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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 March 2021


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 – 2


 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

1. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 hailed as progressive, discounts women’s bodily autonomy and reeks of ableism. Critically examine. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The opinion from the Indian express explains that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021, discounts women’s bodily autonomy and reeks of ableism.

Key Demand of the question:

Critically analyse the shortcomings of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Directive:

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with brief background of the context in question.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Discuss the progressive steps in MTP Bill, 2021: compared to the MTP Act, 1971; Destigmatizing pregnancies outside marriage, Increased the legally terminable time limit.

Then present the concerns associated with MTP Bill, 2021 – Potential for executive overreach, Does not provide right to abortion at will, Promotes societal prejudices (ableism) against persons with special needs, Ignores to address the limited access to abortion facilities etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with suggestions as to what needs to be done.

Introduction:

The Rajya Sabha recently passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Bill was passed by the lower house in 2020. This is an important Bill that seeks to enhance the reproductive rights of women in India. The Bill seeks to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971. This Act covers abortions in India. It had been amended in 1975 and 2002. Before the enactment of this legislation, abortion was prohibited under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code.

Body:

Proposed Features of the New Bill:

  • The Bill permits abortion to be allowed up to 20 weeks on the opinion of just one medical practitioner.
  • To terminate pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks, the opinion of two doctors are required.  This extension of the gestation period up to 24 weeks is given for special categories of women such as rape/incest victims, differently-abled women and minors.
  • For abortions beyond 24 weeks, a state-level Medical Board will decide if it can be permitted, in case of substantial foetal abnormalities.
  • The Board will consist of a gynaecologist, a paediatrician, a radiologist or sonographer and any other number of members as notified by the state government.
  • Only doctors with specialisation in gynaecology/obstetrics can perform abortions.
  • According to the Bill, the “name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed”, except to a person authorised by law.
  • In cases where abortions are desired to terminate pregnancies arising out of rape, where the gestation period exceeds 24 weeks, the only manner would be through a writ petition.

Rationale behind the amendments:

  • The government reasoned that the extension is significant because some women realise the need for an abortion after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Usually, the foetal anomaly scan is done during the 20th-21st week of pregnancy.
  • If there is a delay in doing this scan, and it reveals a lethal anomaly in the foetus, 20 weeks is limiting.
  • The extension of limit would ease the process for the distressed pregnant women, allowing the mainstream system itself to take care of them, delivering quality medical attention.

Significance:

  • The move to amend the MTP Act, 1971 is a progressive step towards empowerment of women.
  • It will provide greater reproductive rights to women as abortion is considered an important aspect of the reproductive health of women.
  • Deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions are largely preventable provided services are performed legally by trained practitioners.
  • Raising the upper limit of legal abortions from 20 weeks to 24 weeks for “special categories of women”, including rape and incest survivors, other vulnerable women, and children.
  • It will completely be removing the upper gestation limit for abortion in the cases of substantial foetal abnormalities will help many more seek safe and legal abortion services.
  • Allowing all women, and not just married ones, to legally seek abortions, and striking out the need for the opinion of a second registered practitioner for aborting pregnancies up to 20 weeks

Comparison of MTP 2021 vis-à-vis MTP 1971:

Shortcomings of the bill:

  • Son meta-preference:
    • The preference for a male child keeps sex determination centres in business in spite of their illegal status. There are concerns that a more liberal abortion law can aggravate this state-of-affairs.
  • Foetal Viability:
    • A key aspect of the legality governing abortions has always been the ‘viability’ of the foetus. Viability implies the period from which a foetus is capable of living outside the womb.
    • Currently, viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks. Thus, late termination of pregnancy may get in conflict with the viability of the foetus.
  • Non-institutional deliveries:
    • Only 22% of 15.6 million abortions happen in healthcare facilities, there is no record of the others. We need far more providers at the lower levels of healthcare delivery to ensure safe abortion services reach more women.
  • Lack of Awareness of rights:
    • A study of 1,007 women of ages 15-24 years in Assam and Madhya Pradesh in November 2018 found only 20% young women know about modern contraceptive methods, and 22% are aware that abortion is legal in India. None of the women surveyed were aware of the correct legal gestation of 20 weeks
  • Change of Choice:
    • The current Billdoes not consider factors such as personal choice, a sudden change in circumstances (due to separation from or death of a partner), and domestic violence.
  • Medical Boards:
    • The present healthcare budgetary allocation makes setting up a board across the country, both financially and practically impossible.
    • Accessto the board by pregnant women in remote areas of the state is a matter of concern.
    • No time limit setto respond to the requests.
    • The board will subject women to multiple examinations before allowing her to terminate her pregnancy. This is a violation of right to privacy and right to live with dignity.

