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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 31 January 2020


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.


 

Topic:  Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. Discuss the significance of the findings of Nagardhan excavations in understanding the Vakataka dynasty. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Why this question:

At Nagardhan near Nagpur, recent excavations have brought new clarity on the life, religious affiliations and trade practices of the Vakataka dynasty, which ruled parts of Central and South India centuries ago. Thus the question.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the significance of the findings of Nagardhan excavations in understanding the Vakataka dynasty.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the existence of Vakataka dynasty.

Body:

Recent archaeological excavations at Nagardhan in Ramtek taluka, near Nagpur, have provided concrete evidence on the life, religious affiliations and trade practices of the Vakataka dynasty that ruled parts of Central and South India between the third and fifth centuries.

Explain the significance of the excavations in understanding the socio-cultural and politico life of the Dynasty.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the significance of the excavations in understanding the features of the Dynasty.

Introduction:

Recent archaeological excavations at Nagardhan in Ramtek taluka, near Nagpur, have provided concrete evidence on the life, religious affiliations and trade practices of the Vakataka dynasty that ruled parts of Central and South India between the third and fifth centuries. After a 1,500 year-old sealing was excavated for the first time, a new study in Numismatic Digest has tried to understand the Vakataka rule under Queen Prabhavatigupta.

Body:

Vakataka dynasty:

  • Ruled parts of Central and South India between the third and fifth centuries.
  • Rule extended from the southern edges of Malwa and Gujarat in the north to the Tungabhadra River in the south as well as from the Arabian Sea in the west to the edges of Chhattisgarh in the east.
  • They were the most important successors of the Satavahanas in the Deccan and contemporaneous with the Guptas in northern India.
  • They were Shaivite rulers.
  • Nagardhan served as a capital of the Vakataka kingdom.
  • The elephant god was a commonly worshipped deity in those times.
  • Animal rearing was one of the main occupations. Remains of seven species of domestic animals — cattle, goat, sheep, pig, cat, horse and fowl — have been traced.
  • The rock-cut Buddhist viharas and chaityas of Ajanta Caves (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) were built under the patronage of Vakataka emperor, Harishena.

Key findings:

  • An oval-shaped sealing has been traced. It belongs to the period when Prabhavatigupta was the queen of the Vakataka dynasty.
  • It bears her name in the Brahmi script, along with the depiction of a conch.
  • The presence of the conch, scholars say, is a sign of the Vaishnava affiliation that the Guptas held.
  • A copper plate issued by Queen Prabhavatigupta has also been found. It starts with a genealogy of the Guptas, mentioning the Queen’s grandfather Samudragupta and her father Chandragupta II.
  • Since the Vakataka people traded with Iran and beyond through the Mediterranean Sea, scholars suggest that these sealings could have been used as an official royal permission issued from the capital city. Besides, these were used on documents that sought mandatory royal permissions.

 Queen Prabhavatigupta:

  • The Vakataka rulers were known to have forged several matrimonial alliances with other dynasties of their times. One of the key alliances was with Prabhavatigupta of the mighty Gupta dynasty, which was then ruling north India.
  • After marrying Vakataka king Rudrasena II, Prabhavatigupta enjoyed the position of Chief Queen.
  • Scholars say Queen Prabhavatigupta was among a handful of women rulers in India to have reigned over any kingdom during ancient times. Also, there had been no evidence so far of any successor female ruler within the Vakataka dynasty, the researchers suggest.
  • She ruled for about 10 years until her son Pravarasena II
  • She had a pivotal role in propagation of Vaishnava practices in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

 Significance of the findings:

  • Very little was known about the Vakatakas, the Shaivite rulers of Central India between the third and fifth centuries.
  • All that was known about the dynasty, believed to hail from the Vidarbha region, was largely through some literature and copperplates.
  • There were assumptions that the excavated site of Nagardhan is the same as Nandhivardhan, the capital city of the eastern branch of the Vakatakas.
  • It was after archaeological evidence from here that Nagardhan was understood to have served as a capital of the Vakataka kingdom.
  • Scholars say archaeologists who had previously excavated the site had not done detailed documentation; thus an archaeological exploration was needed.
  • The scholars have traced archaeological evidence revealing the dynasty’s religious affiliations — the types of houses and palaces of the rulers, coins and sealings circulated during their reign, and their trade practices.

Conclusion:

Although the Vakatakas replaced the Satavahanas, it does not seem that they continued their coin-minting tradition. As of today, no Vakataka coins have ever been identified

 

Topic:  Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

2. Inhuman practices in the name of religion in the country are a cause of worry in the country, the recent step taken by the govt. of Karnataka; by adopting anti-superstition law is a step in the right direction. Discuss the underlying factors responsible for the prevalence of such practices and suggest solutions to address the same. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Why this question:

A controversial anti-superstition law in Karnataka, the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, 2017, has been formally notified by the government, Thus the context of the question.

Key demand of the question:

One has to emphasize on the fact that a law to prevent exploitation in the name of religion is necessary for a country so diverse in religions and cultures.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by explaining what superstitions are.

Body:

Comment on the aspects of the prevailing culture about religious practices, superstitions etc. in the country.

Then move on to discuss the factors responsible for prevalence of such beliefs and existence of such rituals.

Discuss the importance of steps taken by the government of Karnataka.

Suggest more such solutions to cure the issue.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

A controversial anti-superstition law in Karnataka has formally been notified by the current government. It is called the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, 2017.

Body:

Superstitions:

Superstitions is followed by people who are weak or not rational. To some extent this approach is valid because even in a modern society people still consider it a bad omen when someone sneezes and you are about to go out, people approach godmen for remedies of problems etc.

There have been many inhuman practices in the name of religion. For example, in Maharashtra, there were several cases where people murdered or brutally injured others and held them responsible for some deaths in their families, merely on suspicion.

But totally blaming people who follow superstitions as weak hearted is an incomplete attempt to understand the whole. In aboriginal communities people still believe in magical beliefs. It is not to be forgotten that studies show that the tribes of Nicobar were fast enough to go to the higher reaches of the island to escape tsunami when modern society was so adversely affected.

