Growth in Bank Credit & Deposits: RBI
Bank credit and deposits grew and were higher in February 2021 than in January 2021, according to data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- The credit and deposits for February 2021 were even higher than the pre-pandemic data of February 2020.
➤ Bank Related Data by RBI:
At the end of February 2021:
- Bank credit grew by 6.63% to Rs.107.75 lakh crore which in February 2020 stood at Rs.101.05 lakh crore.
- Bank deposits grew by 12.06% to Rs.149.34 lakh crore which in February 2020 stood at Rs.133.26 lakh crore.
➤ Reason for Credit Growth:
- The growth in bank credit is driven by an increase in retail loans.
- Retail loans include a vast range of different loans. Personal loans such as car loans, mortgages, signature loans and credit cards all fall into retail loans. Still, business loans can also fall into the category of retail loans.
- The overall retail credit growth, which is currently at 9% is expected to accelerate further, led by mortgages (contributing 51%of retail loans) and back-end support by unsecured (cards/personal loans) and vehicle loans.
➤ Bank Credit:
- Banks and financial institutions make money from the funds they lend out to their clients.
- These funds come from the money clients deposit in their accounts or invest in certain investment vehicles such as certificates of deposit (CDs).
- A CD is a product offered by banks and credit unions that provides an interest rate premium in exchange for the customer agreeing to leave a lump-sum deposit untouched for a predetermined period.
- Bank credit consists of the total amount of combined funds that financial institutions advance to individuals or businesses. It is an agreement between banks and borrowers where banks make loans to borrowers.
➤ Bank Credit In India:
- The Bank credit in India refers to credit lending by various scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) to various sectors of the economy.
- The bank credit is categorized into food credit and non-food credit.
- The food credit indicates the lending made by banks to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) mainly for procuring foodgrains. It is a small share of the total bank credit.
- The major portion of the bank credit is the non-food credit which comprises credit to various sectors of the economy (Agriculture, Industry, and Services) and personal loans.
- The data on bank credit is collected every month by the RBI.
➤ Bank Deposits:
- Bank deposits consist of money placed into banking institutions for safekeeping. These deposits are made to deposit accounts such as savings accounts, current accounts, and money market accounts.
- The account holder has the right to withdraw deposited funds, as outlined in the terms and conditions governing the account agreement.
➤ Bank Deposits in India: In India there are four significant types of Bank Deposits
- Current Account:
- A current account is a special type of account with lower restrictions than a savings account when it comes to withdrawals and transactions.
- It is also known as a demand deposit account and it is meant for business people to conduct their business transactions smoothly.
- Banks also offer overdraft facilities on these, i.e., they let account-holders withdraw more money than there is in the account.
- Savings Accounts:
- It offers high liquidity and is very popular among the masses. It does, however, have cash withdrawal and transaction limits to promote digital payments.
- Banks provide an interest rate that is only slightly higher than inflation, so it is not optimal for investment.
- Recurring Deposits:
- It is a particular type of term deposit where you do not need to deposit a lump sum savings rather a person has to deposit a fixed sum of money every month.
- There are no premature withdrawals allowed in the account, but for a penalty, you can close the account before the maturity date of the deposit.
- Fixed Deposits:
- It is an investment avenue offered by banks, financial institutes and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) that offers guaranteed returns.
- It gives a higher interest than a regular savings account and offers a wide range of tenures ranging from 7 days to 10 years.
National Employability Through Apprenticeship Program
The Apprenticeship Outlook Report for 2021 has been published by the National Employability Through Apprenticeship Program (NETAP) (Jan-June 2021).
- Apprenticeship is a Skill Training program wherein a person is engaged by a company as an apprentice and gains classroom (theory) learning for a short period, followed by on-the-job (practical) training.
➤ About the National Employability through Apprenticeship Program:
- It was set up in 2014 as a 100% employer-funded Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
- The program was launched by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and TeamLease Skills University (Gujarat).
