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Union government sets export target for sugar mills

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By NewsGram Staff-Writer

New Delhi: In a bid to assist farmers, the Union government on Friday set an export target for the sugar mills. The mills have been given a target of 4 million tonnes of sugar that they need to export for the marketing year ending September 2016.

Photo Credit: news24online.com
Photo Credit: news24online.com

The targets if achieved will help the sugar mills to clear their cane arrears of Rs.14,000 crore to farmers.

“The export quota of four million tonnes (MT) of all grades of sugar has been fixed for sugar factories for 2015-16 marketing year,” the food ministry said in a circular here.

“In view of the inventory levels with the sugar industry and to facilitate achievements of financial liquidity and enable industry to achieve long-run viability, minimum indicative export quotas (MIEQ) are being specified for 2015- 16 sugar season from October 1,” the circular said.

Sugar production is estimated to be at a record 28.3 million tonnes in 2014-15 marketing year (October-September) while the total annual demand is around 24.5 million tonnes.

Due to surplus sugar production, sugar prices in the country have fallen below Rs.20 per kg, while the current cost of production is over Rs.30 a kg.

“The decision of the government to export 4 million tonnes of sugar fixing individual export quotas for each sugar mill will help reduce most of the surplus sugar, which has been depressing domestic sugar prices,” Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) director general Abinash Verma said in a statement here.

“The market sentiments which are down, should improve with this decision and the ex-mill sugar prices which had fallen by Rs.8 to Rs.10 per kilo in last 14 to 16 months, will see some recovery,” he added.

Following a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider sugar exports, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said last month that a proposal was under consideration to ship four million tonnes on terms, including barter trade.

“We want to export sugar to those countries where there is a requirement. The industry must take initiative in this regard,” Paswan told reporters on the margins of a conference here. “We also want to promote barter. Otherwise, 40 percent import duty will be fixed and it will be of no use.”

Modi had called for higher ethanol content in petrol and a concerted effort to push exports in a bid to lower the current sugar surplus and protect the interests of farmers to whom factories owe an estimated Rs.15,000 crore in cane arrears.

Besides the arrears to farmers, the meeting came against the backdrop of the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) estimating sugar output for the sugar season 2014-15 (October to September) at 28.3 million tonnes, another 28 million tonnes in the next season, and a carry over of 10 million tonnes.

As a result, supplies have outstripped demand for the fifth straight year. The annual demand is around 25-26 million tonnes.

To address the issues at hand, the government has extended a soft loan of Rs.6,000 crore for the clearance of arrears, raised the import duty on sugar from 15 to 40 percent, increased the export subsidy to Rs.4,000 per tonne and raised the level of ethanol blending in petrol to 10 percent.

The government also allowed the export of an additional 2,095 tonnes of raw sugar to the US under the tariff rate quota, under which imports there attract a relatively lower customs duty. Prior to that, 8,424 tonnes of raw sugar had been notified for export to the US.

(With inputs from IANS)

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To Catch Up With China, India Needs To Focus on Improving Its Educational Outcomes

China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

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Children learning in a classroom, pixabay

By Amit Kapoor

Both China and India started building their national education systems under comparable conditions in the late 1940s. Different policies and historical circumstances have, however, led them to different educational outcomes, with China outperforming India not just in terms of its percentage of literate population and enrollment rates at all levels of education, but also in terms of number of world-class institutions in higher education, and greater research output.

The roots of China’s successful education system date back to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which unintentionally expanded access to the primary education through democratising the schooling system, which was previously elitist in character, thus addressing the problem of mass illiteracy.

In contrast, India continued to focus on its higher education system since independence and only realised the importance of basic education in 1986, keeping it behind China and many other countries in Asia in educational development. In terms of enrollment, China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

In terms of secondary school enrollment, India and China both started at the similar rates in 1985, with about 40 percent of their population enrolled in secondary schools. However, due to a wider base of primary school students, the rate of increase in China has been much faster than in India, with 99 percent secondary enrollment rate in China and 79 percent in India in 2017.

Happy kids in School Uniform
China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

India is closing in on the Chinese rate in terms of access to education, but on the literacy level front, there is a huge gap in the percentage of literate populations in the two countries. In the age group of 15-24 years, India scores 104th rank on literacy and numeracy indicator, compared to China’s 40th rank.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses after every three years the domain knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, science and finance, revealed that students in China performed above the OECD average in 2015. Moreover, one in four students in China are top performers in mathematics, having an ability to formulate complex situations mathematically. Further, China outperforms all the other participating countries in financial literacy, by having a high ability to analyse complex finance products. For India, the comparable data is not available as it was not a participating country in PISA 2015.

However, in India, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 provides data for rural youth, aged 14-18, with respect to their abilities to lead productive lives as adults. According to this survey, only about half of the 14-year-old children in the sample could read English sentences, and more than half of the students surveyed could not do basic arithmetic operations, like division. For basic financial calculations, such as managing a budget or making a purchase decision, less than two-thirds could do the correct calculations.

India
Schools in India

With regard to the higher education system, both India and China dominate the number of tertiary degree holders because of their large population size, but when it comes to the percentage of the population holding tertiary degrees, only about 10 per cent and 8 per cent of the population possess university degrees in China and India, respectively. By contrast, in Japan, almost 50 per cent of the population holds a tertiary degree, and in the United States, 31 per cent of the population hold a tertiary degree.

In terms of the international recognition of universities, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for 2019 places seven of the China’s universities in the top 200, compared to none for India. The global university rankings, which are based on various performance metrices, pertaining to teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industrial income, shows progress for several of China’s low-ranked universities, largely driven by improvements in its citations.

In fact, the Tsinghua University has overtaken the National University of Singapore (NUS) to become the best university in Asia due to improvements in its citations, institutional income and increased share of international staff, students and co-authored publications.

While India has progressed in terms of massification of education, there is still a lot which needs to be done when it comes to catching up with the China’s educational outcomes. China’s early start in strengthening its primary and secondary education systems has given it an edge over India in terms of higher education. Moreover, Chinese government strategies are designed in line with the criterion used in major world university rankings, especially emphasis is on the two factors which weigh heavily in the rankings — publications and international students.

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The relentless publications drive, which is very evident in China, is weak in India and has led to a growing gap in the number of publications contributed by the two countries. Further, China enrolled about 292,611 foreign students in 2011 from 194 countries, while India currently only has 46,144 foreign students enrolled in its higher education institutions, coming from 166 countries. The large number of international enrollments in China is a reflection of its state policies granting high scholarships to foreign students.

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes. Massification drive for education has helped India raise its student enrollments, but a lot needs to be done when it comes to global recognition for its universities. Further, it needs to focus on building the foundation skills which are acquired by students at the school age, poor fundamental skills flow through the student life, affecting adversely the quality of education system. (IANS)