Are you Ready for Insta 75 Days Revision Plan (UPSC Prelims - 2020)?
SECURE SYNOPSIS: 28 June 2017
NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
General Studies – 1;
Topic: Empowerment of women
Pakistan has been ranked very low in the Gender Gap Index, with only Yemen being worse off. These facts about the position of women in Pakistan are often related to social and cultural norms, where ‘Islam’ is said to blame for women’s backwardness, or the fact that the Saudisation of Pakistan over the last few decades has meant that the hijab or the abaya worn in parts of Islamic West Asia by women have become the sartorial choice of many women in Pakistan. However this does not depict the complete picture and needs more analysis.
Comparing and contrasting the nature of socio-political empowerment of women in Pakistan and India-
- Patriarchal nature of societies-
Both India and Pakistan are strong patriarchal societies. Cultures in both the countries confine women to household works and discourage from entering into the public life. Because of it, women have been treated with inferiority complex and opportunities for equality have been denied over the period of time in both the countries. It has resulted into low female labor force participation rate in both the countries.
- Poor socio-economic indicators-
Gender inequality index, 2015 – 0.530, ranked 125th out of 188 countries.
Global gender gap index, 2016- 0.683, ranked 87th out of 144 countries.
Gender inequality index, 2014- 0.535, ranked 121st out of 157 countries
Global gender gap index, 2016- 0.556, ranked 143rd out of 144 countries
- Transformation despite odds-
Much has been changing in the social, cultural and demographic position, and lives, of women in India and Pakistan over the last two decades. Despite patriarchy, institutional and state prejudices and restrictions, women are changing their condition, and redefining social sensibilities.
In some key categories women perform unexpectedly better than men. And that the rate of change in women’s improvement is faster/higher than that it is for men — that is, women are improving their situation faster than are men.
Data from girls’ and boys’ enrolment also show that girls’ enrolment at the primary school level, while still less than it is for boys, is rising faster than it is for boys. Girls enrolment at the primary school level increased by 34% between 2002-03 and 2011-12, while in the same period, it increased only 13.5% for boys.
Boys’ enrolment at university level had increased by 258% over this decade, but for girls the increase in these ten years had been 432%! In fact, by 2011-12, there were more girls enrolled in universities than boys.
In India too, women have taken strides particularly in education. Their literacy has increased to more than 65% from 8% at the time of independence. The literacy rate is increasing faster for women than men.
Many states like Kerala, Mizoram etc have achieved the universal primary education for girls.
More and more number of women are inducting into the higher education and educational barriers are being reduced for them.
- Safety of women-
Both the countries have passed numerous laws to protect and ensure the safety of women. However poor implementation of laws has resulted into high number of incidences of violence against the women.
- Women in public life-
Both countries are promoting and encouraging the women to occupy spaces in public life. Though overall participation of women in both the countries are low, India fares better in ensuring greater role for women in public life through different legislations. India has ensured 33% reservations to women at local bodies. Also many states in India have offered reservations to women at government services. Also Indian armed forces have almost granted treatment equality to women in all spheres.
Women’s share in politics is yet to rise fair level in Pakistan and also there is need to open employments that are totally limited to men.
The emergence of women as role-models depicted on urban billboards and in social media — from cricketers, to scientists, academics, writers of fiction, mountaineers, pilots even of fighter jets, an Oscar-winning film-maker, help in breaking the older stereotypes of women being relegated to domesticity.
Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies
What is the New Urban Agenda?
The New Urban Agenda is the outcome document agreed upon at the Habitat III cities conference in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016. It will guide the efforts around urbanization of a wide range of actors — nation states, city and regional leaders, international development funders, United Nations programmes and civil society — for the next 20 years. Inevitably, this agenda will also lay the groundwork for policies and approaches that will extend, and impact, far into the future.
What does the New Urban Agenda cover?
The New Urban Agenda, coming on the heels of the crystallization of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, seeks to create a mutually reinforcing relationship between urbanization and development. The idea is that these two concepts will become parallel vehicles for sustainable development.