Way Forward:

  • The government needs to ensure that all norms and standardised protocols in clinical practice to facilitate abortions are followed in health care institutions across the country.
  • Since everything rests on the delivery, stopping short would undoubtedly make this progressive order a mere half measure.
  • With an estimated 90% of women seeking before 12 weeks’ gestation, training village-level health workers (auxiliary nurse midwives) and nurses to prescribe simple abortion pills will help take safe services to the doorsteps of vulnerable women and, in case of complications, lead to timely referrals.
  • This gap in services can be addressed in the new rules that will be framed when the amended act is passed.
  • Instead of denying services to women because of the apprehension of untrained practitioners profiteering, the government should focus on regulating the healthcare sector to ensure basic quality services, such as contraception, safe delivery and abortion, are available for the asking.

Conclusion:

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds. It is a step towards the safety and well-being of the women and many women will be benefitted from this. Recently several petitions were received by the Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women. The proposed increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate the pregnancy.

 

Topic: GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

GS-3: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

2. Discuss the concerns in India’s newly released rules governing trade of electricity across its borders. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article explains the surge of geopolitics in South Asia’s power trade.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the concerns in India’s newly released rules governing trade of electricity across its borders.

 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 with background of the question.

Body:

The guidelines place clear limits on who can buy from and sell into India. This is supposed to be because of India’s attempt to neutralize China’s influence in the South Asian region. They discourage participation of plants owned by a company situated in “a third country with whom India shares a land border” (read China) and “does not have a bilateral agreement on power sector with India.”

Discuss the key concerns with the guidelines.

Exclusive Rules on ownership, Undermines private sector partnerships, the rules establish elaborate surveillance procedures.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

India has released new rules governing the trade of electricity across its borders. They define the contours of the South Asian electricity market, placing clear limits on who can buy from and sell into India. This has ramifications for the electricity markets of Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, which, to varying degrees, have aligned their energy futures with the Indian market.

The new rules, attempts to balance China’s growing influence in the region with developmental aims, both its own and the region’s.

Body:

New electricity trade provisions across borders

  • According to the new rules, Power plants owned by a company based in the country, not having a bilateral agreement with India on power sector cooperation, cannot participate.
  • The rules place the same security restrictions on tripartite trade, say from Bhutan to Bangladesh through Indian territory.
  • To make things even more airtight, the rules establish elaborate surveillance procedures to detect changes in the ownership patterns of entities trading with India.

Concerns regarding the new rules:

  • The institutional structure that has emerged through this churn over the last decade is India-centric. India is in a Geographical advantage as it is placed in the middle of south Asian countries.
  • However, India’s monopolistic tendency in power will attract displeasure from its neighbours as their economic growth will hurt.
  • Lack of impartial institutions for planning, investments, and conflict resolution regarding electricity trade will impact India’s vision of One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG).
  • Cross-border energy trade is a key part of neighbourhood-first policy, with plans to build energy links to check China’s growing influence. But, it may end up hurting India’s soft power amongst the smaller neighbours.
  • Without a standard based model, India’s regional leadership may not grow and this may impact other global initiatives by India as its neighbours would be reluctant to trust India.

Way forward:

  • An attractive institutional model can lock countries into the pool by setting standards that investors and utilities plan towards and profit by.
  • Once locked in, countries are thus unlikely to defect to other pools.
  • The likely first battle will be in Southeast Asia, where China presently holds sway. A considered, stable institutional model will likely surpass anything China has to offer.
  • It is worth considering releasing the vice-like grip on South Asia, aimed at countering China, by creating a rule-based regional institution that can counter Chinese offerings in other theatres.

Conclusion:

India should plan for an attractive institutional model by setting standards that profit investors and utilities. India needs to create a rule-based regional institution that can counter Chinese offerings in other theatres.

 

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

3. Discuss the effects of lockdown on India’s migrant workers; also explain how Post-lockdown misery of India’s migrant workers warrants some urgent measures. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The article explains that the post-lockdown misery of India’s migrant workers warrants some urgent measures.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the effects of lockdown on India’s migrant workers; also explain how Post-lockdown misery of India’s migrant workers warrants some urgent measures.

