The Hindu Editorial Analysis
10 September 2021

1. Catching up| The success of the PLI is likely to hinge on how entrepreneurs weigh the risk-reward equation

  1. Page 6/Editorial

  2. GS 3: Economy


Context:

  • The Cabinet’s approves a ₹10,683 cr. Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the textile sector  which expressly targets the man-made fibre (MMF) and technical textiles segments. This is an acknowledgment by the Government that the ground has inexorably shifted in the global textiles trade.
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  • It is the second time in 11 months that the Cabinet has approved what is broadly the same plan, with the Government using the intervening period to incorporate amendments to the incentive structure based on industry feedback.

 

Difference between Natural and manmade fibers:

 

Natural Fibres: Fibre to Fabric: [Class 6th & 7th]

    • Jute: Cultivated during rainy season(April end -May) in W. Bengal, Bihar & Assam; 

    • Cotton: Fruit of cotton called cotton balls.

    • Wool: produced from rearing of sheep, goat, yak & some other animals:

    • Silk: Silk moth lays 100s of eggs, from which hatch larvae, called caterpillars or silkworms. They grow in size, it weaves a cocoon to hold itself. In process, secrets a fibre made of protein, which hardens on exposure  to air, turns into pupa. 

 

Synthetic fibres:

    • Rayon(artificial silk): Obtained from chemical treatment of wood pulp. It can be woven, dyed in variety of colours & is cheaper that natural silk.  It is mixed with cotton to make bed sheets or mixed with wool to make carpets.

    • Nylon:  found in 1931. Prepared from coal, water & air. It is strong elastic & light, & stronger than steel wire. It is used to make ropes, parachutes, tents, toothbrush, car seat belts, sleeping bags, curtains, socks etc.

    • Polyester and Acrylic: Does not get wrinkled easily. Remains crisp & is easy to wash. Can be drawn into very fine fibres. Suitable for dress material.

      • Terylene, PET are very familiar forms of polyester. Sold in mixed form: with names polycot(mixed with cotton), polywool(with wool), terrycot(terrylene & cotton) etc.

      • Acrylic: Close resemblance with wool

 

Shift towards Man-Made fibers:

    • World-wide Trend: A relentless shift in consumer preferences and fashion trends saw MMF surpass cotton as the fibre of choice in the 1990s. Today its share in worldwide textile consumption to about 75%.

    • Indian Scenario: India’s textile and clothing exports on the other hand have continued to remain dominated by cotton and other natural fibre-based products.

      • The MMF contributed less than 30% of the country’s $35.6 billion in overall sectoral exports in 2017-18.

      • Its share remained relatively unchanged in the last fiscal as well when the sectoral exports were about $33 billion.

 

About the Scheme - PLI for Textiles:

    • AIM: to specifically focus investment attention on 40 MMF apparel product lines, 14 MMF fabric lines and 10 segments or products of technical textiles.

      • These 64 items have been chosen on account of being among the top-traded lines in the global market as well as India having less than a 5% share in each of them.

      • The inclusion of intermediate products at industry’s request also reflects the Government’s keenness to ensure the scheme ultimately delivers on the broader policy objectives. The incentives have been categorised into two investment levels.

    • Eligibility:

      • Firms investing at least ₹300 crore into plant and machinery over two years for making a specified product would need to hit a minimum turnover of ₹600 crore before becoming eligible to receive the incentive over a five-year period.

      • And at a second level an investment of ₹100 crore with a pre-set minimum turnover of ₹200 crore would enable qualification for the incentive.

 

Conclusion: On the face of it, the scheme appears designed with a fair deal of thought, but its operational success is likely to hinge on how new entrepreneurs and existing companies weigh the risk-reward equation, especially at a time when the pandemic-spurred uncertainty has already made private businesses leery of making fresh capital expenditure.

  • Expected Question: What are the reasons for India lagging behind in the manufacturing of products made out of man made fibres? How can this be improved? (250 Words)

 

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2. Where are the programmers? Inadequate teaching has given rise to an aversion of programming across campuses

  • Source: The Hindu - Page 7/OPED: Where are the programmers?

  • GS 2: Education

Context: There is a lack of adequate numbers of programmers in India despite having one of the largest number of technical education institutions.

 

Problems:

    • Poor Concept Clarity: New graduates are often afraid of programming or lack the right understanding of basic concepts.

    • Shift towards Non-Programming Jobs: Even graduates with high marks prefer to move to non-programming careers with lower salaries.

    • Poor Training: Thousands of talented students drift away from highly rewarding programming careers because of poor teaching of programming. Except some elite institutions, the faculty in computer science departments of a majority of the colleges do not put their knowledge to use, to solve real-life problems.

    • Poor structure of Programs: The faculty memorise programs and then go on to teach their students the same method.

    • College Level Project - a sham: Students buy ready-made projects for a fee from marquee institutes to submit to the university as bonafide projects.

 

Solutions for Better Programming Culture:

    • Focus on Trainer's Skill level: We need computer science faculty with good programming skills.

    • Use of Multiple Programming Languages: They need to be comfortable explaining or teaching computer science concepts using any computer language in the classroom. For example, data structure and algorithms (ds-algo) must be taught along with a programming language, not just as a separate theory.

    • Focus on Practical Experience: A minimum of three years of software development experience for faculty should be made mandatory. The college management or even the government could step in and incentivise or bear the cost of this experience.

    • Removing distinction between Theory and the Practical: the program needs to be written and executed in the classroom on every student’s laptop while theory is being taught, not in a separate laboratory.

    • More Assignments: Programming assignments must be given frequently. These should be checked into some cloud repositories like GitHub.

 

Importance for the Student as well as industry:

    • Bridging the Skill Gap: If students are guided this way, companies would be more than happy to take these students as interns. These students can assist their development team.

    • This industry-academic partnership will benefit both parties, as industry funds academic research to solve the latest real-life problems and academia provides employable and productive graduates to industry.

 

Conclusion: Once the right programming culture is inculcated in campuses, it will unleash the huge human technological potential of India and help the country become the technological superpower of the coming decade.

  • Expected Question: The Institutes of higher learning in India have not performed well. What are the reasons for the poor outcomes and how can these be addressed? (250 Words)