The agenda thus seeks to offer guidelines on a range of “enablers” that can further cement the relationship between urbanization and sustainable development. This includes, on the one hand, “development enablers” that seek to harness the multiple, often chaotic forces of urbanization in ways that can generate across-the-board growth — national urban policy; laws, institutions and systems of governance; and the broad urban economy.
“Operational enablers”, on the other hand, aim to bolster sustainable urban development — or to allow it to take place at all. When implemented, they result in better outcomes for patterns of land use, how a city is formed and how resources are managed. The New Urban Agenda underscores three operational enablers, collectively being referred to by the UN-Habitat leadership as the “three-legged” approach: local fiscal systems, urban planning, and basic services and infrastructure.
What priorities guide the New Urban Agenda?
Beyond the specific technocratic solutions of economics and governance, several core ideas form the ideological underpinnings of the New Urban Agenda. Democratic development and respect for human rights feature prominently, for instance, as does the relationship between the environment and urbanization.
Similarly, the New Urban Agenda includes significant focus on equity in the face of globalization, as well as how to ensure the safety and security of everyone who lives in urban areas, of any gender and age. Risk reduction and urban resilience likewise play prominent roles. And the new agenda places key importance on figuring out how to set up a global monitoring mechanism to track all of these issues and concerns although the specifics on this remain up in the air pending debate by the U. N. General Assembly in 2017-18.
Meanwhile, the core issues of the Habitat Agenda — adequate housing and sustainable human settlements — remain on the table, as the number of people worldwide living in urban slums continues to grow. Indeed, in the time since the Habitat Agenda was adopted the world has become majority urban, lending extra urgency to the New Urban Agenda.
There is also an increasing recognition that cities have morphed into mega-regions, urban corridors and city-regions whose economic, social and political geographies defy traditional conceptions of the “city”. The New Urban Agenda thus was forced to address these trends in urbanization while also recognizing that cities and metropolitan areas are the major drivers of national economies.
Features of the New Urban agenda (NUA) of UN habitat-
- Providing basic facilities to citizens like safe drinking water, sanitation, healthcare, nutritious food, education etc.
- Ensuring that the needs of women, children, senior citizens, differently-abled people, marginalized sections is being taken care of by the local authorities.
- To protect the rights of refugees, migrants, internally displaced people and ensure that they receive timely access to basic facilities.
- Promoting renewable energy, greener and better public transport, sustainable management of resources.
- Better quality infrastructure, local response etc. to improve resilience of cities to reduce the risk and impact of disasters.
- Take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change by involving local government and civil society.
- Innovation to be the main driver of urban development
- Sustainable development through building of sustainable economies and environmental conservation
- Right to City a LeFebvrian concept which propounds equal access of all facets of urban life to all its dwellers marks a paradigm shift in the way Urban development be approached
- Devolution of powers for local governance and financial independence so as to truly reflect the demands of the society
- Resilient Infrastructure build so as to withstand the pressures of immigration, natural disasters, security concerns etc.
- Good governance be made integral part of city by judicial mix of technology in administrative and political reforms
- Disaster preparedness: Urban should include Disaster preparedness and infrastructure should include disaster resistance.
Lessons for India’s Smart cities mission-
- SCM does not pay much emphasis on strengthening local level governance, which it can incorporate from the NUA.
- With an emphasis on promoting civic engagement and strengthening participatory local governance, the NUA mirrors the commitment of the smart city for civic participation—where the citizens of the city have been involved in the mission at every step through polls and calls for suggestions to redevelop their cities.
- The emphasis on “inclusivity” and “sustainability” by the NUA can be integrated into the civic participation aspect of SCM.
- The NUA objective of establishing measures to help the migrants, internally displaced people, women, children, marginalized sections etc. can be included in SCM.
- More focus be given to the development basis the local requirements and funding rather than complete dependence on Center as one size fit all would not be the best way for development of Indian cities.