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:

One year since the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed; there’s been little change in the hunger levels and unemployment rate among migrant workers, especially women.

Body:

Explain the effects of lockdown on the migrants first. Distress migration: due to non-existent social security and unilateral decisions. Loss of livelihoods, Paradox of hunger despite having plenty, Devastating impact on women and children’s nutrition etc.

Discuss the policies and initiatives of the government in this direction.

Suggest what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The world’s most stringent lockdown in India, revealed the plight of the vulnerable our migrant labour force. With no work and no way to feed themselves, removed from family support, millions had no choice but to defy the lockdown and return to their villages. One estimate suggested that nearly 8 crore migrant workers returned to their native villages.

Body

Plight of Indian migrant labour force

  • Low wages: First, business and industry is dependent on migrant labour that is paid less, works longer and harder, and is more flexible than local labour.
  • Second-class citizens: Though, in many parts of the world, such a precarious migrant workforce travels across national borders, in India, it is a huge internal migrant force traversing state borders for informal contract work in more developed parts of the country where they are treated as second-class citizens.
  • Unrepresented and harassed:  Usually unable to speak the lingua franca of where they migrate to, rarely represented by any union or social movement, they are easily harassed by employers, government institutions and by other workers.
    • This vulnerability makes them more easily controlled, cheap and dispensable.
  • Workers treated the worst often come from regions of India like Jharkhand, Odisha or Chhattisgarh which have long suffered a form of internally oppressive structures as their indigenous wealth — minerals, forests, other natural resources — has been extracted by outsiders, leaving little but high levels of poverty for the locals.
  • Plight of the SC/ST’s: The hardest work in the worst living conditions is done by India’s historically disadvantaged minorities.
    • Dalits and Adivasis are overly represented as seasonal labour migrants; they make up more than 40% of the seasonal migrant workforce even though they are only 25% of the population.
  • These seasonal migrant workers are, in turn, supported by a further invisible economy, i.e. the household.
    • Seasonal migrants can only be workers because of all the work undertaken across generations at home, including care provided by the spouse, children, siblings and elderly parents.
    • This unpaid care work goes unnoticed and unaccounted.
  • Labour Laws Relaxed: Rather than protecting migrant workers, the government is now making things worse as labour legislation is dismantled further in favour of business and industry.
  • No social-security:  Recently, lockdown resulted in a tragedy of a train running over 16 migrant workers. Leaving their families orphaned and devoid of bread-winners.

Prime Minister recently announced an economic package totaling Rs 20 lakh crore to tide over the Covid-19 crisis under ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’. The Rs 20 lakh crore package includes the government’s recent announcements on supporting key sectors and measures by Reserve Bank of India. the economic package would be around the 10 per cent of the GDP. The package is expected to focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, MSMEs, labourers, middle class, and industries, among others.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme for migrants:

  • One Nation One Card:
  • Migrant workers will be able to access the Public Distribution System (Ration) from any Fair Price Shop in India by March 2021 under the scheme of One Nation One Card.
  • The scheme will introduce the inter-state portability of access to ration for migrant labourers.
  • By August 2020 the scheme is estimated to cover 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states (83% of PDS population).
  • All states/union territories are required to complete full automation of fair price shops by March 2021 for achieving 100% national portability.
  • Free food grain Supply to migrants:
  • Migrant workers who are not beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act ration card or state card will be provided 5 kg of grains per person and 1 kg of chana per family per month for two months.
  • Rs 3,500 crore will be spent on this scheme, and eight crore migrants are estimated to benefit under it.
  • Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) for Migrant Workers / Urban Poor:
  • The migrant labour/urban poor will be provided living facilities at affordable rent under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
  • This will be achieved by:
  • converting government funded housing in the cities into ARHCs through PPPs.
  • incentivizing manufacturing units, industries, institutions, associations to develop ARHCs on their private land and operate them.