Also superstition could be based on fact in olden days but the same logic is not valid with changes in the society. For instance many elders in the family believe cutting nails after sunset is bad. In olden days this was prohibited because then electricity was not available and it would be difficult to cut nails as some injury can be caused too but when it is seen in the modern approach the same logic does not hold anymore.

Why Superstition is prevalent in India?

  • In India many people link religion with superstitions. Many believe age old beliefs as the truth without necessary rational outlook.
  • When some scientists and well educated person believes in superstitions it gives legitimacy to the people to follow it.
  • Also In India still many are uneducated. The development and fostering of scientific temper is neglected entirely in Indian education system where reasoning is put behind.
  • Moreover people tend to look for godmen to get their problems solved especially in rural areas where adequate public health infrastructure is unavailable.
  • Sometimes people who are facing problems and have personal issues etc are superstitious as they want faster resolutions.
  • Even hard-core cynics can occasionally fall prey to superstitions like, if the stakes are high and the effort implemented is low, many rational people say they don’t believe, but they also don’t want to take a chance.
  • People prefer to take the safer route believing in superstitions in order to avoid any adversity, harm or injury. This is the reason why most superstitions are associated with fear of some harm that may strike the person if he or she does or fails to do a particular thing.

Importance of steps taken by the government of Karnataka

  • The act aims to bring social awakening and awareness in society and create a healthy and safe social environment.
  • Considered similar to the one in Maharashtra, the Act has ‘savings’ and ‘schedule’ categories, which classify practices that could be tolerated and those that need to be controlled or prohibited.
  • The notification said nothing in the Act shall apply with respect to the forms of worship mentioned under the heading ‘savings’.
  • These include practices like ‘pradakshina’, yatras, ‘parikramas’ performed at religious places, among other normal practices.
  • It also includes advice with regard to ‘Vastu Shastra’, advice by ‘jyothishya’ and other astrologers.
  • Practices included under the ‘schedule’ for prohibition are — performing any inhuman, evil act and black magic in search of precious things, bounty and hidden treasures
  • Other practices listed under 16 points for prohibition are facilitating any person to roll over leaves of leftover food by other people in public or religious places or similar practices that violate human dignity; subjecting women to inhuman and humiliating practices like parading them naked in the name of worship or otherwise, such as “betthale seve”.
  • Also, forcing any person to carry out evil practices such as the killing of an animal by biting its neck and coercing any person or persons to perform ‘firewalk’ at the time of ‘jatras’ (temple/village fest) and religious festivals have also been included, it added.
  • During the passage of the bill, certain amendments sought were made part of the bill, and the practice of ‘mudradharane’ by Madhwa Brahmins was exempted.
  • As per this practice, ‘mudras’ (seals) usually made of gold or copper are heated on coal fire and stamped on the body.
  • ‘Vashikarana’, practiced in occult science as an act of subjugation or advertising about it in the name of treatment has been banned under the Act
  • Superstitious practices, including black magic, are punishable under the Act for up to seven years and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 can be imposed.
  • The act also aims to bring social awakening and awareness in society and create a healthy and safe social environment, and also calls for the appointment of vigilance officers to oversee the implementation of the law.

The bill bans the following:

  • Evils against backward castes: Made Snana, a temple ritual in which people roll over plantain leaves with leftovers of food eaten by Brahmins or urulu seve, where devotees roll around the place of worship were abolished as it hurts an individual’s dignity
  • Menstrual taboo: The practice involves segregation of women during their menstrual cycle as they are considered to be unclean or impure. Alienation of pregnant women in society has also been abolished with this law.
  • Medicinal superstitions: It is now banned to seek treatment through black magic when bitten by a scorpion, snake or dog. They should seek medical treatment instead. Also, now people cannot claim to perform surgery using fingers or change the sex of foetus in a woman’s womb.
  • Parading naked women: Women cannot be forced to parade around naked in the name of goddess worship. This inhuman and humiliating practice against women is called ‘bettale seve’.
  • Self-inflicted injury: The practices that involve self-inflicted injuries, like hook-swinging are now outlawed. Hook-swinging involves a volunteer being pierced with hooks and then being suspended from a height.
  • Evils against children: The practice of throwing children off from heights or branding them with heated objects, in the name of curing them, is now banned.
  • Exploiting one’s fear of ghosts: One cannot create panic in people’s minds by claiming and creating the illusion of summoning a ghost or an evil spirit
  • Walking on fire: People cannot be coerced to walk on fire and harm themselves during the time of religious festivals, also known as jatras.
  • Animal sacrifice: The practice of sacrificing animals or causing them harm in the name of ritual or tradition, has also been banned.

Way forward:

Secular temptations and anxieties of money and power in the modern world explain better perhaps the rise in need-based rituals for placating deities than inner tendencies within religion. Lacking access to proper health care and poverty will also make victims fall to such methods.

  • If the executive is serious about curbing such practices, active implementation and enforcement of existing laws need to be made more effective. Studies in criminology have already established that certainty of punishment curbs the rate of crime and not the type or the quantum of punishment.
  • The enforcement machinery needs a major overhaul to make criminal justice more accessible.
  • Moral resources for replacing unacceptable practices are explored within tradition.

Conclusion:

Inhuman practices in the name of religion in the country are a cause of worry. In Maharashtra, there were several cases where people murdered or brutally injured others and held them responsible for some deaths in their families, merely on suspicion. So, a law to prevent exploitation in the name of religion is necessary.

 

Topic:   Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

3. With much in common, the rising ties between India and Brazil will send out strong signals of South-South cooperation. Explain.(250 words)

Reference:  Financial Express

Why this question:

The article discusses the growing ties between India and Brazil and in what way it is sending out signals of strong South-South cooperation.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the ties between India and Brazil and its significance.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

State key facts highlighting the Indo-Brazilian relations.

