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70 Per Cent Of India’s Built Environment For 2030 Yet To Take Shape

The area that needs continued attention in India to avoid market failures is progressing towards an independent energy ecosystem

70 Per Cent Of India's Built Environment For 2030 Yet To Take Shape

With the rapid urbanisation and growing energy consumption in India, the trend of higher demand for urban housing and energy is here to stay. While urban residential real estate has seen a slight improvement of late and commodity prices have subsided from the highs of 2018, both housing and energy sectors will need renewed attention going forward especially to avoid future market failures.

In a recent article for the World Economic Forum titled “Why the world should be watching India’s fast-growing cities”, author Sangeeta Prasad points out an interesting statistic that “70 per cent of India’s built environment for 2030 yet to take shape”. The biggest takeaway is that with the rapidly growing urban population, necessary infrastructure such as housing will be in demand. Therefore, it is essential that the residential real estate ecosystem is well equipped to cater to the increased demand.

The current scenario of unfinished residential projects and inventory of unsold properties points towards both overall market failure and financial indiscipline on the part of the various players in the market.

The slowdown in residential real estate over the last few years has been a dampener to both formalising the real estate sector through more efficient balance sheets and allowing increased access to housing for home buyers. Residential real estate needs a refocus on tax policies that can boost sales and create market-clearing prices.

The eventual sale of residential real estate will help clean up the balance sheets of developers, banks, non-banking financial institutions and home buyers,pixabay

Policies that can help significantly boost sales in residential real estate will have two distinct advantages. Firstly, greater sales help expand the tax kitty even in a lower tax regime, whereby the significant increase in volumes would more than compensate for a lower tax rate. Secondly, the sales of the inventory of residential real estate held by the financial ecosystem will help boost the flow of credit within the economy and increase the investment multiplier.

The eventual sale of residential real estate will help clean up the balance sheets of developers, banks, non-banking financial institutions and homebuyers. This credit release from the clearing up of inventories will help boost both private capital formation and consumption, thereby creating new business opportunities in the economy.

The distressed residential real estate sector and the impending urban housing demand also presents large institutional investors an opportunity to generate significant returns. Partnering with local operators to access residential real estate at attractive discounts can help the entire ecosystem.

Given the relatively low-yield on residential real estate in Indian cities (at 2-3 per cent annually on average), investors need to view the residential segment more as a zero-coupon bond structure, where buying the asset at a relative discount to intrinsic value can eventually create returns when the asset is sold off. While we have seen some of these strategies being implemented, given the scale of the residential real estate sector a lot more can potentially be done.

It is crucial to note that tax policies that can set clearing prices for the residential real estate assets and increased interest from institutional investors in the sector go hand in hand. The former is essential to boost the latter. A solution that can address the residential real estate glut will help increase tax collections, relieve the pressure of real estate developers, allow consumers access to housing, provide investment returns and create a regulatory environment more conducive for business.

The second area that needs continued attention in India to avoid market failures is progressing towards an independent energy ecosystem. Lower commodity prices must not distract Indian policymakers and the energy ecosystem from the task of continually building energy self-sufficiency.

The second area that needs continued attention in India to avoid market failures is progressing towards an independent energy ecosystem,pixabay

As the composition of energy production changes over the years with renewable energy becoming a more significant part of the energy matrix, long-term energy demand will still be met through a three-pronged approach involving thermal, renewable and natural gas-based energy systems.

Lessons from the past suggest that regardless of the energy source, policies must look to avoid market failures, especially by being aware of creating efficient interlinkages in the energy ecosystem. At its core, energy production has an input cost (raw material and initial capital expenditure) that generates energy.

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The energy needs to be transmitted and distributed at a price as per the agreed contract or market tariff (as per the business model). Market failures generally occur when inefficiencies occur in input costs, production set-up, transmission issues or contract enforcement of payment mechanisms. Regardless of the source of energy, policies must ensure that this value-chain functions smoothly.

In summary, avoiding market failures in essential sectors requires consistent policy-making across the supply chain. While creating the requisite infrastructure will take decades, periods of demand pickups and lower volatility lend themselves to assist us to accelerate the much-needed infrastructure creation. (IANS)

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Toxicity in Air Affects Children’s Brain Development: UNICEF

UNICEF has warned that air pollution affects a child's brain development

Brain Development
According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, air pollution toxicity can affect children's brain development. Pixabay

Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has warned that air pollution toxicity can affect children’s brain development and called for urgent action to deal with the crisis gripping India and South Asia.