Way forward:

  • Creation of a digital labour database:
    • A national labour database (local and migrant), linked with Aadhaar and Jan Dhan accounts, can help capture and monitor various indicators like wage-trends, skillsets, education, etc.
    • Mandating all employers to update the database with details of their permanent and well as contractual workers would ensure the plugging of any data gaps.
    • It will also boost formalization of the unorganized sector and aid in upholding of human rights.
  • Preventing migration of labour:
    • It is crucial to focus on dispersing economic growth across the country by creating growth centers in the less industrialized and backward regions.
    • Initiatives such as One District One Product (ODOP) could be game-changers in tackling migration of labour, and a well-thought-out policy/package for industries should be drafted to encourage industries to relocate to tier 3-4 cities.
  • Upskilling labour:
    • Setting up labour-industry linkages through Skilled Labour Banks would ensure labourers are registered in their local/regional skill banks, which can then be accessed by industry and skills training institutes.
    • Industry could suggest requirements and hire local labourers, and if there is a supply gap, industry-linked training and upskilling could be done for the workers through the PPP mode.
    • Technology platforms can be set up at the national and state levels, which can help in identifying industry’s region-specific demand and providing skills-training accordingly.
  • Private sector participation:
    • Policy initiatives and the role of private sector to create conducive living conditions by providing rental housing facilities for labourers working near industrial areas is the need of the hour.
    • This can further be linked with schemes like the PMAY (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana).
  • Financial safety net:
    • It is important to enhance the coverage of pension for unorganized sector and labourers.
    • The Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan (PMSYM) is the right initiative to ensure financial security by making a corpus available for times of exigencies and retirement.
    • The scheme could be linked with the labour data bank of each state in order to ensure deeper and wider coverage and awareness.
    • This will also require creating financial discipline and literacy amongst labourers for micro-savings.
  • Social security framework:
    • One Nation, One Ration Card scheme of India is a well-thought-out scheme and is the need of the hour.
    • At present, 28 states/Union territories have been brought under this scheme.
    • This can also be linked with the digital labour databases for efficient food management and improved governance, bringing transparency to the Public Distribution System.

Conclusion:

In today’s world, where “social and economic inclusion” is one of the major priorities of nation, India will have to quickly look at such reforms to bridge the existing disparities. A virtuous cycle of social and financial security, access to health and education and providing sustainable employment is critical for India to be a developed economy. These initiatives would require both government and private stakeholders to join hands and implement these reforms.

 

Topic: GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

4. Discuss the possible role that Atmanirbharta can play for India to bounce back from the effects of Covid-19. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express/

Why the question:

According to the World Bank, the phenomenon of trade-led catch-up growth is petering out; thus, Atmanirbharta is the way that can help India bounce back from the effects of Covid-19.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the possible role that Atmanirbharta can play for India to bounce back from the effects of Covid-19.

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 with the current disruption in the economy caused due to covid-19 pandemic.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Discuss India’s growth strategy before the policy of self-reliance (Atmanirbharta); Import substituting growth strategy of the 1960s, Trade-led catch-up growth strategy of the 1990s. Explain that this strategy is petering out due to the process of de-globalization, reduction in the demand for exports, and reduced service exports from the tourism, travel and hospitality sector due to COVID.

Then explain the intended benefits of achieving Atmanirbharta in various sectors; take cues from the article.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward as to what needs to be done to realize the full potential of Atmanirbharta.

Introduction:

Prime Minister in May 2020 announced an economic package totaling Rs 20 lakh crore to tide over the Covid-19 crisis under ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’. The Rs 20 lakh crore package includes the government’s recent announcements on supporting key sectors and measures by Reserve Bank of India. the economic package would be around the 10 per cent of the GDP. The package is expected to focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, MSMEs, labourers, middle class, and industries, among others.

 Body:

atmanirbhar

  • A self-reliant India will stand on five pillars viz. Economy, which brings in quantum jump and not incremental change; Infrastructure, which should become the identity of India; System, based on 21st century technology driven arrangements; Vibrant Demography, which is our source of energy for a self-reliant India; and Demand, whereby the strength of our demand and supply chain should be utilized to full capacity.
  • The Self-Reliant India Mission aims towards cutting down import dependence by focusing on substitution while improving safety compliance and quality goods to gain global market share.
  • The Mission focuses on the importance of promoting “local” products.

