2, October 2016

1.Swachh Bharat Mission to deliver one lakh Open Defecation Free villages in 2 years:

Source: PIB

The birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The Mission was divided into two parts – urban and rural. While the Swachh Bharat Mission Urban is managed by the Ministry of Urban Development, the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (Rural) is led by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Taking stock of 2 years of the Mission:

  • The Rural household toilet coverage has increased from 42% at the start of Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin to 55.34%as of today.
  • This entailed the construction of 2.4 crore toilets under SBM and 15.04 lakh under MNREGA
  • 35 districts and about one lakh villages are targeted to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October 2, 2016.
  • The success of the Mission is having a very real and measurable impact on health and mortality, especially in children in Rural India.
  • The ‘Swachh Survekshan’, a nationwide survey in 75 districts, conducted earlier this year, has created a sense of healthy competition among districts to achieve ‘Swachhta’.

Swachh Bharat is becoming a ‘Jan Andolan’:

  • This is the biggest mass mobilization in history – the focus is on behavior change rather than on toilet construction because SBM is about the change of mindset.
  • Women, children, members of the third gender, senior citizens and specially abled citizens have particularly been taking the lead as sanitation champions and galvanizing their communities to make their villages ODF.
  • Cross-benefits of Community mobilization due to SBM: In Sawamahu Gram Panchayat in Punjab, during routine cleaning of villages, women found that a big component of garbage was empty liquor bottles, leading to them starting adaru-bandi(no alcohol) campaign. They also learnt the use of internet and WhatsApp to share their activities with one another.

Swachh Bharat and Mass Media:

It is encouraging to know that some media houses have started dedicated campaigns for Swachh Bharat. There is immense potential for media to play a pivotal role in ensuring ‘A Clean India’.

Beyond ODF: Focus on Solid and Liquid Waste Management in villages:

  • Mahila mandals of Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh took up the work of weekly cleaning of their villages.
  • Several villages in Nanded district in Maharashtra are “mosquito free” owing to the presence of individual soak pits called “magic pits” in every household.
  • In Tamil Nadu, nearly 53056 MGNREGA workers are engaged in solid waste work in 9000 Gram Panchayats.

Economic benefits of sanitation and SLWM:

Lack of proper sanitation leads to a less healthy and less productive population, leading to economic loss. A World Bank study estimates that the resulting loss to the Indian economy is 6.4% of the GDP because of poor sanitation. According to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, India would save $19 billion worth of health care costs if everyone started washing their hands with soap before meals and after defecation.

Leveraging Technology to achieve scale:

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has started organizing virtual class rooms across the country to build capacities of district officials and members of the rural community to trigger behaviour change in their villages.

This initiative has helped achieve scale in capacity building an efficient and economical manner and has helped spread best practices rapidly across the country.

Challenges:

Importance of sustaining ODF and preventing slip-backs – This is very critical and there needs to be sustained efforts to ensure that once a village turns ODF, it stays ODF.

The district administration must focus on continued awareness campaigns and sanitation champions must continue mobilizing people to highlight the importance of toilet usage even after attaining ODF status.

Aiming for ODF+ (ODF Plus) :

ODF Villages need to include SLWM and general cleanliness as the ultimate goal to become truly “Swachh”.

Road ahead

 Looking ahead, many States are on the verge of becoming ODF – Gujarat, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Mizoram are likely to achieve ODF status for all rural areas in their state by 31st March 2017.

Performance is on track to meet the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin targets well before 2ndOctober 2019.

2.‘India will Protect the Interests and Strongly Present the Viewpoint of Developing Countries at Cop 22 in Morocco’: Environment Minister

SOURCE: PIB

The  Environment Minister said that issues related to raising finance under Green Climate Fund (GCF) and technology transfer will also be raised at COP22.

