National Digital Communications Policy-2018 (NDCP 2018)

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Union Cabinet has approved National Digital Communications Policy-2018 (NDCP 2018). It also has re-designated Telecom Commission as Digital Communications Commission. It replaces existing National Telecom Policy-2012 to cater to the modern needs of the digital communications sector of India.

 

National Digital Communications Policy-2018 (NDCP 2018)

  • It envisions supporting India’s transition to digitally empowered economy and society by fulfilling information and communications needs of citizens and enterprises.
  • It strives to achieve this by establishing ubiquitous, resilient and affordable digital communications infrastructure and services.
  • It is customer focused and application driven.
  • It will help lead to new ideas and innovations after launch of advanced technology such as 5G, IOT, M2M, etc. which shall India’s govern telecom sector.

 

Key Objectives

  • Broadband for all.
  • Creating four million additional jobs in Digital Communications sector.
  • Enhancing contribution of Digital Communications sector to 8% of India’s GDP from ~ 6% in 2017.
  • Propelling India to Top 50 Nations in ICT Development Index of ITU from 134 in 2017.
  • Enhancing India’s contribution to Global Value Chains and
  • Ensuring Digital Sovereignty.

 

These objectives are to be achieved by 2022.

 

Features

NDCP 2018 aims to

  • Provide universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen.
  • Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022.
  • Ensure internet connectivity to all uncovered areas.
  • Attract investments of US $100 billion in Digital Communications Sector.
  • Train 1 million manpower for building New Age Skill.
  • Expand IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices.
  • Establish comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals
  • Facilitate India’s effective participation in global digital economy;
  • Enforce accountability through appropriate institutional mechanisms to assure citizens of safe and
  • Secure digital communications infrastructure and services.

 

Strategy

NDCP 2018 advocates

  • Establish National Digital Grid by creating National Fibre Authority.
  • Establish Common Service Ducts and utility corridors in all new city and highway road projects.
  • Create collaborative institutional mechanism between Centre, States and Local Bodies for Common Rights of Way, standardization of costs and timelines;
  • Remove barriers to approvals.
  • Facilitate development of Open Access Next Generation Networks.

 

Why such policy was needed?

  • As the present technological world has entered into era of modern technological advancements in Telecom Sector such as 5G, Internet of things (loT), Machine to machine (M2M) communication etc.
  • So, need was being felt to introduce customer focused and application driven policy for Indian Telecom Sector.
  • This policy’s main intention was to serve as main pillar of Digital India by addressing emerging opportunities for expanding not only availability of telecom services but also telecom based services.
  • Accordingly, new National Digital Communications Policy – 2018 has been formulated.

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Airways : Issues in Aviation Sector

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Facts:

  • The number of Indians flying are growing at about 20% a year.
  • Indian domestic ATF is almost 50-60% costlier than in the U.S., the EU, West Asia and Asia-Pacific.
  • Airfares in India are one of the lowest in the world on a rupee per seat-km basis.

 

Issues:

  • Most domestic carriers are bleeding.
  • Like in the past, high oil prices, currency fluctuations and lower yields have pushed airlines into a cyclical trap with at least two full-service airlines, Air India and Jet Airways, gasping for breath.
  • Staff salary payments have been delayed and frantic efforts are on to raise fresh capital.
  • Most airlines have cash balances equivalent to only 2-3 weeks of expenses.
  • CAPA estimates Indian carriers will incur a combined loss of $1.9 billion this fiscal.

 

Structural challenges

  • External factors such as oil prices and the exchange rate have contributed to headwinds.
  • A number of long-term structural challenges are bogging the sector down.
  • Slot constraints, insufficient parking bays and congestion at key airports, and high taxes on fuel are the main challenges.

 

Way Forward:

  • A low phase like this is the time to take tough, transformational decisions on fleet, route network, service quality, organisational processes, culture and people.
  • The stupendous growth in aviation has given a lot of taxes to the government.
  • Fifty months of double-digit growth came on the back of huge investments by airlines and low fares. When crude prices fell to below $40 per barrel, the Centre increased the tax rates. Now that crude oil prices are hovering around $80 per barrel, it is a fit time for government intervention.
  • Indian domestic ATF is almost 50-60% costlier than in the U.S., the EU, West Asia and Asia-Pacific. But airfares in India are one of the lowest in the world on a rupee per seat-km basis. This contradiction has to end.