Body:

  • Explain that with much in common, the door is wide open to forge a social, cultural, people to people and economic relationship to boost trade from an insignificant $7 billion at present.
  • Both countries are multi-cultural, with a commitment to democracy; where the leadership has a strong mandate and a compatible profile.
  • Explain why and how it depicts strong south-south cooperation.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

India and Brazil share a very close and multifaceted relationship at bilateral level as well as in plurilateral fora such as BRICS, BASIC, G-20, G-4, IBSA, International Solar Alliance, Bio future Platform and in the larger multilateral bodies such as the UN, WTO, UNESCO and WIPO. The bilateral strategic partnership, which has opened a new phase for India-Brazil relations in 2006, is based on a common global vision, shared democratic values, and a commitment to foster economic growth with social inclusion for the welfare of the people of both countries.

Body:

The India-Brazil bilateral summit will be an important occasion to consolidate relationship between the two countries. While there is considerable distance between India and Brazil, the former is 15,000 miles away, yet striking similarities can make the heart grow fonder. Both countries are multi-cultural, with a commitment to democracy; where the leadership has a strong mandate and a compatible profile.

Highlights of Indo-Brazilian relations:

Political Cooperation:

  • The strategic partnership established in 2006 between Brazil and India has deepened, with both countries cooperating closely within BRICS, IBSA, G4, G20, and the wider multilateral context of the United Nations.
  • Brazil and India (along with Germany and Japan) jointly pursued aspirations of permanent seats in the UN Security Council and worked towards a multipolar world where large developing countries can frame global rules and democratise international institutions.
  • Both countries played a pivotal role as leaders of the Global South or South-South cooperation.
  • The Brazilian foreign policy of reciprocal multilateralism is in concurrence with India’s policy of strategic autonomy.

Cultural Cooperation:

  • In Brazil, there is enormous interest in India’s culture, religion, performing arts and philosophy.
  • Brazil has a strong community of Yoga and Ayurveda practitioners. The Brazilian Association of Ayurveda (ABRA) is a non-profit association with offices in 9 states of Brazil and has members all over Brazil.
  • Mahatma Gandhi is highly regarded in Brazil and the government and NGOs are trying to inculcate the philosophy of non-violence among students, youth and police.

Trade Relations:

  • The trade between both the countries is around $12 billion which is moderate. Brazil wants to increase the trade with India three times the present trade volume. The major focus is on commodities and so it is difficult to raise the trade volume. India grows coffee which is Brazil’s major export; animal feed is the major export of Brazil for which there is no market in India.
  • Brazil is rich in minerals and agricultural resources. If we look at the future trade there are possibilities like India might need to import pulses. India exports generic drugs and other pharmaceutical products. The services industry, IT and biotechnology is well established.
  • Brazil has an organisation which is the counter part of Indian Council for Agricultural Research called Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa). The cattle stock of Brazil is very important for them. Nellorebeef cattle originated from Ongole Cattle originally brought to Brazil from India. They are named after the district of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh state in India. So there are some Indian connections to its origin.

Defence Relations:

  • The defence relationship is possible; both are large countries with large defence needs whether it is helicopters or aircrafts. India has bought Embraer aircraft from Brazil where only few countries in the developing world make aircraft. There are possibility of cooperation in science and technology and developing designs.
  • Both countries have normal exchanges for instance Brazilian officers coming to National Defence College, providing training exercises and visits of chiefs. Both countries are aware that the requirements are large. The real potential is in designing and developing the defence industry.
  • Brazil and India signed a bilateral ‘Defence Cooperation Agreement’ in 2003 that calls for cooperation in defence-related matters, especially in the field of Research and Development, acquisition and logistic support between the two countries.

Strategic Relationship:

  • Both are mature democracies, developing countries, have different perspectives on many issues which is different from other countries, want a greater voice for ourselves, both are the partners for the expansion of security council and for becoming permanent members, both believe in institutional reforms in IMF, World Bank and UNSC. We are Natural Partners with the same kind of outlook on global issues.
  • Despite the huge distance, lot of cultural differences and different kind of history, there are remarkable affinities and common values. India was colonized by British and Brazil was colonized by Portuguese. Just as India sees coalition governments, differences between centre and state, Independence of judiciary, a very vibrant press, critical kind of NGOs, Brazil also has a same kind of political climate like many parties, many regions, and differences between central and state governments.
  • Both are developing countries with same size in economies. Brazil has lot of people trapped in poverty like India. Therefore in Democracy, Development, and Diversity, Brazil is also a country with many religion, languages, and cultures. Brazil is also familiar with the same kind of Diversity which India is familiar.
  • Brazil has a space programme which was stared at a time when India started it. But India has gone far ahead. From time to time ISRO has offered technical knowhow to Brazil.

The rising ties between India and Brazil will send out strong signals of South-South cooperation:

With much in common, the door is wide open to forge a social, cultural, people-to-people and economic relationship to boost trade from an insignificant $7 billion at present. This will send out a strong signal of South-South co-operation.

  • Brazil’s number one export to India is crude oil, but, mind you, it is experiencing an oil production boom and will be amongst the top-5 oil producing countries in the world over the next decade.
  • As a large producer of sugarcane, Brazil started a bioethanol programme which is highly effective and is a means of bio-energy which can fire up thermal cogeneration plants. One resultant by-product are bio-pellets (a substitute for coal) and a means of clean energy, the urgent need of the hour in India.
  • In wind energy, Brazil is the cheaperst source; a Brazilian company manufacturing wind turbine generators WEG is already in India. This resource can be fully tapped.
  • An ideal energy partner is around the corner, almost a God sent, and India should clinch a deal, especially in the wake of recent global events which could result in an oil crisis.
  • Brazil is not only self-sufficient in food production, but exports commodities including pulses to the Indian market. India consumes a variety of different foods, its growing and expanding population requires a perennial source, especially for proteins.
  • The ingredients for an all-encompassing relationship are, therefore, in place. Now, the two countries must repose trust in each other—make it solid like BRICS (Bricks) to bind aspirations, goals, and objectives of two nations.
  • India can start with a clean slate, having opted out of trade agreements, to put in place a bilateral framework/ agreement. This will be a “First” as we look beyond our neighbourhood principle.
  • It will also facilitate the flow of investments, and strengthen and fortify India’s strategic interests. Moving in this direction will be a practical litmus test for the ease of doing business. It will send out positive signals to foreign investors. A bilateral agreement between the two countries will secure this, which, in turn, will globally push India up in the ‘World Bank Ease of doing’ index.
  • We can go from a stage where the countries not only have a BRICS ‘bank’ in common, but can bank upon each other for ushering in the winds of change.

