1) Explained: What is African Swine Fever reported in India for the first time?
What is African Swine Fever (ASF)?
ASF is a severe viral disease that affects wild and domestic pigs typically resulting in an acute haemorrhagic fever.
The disease has a case fatality rate (CFR) of about 100 percent. Its routes of transmission include direct contact with an infected or wild pig (alive or dead), indirect contact through ingestion of contaminated material such as food waste, feed or garbage or through biological vectors such as ticks.
The disease is characterised by the sudden deaths of pigs.
Other manifestations of the disease include high fever, depression, anorexia, loss of appetite, haemorrhages in the skin, vomiting and diarrhoea among others.
It is important that determination of ASF is made through laboratory testing and it is differentiated from Classical Swine Fever (CSF), whose signs may be similar to ASF, but is caused by a different virus for which a vaccine exists.
Prevalence in India:- Since February, over 2,900 pigs have died in the state due to African Swine Fever (ASF), which does not affect humans but can be catastrophic for pigs. This is the first time that an ASF outbreak has been reported in India.
2) Explained: Why are Medium, Small, Micro Enterprises worst hit by Covid-19 lockdown?
How are MSMEs defined?:-
Earlier :- Formally, MSMEs are defined in terms of investment in plant and machinery. But this criterion for the definition was long criticised because credible and precise details of investments were not easily available by authorities.
In February 2018, the Union Cabinet decided to change the criterion to “annual turnover”, which was more in line with the imposition of GST.
According to the proposed definition, which is yet to be formally accepted,
a micro enterprise will be one with an annual turnover less than Rs 5 crore;
a small enterprise with turnover between Rs 5 crore and Rs 75 crore; and
a medium enterprise with turnover less than Rs 250 crore.
What kind of problems do MSMEs in India face?
To begin with, most of them are not registered anywhere. A big reason for this is that they are just too small. Even GST has its threshold and most micro enterprises do not qualify.
Being out of the formal network, they do not have to maintain accounts, pay taxes or adhere to regulatory norms etc. This brings down their costs. But, as it is clear in a time of crisis, it also constrains a government’s ability to help them.
Related to this is possibly the single-biggest hurdle facing the MSMEs – lack of financing.
Most of the MSME funding comes from informal sources and this fact is crucial because it explains why the Reserve Bank of India’s efforts to push more liquidity towards the MSMEs have had a limited impact.
A key reason why banks dither from extending loans to MSMEs is the high ratio of bad loans.
The other big issue plaguing the sector is the delays in payments to MSMEs — be it from their buyers (which includes the government also) or things like GST refunds etc.
Covid – 19 has accentuated the Problem. A big hurdle to restarting now is the lack of labour availability.
What can be done?
RBI has fried to pump money into MSME but it has limited scope.
The government can provide tax relief (GST and corporate tax), give swifter refunds, and provide liquidity to rural India (say, through PM-Kisan) to boost demand for MSME products.
A credit guarantee by the government helps as it assures the bank that its loan will be repaid by the government in case the MSME falters.
Data on Numbers :-
99.5 per cent of all MSMEs fall in the micro category. While micro enterprises are equally distributed over rural and urban India, small and medium ones are predominantly in urban India. In other words, micro enterprises essentially refer to a single man or a woman working on their own from their home.
The medium and small enterprises — that is, the remaining 0.5% of all MSMEs — employ the remaining 5 crore-odd employees.