Significance of self-reliance and self-efficiency in the times of crisis like the COVID pandemic:

  • The coronavirus disease pandemic (Covid-19) has offered India a valuable lesson on the importance of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, and the country, each state within it, each district within every state, and each village within every district must aspire to attain the twin goals.
  • The definition of self-reliance has undergone a change in the globalized world and clarified that when the country talks about self-reliance, it is different from being self-centered.
  • Self-reliance will prepare the country for tough competition in the global supply chain, and it is important that the country wins this competition. It will not only increase efficiency in various sectors but also ensure quality.
  • Global supply chains have been disrupted and all nations have become preoccupied with meeting their own challenges.
  • The importance of local manufacturing, local market and local supply chains was realized during pandemic time. All our demands during the crisis were met ‘locally’. Now, it’s time to be vocal about the local products and help these local products become global.
  • For instance, the supply chain and global manufacturing controlled by Chinese economy got disrupted due to COVID. Thus there is a need to become self-reliant for essential goods and service like N95 masks, ventilators etc.
  • Restrictions on travel and mobility have meant tight controls over the flow of goods, services and labour across international, state and district borders.
  • The international economic order is changing; the possibility of greater economic cooperation is diminishing. So the emphasis should be on the need to leverage India’s inner potential.
  • India has entered in the period of demographic dividend from 2018 and thus working age population has increased which needs to be employed at home. This helps in capitalizing the Demographic dividend of India.
  • With India (1.37bn) set to surpass China (1.43bn) in becoming country with largest population by 2027, it also provides for increasing domestic demand which can be catered with locally produced goods.
  • The Self-Reliance neither signifies any exclusionary or isolationist strategies but involves creation of a helping hand to the whole world.
  • This is not a rejection of globalization, but a call for a new form of globalization — from profit-driven to people-centric which takes into account the needs of labors, vulnerable and have nots.

Means to achieve the self-reliance and self-sufficiency:

  • Several bold reforms are needed to make the country self-reliant, so that the impact of crisis such as COVID, can be negated in future.
  • These reforms include supply chain reforms for agriculture, rational tax system, simple and clear laws, capable human resource and a strong financial system.
  • These reforms will promote business, attract investment, and further strengthen Make in India.
  • Local Governments should be playing a key role in supporting the government’s outreach in vast belts of rural India to spread awareness about the coronavirus disease.
  • Local governments can undertake door-to-door campaigns; stitched masks; made hand sanitizers for local populations; and provided support to the local administrative and security machinery in both providing basic services to residents and enforcing the lockdown.

Conclusion:

The slowing down economy as well as weaker forces of globalization demands a new path for the New India. Aatmanirbhar mission is a bridge for transforming into NEW INDIA which need balancing the interest of capital as well as labor to be effective and efficient.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.  Land reforms in India.

5. Discuss the need and challenges of digitization of land records in India. (250 words)

Reference:  The Print

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of digitization of land records in India.

Key Demand of the question:

Account for the need and challenges of digitization of land records in India.

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 with what is digitisation of land records and its general importance. Digitization of land records was introduced to computerize all land record to have greater transparency in land records maintenance system. It is not just important for record keeping, but extremely important for the welfare of farmers and to further expedite the process of land reforms.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

  • Introduce the answer with the importance and need for land digitization.
  • Discuss the challenges in digitization of land records.
  • Present the policies and programs by the government in this direction. Present case study of States that have successfully carried digitisation of land records.
  • Conclude on the basis of above points.

Conclusion:

In order to successfully, digitize and modernize land records, several changes in existing laws that govern registration and transfer of land will be required, keeping in mind problems of the poor and the gendered aspect of land ownership.

Introduction:

Digitization of land records was introduced to computerize all land records including mutations, improve transparency in the land records maintenance system, digitize maps and survey, update all settlement records and minimize the scope of land disputes. This would provide clear titles of land ownership that could be monitored easily by government officials, facilitate quicker transactions, and reduce disputes. Most importantly it would reduce construction timelines and overall cost for the developer, the benefits of which can be transferred to consumer making property prices more attractive.

