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Regional Connectivity Scheme
- The Indian Aviation sector has not been able to develop in accordance with its true potential. Out of 125 crore Indians, 35 crore are middle-class but the number of tickets sold is only eight crore. It’s a pity that middle-class Indians with reasonable amount of disposable income are not able to fly once in four years.
- Lack of regional connectivity- Many parts of India especially the North East lack the necessary air connectivity.
- Hence, the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) has been launched to fulfil the following objectives:
- to make flying affordable for the masses
- to promote tourism
- increase employment
- Promote balanced regional growth.
- It also intends to put life into un-served and under - served airports
Features of scheme
- Aircrafts and helicopter operators would be required to assess the demand on various routes and submit their proposal for providing connectivity on such routes.
- The procedure for selecting Airline Operators would be based on reverse bidding mechanism.
- The airlines would be required to earmark certain number of seats on every flight for the RCS. The fare for such seats would be capped based on flight distance and time. For eg passengers will be able to fly an hour’s journey (of about 500 km) for an all-inclusive fare of Rs 2,500
- Airfares will be capped in the range of Rs.1,700-Rs.4,070 and will be revised every quarter based on the prevailing inflation rate.
- The Airlines would also be required to maintain a frequency of minimum, three flights per week and maximum seven flights per week.
- Airport Authority of India will be the implementing Agency for the Scheme.
- The RCS route would have to include un-served airports i.e. airports where there is no scheduled commercial flight or under-served airports i.e. airports which have 7 or less scheduled commercial flights per week.
- The RCS routes would cover a length between 200 to 800 km. But this criteria would not apply to hilly areas, islands, North-east region and for helicopter operations.
- A Regional Connectivity Fund would be created to subsidise the operation of the RCS
- Viability Gap funding would be given to the selected airlines. The VGF support for respective routes would be indexed to inflation and ATF prices which would be reviewed periodically. The VGF support would also be linked to the passenger volumes.
- The Exit Mechanism for selected airlines would be made easy after a period of one year
- The selected Airlines will enjoy a period of exclusivity on the awarded routes.
- The Central Government will support the RCS Scheme by levying an excise duty of only 2% on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) purchased at RCS Airports for a period of three years.
- As the Indian economy grows, consumption-led growth in populated metros is expected to spill over to hinterland areas. This is also expected to be on account of factors of production (land, labour, etc.) becoming costlier in the densely populated metro cities. In this scenario, air connectivity can provide required impetus to the economic growth of such regional centres. Hence, this scheme is definitely well-intended.
- The capped airfares and increased connectivity would certainly bring flying to the middle classes as envisaged by the draft aviation policy.
- For airlines
- Airline Operators will exempt RCS flights from landing charges, parking charges, and terminal navigation landing charges.
- Airlines will get security and fire services free of cost, besides providing electricity, water and other utility services at concessional rates.
- Airlines operating on regional connectivity scheme routes will get exclusive rights to fly in the particular sector.The move is well aimed at providing sustainability to their operations for one-three years.
- The NITI Aayog’s had earlier objected to the cross-subsidy idea i.e. levies on trunk routes to fund connectivity to places where an airline would not otherwise wish to go. Such cross-subsidy, it reportedly felt, was unnecessary and costly, tampering with the way the market worked.
1. The hindu
2. Economic Times
3. Press information bureau
The article focuses on India’s growing problem of rising population and suggest measures to control it and take benefit of demographic dividend.
- Scared off by the popular backlash to family planning excesses during the Emergency, India’s political and social leadership abandoned the subject of population growth decades ago.
- The 10-year goals set out in the Population Policy 2000 were mostly neglected by political class.
- But, the problem does not need a political solution. It needs the dedicated attention of the chief ministers of three states — Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — in whose hands lie the attainment of a goal that 24 states have already realised: Reducing fertility rates to replacement level.
- With over 26 million births each year, the country’s population momentum is akin to a super-fast train which cannot be stopped. With determination, it can, however, be slowed down.
- Stopping the momentum is impossible: It is like telling generations of Indians, including newly-weds, to not have children or to mandate a small family norm. Fortunately, neither strategy is feasible in a democracy.
- But chief ministers can certainly encourage people towards an optimum family size and provide couples with the tools to space and limit the arrival of their children — but voluntarily.
Such an approach — soft and easy-going as it may sound — has, by and large, succeeded.
- But what is “optimum”?
- Demographers agree that if women in child-bearing years produce an average of 2.1 children per head — so as to replace both parents — the population gets stabilised. This number is referred to as the total fertility rate (TFR).
- Both low and high TFR can pose problems. With Japanese and European couples opting for fewer children, TFR in Europe and Japan has fallen below 1.5; that raises fears of societies disappearing.
- India’s TFR is presently at 2.3 with huge variations between states.
- Performance of states:
- Kerala and Tamil Nadu achieved the ideal TFR of 2.1 in 1989 and 1992.
- The good news is that since then, several big states — Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab and West Bengal — have brought down fertility rates to replacement levels.
- Three other states — Gujarat, Haryana and Assam — are poised to join them in a year. The TFR in some states like Goa and West Bengal has fallen to nearly European levels.
- Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (30 per cent of India’s population) are, however, responsible for pulling the country back.
- Their neighbours, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand (10 per cent of the country’s population) have also been tardy but they are moving towards the 2.1 TFR goal; for them the target looks attainable by 2020.
- The National Family Health Survey and the District Level Health Surveys show that most poor families if assured of two living children do not want more.
- But this is not the case in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan where poor parents consciously want more than two children; it is also ironical that the unmet need for contraception is also the highest in these states.
- Higher fertility levels, early marriages, repeated pregnancies and mothers giving birth in their 40s are exacerbating the problem. Contraception is not used by 50 per cent of those who need it the most.
- According highest primacy to population stabilisation in these three states is, therefore, essential. By tracking every married couple in underserved villages, a lot can be achieved.
- One strategy would be to give incentives to the local health volunteers who should be remunerated for every year’s delay in child birth after the age of 19 (the legal age for women to marry being 18), promoting a gap of three years between children and facilitating family planning methods.
- The health minister has recently announced that his ministry will focus on high TFR districts, mostly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. While this is a good strategy, the engagement of the top leadership is indispensable.
- At stake is not just population stabilisation but more importantly women’s liberation and a greater chance for the unborn children to live, learn and become employable.
- India’s “demographic dividend” boast is sounding more and more clichéd when one sees the abysmal impact of health and education on millions of young men and women, particularly in the northern states.
- In the West, the term is used to signify the proportion of working people vis-a-vis the retirees.
- In India, the so-called dividend is actually represented by disproportionately high number of young people in six high fertility states, many of whom are unemployable. Malnutrition and illiteracy persist.
Question: India’s “demographic dividend” boast is sounding more and more clichéd when one sees the abysmal impact of health and education on millions of young men and women, particularly in the northern states. In India, the so-called dividend is actually represented by disproportionately high number of young people in six high fertility states, many of whom are unemployable. Malnutrition and illiteracy persist. Discuss..
- India’s demographic dividend and related problem of health and education.
- Suggest measures to reap benefits of demographic dividend.
- The role of government, civil society and public in solving the problem.