“I saw first-hand how children continue to suffer from the dire consequences of air pollution,” Fore, who recently visited India, said on Wednesday.

“The air quality was at a crisis level. You could smell the toxic fog even from behind an air filtration mask,” she added.

Air pollution affects children most severely and its effects continue all their lives because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults and lack immunities, Fore said.

Brain Development
Air pollution damages brain tissue and undermines brain development in babies and young children. Pixabay

She added that it “damages brain tissue and undermines cognitive development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences that can affect their learning outcomes and future potential. There is evidence to suggest that adolescents exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to experience mental health problems”.

“Unicef is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis,” affecting 620 million children in South Asia.

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Schools were closed in Delhi till Tuesday because of the severe environmental situation caused by post-harvest burning of stubble in neighbouring states.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Sunday touched 625, considered “severe plus” level. (IANS)

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Parents Must Limit Their Children’s Screen Time For Better Brain Development

Based on the findings, paediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers should promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritising healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence

How school support may help ADHD children. Pixabay

Parents, please take note. If you want your kids to do well in life, limit their screen time to less than two hours, encourage them to do physical activities and to have sufficient sleep, suggests new research.

Following a two-hour screen time limit during childhood and adolescence is particularly important for cognitive development, showed the findings published in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.

“We found that more than two hours of recreational screen time in children was associated with poorer cognitive development,” said one of the researchers Jeremy Walsh, CHEO Research Institute, Canada.

The study involved more than 4,500 US children aged 8-11 years.

Children and parents completed questionnaires and measures at the outset of the trial to estimate the child’s physical activity, sleep and screen time.

In addition, children also completed a cognition test, which assessed language abilities, episodic memory, executive function, attention, working memory and processing speed.

The researchers examined how meeting recommendations for 9-11 hours of sleep, less than two hours of recreational screen time, and at least an hour of physical activity every day affected children’s cognition.

The more individual recommendations the child met, the better was their cognition, the findings showed.

In addition, meeting only the screen time recommendation or both the screen time and sleep recommendations had the strongest associations with cognitive development.

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“Behaviours and day-to-day activities contribute to brain and cognitive development in children, and physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep might independently and collectively affect cognition,” Walsh said.

“Based on our findings, paediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers should promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritising healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence,” Walsh added. (IANS)

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Breast Milk Boosts Brain Development in Premature Babies

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies

Breastmilk aids in combatting diseases in Newborns. Pixabay.

Premature babies fed with breast milk are more likely to have better brain development than those fed on formula milk, a new study has found.

According to studies, pre-term birth is associated with changes in the part of the brain’s structure that helps brain cells to communicate with one another, known as white matter.

However, this research showed that pre-term babies who exclusively received breast milk for at least three-quarters of the days spent in hospital showed improved brain connectivity, compared to babies who consumed less.

“Our findings suggest that brain development in the weeks after pre-term birth is improved in babies who receive greater amounts of breast milk,” said James Boardman, Director of the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh.

“The study highlights the need for more research to understand the role of early life nutrition for improving long-term outcomes for pre-term babies, he added.

Premature birth is associated with the possibilities of an increased risk of the decline of cognitive skills in later life, which are thought to be linked to alterations in brain development.

Breast Milk
Breast milk may help boost preemies’ brain development. Pixabay

Helping mothers to provide breast milk in the weeks after giving birth could improve long-term outcomes for children born pre-term, the researchers noted, in the paper published in the journal NeuroImage.

“Mothers of pre-term babies should be supported to provide breast milk while their baby is in neonatal care — if they are able to and if their baby is well enough to receive milk — because this may give their children the best chance of healthy brain development,” Boardman said.

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies.

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The babies were born before 33 weeks gestation and scans took place when they reached term-equivalent age, an average of 40 weeks from conception.

The effects were greatest in babies who were fed breast milk for a greater proportion of their time spent in intensive care. (IANS)