The upcoming negotiations at COP 22 are very crucial to advance on key issues.    Following will be the key priorities:

  1. Enhancing Ambition and promoting action between 2016-2020: Paris Agreement is for post-2020 period.  Currently, we are operating under the pre-2020 action framework and must not wait any further to take action.  The developed countries should ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.  At Morocco, we must agree to set up an action roadmap for 2016-2020 for raising ambition and achieving pre-2020 goals.
  2. Mobilising means of implementatione finance, technology and capacity-building support before and after 2020. USD 11 billion per year climate finance goal has not been met. At Morocco, India will insist for a concrete roadmap from developed countries.  USD 10.3 billion committed to the Green Climate Fund does not match the enormous finance and technology requirements indicated by developing countries in their INDCs.
  3. Furthering the cause of Adaption and loss and damage: India is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  The first review of the loss and damage mechanism at COP 22 is an opportunity for India to ensure that this mechanism provides tangible and concrete solutions.  Most important of these would be to ensure that there are tools to address adaptation, financial risk management and finance needs for dealing with extreme and slow onset events.
  4. Furthering the agenda on sustainable lifestyles and climate justice:  it is important that apart from emission cuts, also focus on measures that involve broader participation. 
  5. India has made a commitment in its INDC, on sustainable lifestyles and will continue to push this agenda forward in Morocco.
  6. India is strongly committed to fight climate change and assures that it will make every possible effort within its capacity to achieve a significant outcome in Marrakech, Morocco.
  7. India’s decision to ratify the Paris agreement has come after ensuring compliance of domestic legal requirements, internal discussions and after obtaining clarity from UNFCCC with regard to transparency and participation of Parties in the future processes.
  8. India led from the front at COP 21 last year, to ensure the inclusion of climate justice and sustainable lifestyles in the Paris Agreement and launched the International Solar Alliance. India will continue to champion such action-oriented initiatives and joint ventures.
  9. As part of its INDC plans, India had promised to bring down its emissions intensity, or emissions per unit of the GDP, by at least 33 per cent by the year 2030 as compared to 2005 levels.
  10. The funds will help nations work on fulfilling their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) which aim to reduce carbon emissions through a host of solutions. That India has already completed 12 per cent of all pre-2020 Intended National Determined Contributions (INDC), or the road map by which it will make good on its commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

3.India to submit concept note on TFA in services at WTO:

Source: Indian Express

The trade facilitation agreement (TFA) in goods will come into force once two-thirds of members have completed their ratification process.

India is pushing for a trade facilitation agreement (TFA) on services to promote trade in this sector along with goods. The WTO has already concluded a similar pact for merchandise.

Ratification process:

The TFA in goods will come into force once two-thirds of members have completed their ratification process. It contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.

The 164-member body makes rules for global trade.

It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and compliance issues.

Significance:

The country’s move assumes as the services sector contributes significantly in the economies of developing nations.

With the growing importance of the sector, India has time and again pitched for liberalisation and streamlining of norms for the sector in the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO).

On similar lines, India has asked for an agreement to promote services trade as the sector contributes about 60 per cent in India’s economy and 28 per cent in the total employment.

TFA in services means liberalised visa regime such as multiple entry visas, visa-free travel for foreign tourists and long term visas for business community among other things.

The move also assumes significance as about a dozen countries are already negotiating Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) in the WTO. India is not part of TISA.

Quick Facts on TiSA:

  • An agreement to liberalise trade in services
  • Involves 23 WTO members, including the EU, who together account for 70% of world trade in services
  • Open to other WTO members and compatible with WTO / GATS
  • Could be made part of the WTO once enough WTO members join.

TiSA aims at opening up markets and improving rules in areas such as licensing, financial services, telecoms, e-commerce, maritime transport, and professionals moving abroad temporarily to provide services.

WTO panel to discuss India’s paper on TFA in services:

India is pitching for this agreement with a view to reduce transaction costs by doing away with unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden on trade in services.

What is the WTO?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.

Who we are?

There are a number of ways of looking at the World Trade Organization. It is an organization for trade opening under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The WTO is currently the host to new negotiations, under the ‘Doha Development Agenda’ launched in 2001.

The system’s overriding purpose is to help trade flow as freely as possible.

In other words, the rules have to be ‘transparent’ and predictable.

The most harmonious way to settle these differences is through some neutral procedure based on an agreed legal foundation. That is the purpose behind the dispute settlement process written into the WTO agreements.

 

 



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