- It is following the National Employability Enhancement Mission of the AICTE.
- NETAP was structured to overcome the challenges of the Apprenticeship Act, 1961.
- NETAP proposed to appoint 2 lac apprentices every year for the next 10 years. It will be the world's most extensive apprenticeship program at peak capacity.
- It will help the unemployed youth build skills through Learning by doing and Learning while earning along with providing them with access to practical skills.
National Employability Enhancement Mission
- It is a pioneering initiative taken jointly by AICTE and the Government of India.
- Introduced in 2013, the NEEM aims to offer practical training to enhance the employability of any person who:
- Is either pursuing graduation/diploma in any technical or non-technical stream or Having discontinued studies of degree or diploma courses.
- A NEEM Trainee is any registered person who has a minimum education up to Class X and is between 16 to 40 years of age.
- A total of 23 industries have been listed in the NEEM where a trainee can be enrolled. It includes the automobile industry, pharmaceuticals, electronics & hardware, food processing, healthcare services, and the financial sector.
- The NEEM is envisioned to place at least 10,000 students per year in registered companies or registered industries to provide training.
- Key Findings of the Apprenticeship Outlook Report:
- India's Apprenticeship Ecosystem: Some 41% of the employers in India are keen on hiring apprentices, while 58% of enterprises want to increase the quantum of their apprenticeship hiring this year.
- Leading Cities: Chennai has emerged as the most apprentice-friendly city.
- Among non-metro cities, Ahmedabad and Nagpur are the most promising cities for an apprenticeship.
- Leading Sectors: Manufacturing, automobiles and ancillaries, and retail are the leading sectors.
- Positive Trend for Hiring Women Apprentices: Overall, the preference for women apprentices has increased by 10% from the previous half-year.
- This trend was more visible in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Kolkata.
- India's working-age population is estimated to continue to increase through 2041. This will have significant implications on the required rate of job creation in the economy.
- Statistics show that approximately 3% of children drop out after grade 5th and 8th in the country owing to socio-economic challenges. Apprenticeship can be an essential mechanism for seamless transitioning from school to work and bridging the workforce's skill gap.
➤ Other Initiatives to Promote Apprenticeships:
- Apprenticeship Act of 1961 (and the Amendments to the Act).
- Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS)
- National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS)
- Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Scheme
- YuWaah Youth Skilling Initiative
- Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana
CSIR Floriculture Mission
Recently, CSIR Floriculture Mission has been approved for implementation in India's 21 States and Union Territories.
- CSIR's Societal Portal has also been launched along with the Android App.
➤ About the Mission:
- Floriculture is a branch of horticulture that deals with the cultivation, processing and marketing of ornamental plants vis-a-vis landscaping of small or large areas, and maintenance of gardens so that the surroundings may appear aesthetically pleasant.
- The mission will focus on commercial floral crops, seasonal/annual crops, wild ornaments, and flower crops for honey bee rearing.
- Some of the popular crops include Gladiolus, Canna, Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Gerbera, Lilium, Marigold, Rose, Tuberose etc.
- In the mission, available knowledge base in Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Institutes will be utilized and leveraged to help Indian farmers and industry.
- The Indian floriculture market was worth Rs. 15,700 crore in 2018. The market is projected to reach Rs. 47,200 crore by 2024 during 2019-24.
➤ Along with CSIR, other implementing agencies involved are:
- Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR),
- Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC),
- APEDA and TRIFED,
- Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre (FFDC), Kannauj, and
- Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
➤ Significance of the Mission:
- Raising Income: Floriculture can employ many people through nursery raising, floriculture farming, entrepreneurship development for nursery trade, value addition and export.
- Agro Climatic diversity: India has diverse agro- climatic and edaphic conditions (physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil), and rich plant diversity, still it shares only 0.6% of the global floriculture market.
- Import Substitution: At least 1200 million USD worth of floriculture products are imported by India every year from different countries. o The convergence of Floriculture with Apiculture (beekeeping) as envisaged in the mission will yield even greater benefits.