Conclusion:

The time is right for deepening this relationship. In fact, the Brazilian ministry of mines and energy has said that “India and Brazil are key players in the international energy landscape, both as consumers and producers. We are joining hands to create an international biofuel market and supply our planet with renewable and clean energy.” This partnership will make the presidential visit a landmark win-win, setting the right ‘pulse’.

 

Topic:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

4. Rural India has been witnessing slowdown, and one of the key factors contributing to it has been the fund crunch in the schemes addressing jobs in rural India. In such a scenario, discuss what way MGNREGA can prove to be an effective solution? (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Why this question:

The article highlights the fact that with rural distress deepening across India and private consumption growing anemically, calls for ramping up the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), are growing louder ahead of the upcoming budget.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the importance of ramping up the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as a cure to the rising rural distress in the country.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Describe the current state of rural distress in the country.

Body:

Present first some data on key metrics such as wages, inflation, and consumption that indicate the present rural distress.

Explain the crunch in funds related to other schemes that aim at improvising the rural economy.

Explain the possible role that MGNREGA can play in fixing the issue.

Take hints from the article and discuss what can be the way ahead.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a balanced and fair opinion.

Introduction:

With rural distress deepening across India and private consumption growing anaemically, calls for ramping up the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), are growing louder ahead of the upcoming budget. Proponents of MGNREGS believe that it may be the only ammunition in the government’s arsenal to fight rural poverty. Critics, though, have labelled the scheme as leaky, wasteful and simply ineffective.

Body:

Data on key metrics such as wages, inflation, and consumption suggests that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While MGNREGS can provide income security to its beneficiaries, its overall impact on the rural economy will be limited unless it is implemented with greater resources and greater care.

Rural India has been witnessing slowdown:

  • Rising prices of agricultural inputs, landholding size decreasing, non-availability of water, soil suitability and pest management.
  • Small and marginal farmers face a greater burden of debt
  • Large fall in food prices
  • The income of landless rural population is hardly enough to cover its consumption requirements.
  • Clime change impacting the monsoon.
  • Decline in land available for agriculture and its diversion for non-agricultural use.
  • More than 50% of people in rural India do not own land and have to depend on manual labour.
  • Sub-optimal utilisation of MSP.
  • Green Revolution caused regional and other disparities.
  • All these factors create a narrow window of economic benefit for the marginal farmer.
  • Data shows that over the years, MGNREGA wages have increased only in nominal terms with no increase in real wages.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA):

The MGNREGA was launched in 2006 in order to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed employment to rural households. It is the largest scheme run by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).

Crunch in funds related to other schemes that aim at improvising the rural economy

  • Though a national program, the responsibility of implementation of MGNREGS lies with states. And even in states where MGNREGS has been implemented more intensely, there has been no major gains in real rural wage growth.
  • Here the rough proxy for implementation intensity is the number of person-days per job-card holder, which reflects the total employment provided under the scheme.
  • States such as Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh have outperformed others on this measure but have had not experienced any major increase in real rural wage growth.
  • States such as Assam, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar have underperformed in implementation and have seen similar wage growth as better performers.
  • The programme is being throttled by a reduction in the budget and in real wages, according to Reetika Khera of the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad).
  • Currently, MGNREGS spending is approximately 0.3% of GDP and has steadily declined over the years.
  • In the second term of the United Progressive Alliance, budget allocations towards MGNREGS began accounted for 2.5% of overall government spending on average.

Impact of MGNREGA:

  • It has helped in increasing rural household income.
  • It has not only helped in increasing groundwater table in the last one decade, but also agriculture productivity, mainly cereals and vegetables and fodders.
  • The water conservation measures, including farm ponds and dug wells, have made a difference to the lives of the poor.
  • While the scheme was earlier focused on creation of community assets, in the last three years, individual assets have also been emphasised.
  • It has provided goat, poultry and cattle shed as per the need of poor households.
  • One national study found that MGNREGS has created valuable public goods which have augmented rural incomes.
  • Another national study found that, even after deficiencies in implementation, MGNREGS may have improved nutrition outcomes.
  • Even consumption has been shown to improve if MGNREGS is implemented well. A 2018 study of a better-implemented version of MGNREGS in Andhra Pradesh, where there was significantly less leakage or payment delays, estimated that MGNREGS increased income households’ earnings by 13% and decreased poverty by 17%
  • MGNREGS can smoothen food consumption of rural poor by providing them with an alternate source of income during the agricultural lean season.

Challenges:

  • In the last five years, the average person days of work generated per household under MGNREGA remained less than 50 across years
  • The scheme is running out of funds due to increased demand for work.
  • Droughts and floods in several States have led to an increased demand for work.
  • Data show disparity in MGNREGA wages across States.
  • Agricultural minimum wages exceed MGNREGA wages in almost all states.
  • The total MGNREGA expenditure reported by States has risen, but the year-on-year growth has fallen below 5%.
  • The act continues to fight widespread corruption and administrative negligence.
  • In some areas of certain states, MGNREGA work opens only during specific seasons and time.
  • Since April 2014, the work completion rate has been declining.
  • Jharkhand being one of the poorest states and having huge dependence on MGNREGA, has the lowest wage rates.

