 tonnes for its ‘XL’ variant.
All three stages of the SSLV will be solid propulsion stages.
Being developed with private participation, the SSLV will be able to place 500 kg payloads in low-earth orbit.
ISRO had performed ground tests on a new solid booster stage for its new launch vehicle on March 14 this year.
Last December, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Science & Technology, Jitendra Singh, told the Rajya Sabha that the Centre has sanctioned a total of ₹169 crore for the development project.
This includes the cost of development, qualification of vehicle systems and flight demonstration through the three planned development flights labelled SSLV-D1, SSLV-D2 and SSLV-D3. Hardware and structures for the project — solid motor cases, nozzle sub-systems and inter-stage structures included — will be realised through private industry participation.
About ISRO’s SSLV
The SSLV seeks to serve the rapidly growing market for the launch of small satellites into the LEO (Earth’s low orbits) which has emerged in recent times to serve the requirements of the developing nations, universities/institutions for small satellites, and private firms.
- ISRO’s SSLV is capable of carrying satellites weighing less than or equal to 500 kg.
- The launch vehicle will carry the small satellites into 500 km LEO (Low Earth Orbit).
- Manufacturing of SSLV is the responsibility of the commercial arm of ISRO i.e. NSIL (New Space India Limited).
- SSLV is ISRO’s lightest launch vehicle, weighing around 110 tons.
- Contrary to PSLV’s 70 days time to get integrated, the SSLV takes only 72 hours.
- SSLV needs only 6 people to integrate it.
- SSLV of ISRO is a three stage launch vehicle.
- The launch vehicle uses solid fuel in all its stages of flight.
- The vehicle also features both vented and closed interstage.
4. Energy independence through hydrogen
It can help lay the foundation of a new India which aims to be a global climate leader
India’s Green Hydrogen Policy released on February 17, 2022 has addressed several critical challenges such as open access, waiver of inter-state transmission charges, banking, time-bound clearances, etc., and is expected to further boost India’s energy transition.
India’s per capita energy consumption is about one-third of the global average and one-twelfth of the U.S. Increasing growth and economic prosperity would significantly increase India’s energy appetite furthering import dependence. This, coupled with volatility in prices, as seen during the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the roller-coaster ride of energy prices from historic lows in 2020 to record highs in 2021, could pose a serious threat to our energy security, accentuating an unequivocal need to strive for energy independence.
The new age fuel, hydrogen, is touted as India’s gateway to energy independence. Hydrogen has a multifaceted role to play in the futuristic energy landscape, be it energy storage, long-haul transport, or decarbonisation of the industrial sector.
In the long run, two envisioned prominent fuels are hydrogen and electricity. Though both are energy vectors, hydrogen can be stored on a large scale and for a longer duration explicitly affirming its huge potential to become a great balancer to the ever-increasing supply of variable renewable energy. It will complement and accelerate renewables into India’s clean energy transition, thereby supporting India’s ambitious plan to achieve 500 GW renewable capacity by 2030.
Hydrogen: a game-changer
Hydrogen has a major role to play in the decarbonisation of India’s transport sector. The advantages of fuel cell vehicles over battery electric vehicles are faster fuelling and long-driving range thereby making them ideal for long-haul transportation which is a major constraint with Li-Ion batteries. In the industrial segment, hydrogen can de-carbonise ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors such as iron and steel, aluminium, copper etc. It is a huge prospect to produce fuels such as methanol, synthetic kerosene and green ammonia.
India’s hydrogen consumption was around 7 Mt in 2020 and according to The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), it is anticipated to leapfrog to about 28 Mt in 2050. Assuming 25% export capacity, we can expect a requirement of 35 Mt by 2050. On the basis of this assumption, we can calculate that India would require a tentative capacity in the range of 192 GW to 224 GW of electrolysers by 2050, assuming all of it is green hydrogen.
The global capacity of electrolysers has just crossed 300 MW in 2021. This signifies that India itself would require an electrolyser capacity of 640 to 750 times the current global capacity, by 2050.
This would entail an exponential increase in electricity demand of around 1,500 to 1,800 TWh, implying that just for hydrogen production; India would require 110-130% of its current total electricity generation (2020-21) by 2050. Therefore, a road map for rapid growth in demand for electricity, especially from renewables should be prepared.
Apart from the ever-increasing electricity demand, the high cost of hydrogen manufacturing and water scarcity could also pose a challenge. Production of 1 kg of hydrogen by electrolysis requires around nine litres of water. Therefore, hydrogen project planning should be holistic and targeted in areas that are not water-scarce.