➤ Other Related Initiative (Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture):
Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root & tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo.
Council of Scientific & Industrial Research
- the Government of India established it in September 1942 as an autonomous body. It comes under the Ministry of Science & Technology.
- It is known for its cutting edge research and development knowledge base in diverse science and technology areas.
- It has been ranked first in the Nature Ranking Index-2020.
- The Nature Index provides close to a real-time proxy of high-quality research output and collaboration at the institutional, national and regional level.
Purple Revolution Under Aroma Mission
Around 500 farmers across villages in Doda district in Jammu had their incomes quadrupled after shifting from maize to lavender cultivation called the purple revolution. It was possible due to initiatives taken under Aroma Mission.
- Purple Revolution (Under Aroma Mission):
• First-time farmers were given free lavender saplings and those who have cultivated lavender before were charged Rs. 5-6 per sapling.
- To support domestic aromatic crop based agro-economy by moving from imported aromatic oils to homegrown varieties.
- Main product is Lavender oil which sells for at least Rs. 10,000 per litre
- Lavender water, which separates from lavender oil, is used to make incense sticks.
- Hydrosol, formed after distillation from the flowers, is used to make soaps and room fresheners.
- Main Agencies Involved:
- Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu (IIIM Jammu), the two bodies are mainly responsible for making purple revolution under the Aroma Mission a success.
Apart from being in sync with government policy of doubling farm incomes by 2022, lavender cultivation also provided employment to the district's women farmers thus gave impetus to inclusive growth.
➤ Aroma Mission:
- Objectives: The CSIR Aroma Mission is envisaged to bring transformative change in the aroma sector through desired interventions in agriculture, processing and product development for fuelling the growth of aroma industry and rural employment.
- The mission will promote the cultivation of aromatic crops for essential oils that are in great demand by the aroma industry.
- It is expected to enable Indian farmers and aroma industry to become global leaders in the production and export of some other essential oils on the pattern of menthol mint.
- It aims to provide substantial benefits to the farmers in achieving higher profits, utilizing waste lands, and protecting their crops from wild and grazing animals.
➤ Nodal Agencies:
The nodal laboratory is CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP), Lucknow. The participating laboratories are CSIR- Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT), Palampur; CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM), Jammu etc.
- The scientific interventions made under the mission project would provide assured benefits to Vidarbha, Bundelkhand, Gujarat, Marathwada, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and other states where farmers are exposed to frequent episodes of weather extremes and account for maximum suicides.
- Aromatic Plants include lavender, damask rose, mushk bala, etc.
Merchant Digitization Summit 2021
Merchant Digitization Summit 2021: Towards Atma Nirbhar (Self-Reliance) Bharat was recently hosted by India, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and the UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance.
- The Summit brought together leaders from the public and private sectors to accelerate responsible digitization of merchants in India's North-Eastern and Himalayan regions, and Aspirational districts.
➤ Highlights of the Summit:
- Empowering women merchants who play critical roles in their communities is one of the priorities to help achieve the mission of Digital India.
- The National Language Translation Mission can be used to disseminate digital payments information, privacy clauses and consent in local languages for trust and empowerment.
- Identified opportunities to address connectivity challenges, access to smartphones, and digital literacy for merchants at the last mile.
- Along with the increased focus on 'Make in India' through Atmanirbhar Bharat Scheme, responsible digitization must more strongly include rural networks such as Self Help Groups and community enablers.
- This will lead to creating the local digital ecosystems to help millions of merchants join the formal economy, access credit, and grow their business.
- From an average of 2-3 billion digital transactions monthly, India has set an ambitious target for 1 billion digital transactions per day.
- Person to Merchant (P2M) digital payment transactions will scale to 10-12 billion transactions every month to contribute to India's digital economy.
➤ Related Recent initiatives:
- Digital Payments Index.