Way Forward:

  • MGNREGA can be revived through
  • Adequate allocation of Budget funds
  • Timely payments to workers
  • Completely decentralising implementation
  • Improving entitlements (ie, wages, compensations and worksite facilities)
  • There is a need to upgrade skills of MGNREGA workers.
  • The centre needs to ensure uninterrupted operations by primarily ensuring allocation of adequate funds for the programme.
  • Workers across the nation have been demanding higher wages in accordance with the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission.
  • Different committees constituted by the Centre vouched for higher MGNREGA wages.
  • The recent central committee for fixation of national minimum wage recommended that the national minimum wage should be fixed at Rs 375 per day.
  • Many civil society organisations has been demanding that the person work days under MGNREGA be increased to 200 days per rural household.

Conclusion:

MGNREGS may never address structural weaknesses in the economy but with greater funding and better implementation, it could provide some much-needed respite to rural India.

 

Topic:  Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism

5. India faces significant challenges in the internal, geopolitical and economic front going ahead in 2020. Managing these challenges will decide the progress India makes in 2020. Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why this question:

The article brings out a detailed analysis of the Geopolitical fault-lines that have been widening since 2019 and in what way these challenges will contribute positively and negatively to the progress that India will make in 2020.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss the challenges that India is facing on the internal, external and economic fronts. Suggest solutions to resolve the same.

Directive:

Elucidate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly explain the context of the question.

Body:

Firstly, discuss the problems India is facing on the internal, geopolitical and economic fronts.

Discuss the causative factors responsible for these challenges.

Explain in what way these factors will decide progress of India in 2020.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done to address these threats and challenges.

Introduction:

In 2020, India needs to gear up to face thorny problems on the internal, geopolitical and economic fronts. The image of a darkening world which haunted 2019 continues, even as 2020 commences. Together with increased turbulence, what is evident is that the world is regressing in several directions. Democracy and democratic freedoms are coming under increasing attack accompanied by a retreat from liberalism and globalisation. This is not limited to any one country or a group of countries, but is evident across much of the world.

Body:

Challenges that India is facing:

 Geopolitical scenario:

  • Geopolitical fault-lines widened in 2019. America’s leadership of the world came under increasing threat from countries such as China.
  • The future of the United Kingdom, under the shadow of Brexit, remained unclear. Europe seemed to be in eclipse. Latin and Central America were in turmoil.
  • In Asia, Afghanistan appeared to be at a crossroads in its history. Instability plagued Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt.
  • Civil war conditions prevailed in many regions. Violent protests raged in many domains, including Hong Kong, once a symbol of “One Country Two Systems”.
  • Existing threats to the security of nations remained unchanged, even as offensive cyber-attacks became the new weapon of choice in many situations.
  • As 2020 progresses, the spectre that haunts nations is, if anything, bleaker. Geopolitically, it would be tempting to assert that this is perhaps the most troubled time in recent history, given the looming spectre of an all-out war between Iran and the United States.
  • Exertion of “maximum pressure” by the U.S. to minimise Iran’s influence and reduce its support to proxies in the region and elsewhere, combined with Iran’s only slightly less provocative posture as seen towards the end of 2019, had resulted in a major stand-off by the beginning of 2020.

Domestic tensions:

  • From a national perspective, 2019 posited at best, a mixed bag. Political tensions had intensified in the first half of the year in view of the General Elections held in April-May, and against the backdrop of victories of Opposition parties in the Assembly Elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh towards the end of 2018.
  • Acrimony over allegations of corruption, especially over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, had further vitiated the political atmosphere.
  • The Government initiated another controversial move to push through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which is implicitly seen as linked to a National Register of Citizens, though the Government (after having indicated at one point about such linkage) has since declared that this is not the case.
  • It provoked widespread protests on the ground that the legislation violated some of the basic precepts of the Constitution, and applied the test of religion, to exclude (Muslim) refugees from neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, from being given Indian citizenship.

Neighbourhood ties:

  • As 2020 commences, India’s foreign policy challenges remain very considerable. India-Pakistan relations remain frozen, even as Pakistan continues to make overtures to the U.S., and further cements its relationship with China at one level and Saudi Arabia at another.
  • Sino-Indian relations continue to be riddled with numerous problems. The vexed Sino-Indian border dispute remains in deep freeze.
  • China, meanwhile, has embarked more aggressively on establishing its leadership across Asia; in the shadow play for influence across parts of Asia, including South Asia, China seems to be gaining at India’s expense.
  • India’s attempts at creating a supportive environment in its immediate neighbourhood in 2020 remains equally challenging. While relations with the Maldives improved during the past year, the advent of a new Government in Sri Lanka, headed by the Rajapaksas, does not augur too well for India.
  • Relations with the United Arab Emirates are better than at any time previously, but the India-Saudi Arabia relationship can at best be termed uncertain.
  • Relations with Iran are likely to become highly problematic, in view of India’s “tilt” towards the U.S., and the open hostility on display currently between Iran and the U.S.

Issues within the country:

  • On the domestic front, India again will need to find solutions to quite a few thorny problems.
  • Removing tight controls in J&K and restoring civil liberties there, including the release of senior political leaders, will require very deft handling, given the “pressure cooker” atmosphere that prevails.
  • India will also need to watch out for a very different type of agitation in J&K, something between “civil disobedience” and an “intifada type” struggle.
  • While India appears reasonably well-positioned to deal with some of the other internal threats, including insurgencies in the North-east, Naxalite violence, and the “terror imperative”, the fallout of protests over the CAA has the potential to become India’s most serious threat in decades.
  • Already, the eddies of controversy over this and other disparate issues are beginning to coalesce into a major maelstrom of protests, with India’s youth, including many belonging to universities and higher institutes of learning, up in arms on manifold issues.
  • At present these seem to have little in common, excepting opposition to those in authority for the latter’s perceived insensitivity to public protests.

