Current Affairs June 2013
The Union Government of India has set a target to achieve 80% literacy rate in the country by 2017. The current literacy rate of the country stands at 74%. As part of this effort, the government will strengthen the Panchayati Raj Institutions as it serves as an important leverage to promote education in general and literacy in particular.
The key instrument in achieving this target will be Saakshar Bharat Programme that is operational in 372 districts covering nearly 1.5 lakh gram panchayats expanded over 25 states.
The need to bridge the gender gap in rural and urban areas to achieve the target has also been emphasized upon.
About Saakshar Bharat Programme
Launched on International Literacy Day, 8 September 2009. It is a centrally sponsored scheme of Department of School Education and Literacy (DSEL), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India (GOI).
Aim: To promote and strengthen adult education, specially of women, by providing educational options to those adults who having lost the opportunity of access to formal education and crossed the standard age for receiving such education, now feel a need for learning of any type, including, literacy, basic education (equivalency to formal education), vocational education (skill development), physical and emotional development, practical arts, applied science, sports, and recreation.
Fitch Ratings has revised India’s sovereign credit outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’ and affirmed the ‘BBB-’ rating assigned earlier.
Why this upgrade?
Fitch revised the outlook to stable after noticing the steps taken by the government to control the budget deficit, including the commitments made in the 2013-14 budget, as well as some, albeit limited, progress in addressing some of the structural hindrances to investment and economic growth. Although slow and modest, a recovery in the real GDP growth has been forecasted with real GDP expected to expand 5.7% and 6.5% in 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively.
- Fitch has pointed to India’s inherent economic strength despite declension in the Current Account Deficit (CAD), which in part has been due to a surge in gold imports.
- India’s foreign debt is moderate and RBI’s international reserves, which stood at $288 billion which serve as shock absorber in case of any external impact.
- India’s investment-grade ratings are supported by high domestic savings rates that limit the reliance on foreign savings for private investment and fiscal funding, as well as by a relative long maturity of government debt issued in its own currency.
- Success in containing the upward pressure on the Central government budget deficit in the face of a weaker-than-expected economy.
- Government has started to address structural factors that have dampened the investment climate and growth prospects, notably regulatory uncertainty, delays in approvals of investment projects and supply bottlenecks in the power and mining sectors.
The official theme of the summit was tax evasion and transparency. However, the Syrian civil war dominated the talks. A seven-point plan on Syria was agreed after much debate. Other agreements included a way to automate the sharing of tax information, new rules for mining companies, and a pledge to end payments for kidnap victim releases. The United States and the European Union agreed to begin talks towards a broad trade agreement.
Besides eight nations, Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, and Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council were also a part of the meet.
Who are the members of G8?
Are we moving towards ‘Hindu’ rate of growth again?
As India registered a meager GDP growth of 4.8% in the first quarter of 2013 it has rendered dreams of achieving a double-digit growth somewhat blurred. It has also opened the window to the vilipending term – Hindu rate of growth.
What is Hindu rate of growth?
The term ‘Hindu rate of growth’ was coined by Professor Rajkrishna, an Indian economist, in 1978 to characterize the slow growth and to explain it against the backdrop of socialistic economic policies. The term came into being to show India’s contentment with the low growth rate, post independence. While the other countries clamored for more growth, Indian fatalism was cited as a possible reason why policy makers were not seeking ways to boost the economy.
The word “Hindu” in the term was used by some early economists to imply that the Hindu outlook of fatalism and contentedness was responsible for the slow growth. However many later economists pointed out that the so-called Hindu rate of growth was a result of socialist policies implemented by the then staunch secular governments and had nothing to do with Hinduism.
In contrast to the term, GDP data estimates by Paul Bairoch, a Belgian economic historian, published in 1982 questions this contentment. This data, later confirmed by British economist Angus Maddisson, showed that India held close to a quarter of the world’s share of GDP in 1750. After colonization started, India’s share dropped to 20% by 1800 and fell precipitously to 3% in 1880.
When do we say that a country is having Hindu rate of growth?
Small growth rate alone does not characterize Hindu rate of growth. Prolonged low growth rate, albeit not an economic contraction, is not sufficient to be deemed as the Hindu rate of growth. In addition to growth being low and extending over a long period of time, the term also captures a low per-capita GDP, by factoring in the population growth.
For eg: India’s annual population growth rate was over 2% in the 1980’s and the per-capita GDP growth rate, with 3.5% GDP growth, was a meager 1 % characterizing Hindu rate of growth.
Annual population growth has been on a decline and is around 1.4 per cent currently, helping higher per capita income growth. So, while the phrase Hindu rate of growth may have characterized a phase, it cannot be considered a generic term for India’s growth rate. In an open global economy, we cannot get back to this phase, even if we try. The phrase may have been obsolete in a few years of being coined, as we entered the neo-Hindu cycle of growth – being in tune with the global economy.