Body:

Need for digitization of land records:

  • High litigation:
    • A World Bank study from 2007 states that some estimates suggest that land-related disputes account for two-thirds of all pending court cases in the country. These land disputes include those related to the validity of land titles and records, and rightful ownership.
    • A NITI Aayog paper suggests that land disputes on average take about 20 years to be resolved. Land disputes add to the burden of the courts, tie up land in litigation, and further impact sectors and projects that are dependent on these disputed land titles.
  • Agricultural credit:
    • Land is often used as collateral for obtaining loans by farmers. It has been observed that disputed or unclear land titles inhibit supply of capital and credit for agriculture.
    • Small and marginal farmers, who account for more than half of the total land holdings, and may not hold formal land titles, are unable to access institutionalised credit.
  • Development of new infrastructure:
    • Land that was earlier used for farming, is now being used to set up industries, power plants, manufacturing units, build roads, housing, and shopping malls.
    • However, several of the new infrastructure projects are witnessing delays, with land related issues often being a key factor.
    • These delays occur because of non-availability of encumbrance free land (evidence that the property in question is free from any monetary and legal liability), non-updation of land records, resistance to joint measurement survey of land records, demands for higher compensation by land owners, and filing of large number of arbitration cases by land owners.
    • For example, obtaining a land ownership certificate can take around 60 days in Gujarat and up to 12 months in Chennai and Odisha.
  • Urbanisation and the housing shortage:
    • More recently, land use is also changing due to urbanisation and further expansion of such urban areas.
    • While census towns are places with urban characteristics (population above 5,000, at least 75% of the population engaged in non-agricultural work, and a population density of at least 400 people per sq. km.), statutory towns are urban areas with a local authority.
    • Under new schemes for urban development (Smart Cities Mission, AMRUT), cities are trying to raise their own revenue through property taxes and land based financing. This further necessitates the importance of providing a system of clear land titles in urban areas.
  • Benami transactions:
    • A Benami transaction is one where a property is held by or transferred to a person, but has been provided for or paid by another person.
    • The White Paper on Black Money (2012) had noted that black money generated in the country gets invested in Benami properties.
    • Unclear titles and non-updated land records enable carrying out property transactions in a non-transparent way.
    • The Standing Committee on Finance (2015) examining the Benami Transactions Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2015 noted that generation of black money through Benami transactions could be pre-empted and eliminated by digitisation of land records and their regular updation.
  • Unused land:
    • A large proportion of government land lies unused. A large part of the unused land is high-value property in prime areas in major cities
    • Land hoarding by government agencies has created artificial scarcityand is one of the main drivers of skyrocketing urban real estate prices.

Challenges in digitization of land records:

  • In India, we have a system of registered sale deeds and not land titles.
  • The Transfer of Property Act, 1882, provides that the right to an immovable property (or land) can be transferred or sold only by a registered document.
  • These documents are registered under the Registration Act, 1908. Therefore, the transaction gets registered, and not the land title.
  • This implies that even bona fide property transactionsmay not always guarantee ownership, as earlier transactions could be challenged.
  • Land ownership is established through multiple documents maintained by different departments, making it cumbersome to access them
  • For example, sale deeds are stored in the registration department, maps are stored in the survey department, and property tax receipts are with the revenue department
  • These departments work in silos and do not update the data in a timely manner, which results in discrepancies. One has to go back to several years of documentation to find any ownership claims on a piece of property, which causes delays.
  • The cost of registering property is high and, hence, people avoid registering transactions
  • While registering a sale deed, the buyer has to pay a stamp duty along with the registration fee.
  • In India, stamp duty rates across states vary between 4% and 10%,compared to 1% and 4% in other countries. The registration fee is an additional 0.5% to 2%, on an average.
  • Under the Registration Act, 1908, registration of property is not mandatory for transactions such as the acquisition of land by the government, property leased for less than one year, and heirship partitions

Benefits of digitization of land records to citizens:

  • Real-time land ownership records will be available to the citizen
  • Property owners will have free access to their records without any compromise in regard to confidentiality of the information
  • Free accessibility to the records will reduce interface between the citizen and the Government functionaries, thereby reducing rent seeking and harassment.
  • This method will permit e-linkages to credit facilities.
  • Market value information will be available on the website to the citizen.
  • Certificates based on land data (e.g., domicile, caste, income, etc.) will be available to the citizen through computers.
  • Information on eligibility for Government programs will be available, based on the data.
  • It will help in transparent land records management with a single window to handle land records which will include maintenance and updation of maps, survey and registration of property.
  • It can also aid online approvals of plans and occupancy certificates.
  • It will help in showcasing the ownership status and ease overall business processes in the sector.
  • Overall it becomes easier for the developers and buyers to check on the authenticity of the land or the property.
  • Digitization will also make both domestic and cross-border transactions time-bound with the click of a button.