- Payments Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) scheme.
- Relaxations in Merchant Discount Rate.
➤ Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA):
- About: BTCA is a partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to responsible digital payments to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Foundation: It was launched by the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citigroup, the Ford Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and Visa Inc.
- It is based at the United Nations.
- It was created in 2012.
- Members: The Alliance has 75 members which are committed to digitizing payments to boost efficiency, transparency, women's economic participation and financial inclusion, helping build economies that are digital and inclusive.
- Members do not want to abolish physical cash but rather want to provide responsible digital payment options that are “better than cash".
- India became a member of the Better Than Cash Alliance in 2015 to digitize payments to achieve financial inclusion and share success stories from Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, the world's largest financial inclusion program.
➤ Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI):
- FICCI is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation established in 1927.
- It is the largest and oldest apex business organisation in India whose history is closely interwoven with India's struggle for independence, industrialization, and emergence as one of the most rapidly growing global economies.
Maritime India Summit 2021
'Maritime India Summit 2021' is being organised by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
➤ Focus Area:
- To further the port-led development along the 7,516-km long coastline.
- India will invest USD 82 billion in port projects by 2035 (under Sagarmala Programme), raise the share of clean renewable energy sources in the maritime sector, develop waterways and boost tourism around lighthouses.
- India aims to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030.
- Through the focus area of upgradation of infrastructure, India aims to strengthen the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
➤ Current Status of Indian Ports:
- India has 12 major ports and several minor ports along its West and East coast.
- Capacity of major ports have increased from 870 million tonnes in 2014 to 1550 million tonnes in 2021.
- Indian ports have measures such as: Direct port Delivery, Direct Port Entry and an upgraded Port Community System (PCS) for easy data flow that has helped in reduced waiting time for inbound and outbound cargo.
- It will help in growth of the maritime sector and promote India as a leading Blue Economy of the world.
- Further the Maritime India Vision 2030.
➤ Other Initiatives for Port Development:
- The Sagar-Manthan: Mercantile Marine Domain Awareness Centre has also been launched.
- It is an information system for enhancing maritime safety, search and rescue capabilities, security and marine environment protection.
- Ship repair clusters will be developed along both coasts by 2022.
- Domestic ship recycling industry will also be promoted to create 'Wealth from Waste'.
- India has enacted Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 and agreed to the Hong Kong International Convention.
- India aims to increase usage of renewable energy to more than 60% of total energy by 2030 across Indian ports.
- The Sagarmala Programme was approved by the Union Cabinet in 2015, aiming at holistic port infrastructure development along the 7,516-km long coastline through modernisation, mechanisation, and computerisation.
- Under this port-led development framework, the government hopes to increase its cargo traffic three-fold.
- It also includes the establishment of rail/road linkages with the port terminals, thus providing last-mile connectivity to ports; development of linkages with new regions, and enhancing multi-modal connectivity, including rail and inland water coastal and road services.
New Umbrella Entity for Payment Systems
The private companies have shown interest in setting up New Umbrella Entities (NUEs) for payment systems - an idea floated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) .
- The aim is to create an alternate mechanism to India's existing National Payments Corporation (NPCI).
➤ New Umbrella Entities (NUEs):
- About: NUEs will be a non-profit entity that will set-up, manage and operate new payment systems, especially in the retail space such as ATMs, white-label PoS; Aadhaar-based payments and remittance services.
- Functions Envisaged:
- NUEs will develop new payment methods, standards and technologies.
- These will operate clearing and settlement systems, identify and manage relevant risks such as settlement, credit, liquidity and operation and preserve the system's integrity.
- These will monitor retail payment system developments and related issues in the country and internationally to avoid shocks, frauds and contagions that may adversely affect the system and the economy in general.
➤ Need for NUEs:
- Limitations of NPCI: Currently, the umbrella entity for providing retail payments system is NPCI, a non-profit entity, owned by banks.