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National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF)

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  • NIIF stands for National Infrastructure and Investment Fund
  • It is a fund created by the Government of India for enhancing infrastructure financing in the country.
  • Established in 2015.
  • It is registered as a category II alternative investment fund with the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
  • A sort of sovereign fund, for development of infrastructure projects, including the stalled ones.
  • It is Indias first sovereign wealth fund
  • It has been set up as fund of funds structure with aim to generate risk adjusted returns for its investors alongside promoting infrastructure development.
  • It aims to attract investments from both domestic and international sources for infrastructure development in commercially viable projects both Greenfield and Brownfield, including stalled projects.
  • It has proposed corpus of Rs. 40,000 crores (around $6 Billion).
  • Government’s contribution to NIIF is 49% of total commitment at any given point of time.
  • The remaining 51% will be raised from domestic and global investors, including international pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, multilateral/bilateral investors.
  • Its Governing Council is chaired by Finance Minister and has already been set up to act as an advisory council to the NIIF.

 

 NIIF-gets-first-investor-Abu-Dhabi-fund-brings-in-1-bn-1024x457

Logistic Sector

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Facts:

  • India’s logistics sector is highly defragmented and very complex with more than 20 government agencies, 40 partnering government agencies (PGAs), 37  export promotion councils, 500 certifications, 10000 commodities being stakeholders in it.
  • At present it has 160 billion market size and involves 12 million employment base, 200 shipping agencies, 36 logistic services, 50 IT ecosystems and banks and insurance agencies.
  • Government is  aiming is to reduce logistics cost from present 14% of GDP to less than 10% by 2022.
  • As per Economic Survey 2017-18, Indian logistics sector provides livelihood to more than 22 million people.
  • Improving this sector will facilitate 10% decrease in indirect logistics cost leading to growth of 5 to 8% in exports.
  • Further, it estimates that worth of Indian logistics market will be around US $215 billion in next two years compared to about US $160 billion currently.

Shale Gas in India

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Context:

  • Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has amended Petroleum and Natural Gas Rules 1959 to include shale in definition of petroleum.
  • This change will allow private companies to explore and produce the resource in the blocks they already operate.

 

Benefit of this modification?

  • The updated definition of petroleum means naturally occurring hydrocarbons, whether in form of natural gas or in liquid, viscous or solid form, or mixture thereof, occurring in association with petroleum or coal or shale but does not include coal, lignite, and helium.
  • Prior to this, definition excluded shale and therefore barred companies from exploiting it from fields that are producing conventional oil and gas or coal-bed methane.
  • The amendment of definition of petroleum will open up exploration of all hydrocarbons in existing fields which is line with new Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP).
  • It will help in enhancing domestic exploration and production of hydrocarbons and increasing India’s energy security and reducing dependency on imports.

 

What is Shale?

  • It is fine-grained sedimentary rock that forms from compaction of silt and clay-size mineral particles, commonly called as mud.
  • The composition of shale places it in category of sedimentary rocks known as mudstones.
  • Shale is distinguished from other mudstones due to laminated (rock is made up of many thin layers) and fissile (rock readily splits into thin pieces along the laminations) nature. 
  • Some shales have special properties that make them important resources.
  • Black shales contain organic material that sometimes breaks down to form natural gas or oil.

What is Shale gas?

  • Shale gas is natural gas formed from being trapped within shale formations.
  • It is unconventional source of methane, like coal-bed gas (in coal seams) and tight gas (trapped in rock formations).
  • It is colourless, odourless gas, lighter than air.
  • It is cheaper than natural gas, releases 50% less CO2, hence better source for generating electricity.
  • It also provides feedstock for petrochemicals industry, which is turned into fertilizer, plastics and other useful stuff.
  • In India, potential shale gas sites are Cambay, Gondwana, Krishna-Godavari and Cauvery Basins.

 

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