Creating a hydrogen economy is a chicken and egg problem as consumers seek lower costs which could be possible with scalability and large investments, but for those, producers seek assured demand. Hydrogen fulfils the three Es of India’s energy road map — energy security, energy sustainability and energy access — and India should strive to seize one more E, viz. economic opportunity so that industry can be encouraged to its full potential.
On the demand side, a five-step strategy should be devised. Firstly, to create an initial demand, a mandate should be given to mature industries such as refining and fertilisers, with adequate incentives. Secondly, industries manufacturing low emission hydrogen-based products inter alia green steel and green cement need to be incentivised by government policies. Thirdly, blending hydrogen with natural gas can act as a big booster shot which can be facilitated by framing blending mandates, regulations and promoting H-CNG stations. Further, to promote FCEVs, hydrogen fuel stations may be planned on dedicated corridors where long-distance trucking is widespread. Lastly, the concept of carbon tariffs needs to be introduced on the lines of European countries.
On the supply side too, a five-step strategy should be devised. Firstly, investment in R&D should be accelerated to bring its cost at par with fossils. Secondly, Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) scheme with a target to produce 15 MMT of compressed biogas could be leveraged by exploring biogas conversion into hydrogen. Thirdly, to commercialise and scale-up nascent technologies, a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme may be introduced for hydrogen-based projects. Further, to secure affordable financing, electrolyser manufacturing and hydrogen projects need to be brought under Priority Sector Lending (PSL). Lastly, since two dominant cost factors for green hydrogen are renewable energy tariffs & electrolyser costs, and India has the advantage of one of the lowest renewable tariffs; the thrust should be on reducing the cost of electrolysers by implementing the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. This could help India become a global hub for electrolyser manufacturing and green hydrogen.
On the transportation front, ammonia, having high energy density could be promoted as a mode of transportation. A hydrogen transportation system could also be built on the foundation created for natural gas by using its existing infrastructure. Additionally, hydrogen transportation projects may be integrated with PM Gati Shakti Master Plan.
Hydrogen could completely transform India’s energy ecosystem by shifting its trajectory from an energy importer to a dominant exporter over the next few decades. India could export to projected future import centres like Japan, South Korea, etc.
With hydrogen, India could lead the world in achieving Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Hydrogen could lay the foundation of a new India which would be energy-independent; a global climate leader and international energy power.
In COP 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a clarion call of panchamrit (five goals), with an ambitious target to achieve Net Zero by 2070. Hydrogen will certainly play a decisive role in India’s Net Zero ambition and in making India ‘Aatmanirbhar in energy’.
5. Indonesia’s palm oil export ban
Why is the country suffering from an acute shortage of cooking oil? How will India be affected by this move?
Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, would be banning all exports of the commodity to reduce domestic shortages of cooking oil and bring down its skyrocketing prices.
Due to short supply of alternative vegetable oils, lower-than-expected output from the second-biggest palm oil producer Malaysia due to pandemic-induced labour shortage, the global food inflation linked to the pandemic and the Ukraine crisis, the global prices of crude palm oil (CPO) have been rising significantly since the end of last year. To control these prices the Indonesian government introduced price caps for palm oil which led to hoarding and re-selling. All of these factors along with producers being discouraged from making more oil led to an acute shortage of cooking oil in Indonesia.
India is the biggest importer of palm oil. Already grappling with record-high wholesale inflation, the late January export controls exercised by Indonesia had led to a 38% rise in the landed cost of CPO in India. The current ban is going to make the situation worse.
The story so far: Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer, exporter, and consumer of palm oil, will ban all exports of the commodity and its raw materials from April 28 to reduce domestic shortages of cooking oil and bring down its skyrocketing prices, the country’s President, Joko Widodo, announced on April 22. The announcement came amid surging global food prices as a consequence of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Food prices rose by almost 13% globally in March according to the United Nations. It also coincided with the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C., where policymakers raised global food security concerns, emphasising that countries should avoid hoarding food stocks and refrain from exercising export controls.
How important is palm oil to global supply chains?
Palm oil is the world’s most widely used vegetable oil with its global production in crop year 2020 exceeding 73 million tonnes (MT), according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Output is estimated to be 77 MT for the current year. Made from the African oil palm, it is used as cooking oil, and in everything from cosmetics to processed food to cleaning products.
The oil palm industry has come under criticism for what are reportedly unsustainable production practices leading to deforestation, and exploitative labour practices carried forward from the colonial era.
However, palm oil is preferred by many as it is inexpensive; oil palms produce more oil per hectare than other vegetable oil plants. Indonesia and Malaysia together account for almost 90% of the global palm oil production, with Indonesia producing the largest quantity at over 43 MT in the 2021 crop year.