- The NUA aspires to integrated and vulnerable section—responsive housing policies, aspects that many of India’s smart cities need to pay close attention to.
As India strives to leave a mark on a world that is becoming increasingly urban, it would do well to follow a comprehensive and well chalked out strategy for our cities. Though a commendable step in the right direction, the SCM has its own pitfalls and shortcomings. With urbanization gaining prominence in the global policy discourse, it is important, now more than ever, to focus on local governance. Currently, there is an inadequate emphasis on the functioning of urban local bodies when it comes to centrally motivated schemes like the SCM. India is a signatory of the SDGs. Paying further attention to the aspects of resilience and local governance outlined in the NUA and the allied action framework can ensure that Indian cities respond to more than just competitive sub-federalism. Indian cities, catalysed by learnings from the NUA, can become competitive global cities.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
The recent visit of Indian PM Narendra Modi to USA has brought an opportunity to resolve conflicting bilateral issues that have stained the India-USA relationship. Some of these issues are-
Nature and challenges involved in bilateral issues which are yet to be resolved-
- America first Vs Make in India-
President Donald Trump is determined to bring back the jobs that are outsourced to the developing countries like India. He has put forward America’s interest as of prime importance for dealing with any other nation.
At the same time India is aiming for self-sufficiency in many technology intensive sectors like defence and R& D which may eventually result in less import. India is looking for technology transfer which is being opposed by the current market leaders as a threat to their income.
- Service facilitation agreement:
US and other developed countries have been less enthusiastic for free movement in services in which they view develping countries like India a threat for their local jobs.
- H1 B Visas-
Indians constitutes the largest number of H1B visa holders in the US and constitute as one of the largest group in high skilled sectors. The steep rise in H1B visa fee and enhanced regulation will harm the interests of Indians and is a sign of increasing protectionism in USA.
- IPR issues-
USA has accused India of not safeguarding the IPR rights of American companies and put India on priority watch list. However India has charged American companies of ever-greening of patents by making minor innovation changes. At the same time developing countries like India have high social responsibility of providing health and anti-poverty facilities to its huge population. Thus sometimes it needs to use tools like compulsory licensing.
- Tariff reduction-
India being a developing country compared to US which is a developed country, opposes tariff reduction as it may harm the agriculture and domestic industry from the american companies.
- Climate change funding:
US under the president Trump administration has criticized that funding norms agreed in Paris summit is unfair to the Americans and give India and China free hand. Whereas India maintains that US and other developed countries have been the largest polluters and have gained enormously from the industrialization and thus there should be common but differentiated responsibilities.
- India-Iran-USA relations-
India’s friendly relations with Iran have been contentious with the Americans who had repeatedly censured Iran with the sanctions. India has cordial relations with the Iran and India -Iran continued their oil trade in Rupees (rather than dollars) which was seen as snub to the Americans.
The new government’s American policy on China is yet to consolidate. However there are indications of softening of American stand on South China Sea because Washington is seeking Beijing’s active help in containing North Korea. In such situation it would be difficult for India to resist Chinese increased domination in Asia, Indo-pacific regions. India is wary of Chinese projects like OBOR, Gwadar port etc.
Though there are number of bilateral issues yet to solve, India-USA have made rapid improvement in their relationship since the end of cold war. Both the countries have signed number of agreements like Indo-US civil nuclear deal, LEMOA, Arms transfer, NSG waiver etc. India-US relationship has much more potential and can be established as strong block against the Chinese domination.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy –
Insolvency is when an individual or organization is unable to meet its outstanding financial debt towards its lender as it become due. Insolvency can be resolved by way of changing the repayment plan of the loans or writing off a part thereof. If it cannot be resolved, then a legal action may lie against the insolvent and its assets will be sold to pay off the outstanding debts. Generally, an official assignee/liquidator appointed by the Government of India, realizes the assets and allocates it among the creditors of the insolvent.