Economic crisis:

  • Furthermore, given the current economic malaise facing the country, which can hardly be treated as a cyclical phenomenon, the economic portents for 2020 also do not look too good.
  • For several months now, the country has witnessed the slowing down of the economy and India’s growth story appears set to lose much of its shine.
  • A sustained below 5% GDP growth could become a recipe for disaster. Already, India is being mentioned as among 2020’s top geopolitical risks.

Way forward:

India as an “emerging power” faces many challenges of poverty, internal conflicts, political instability in the domestic and regional ambit, as well as economic and security issues in the global realm. Hence, India’s preoccupation ought to be directed at reforming the market structure, developing infrastructure to hasten growth of the manufacturing sector at the domestic level, rather than increasing India’s dependence on an export-led economic system.

Such economic agendas call for significant changes in the domestic sphere: allocation of more funds to the social sector, job creation for the unemployed youth, health and sanitary issues, and an inclusive development agenda. This will ensure that a distinct identity can be furthered, instead of India merely emulating norms and practices constructed and sustained by countries with different social structures and domestic concerns.

Only an inclusive and all-round developmental agenda can allow India’s inclusion in the “great power” club in a true sense, where development of its people will coincide with the development of the nation.

Conclusion:

Given the total impact of the various aspects, those in charge would do well to be aware of and prepare for the major problems that lie ahead. The digital revolution that is under way and the awesome power of Artificial Intelligence, Machine-Learning, Quantum Computing and Bio-Technology may not be enough in the circumstances.

 

Topic:  Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism

6. Given a rising graph of cross-border terrorism over the past two decades, Discuss in what way cooperation with neighbors on security is essential for India.(250 words)

Reference:  Research Gate

Why this question:

The question tends to analyse the effect of rising incidences of cross-border terrorism over the past two decades and in what way they necessitate India to have cooperation with neighbors on security.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the case of the question, highlight significance of the relations with neighbor countries and especially on the aspects of Security.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

With eleven neighboring countries (including four across the seas), many of which share cross-border Diasporas with India, internal peace and external security are inextricably intertwined.

Body:

  • Discuss in detail relations of India with the neighboring countries on a case by case basis; Bangladesh, China, Nepal and Pakistan etc.
  • Take hints from the article and explain singularly the key issues and threats posed by each neighboring country to India.
  • Explain what needs to be done and what should be the way ahead for India.

Conclusion:

India must seek to maintain independence of its foreign policy and security choices reflective of its civilizational ethos, while working in partnership with all friendly countries on issues of common interest.

Introduction:

India has one of the longest and most varied of international borders. Historical and political reasons have left India with an artificial unnatural border. Border Management is an integral approach towards borders in which along with security enhancement, infrastructure & human development is undertaken. The challenge of coping with long-standing territorial and boundary disputes with China and Pakistan, combined with porous borders along some of the most difficult terrain in the world, has made effective and efficient border management a national priority.

Body:

Issues and threats posed by each neighboring country to India:

Indo-Pakistan Border:

  • Indo-Pakistan Border (3,323 Km) runs along the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and J&K. Direct accessibility of the borders and some technological developments enabling quick passage of information and transfer of funds has changed the focus and tenor of border security.
  • Cross-Border Terrorism from Pakistan has exacerbated due to non-recognition of boundaries by its terrorist groups and their success in acquiring legitimacy due to religious or ethnic identity.
  • Inadequate Cooperation from Pakistan has made the management of border further difficult for India.

Indo-Bangladesh Border:

  • The Indo-Bangladesh Border (4,096 Km) passes through West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  • The entire stretch consists of plains, riverine belts, hills & jungles which make illegal migration very easy.
  • Illegal Migration across this border poses serious security threats and acts as a fertile ground for organisations like the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan to penetrate and expand their activities.
  • Also, poor law and order situation at the border, has led to smuggling of arms and drugs. Supply of arms help in sustaining any conflict.

Indo-China Border:

  • India shares a long land border with China (3,488 Km) in the Indian states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Although this border remains relatively aloof from illegal migrations, this border remains a cause of constant vigil for Indian forces.
  • India has a longstanding border dispute with China running back to British era in Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh.

Indo-Nepal Border:

  • India-Nepal Border (1,751 Km) is an open border in the sense that people of both the countries can cross it from any point, despite the existence of border check posts at several locations.
  • Anti-India organizations use this border to plant their people in the territory of India.
  • Also, smuggling of gold, small arms, drugs and fake currency helps terrorists in executing an attack.

Indo-Bhutan Border:

  • This border (699 km) passes through states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Sikkim.
  • Illicit establishment of camps by militant outfits in the dense jungles of south-east Bhutan helps insurgents from India in executing anti-India activities.

Indo-Myanmar Border:

  • The northeast states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share the border with Myanmar (1,643).
  • Some of the insurgents groups like the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and ULFA operate from Myanmar, which threatens the security of India as well as Myanmar.

India has had to deal with numerous challenges with respect to border management such as:

Current fence:

  • The present one has a high rate of degradation due to snow and has to be repaired after every season which costs about Rs. 50-60 crore every year
  • Over time infiltrators have devised ways to cross it.
  • India’s internal security challenges are inextricably linked with border management. This is so because Indian insurgent groups have for long been provided shelter across the nation’s borders by inimical neighbours.

No real-time coordination:

  • Due to the lack of understanding of military issues among the decision-making elite, India’s borders continue to be manned by a large number of military, paramilitary and police forces
  • Each of which has its own ethos and each of which reports to a different central ministry at New Delhi, with almost no real coordination in managing the borders.
  • Border management is designed for a ‘firefighting’ approach rather than a ‘fire prevention’ or pro-active approach
  • It is based on a strategy of ‘reaction and retaliation’ rather than on a holistic response to the prevailing environment, resulting in stress and decision making problems at the functional level.
    • Perennial and Seasonal Rivers via which terrorists can infiltrate.
    • Un-demarcated boundaries with overlapping claims cause constant friction along borders.
    • Mountainous and Hilly terrain especially in North Indian borders which are snow clad and inhabitable during winter season.
    • Unilateral actions by some nations to change the status quo in their favour.
    • Little or no support from counterparts of neighbouring nations and in some cases active support by cross border elements to illegal activities.
    • Cultural, ethnic and linguistic affinity across borders and clan loyalties
    • Multiple agencies are involved in border management, lack of Inter agency cooperation and coordination
    • Support of state and non-state actors to aid infiltration, smuggling, trafficking etc.