According to Reuters, palm oil makes up 40% of the global supply of the four most widely used edible oils: palm, soybean, rapeseed (canola), and sunflower oil. Indonesia is responsible for 60% of the global supply of palm oil.
Why are the prices of edible oils rising?
The prices of palm oil rose this year as demand increased because of the short supply of alternative vegetable oils. The production of soybean oil, the second most-produced oil, is expected to take a hit this year due to a poor end soybean season in major producer Argentina. The production of canola oil was hit in Canada last year due to drought; and supplies of sunflower oil, 80-90% of which is produced by Russia and Ukraine, has been badly hit due to the ongoing conflict.
Consumers across the globe have been bearing the brunt of these factors, with the pandemic driving up global edible oil prices to record highs. After Indonesia’s unprecedented announcement to ban palm oil exports, global prices of other vegetable oils saw spikes. The price of soybean oil on April 22, saw a 4.5% rise, taking it to a record high of 83.21 cents per pound on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy oil prices have already seen a 50% rise so far this year.
How bad is Indonesia’s palm oil crisis?
Indonesia uses palm oil for cooking purposes. The palm oil used for cooking is made by processing crude palm oil (CPO). Due to short supply of alternative vegetable oils, lower-than-expected output from the second-biggest palm oil producer Malaysia due to pandemic-induced labour shortage, the global food inflation linked to the pandemic and the Ukraine crisis, the global prices of CPO had risen significantly since the end of last year.
The price of CPO rose from an already high rate of $1,131 per metric tonne in 2021 to its highest ever price of $1,552 in February this year. The global rise affected the price of palm oil in Indonesia, which sells two types of cooking oil — expensive branded cooking oil and cheaper non-branded oil in bulk. The country saw the price of branded palm oil go from 14,000 Indonesian rupiah (IDR) per litre in March 2021, to 22,000 IDR in March this year.
In order to make cooking oil affordable, the Indonesian government introduced price caps in late January; deciding that the MRP of branded oil could not exceed 14,000 IDR, while that of the local product would remain at 11,500 IDR. The issue of consumers hoarding the commodity and reports of it being resold, made the government introduce a two-litre-per-person rule for buying cooking oil. Some sellers were inking the fingers of consumers, as done during voting, to ensure that they don’t buy twice.
Amid reports of hoarding of cooking oil by consumers and producers, and producers being discouraged from making more oil owing to the gap between rising global prices and capped prices at home, Indonesia, the biggest palm oil maker, started witnessing an acute shortage of cooking oil. To meet domestic demand, the government announced another policy called domestic market obligation (DMO), under which it required CPO exporters to sell 20% of export volume domestically, at a fixed price of 9,300 IDR per kg. This was later increased to 30%.
These policies, observers said, had an inverse effect on the domestic supply as the price controls and domestic quotas became ineffective amid the global price rise. The government retracted the price caps and export quota in late March but introduced a tax on exports, should the global prices go beyond $1,500 per metric tonne.
Indonesian Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi also accused producers of engaging in illegal hoarding, cartel practices and of acquiring illicit export permits amid the export restrictions. Investigations into both these matters are currently underway in the country.
The cooking oil shortage could in part also be attributed to Indonesia using large quantities of CPO to make biodiesel, which it has branded as ‘green diesel’, despite palm oil production being known to be environmentally degrading. In late 2019, the country increased the palm oil content to be used in biodiesel to 30%. Reuters reported that it used over seven MT of palm oil out of its total national output of 41.4 MT in 2020, on biodiesel.
How will it impact India?
India is the biggest importer of palm oil which makes up 40% of its vegetable oil consumption, as per the USDA. India meets half of its annual need for 8.3 MT of palm oil from Indonesia. Last year, the Centre also unveiled its plan to boost India’s domestic palm oil production.
Already grappling with record-high wholesale inflation, the late January export controls exercised by Indonesia had led to a 38% rise in the landed cost of CPO in India. The price of soybean oil, most consumed after palm oil, rose by 29% in the country this year; while sunflower oil, 90% of which India gets from Russia and Ukraine, stopped coming in almost completely.
Amid this situation, India had requested Indonesia in March to increase palm oil shipments to make up for the short supply and expensive alternatives. Despite the rising prices of the commodity, India’s palm oil imports jumped 21% in March from the previous month as traders moved to secure alternatives to sunflower oil that could no longer be bought from Ukraine, four dealers told Reuters.
After the ban was announced by Indonesia, Atul Chaturvedi, president of the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India told The Hindu BusinessLine “This uncalled-for action (by Indonesia) has got massive repercussions for India. Local prices in Indonesia may fall as a result of this decision, but prices in India may skyrocket. It is going to be a difficult time.”