- NPCI operates settlement systems such as UPI, AEPS, RuPay, Fastag, etc.
- Players in the payments space have indicated the various pitfalls of NPCI being the only entity managing all of retail payments systems in India.
- To Increase Competitiveness: RBI's plan to allow other organisations to set up umbrella entities for payments systems aims to expand the competitive landscape in this area.
- Players planning to establish these NUE aim to get an even bigger share in the digital payments sector.
➤ Framework Related to NUEs:
- Owned and Controlled by Residents: The promoter or the promoter group for the NUE should be 'owned and controlled by residents' with 3 years' experience in the payments ecosystem.
- The shareholding pattern should be diversified.
- Any entity holding more than 25% of the paid- up capital of the NUE will be deemed to be a promoter.
- Capital: The umbrella entity shall have a minimum paid-up capital of Rs. 500 crore.
- No single promoter or promoter group should have more than 40% investment in the entity's capital.
- A minimum net worth of Rs. 300 crore should be maintained at all times.
- Governance Structure: The NUE should conform to corporate governance norms along with 'fit and proper' criteria for persons to be appointed on its board.
- The RBI retains the right to approve the appointment of directors and nominate a member on the board of the NUE.
- Foreign Investment: Allowed in NUEs as long as they comply with the existing guidelines.
Rationalization of Railway Fares
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways has suggested rationalisation of both freight and passenger fares.
➤ Committee's Observation:
- Social Service Obligations:
- The losses incurred by the railways in passenger services purportedly due to the social service obligations, including pricing tickets at fares lower than costs and passenger concessions.
- The railways incur losses to the tune of Rs. 35,000-38,000 crore a year in the passenger segment.
- Effect of Covid:
- Revenues from passenger services further deteriorated due to suspension of operations during Covid-19,.
- Operating Ratio:
- Noted the regular deterioration in Railways Operating Ratio (OR).
- OR indicates how much the Railways spend to earn a rupee. It helps determine the financial health of the Railways.
For example, an operating ratio of 98.36% for 2019-20, indicates that to earn Rs. 100, the Railways will have to spend Rs. 98.36.
- For 2020-21, it is estimated to be 131.4%.
- For 2021-22, Railways is targeting OR of 96.15%.
➤ Challenges in the Functioning of Railways:
- Indian Railways' ills are as multifarious as they are well-known: bureaucratic, obese structure with a misconceived perception of public-service- obligation, warped investment priorities, capacity crunch on arterial routes, strained terminals, irrational fare & freight structures.
- It has one of the highest rail freight charges in the world. This has also resulted in consumers moving to roadways for freight transportation, which is more convenient.
- The predicament of the railways is that the profits earned from freight business are utilised to compensate for the losses incurred on passenger and other coaching services, thereby adversely affecting both freight and passenger business.
➤ Committee's Suggestions:
- Revisiting social service obligations and resuming services suspended during covid.
- Adjust Passengers Fares:
- Undertake "prudent adjustment" of passenger fares to reduce the burden on freight segments.
- Make Fares Demand-cum-Market Driven:
- Both passenger fares and freight rates have to be demand-cum-market driven and fixed differently for different segments.
- Retain Customers:
- As the demand for transport is elastic in a competitive market the Railways should be mindful that any increase in fares should be confined to a specific limit depending upon the competition from other transport modes.
- The operational efficiencies of the railways in both freight and passenger business have to be leveraged to a greater extent to retain the customer base and enhance revenues.
- Strengthen Planning and Management:
- The railways should strengthen their planning, management and monetary mechanisms to earn substantial non-fare revenues through various methods/sources, already intended and put in place.
- For example: Dividends from its public sector undertakings, land lease, parking, sale of scrap, advertisements and publicity etc.
- Railway finances should be managed prudently so that the OR may reach at acceptable level shortly.
➤ Draft National Rail Plan:
- In December 2020, in an endeavour to address the inadequacies of capacity constraints and improve its modal share in the total freight ecosystem of the country, Indian Railways had come up with a Draft National Rail Plan.