Significance of the relations with neighbor countries

  • India advocates the policy of constructive engagement, despite such serious provocations as have been in the past (attack on Parliament, Mumbai terrorist attacks etc). It believes that violent retaliation and confrontation can only complicate the matters. This applies in particular to Pakistan- the origin of State-sponsored terrorism targeted at India.
  • India adheres to its benign and noble policy of non-interference into internal affairs of other countries in the region. However, if an act – innocent or deliberate – by any country has the potential of impinging upon India’s national interests, India does not hesitate in quick and timely intervention.
  • Foreign policy in India by and large enjoys national consensus. At times, however, there are instances when it appears that the foreign policy is being held hostage to domestic regional politics. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are the most glaring examples.
  • India has endeavoured to deal with the government-of-the-day, be it a democracy, monarchy or military dictatorship, insisting that the choice of the form of government is best left to the people of the country concerned.
  • India has skilfully used its policy of non-prescriptive development assistance as its soft power since early 1950s. In return India has sought “good will” and “friends of India”. In a slight departure India is gradually switching over from pure charity to a judicious mix of outright grants and soft loans linked to project/commodity exports
  • Finally, India is ready to go an extra mile in seeking the integration of the region. As often cautioned by the International Financial Institutes, only through regional cooperation can the South Asia be a part of Asian century.

Solutions for addressing cross border terrorism:

  • Infrastructure along with border has to be improved – rail connectivity along with road connectivity has to be provided for quick mobilization.
  • Building of additional checkpoints and Border posts along major and minor trade routes connected with borders
  • Building of floating bridges, walls & electrical fences where there is high probability of infiltration.
  • Taking up of joint Border management with Countries like Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Improving healthcare, physical infrastructure and digital connectivity in villages around borders thus making them stakeholder in Border Management.
  • Madhav Godbole task force recommendations on border management need to be implemented.
  • It had recommended that the CRPF should be designated as the primary national level counter-insurgency force. This would enable the other central paramilitary forces like the BSF and Indo-Tibetan Border Police to return to their primary role of better border management.
  • It had also recommended that all paramilitary forces managing unsettled borders should operate directly under the control of the army and that there should be lateral induction from the army to the paramilitary forces so as to enhance their operational effectiveness.
  • The principle of ‘single point control’ must be followed if the borders are to be effectively managed.
  • The advances in surveillance technology, particularly satellite and aerial imagery, can help to maintain a constant vigil along the LAC and make it possible to reduce physical deployment.

Conclusion:

Keeping a strong vigil on its border is very important for any nation to check any kind of illegal activities or intrusion through them. For India, the task becomes difficult where terrain and climate is very complex across some of its border areas. Focussing on improved technology will help in making the task easier for the security forces and make its borders more secure.

 

Topic:  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

7. How to tackle the groundwater crisis in India especially keeping in view the demands of the farmer? Discuss. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express

Why this question:

The article highlights the need to switch to newer approaches that are centric to farmers’ demands and yet aid addressing the groundwater crisis.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss the rising issue of groundwater crisis in India and need to recognise the fact that farmers can be centric to approaches that can resolve the issue of groundwater crisis.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

First discuss key notable facts pointing at the crisis.

Body:

Discuss why there is a crisis in the groundwater in the country.

Establish the link existing between the groundwater crisis and agriculture; explain the role played by farmers.

Explain the factors responsible for the crisis and that agriculture is a major contributor and thus any approach that aims to address this issue must centre on agriculture with farmer as a key stakeholder.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions. Take hints from the articles and suggest way forward.

Introduction:

In 2020, according to the Niti Aayog, 21 Indian cities, including Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru, will run out of groundwater. The Aayog’s “Composite Water Management Index” (CWMI), released in June, notes that “Seventy per cent of our water resources are contaminated”. Several other reports, including the Central Water Commission’s “Water and Water Related Statistics 2019”, have thrown light on the poor state of India’s groundwater aquifers.

Body:

 The groundwater crisis is embedded at two different levels:

  • Groundwater exploitation of aquifers (where groundwater is stored) in different parts of the India and
  • Groundwater contamination that find origins, both in geogenic source such as Arsenic and Fluoride along with anthropogenic sources of contamination primarily due to poor disposal of waste and wastewater.

Present Water Crisis

  • Water levels in India’s major reservoirs have fallen to 21 per cent of the average of the last decade.
  • Fifty four per cent of the country’s groundwater is declining faster than it is being replenished.
  • There is a crippling dependence on monsoon rains to replenish most of India’s key water sources– underground aquifers, lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
  • Close to half the country, about 600 million people, face severe scarcity year after year.
  • A June 2018 Niti Ayog report forecasts water demand will be twice the present supply and India could lose up to 6 per cent of its GDP.
  • India’s water table is falling in most parts; there is fluoride, arsenic, mercury, even uranium in our groundwater.
  • The groundwater and sand extraction from most river beds and basins has turned unsustainable.
  • Tanks and ponds are encroached upon.
  • Dug-wells and borewells are constructed with alarming impunity to slide deeper and deeper to suck water from greater depths.
  • Water is being diverted from food-crops to cash-crops; livelihoods to lifestyles; rural to urban— mismanagement is a bigger reason for the drought.
  • Water shortages are hurting India’s ability to produce power and 40% thermal power plants are in areas facing high water stress, a recent World Resources Institute report says
  • Not only farmers, urban dwellers in cities and towns across India are also staring at a never seen before drinking water scarcity.
  • Residents in the arid Thar desert of Rajasthan are spending Rs 2,500 to buy 2,500 litres of water which they share with their cattle.