6. A look at child and adolescent healthcare systems
Children are considered the bulwark of a nation’s future, and easing the passage for their growth and development should be the highest priority
Over 8.6 million deaths occurred among children and adolescents in 2019. A new Lancet series calls attention to the crisis in the children and adolescent sector, urging for a complete rehaul of the healthcare system.
The papers in the series take a broadspan, expansive view of the situation. The papers look at the effects of early life poverty on the growth and development of children, highlights the huge inequities in the system and suggests redesigning service delivery to maximise outcomes.
The authors while calling for efforts to reimagine the delivery of services that will help children thrive, mentions that a piecemeal approach, catering only to certain age groups may not be the best way to handle the crisis in child healthcare.
While incremental progress has been recorded in various sectors of child and adolescent health across the globe, there is a real risk that nations might completely fail to meet the United Nation’s sustainable development targets. Consider this single fact: Over 8.6 million deaths occurred among children and adolescents (0-20 years) in 2019. A new Lancet series calls attention to the crisis in the children and adolescent sector, urging for a complete rehaul of the way things are being done now.
A series of four papers set out the current position, with the gains that have been made globally, but points out the stark variations in the global scenario, with some nations’ showing more marked improvements than others.
Series coordinator and author Zulfiqar Bhutta, from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) Centre for Global Child Health, Toronto and the Aga Khan University, Karachi says: “We have less than eight years to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and many child and adolescent health targets are off track. A holistic approach that supports children and their families from before birth through early adulthood is urgently needed to bring us back in line, building a foundation that will last a lifetime and improve health outcomes, economies, and society.” Children are considered the bulwark of a nation’s future, and easing the passage for their growth and development is part of the process of not only ensuring human rights of individuals, but also guaranteeing a country’s hereafter.
The need for comprehensive care
The papers in the series take a broadspan, expansive view of the situation — exploring the determinants and building blocks of thriving, from preconception through foetal development up to 20 years of age. The first considers conditions of survival, growth, disability and education, focusing on the crucial periods in the lifecycle before adulthood that form the foundation for building human capital. It indicates that globally, an estimated 8.62 million deaths occurred between 28 weeks of gestation and 20 years of age in 2019.
Another paper studies the impact of early life poverty on growth and development of children. The authors use data from low and middle income countries to substantiate the negative effects of early life poverty on the survival, nutrition and cognitive development of children and adolescents.
The third paper, reviewing the evidence available, acknowledges that progress has been made globally in improving the coverage of key maternal, newborn, and early childhood interventions in low-income and middle-income countries, recording the advancements as contributing to a fall in child mortality and morbidity. However, there are huge inequities, and several children and adolescents do not thrive or survive because low-cost interventions are not deployed to their benefit. While calling for scaling-up of evidence-based interventions for children under five years, the authors also go on to highlight interventions for school-going children and the period of transition from childhood to adolescence. This includes recommendations to support mental health, address unintentional injuries, non-communicable diseases, and neglected tropical diseases.
Yet another paper looks at improving health and social systems for all children in low and middle income countries, and suggests structural innovations that could be employed to deliver quality services for them. The authors argue that “structural reforms are more likely to improve service quality substantially and at scale than are micro-level efforts. Promising approaches include governing for quality (eg, leadership, expert management, and learning systems), redesigning service delivery to maximise outcomes, and empowering families to better care for children and to demand quality care from health and social systems.”
Effects of the pandemic
Naturally enough, the pandemic makes an appearance, read into the context of identifying the chinks in the armour or the challenges in delivering appropriate services to children and adolescents. “The COVID-19 pandemic showed us the devastating effects that gaps in care and education can have on children. Health and social systems must be better equipped to work together to address the emerging needs of children and families as part of the effort to rebuild equitable and resilient services,” according to Maureen Black from RTI International and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (U.S.).
Dr. Bhutta adds: “The challenges faced in responding to the needs of children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a wake-up call to the global community, underlining the urgent need to transform the child and adolescent health agenda on a global scale.”
The series, while calling for efforts to reimagine the delivery of services that will help children thrive, mentions that a piecemeal approach, catering only to certain age groups may not be the best way to handle the crises.
Instead, the authors call for comprehensive care that spans nutrition, preventive health, education, economic, and community support across age groups from preconception through the age of 20. The close involvement of families, particularly in offering support right from the stage of pregnancy, continuing through the relevant years allowing the child to bloom, is also recommended strongly. It’s in the best interests of nations to take these recommendations in earnest, and ensure their future is taken care of in the present.