➤ Dedicated Freight Corridor:
- It is a high speed and high capacity railway corridor that is exclusively meant for the transportation of freight, or in other words, goods and commodities.
➤ Introduction of Policy for Private Passenger Trains Operations:
- In July 2020, Indian Railways initiated allowing private firms to operate passenger trains on its network through 151 new trains.
➤ Adarsh Station Scheme:
- It aims to upgrade the suburban stations of India to Adarsh stations.
➤ Restructuring of the Railway Board and Merger of Different Railway Officer Cadres:
- In 2019-20, the government approved the restructuring of the Indian Railways, including a reduction in the Board strength and the merger of the different cadres into a central service called the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS).
Sub-Mission on Agroforestry Scheme
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central Silk Board on a convergence model for implementing Agroforestry in the silk sector. It is a part of the ongoing Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme.
- Earlier, the Government of India allocated Rs. 2161.68 crores for three years i.e. 2017-2020 to its Central Sector Scheme 'Silk Samagra' for the development of sericulture in the country.
➤ Convergence Model:
- To incentivize the farmers to take up sericulture based Agroforestry models thereby contributing to the Make in India and Make for the World vision of the Prime Minister.
- This linkage will add another dimension to agroforestry for faster returns to the growers and support the production of the range of silks that India is famous for.
- The Central Silk Board (CSB - under the Ministry of Textiles) will act as a catalyst to promote Agroforestry in the silk sector.
- CSB is a statutory body established in 1948 by an Act of Parliament.
- The initiative of formalizing the collaboration in the sericulture sector is primarily targeted for augmentation of sericulture host plants e.g. Mulberry, Asan, Arjuna, Som, Soalu, Kesseru, BadaKesseru, Phanat, etc. to be cultivated both as block plantations and border or peripheral plantations on farmlands.
- Planting sericulture-based tree species on the farm bunds and rearing silkworms will help create additional income opportunities for farmers besides their regular source of income from agriculture activities.
- It will contribute to the Prime Minister's vision of doubling farmers' income by 2022.
➤ Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme:
- The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC & FW) has been implementing the SMAF since 2016-17 as part of the recommendation of the National Agroforestry Policy 2014.
- India was the first country to have such a comprehensive policy launched at the World Agroforestry Congress held in Delhi in February 2014.
- The scheme is implemented only in the states having liberalized transit regulations for timber transport and will be extended to other states as and when they notify such relaxations.
- The scheme is being implemented in 20 States and 2 UTs.
- The scheme promotes endemic species or tree species that come with medicinal value.
- The scheme does not promote exotic species.
- To encourage farmers to plant multi-purpose trees together with the agriculture crops for climate resilience and an additional source of income to the farmers and enhanced feedstock to among other things wood-based and herbal industry.
- It is operational under the funding pattern 60:40 (Central government: State government) basis for all states except for 8 states of North East Region, the hilly states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where it would be 90:10 fund sharing. For Union Territories (UTs), the assistance will be 100% from the Central government.
- Farmers would be supported financially to the extent of 50% of the actual cost of the interventions (limited to 50% of the estimated cost as indicated in the Cost norms) for the respective interventions.
- Farmers groups/ Cooperatives and Farmer Producers Organization (FPO) can also benefit the programme but the assistance can be accessed as per norms and provisions applicable to the individual farmers.
- At least 50% of the allocation is to be utilized for small, marginal farmers of which at least 30% should be women beneficiaries/ farmers. Further 16% & 8% of the total allocation or in proportion of the SC/ST population in the district will be utilized for Special Component Plan (SCP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP).
- Farmers must have a soil health card to benefit under the programme.
- Agroforestry is defined as a land use system which integrates trees and shrubs on farmlands and rural landscapes to enhance productivity, profitability, diversity and ecosystem sustainability.
- It is a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management system that, through integration of woody perennials on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production and builds social institutions.