Bankruptcy is a concept slightly different from insolvency, which is rather amicable. A bankruptcy is when a person voluntary declares himself as an insolvent and goes to the court. On declaring him as ‘bankrupt’, the court is responsible to liquidate the personal property of the insolvent and hand it out to its creditors. It provides a fresh lease of life to the insolvent.
Features of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC)-
- Corporate Debtors: Two-Stage Process
To initiate an insolvency process for corporate debtors, the default should be at least INR 100,000 (USD 1495) (which limit may be increased up to INR 10,000,000 (USD 149,500) by the Government). The Code proposes two independent stages:
- Insolvency Resolution Process, during which financial creditors assess whether the debtor’s business is viable to continue and the options for its rescue and revival; and
- Liquidation, if the insolvency resolution process fails or financial creditors decide to wind down and distribute the assets of the debtor.
(a) The Insolvency Resolution Process (IRP)
The IRP provides a collective mechanism to lenders to deal with the overall distressed position of a corporate debtor. This is a significant departure from the existing legal framework under which the primary onus to initiate a reorganisation process lies with the debtor, and lenders may pursue distinct actions for recovery, security enforcement and debt restructuring.
The Code envisages the following steps in the IRP:
- Commencement of the IRP
A financial creditor (for a defaulted financial debt) or an operational creditor (for an unpaid operational debt) can initiate an IRP against a corporate debtor at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
The defaulting corporate debtor, its shareholders or employees, may also initiate voluntary insolvency proceedings.
The NCLT orders a moratorium on the debtor’s operations for the period of the IRP. This operates as a ‘calm period’ during which no judicial proceedings for recovery, enforcement of security interest, sale or transfer of assets, or termination of essential contracts can take place against the debtor.
- Appointment of Resolution Professional
The NCLT appoints an insolvency professional or ‘Resolution Professional’ to administer the IRP. The Resolution Professional’s primary function is to take over the management of the corporate borrower and operate its business as a going concern under the broad directions of a committee of creditors.
Therefore, the thrust of the Code is to allow a shift of control from the defaulting debtor’s management to its creditors, where the creditors drive the business of the debtor with the Resolution Professional acting as their agent.
- Creditors Committee and Revival Plan
The Resolution Professional identifies the financial creditors and constitutes a creditors committee.
The creditors committee considers proposals for the revival of the debtor and must decide whether to proceed with a revival plan or liquidation within a period of 180 days (subject to a one-time extension by 90 days). Anyone can submit a revival proposal, but it must necessarily provide for payment of operational debts to the extent of the liquidation waterfall.
Under the Code, a corporate debtor may be put into liquidation in the following scenarios:
- A 75% majority of the creditor’s committee resolves to liquidate the corporate debtor at any time during the insolvency resolution process;
- The creditor’s committee does not approve a resolution plan within 180 days (or within the extended 90 days);
- The NCLT rejects the resolution plan submitted to it on technical grounds; or
- The debtor contravenes the agreed resolution plan and an affected person makes an application to the NCLT to liquidate the corporate debtor.
Once the NCLT passes an order of liquidation, a moratorium is imposed on the pending legal proceedings against the corporate debtor, and the assets of the debtor (including the proceeds of liquidation) vest in the liquidation estate.
- Insolvency Resolution Process for Individuals/Unlimited Partnerships
- For individuals and unlimited partnerships, the Code applies in all cases where the minimum default amount is INR 1000 (USD 15) and above (the Government may later revise the minimum amount of default to a higher threshold). The Code envisages two distinct processes in case of insolvencies: automatic fresh start and insolvency resolution.
- Under the automatic fresh start process, eligible debtors (basis gross income) can apply to the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) for discharge from certain debts not exceeding a specified threshold, allowing them to start afresh.
- The insolvency resolution process consists of preparation of a repayment plan by the debtor, for approval of creditors. If approved, the DRT passes an order binding the debtor and creditors to the repayment plan. If the plan is rejected or fails, the debtor or creditors may apply for a bankruptcy order.