7. Birth, death reporting to be automated
Centre plans revamp of the Civil Registration System that is linked to National Population Register
The Union government is planning to revamp the Civil Registration System (CRS) to enable the registration of birth and death in real-time with minimum human intervention and independent of location, according to the 2020-21 annual report of the Union Home Ministry.
The CRS, run by the Registrar-General of India (RGI), is linked to the National Population Register (NPR), which already has a database of 119 crore residents. The report said there was a need to update the NPR, first collated in 2010 and updated in 2015 with Aadhaar, mobile phone and ration card numbers, “to incorporate the changes due to birth, death and migration. The NPR is to be updated with the decennial Census exercise that has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report said, “The CRS system is facing challenges in terms of timelines, efficiency and uniformity, leading to delayed and under-coverage of birth and death. To address the challenges faced by the system in providing prompt service delivery to the public, the Government of India has decided to introduce transformational changes in the Civil Registration System of the country through an IT [information technology]-enabled backbone leading to registration of birth and death in real-time basis with minimum human intervention.”
It said the changes would be in terms of automating the process delivery points so that the service delivery was time-bound, uniform and free from discretion. “The changes would be sustainable, scalable and independent of the location.”
Last year, several instances of the online registration system being compromised were reported from States, with the login IDs and passwords of sub-registrars compromised and available in the open domain.
Following this, Deputy Registrar-General Sandhya Singh issued an advisory to the Chief Registrars of all States to avoid the misuse of the online portal user and login ID.
“A few State governments have reported issuance of fake birth and death certificates, including misuse of the user/login ID and password created in the existing portal/software developed for online registration of birth and death by unauthorised persons. This has resulted in the registration of criminal cases in some instances,” the July 28, 2021 advisory said.
At present, the online software available on www.crsorgi.gov.in is operational in 22 States and Union Territories.
Amendments to Act
The RGI that functions under the Home Ministry has proposed amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 that will enable it to “maintain the database of registered birth and deaths at the national level”.
According to the proposed amendments, the database may be used to update the population register, electoral register, Aadhaar, ration card, passport and driving licence databases, The Hindu had reported.
The registration of birth and death is mandatory under the Act and the Chief Registrar is mandated to publish a statistical report on the registered births and deaths during the year.
The RGI is empowered under Section 3(3) of the 1969 Act to take steps to coordinate and unify the activities of the Chief Registrars of births and deaths of all States.
The Ministry report noted that the proportion of total registered births and deaths had steadily increased over the years.
“The registration level of births has increased to 89.3% in 2018 from 81.3% in 2009. On the other hand, the registration level of deaths has increased from 66.9% in 2009 to 86% in 2018,” it pointed out, adding that the level of total registration of deaths was lower than that of births in the States except Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu and the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep.
“Lower level of death registration may partly be attributed to non-reporting of domiciliary deaths and deaths of females and infants,” it said.
8. Plan for 4G upgrade in LWE areas
BSNL will maintain the sites for another five years: official
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) project for upgrading 2G mobile services to 4G at security sites in LWE (Left Wing Extremism) areas at an estimated cost of about ₹2,426.39 crore.
An official statement said the project envisaged upgrading 2,343 sites in Phase-I from 2G to 4G mobile services at an estimated cost of ₹1,884.59 crore (excluding taxes and levies).
“This includes O&M for five years. However, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) will maintain the sites for another five years at its own cost. The work will be awarded to it because these sites belong to it,” it said. Additionally, the Cabinet also approved the funding of operations and maintenance cost of LWE Phase-I 2G sites by BSNL for an extended period beyond the contractual period of five years at an estimated cost of ₹541.80 crore. The extension would be up to 12 months from the date of approval by the Cabinet or the commissioning of 4G sites, whichever was earlier, it noted.
“The government chose BSNL for a prestigious project to [promote] indigenous 4G telecom equipment so as to achieve self-reliance in the telecom gear segment to fulfil domestic market needs apart from exporting to other markets,” it said.
Major Difference between 4G and 5G
The major differences between the 4G and 5G network are listed below:
- 5G network provides enhanced network coverage compared to the 4G.
- Data bandwidth of 5g is above 1gbps whereas for 4G it lies between 2mbps to 1gbps.
- The latency of the 5G network is smaller compared to 4G.
- The consumption of battery by 5G network is comparatively lesser than 4G.
- 5G network operates at higher frequency band to allow faster data transmission compared to the 4G network.
Advantages of 5G network
- 5G network will allow faster uploading and downloading.
- High data speed of 5G Network would work in favour of cloud systems to enhance software updates, music, and navigation.
- 5G network usage will help in the enhanced digitization of the country which will ultimately raise the GDP and employment generation.