Reasons for ground water exploitation in India:

  • Groundwater is one of the most important water sources in India accounting for 63% of all irrigation water and over 80% of the rural and urban domestic water supplies.

Subsidies:

  • Subsidies on electricity are thought to play a central role in the Indian groundwater crisis.
  • The vast majority of groundwater pumps are unmetered, and if charged, are billed at a flat, non-volumetric, and highly subsidized tariff.

Water intensive crops:

  • Government encourages farmers to produce water-intensive crops like rice and sugarcane through increased minimum support prices (MSP). This has also led to groundwater depletion, income inequality and unsustainable agriculture.
  • Farmers are digging more and more borewells, but the sources of the problem are many, including transition to water-intensive crops and spate of construction activity along catchment areas.

Unpredictable monsoon:

  • Successive droughts and erratic rainfall have led to excess extraction of groundwater. That explains 61 per cent decline in groundwater level in wells in India between 2007 and 2017.

Land use changes:

  • India’s huge groundwater-dependent population, uncertain climate-reliant recharge processes and indiscriminate land use changes with urbanization are among the many factors that have rendered the Indian groundwater scenario to become a global paradigm for water scarcity, for both quantity and quality.
  • Trans-boundary upstream water sources and archaic irrigation methods for the water shortage.

Government failure:

  • The government finance for well digging and pump installation with capital subsidies, massive rural electrification and pervasive energy subsidies all have enabled this process to aggravate.
  • In the north western parts of India and southern peninsula, the early and rapid rural electrification, free or subsidised power to the farm sector, large productive farmers and attractive procurement prices for major cereals led to intensive use of groundwater.
  • Zero marginal cost of pumping and lack of restriction on volume of water resulted in inefficient and unsustainable use of the resource.
  • Lack of adequate planning, crumbling infrastructure, indiscriminate drilling of borewells, large-scale consumption of water, and a false sense of entitlement in using water carelessly are causing water shortages.

Steps needed to be taken in this regard:

  • Jal Shakti Ministry has been incorporated to address the issue. It clubs Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation) and has promised that it would ensure potable, piped drinking water to every home by 2024.
  • Serious crisis has been partly avoided as rabi crops have been harvested and kharif crops are yet to be sown.
  • States are also taking the lead in this regard with various schemes like:
    • Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan-Rajasthan
    • Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan-Maharashtra
  • Hiware Bazar, a village in the Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra, India is noted for its irrigation system and water conservation program, with which it has fought the drought and drinking water problems.
  • Prime Minister has written to all Sarpanch in the country to undertake water conservation programme within their village.
  • India has had a Groundwater Management and Regulation Scheme since 2013.
  • The Atal Bhujal Yojana will draw on some of the institutions created by this scheme, especially village-level water user associations (WUAs).
  • The Atal Bhujal Yojana would do well to follow the Niti Aayog’s recommendations for strengthening the financial state of the WUAs, including allowing these bodies to retain a significant portion of irrigation fees.

Measures needed:

Reducing electricity subsidies:

  • An analysis of panel data across 370 districts in India found that a reduction in electricity subsidy was correlated with a decrease in groundwater extraction.
  • Most empirical studies are in favour of pricing electricity on the basis of actual consumption. They show that the energy prices at which the farmers start responding to tariff changes in terms of reducing the demand for water and electricity would be socio-economically viable.

Micro-irrigation:

  • Encouraging farmers to adopt micro-irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers.
  • According to the CWMI report, adopting micro-irrigation techniques can save roughly 20% of the groundwater used annually on irrigation in India.

Creating awareness:

  • Creating sustainable change would require a bottom-up approach by empowering the local community to become active participants in managing groundwater.

Proper implementation of initiatives:

  • 12th five-year plan proposed a policy of participatory groundwater management (PGM), which involves a collaborative approach among government departments, researchers, NGOs and community members.
  • The plan involves training community workers to carry out aquifer mapping and implement innovative ways to use groundwater conservatively with the local community.
  • Government has come up with a 6,000-crore World Bank-aided Atal Bhujal Yojana with community participation to ensure sustained groundwater management in overexploited and ground water-stressed areas in seven States.
  • World Bank’s Water Scarce Cities Initiative seeks to promote an integrated approach to managing water resources and service delivery in water-scarce cities as the basis for building resilience against climate change.
  • India needs better policies that directly help small-holders and labourers to adapt and adjust to risks associated with groundwater depletion and a more variable future climate.
  • Crisis can be tackled by restoring and enhancing groundwater recharge areas, stopping polluted water from recharging groundwater, rainwater and roof top harvesting and the restoration of ponds, lakes and other river systems.
  • Growing less water-intensive crops in the dry season and transitioning away from irrigation-intensive systems where there is little water.
  • Behavioural economics and other novel approaches can be brought to bear on maximizing agricultural production with minimal water use instead of focusing on marginal increases in yields with unbounded water use.
  • Water-deficient states should promptly move towards micro-irrigation systems. These techniques have significantly higher efficiency vis-à-vis flood irrigation techniques.
  • States should continue to focus on command area development (CAD). This is now part of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) which focuses on “more crop per drop”.
  • The cropping patterns in the states should be changed as per the agro-climatic zones. Improper cropping patterns affect both crop productivity and irrigation efficiency.
  • Farmer producer organizations (FPO) provide a sense of ownership to farmers and encourage community-level involvement with lower transaction costs.
  • India needs to establish data networks to track not only crop transpiration but also total inflows and recoverable outflows of irrigation water but also the losses to unrecoverable sinks such as evaporation.
  • The CWMI report talks of other solutions like persuading farmers to adopt more efficient technologies such as drip irrigation.
  • By emphasising on local-level institutions like the WUAs, the Atal Bhujal Yojana has signaled the Jal Shakti ministry’s inclination towards such persuasive solutions.

Conclusion:

There is a need to modernise the regulatory framework for accessing groundwater soon after massive expansion in mechanical pumping led to the realisation that recharge could not keep pace with use.