- Institutional Infrastructure
- The Insolvency Regulator
The Code provides for the constitution of a new insolvency regulator i.e., the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Board). Its role includes: (i) overseeing the functioning of insolvency intermediaries i.e., insolvency professionals, insolvency professional agencies and information utilities; and (ii) regulating the insolvency process.
- Insolvency Resolution Professionals
The Code provides for insolvency professionals as intermediaries who would play a key role in the efficient working of the bankruptcy process. The Code contemplates insolvency professionals as a class of regulated but private professionals having minimum standards of professional and ethical conduct.
In the resolution process, the insolvency professional verifies the claims of the creditors, constitutes a creditors committee, runs the debtor’s business during the moratorium period and helps the creditors in reaching a consensus for a revival plan. In liquidation, the insolvency professional acts as a liquidator and bankruptcy trustee.
- Information Utilities
A notable feature of the Code is the creation of information utilities to collect, collate, authenticate and disseminate financial information of debtors in centralised electronic databases. The Code requires creditors to provide financial information of debtors to multiple utilities on an ongoing basis. Such information would be available to creditors, resolution professionals, liquidators and other stakeholders in insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings. The purpose of this is to remove information asymmetry and dependency on the debtor’s management for critical information that is needed to swiftly resolve insolvency.
- Adjudicatory authorities
The adjudicating authority for corporate insolvency and liquidation is the NCLT. Appeals from NCLT orders lie to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal and thereafter to the Supreme Court of India. For individuals and other persons, the adjudicating authority is the DRT, appeals lie to the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal and thereafter to the Supreme Court.
In keeping with the broad philosophy that insolvency resolution must be commercially and professionally driven (rather than court driven), the role of adjudicating authorities is limited to ensuring due process rather than adjudicating on the merits of the insolvency resolution.
Factors on which success of the bankruptcy law is likely to depend on-
- The severe capacity constraints of the NCLT in handling the present and past backlog of cases need to be reformed.
- There is urgent need for the NCLT judges to ramp up their understanding of the complex bankruptcy environment and to make themselves capable to handle the cases in an expedient and fair way.
- It is critical for the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India to quickly develop a robust way to select the most qualified IPs.
- Apart from their technical capabilities, it will be crucial to ensure that the IPs are truly independent and do not allow promoters or other key stakeholders to manipulate the resolution process in any unfair manner.
- The success of IB act will also depend on how institutional capacity is strengthen; how there will be greater alignment in the interests of the promoters, creditors and buyers of distressed assets; and, finally, how the government and banks show a strong political will to settle a few cases quickly and transparently.
India currently ranks 136 out of 189 countries in the World Bank’s index on the ease of resolving insolvencies. India’s weak insolvency regime, its significant inefficiencies and systematic abuse are some of the reasons for the distressed state of credit markets in India today. The Code promises to bring about far-reaching reforms with a thrust on creditor driven insolvency resolution. It aims at early identification of financial failure and maximising the asset value of insolvent firms. The Code also has provisions to address cross border insolvency through bilateral agreements and reciprocal arrangements with other countries.
The unified regime envisages a structured and time-bound process for insolvency resolution and liquidation, which should significantly improve debt recovery rates and revitalise the ailing Indian corporate bond markets.
Topic: Environmental pollution
Enormous quantities of organic and inorganic compounds are released into the environment each year as a result of human activities. In some cases these releases are deliberate and well regulated (e.g. industrial emissions) while in other cases they are accidental (e.g. chemical or oil spills). Detoxification of the contaminated sites is expensive and time consuming by conventional chemical or physical methods. Bioremediation and Biomining can be very effective in such cases.
