1. Cutting fuel taxes is a sure-shot way to address a major component of price pressures

  • Source: The Hindu – Page 1/Front: Lifeline for telcos as govt. offers four-year moratorium on dues
  • GS 3: Economy, Technology

Context: GST on Fuels and Inflation in the economy

Inflation in the Economy – Latest CPI Data

  • Inflation is increase in prices over a period of time and is measured in Consumer Price Index and the Wholesale Price Index.
  • Lowering trend: The price pressures have begun to moderate in the economy, with August data for CPI showing that inflation having slowed for a second straight month to a 5.3% pace, after July’s 5.59%.

 However, it would be premature to drop the guard on price gains.

  1. Base Effect: The year-earlier inflation reading was elevated thus imparting a favourable base effect.
  2. Month-on-month is still high: the CPI nudged up 0.25% from July, belying the inference of softening inflation.
  3. Inflation in Food: Inflation in at least three essential food components speeded up from the preceding month,
    • with meat and fish, dairy and oils and fats posting significant accelerations.
    • Edible oils have been on a boil for months now, with the 33% rise in August following July’s 32.5%. The earlier round of cuts in import duties have had little impact in cooling their prices, forcing the Centre to announce another tranche of duty reductions this month.
    • Inflation in two other vital protein sources, eggs and pulses, also continued to remain a cause for concern. While inflation in eggs remained in the high teens at 16.3%, price increase in pulses was 8.81% after slowing 23 basis points from July’s 9.04% pace.
    • A persistent and wider deflation in vegetable prices was the main positive contributor to the easing in overall food and beverages inflation last month.
  4. Inflation in fuel and light, clothing and footwear, health as well as household goods and services all ratcheted up last month.
  1. Transport and communication: which includes pump prices of the main automotive fuels of petrol and diesel, stayed stuck in double digits at 10.2% albeit after a 30 basis points easing from July’s 10.5% pace.
  2. WPI data show higher transportation costs combined with input price pressures fanned faster inflation in manufactured products as well, sending the segment’s pace to 11.4%, a fourth straight month of double-digit price gains.
  3. IHS Markit’s PMI survey for services revealed input costs rose in August at the fastest rate in four months, and a recent CII poll of CEOs showed a majority 67% expect average retail inflation this year to hover close to or exceed the RBI’s mandated monetary policy upper threshold of 6%.

 Risks of High Production Costs:

  1. Impact on consumption: Inflation has a far more bigger impact on the consumers’ and businesses’ expectations of the trend in prices.
  2. Economic Activity: Fears of future high inflation dampen sentiment and thus retard economic activity.

 Way Forward: Cutting fuel taxes is a sure-shot way to address a major component of price pressures and it is time the Government bites the bullet and acts to provide a more abiding solution.


2. ‘Know the enemy, know self’ is sound professional advice. It can be achieved if the national leadership and military education system have access to full-time domain specialists

  • Source: The Hindu – Page 6/Editorial: ‘Know the enemy, know self’ is sound professional advice
  • GS 2: IR

Context: Sun Tzu, Chinese military strategist and philosopher, famously said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles… if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

  • In this context, the article stresses on the need for re-examining the Professional Military Education (PME) in the Indian armed forces.

Strategy should be a structured Process:

  • Gathering information: the adversary’s and your own,
  • Its distillation into knowledge and
  • Finally recommending options to decision-makers.

 Gaps in Advising the National Leadership:

  • Pragmatic leadership seeks advice from knowledgeable people. Thus, the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and NITI Aayog advise the Government and offer options on key issues.
  • Each body must have domain specialists from important fields and when one considers the NSCS and the NSAB, the three arms of the armed forces should be represented at the senior advisory level. 

Apex institutions abroad

  • The United States Air Force has its air university with a faculty of civilian academics who, having dedicated their lives studying just one particular field, are the last word in their area of expertise. Their teachings are co-related with real life experiences by uniformed service instructors.
  • France: Similar intermixing of Civilian and Military experience. 

The situation in India:

  • Problem of low experience: In our PME institutions most, if not all, instructors are service officers posted-in from field/staff appointments who do their two/three-year tenure and move on; there is no time to become an ‘expert’.
  • Guest Lectures: Having guest lectures is no substitute to having subject matter experts on staff doing full-time teaching.
  • Reforms in few institutions:
  • The Naval War College in Goa invites an eminent academic from abroad to run capsules on operational art. The college also has an adjunct faculty of tri-Service retired officers acting as mentors in specialised areas of learning.
  • National Defence College at Delhi has set-up a President’s Chair of Excellence teneted by a retired scholar warrior; and, this is how it should be elsewhere too.


  • Training in Multiple fields : The Defence Services Staff College should be the starting point with permanent chairs for subject matter experts teaching military history, strategy, geo-politics et al.;
  • Training in Field realities: the Commandant should be a reputed scholar warrior from any of the three services, and not just from the Army as has been till now. The Army War College, College of Air Warfare, College of Defence Management, etc. should take similar action. And as one moves up the hierarchy of learning.
  • Indian Defence University (IDU) project (earlier INDU — Indian National Defence University) is languishing after its foundation stone was laid in 2013 near Gurgaon. In times when road infrastructure and the setting up of additional IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, etc. are being fast-tracked, the silence on the IDU, which would be the capstone institution to guide PME architecture in India, is unfathomable.
  • MHA has set up the Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU) in Gujarat (whose head is a member of the NSAB too). Incidentally, the website of RRU states that it will have schools for Air and Space, Navy, Army, et al.; but, one thought that the charter for such schools of higher strategic learning was to be for IDU.
  • However the Ministry of Defence is delaying IDU that is planned to have all tri-Service institutions, including the National Defence College, under its tutelage.

Conclusion:  if there was ever a case of sound academic presence and military professionals from all three services populating them, it is here. The national leadership, both civil and military, in these times of galloping technology in the military sphere and re-hashing of international relationships, will gain immensely in knowing the enemy — and ‘itself’. 




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