- It is an agro-based industry.
- It involves rearing of silkworms for the production of raw silk, which is the yarn obtained out of cocoons spun by certain species of insects.
- The significant activities of sericulture consist of food-plant cultivation to feed the silkworms which spin silk cocoons and reeling the cocoons for unwinding the silk filament for value-added benefits such as processing and weaving.
- Domesticated silkworms (Bombyx mori) are raised for sericulture.
➤ Silk Production in India:
- There are five major types of silk of commercial importance, obtained from different species of silkworms.
- These are Mulberry, Oak Tasar & Tropical Tasar, Muga and Eri.
- Except for mulberry, other non-mulberry varieties of silks are wild silks, known as vanya silks.
- India has the unique distinction of producing all these commercial varieties of silk.
- South India is the leading silk-producing area of the country and is also known for its famous silk weaving enclaves like Kancheepuram, Dharmavaram, Arni, etc.
India’s Biggest Floating Solar Power Plant
India's biggest floating solar power plant by generation capacity (100 MW) is being developed by the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) at Ramagundam in Peddapalli district of Telangana.
- The project is in line with India's commitment to attain 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022 including 100 GW of solar installed capacity.
➤ Floating Solar Plants:
- It refers to the deployment of photovoltaic panels on the surface of water bodies. They are a viable alternative to land-based solar arrays with applications in India.
- There are many major reservoirs in the Southern Region which provides a huge opportunity to go for renewable energy in the floating solar method.
- Projects Coming up in India:
- The thermal plant at Ramagundam would be one of the renewable (solar) energy plants being developed by NTPC with an installed capacity of 447MW in the Southern Region. The entire capacity would be commissioned by March 2023.
- The renewable energy plants that are likely to be commissioned in the next three months are 25 MW floating solar plant at Simhadri thermal power plant near Visakhapatnam and 92 MW floating solar plant at Kayamkulam in Kerala.
- Address Land Acquisition Issues: The key challenges that face renewable energy plant owners are land acquisition, grid connectivity, regulations and off-take.
- Floating solar plants balance high population density and competing uses for available land. The land can be used for other purposes, such as farming or construction.
- Cooling Effect: The bodies of water exert a cooling effect, which improves the performance of solar photovoltaic panels by 5-10%.
- Over time, this translates into significant cost savings.
- Other Advantages: Reduced grid interconnection costs, reduced water evaporation, improved water quality, and reduced algal blooming.
- Increased Cost: Engineering and construction costs are usually higher than those of a ground- mounted solar farm.
- Safety Issues: Since floating solar involves water and electricity, more consideration must be given to cable management and insulation testing than on land, especially when cables are in contact with water.
- Degradation and Corrosion: A floating solar plant has moving parts subject to constant friction and mechanical stress.
- Systems that are poorly designed and maintained could suffer from catastrophic failures.
- The installation is at risk of degradation and corrosion due to moisture, especially in more aggressive coastal environments.
- Understanding of Water-bed Topography: Developing floating solar projects requires a thorough understanding of water-bed topography and its suitability for setting up anchors for floats.
➤ Other Solar Energy Initiatives:
- National Solar Mission: Solar energy has taken a central place in India's National Action Plan on Climate Change with the National Solar Mission as one of the key Missions.
- INDCs target: It targets installing 100 GW grid-connected solar power plants by 2022.
- This is in line with India's Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) target to achieve about 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources and reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35% from 2005 level by 2030.
- Launch of ISA: The launch of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was announced by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France in 2015, at the 21st session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP- 21) in Paris, France.
- Government Schemes: Solar Park Scheme, Canal bank & Canal top Scheme, Bundling Scheme, Grid Connected Solar Rooftop Scheme etc.
- One Sun One World One Grid: India has an ambitious cross-border power grid plan 'One Sun One World One Grid' that seeks to transfer solar power generated in one region to feed the electricity demands of others.