Bioremediation is process of using naturally occurring or laboratory cultivated micro-organisms to reduce or eliminate toxic pollutants. Petroleum products are a rich source of energy and some organisms are able to take advantage of this and use hydrocarbons as a source of food and energy. This results in the breakdown of these complex compounds into simpler forms such as carbon dioxide and water. Bioremediation thus involves detoxifying hazardous substances instead of merely transferring them from one medium to another. This process is less disruptive and can be carried out at the site which reduces the need of transporting these toxic materials to separate treatment sites.
Biomining is a technique of extracting metals from ores and other solid materials typically using prokaryotes or fungi. These organisms secrete different organic compounds that chelate metals from the environment and bring it back to the cell where they are typically used to coordinate electrons. It was discovered in the mid 1900’s that microorganisms use metals in the cell. Some microbes can use stable metals such as iron, copper, zinc, and gold. Biomining is an environmentally friendly technique compared to typical mining. Mining releases many pollutants while the only chemicals released from biomining is any metabolites or gasses that the bacteria secrete.
Their application in solid-waste management in Indian cities-
- Bioremediation and biomining techniques are used to degrade highly toxic metals, chemicals, effluents and pollutants from the environment.
- Heavy metals from tanneries if not degraded by algae produce toxic oxides; these oxides produce lungs cancer, asthma, paralysis, brain damage, memory loss etc.
- Biomining also allows us torecycle resources by extracting useful components from the waste.
- Bioremediation and biomining processworks successfully for old dumps as well a new.
- It removes the garbage hills and their lingering ill effects, which permanently achieves near-zero emission of harmful gases (such as methane, hydrogen sulphide, and ammonia) and contaminated leachate.
- As an alternate to the use of chemicals and artificial mechanisms that are to be used for the cleaning processes, it has no side effects, pollution free environment is the outcome.
- Processes likeincineration requires a lot of energy whereas bioremediation and biomining is energy independent process thus saving a large amount of energy.
- Microorganisms are especially genetically modified for biomining and bioremediation e.g. bacteria like Deinococcus and Radiodurans are helpful in absorption of mercury and aromatic hydrocarbons like toluene.
- As more innovators are discovering new and easier processes of bioremediation and biomining, the process is becoming simpler and cheaper.
- The land which was hosting waste dumps is now fully recovered for alternate uses.
With Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 in place, government should be more proactive in implementing them in true letter and spirit and these techniques can be better utilised in alignment with Schemes like Smart Cities, AMRUT and Swach Bharat Mission.
Topic: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security
Who is Syed Salahuddin?
Known for his anti-Indian-government stand, Mohammed Yusuf Shah aka Salahuddin, 71, hails from Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir. He unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections from Amirakadal constituency in 1987. It was after joining Hizb-ul Mjahideen that he changed his name from Yusuf Shah to Syed Salahuddin. He is currently the chief of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, one of several homegrown militant groups that have been operating from the Valley for decades.
What does the designation of global terrorist mean?
Under the US Executive Order 13224, an individual or group is placed under the category of Special Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). Terror outfits are designated ‘Foreign Terrorist Organizations’ and individuals who are part of such organisations are designated SDGT. Such categorisation is aimed at disrupting the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organisations. Through the Office of Assets Control (OFAC), the designation authorises US government to block the assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism. It deters donations or contributions to designated individuals or entities, and heightens public awareness and knowledge of individuals or entities linked to terrorism. The notification was first signed into law by George W Bush as President in September 2001.
Why tag of US’s global terrorist to Salahuddin matters to India?
- This is the first time a Kashmiri militant has been designated a “global terrorist”.
- By doing so, the United States has accepted that Salahuddin’s Hizb-ul Mujahideen is not an “indigenous terror group” in Kashmir and poses a greater threat to the world.
- The US move is recognition of India’s longstanding position that cross-border terrorism is behind the crisis in Kashmir, particularly in the past one year.
- Hizb-ul Mujahideen maintains close links with Pakistan-based terrorist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad but, unlike these, it has had no global agenda thus far. The outfit has confined itself to the Kashmir Valley, maintaining that its struggle is limited there. This move would give more teeth to the India’s fight against terrorism in Kashmir.
- The move could also strengthen the ties between India and USA on other related matters like CCIT, Mashood Azhar etc. which could be used to neutralize china’s repeated attempts to protect Pakistan.
- Sanctions can help in curbing down the activities of extremist groups in kashmir and can be instrumental in bringing peace to the valley.
- This would strengthens India’s stand that present situation in Kashmir is due to cross border terrorism and is not due to human right violations as claimed by Pakistan.
In short term the move would help in curbing the terrorist activities of the Hizb-ul-mujahideen. However India should not depend on the US patronage to blacklist any terrorist or organization. India needs improve its anti-terrorist operations in firmer way till Pakistan stops export of terrorist and agrees for peaceful resolution of matters.
Topic: e-technology in the aid of farmers
Some of the problems faced by farmers-
- Farmers living in rain-fed and drought-prone areas contribute 60% of the cultivated area but contribute only 45% of the total agricultural production. These are the farmers without the financial wherewithal to withstand the vagaries of nature. A single crop failure due to drought, flood or similar reasons can destroy them.
- Crop insurance programmes have not been able to recover farmers’ investments in most cases due to lack of accurate farm-level data that can be used to settle claims.
- Farm economics are beholden to the economics of demand and supply. With every recurring phenomenon of high production that is in excess of demand, there is the consequent (and drastic) fall in prices.
- There is no commodity-based farmers’ organization in the country to address these issues. In other countries, such organizations advise farmers on global projections of demand and supply for specific crops and help in moderating acreages in line with projected demand.
- Neither are there platforms for farmers to highlight issues to key stakeholders such as policymakers, economists and scientists. Existing farmer organizations are aligned with political or other special interest groups and are neither objective nor scientific in their approach. Hence, the need for the development of a non-partisan platform.
- Another high-input cost today is that of farm labour, itself a much misunderstood and maligned issue. Most of us thinks there is ample farm labour available. But the problem is the availability of labour at the right time and at the right cost. The cost of labour has risen due to social welfare programmes and minimum wage levels. At peak times, like sowing, transplanting, harvesting, etc., it is very difficult to get sufficient farm labour.
How technology can solve the farmer’s issues?
- Genetically Modified Crops- Government needs to invest more in technological research & development to reduce use of pesticides and make crops less water intensive. GM crops could prove as great solution for this.
- PUSA is manufacturing Digital Soil Test and Fertilizer Recommendation (STFR) to help in determining the nature of soil and to suggests crops aptly suited for soil.
- Government needs to promoter the role of Micro-irrigation technologies such as drip-irrigation, sprinkler, SRS etc particularly in rain-fed and drought prone areas.
- Platforms like DD Kisan Channel, KIsan call centres, m-kisan portal etc must be used for spreading best scientific agriculture practices.
- Use of latest technology like drones, satellite images mobiles etc for crop damage assessment under PMFBY etc must be used.
- Climate smart agriculture- Agriculture is severely impacted by climate change phenomena. Climate change adaption techniques will be a big push in this situation.
- Government should provide critical infrastructure like cold storages, godowns, all-weather roads, transport facilities to ensure that vegetables and other perishable agricultural produce reaches to consumer in quick time.
- e-NAMs and E-Mandies: Online Connectivity of markets will ensure optimum price and profitability.
- Government needs to create agro-irradiation centers in rural areas that increase the longevity of the crop.
- Government needs to provide quick forecast/weather updates so that farmers can take preventive measures to reduce damage in cases of nature’s vagaries.
- Farmers themselves should organize into non-political organization that could help them to get rightly cooperation and help from government. Also government should help farmers to anticipate and predict the demands of various crops for future. This could help famers to sow accordingly.
We need to overhaul our thinking and approach towards addressing farmers’ challenges which are complicated and structural in nature. Waiving farm loans is a lazy option for governments and a costly option for the banking system. Thus government should invest in technological improvements for finding long term solution.