Government efforts towards digitization of land records so far:

  • The land digitisation efforts in India received a new boost at both the Centre and state levels after the launch of a survey of villages and mapping with improved technology in village areas under the SVAMITVA scheme last year.
  • The scheme seeks to confer land titles in so far unmapped and inhabited parts of rural India and to distribute property cards in villages.
  • The Digital India Land Records Modernization programme (DILRMP) was launched by Government of India in August 2008. The objective of the programme was to streamline and reduce the scope of land and property disputes, thereby improving transparency in the maintenance of land records. The main aim of the programme was to computerize all land records, digitize maps, upgrade the survey and settlement records and sustain the same.
  • Karnataka was the first state in India to computerize land records under the “Bhoomi Project” followed by Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the year 2001.
  • Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha are the best performing Indian states in land record digitisation, according to an annual land records index prepared by Delhi-based think-tank National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).
  • The NCAER’s Land Records and Services Index (NLRSI) 2020-21 released recently said nearly all states and union territories — 29 out of 32 — showed a gradual improvement in their efforts to digitise land records compared to the previous year.

Conclusion:

A good land records system is a necessity for any harmonious and progressive society. The book would ultimately lead to an improved land governance system, reduction in land disputes, prevention of Benami transactions and a comprehensive Integrated Land Information Management System in the country, by sharing best practices.

 

Topic: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

6. The cropping pattern in India is highly skewed towards crops that are water-intensive. In this context, discuss the need to shift the focus from land productivity to irrigation water productivity. (250 words)

Reference:  advances.sciencemag.org

Why the question:

The question is based on the issues concerning the cropping pattern in India.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss why the cropping pattern in India is highly skewed towards water intensive crops and thus discuss the need to shift the focus from land productivity to irrigation water productivity.

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 mention the issues related to cropping pattern in India.

Body:

Highlight the reasons for the highly skewed crop pattern towards water intensive crops. India’s cropping pattern highlights the rampant cultivation of water intensive crops such as sugarcane production in Maharashtra, paddy in North-West India, which are amongst the water stressed regions of India.

Explain the reasons behind such a shift; Government’s incentive structure, Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), Demand for water intensive crops, Increased water demand by crops, Lack of sensitization etc.

Discuss the need to shift the focus from land productivity to irrigation water productivity. Conclusion:

Conclude that in order to bring this shift, governments need to focus on crop diversification, sustainable practices like Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), nudging farmers to use micro-irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers. The focus should be on growing crops, which are climatically suitable for any region.

Introduction:

Cropping pattern is a dynamic concept because it changes over space and time. It can be defined as the proportion of area under various crops at a point of time. In other words, it is a yearly sequence and spatial arrangement of sowing and fallow on a given area. In India, the cropping pattern determined by rainfall, climate, temperature, soil type and technology.

Body:

Some of the most commonly followed crop patterns:

  • Rice-Wheat: UP, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Rice-Rice: Irrigated and Humid coastal system of Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.
  • Rice- Groundnut: Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa and Maharashtra
  • Rice-Pulses: Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Bihar.
  • Maize-Wheat: UP, Rajasthan, MP and Bihar.
  • Sugarcane-Wheat: UP, Punjab and Haryana accounts for 68% of the area under sugarcane. The other states which cover the crops are; Karnataka and MP.
  • Cotton-Wheat: Punjab, Haryana, West UP, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu.
  • Soya Bean-Wheat: Maharashtra, MP and Rajasthan
  • Legume Based Cropping Systems (Pulses-Oilseeds): MP, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Cropping patterns shifting towards Water intensive crops:

  • India faces an unprecedented water shortage. A prime reason for this is inapt incentive structure to use water in agriculture that already consumes 89 per cent of the available groundwater.
  • The cropping pattern in India is highly skewed towards crops that are water intensive such as paddy and sugarcane which consume more than 60% of irrigation water available in the country, reducing water availability for other crops.
  • Historically, governments have introduced policy incentives like free-electricity for agriculture to extract groundwater, highly subsidised canal water and cultivation of water-intensive and fertiliser-favoured crops like paddy, wheat and sugarcane, even in water-scarce areas like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • 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.

Case study of Marathwada:

  • Maharashtra is the epicentre of India’s farm quagmire and its landlocked Marathwada belt is a miserable state.
  • It has been among the worst affected by water shortages, having faced three bad monsoons in a row, although this year’s rains have given some reprieve to the farmers.
  • Farmers drawn to the region by government incentives have begun cultivating sugarcane, a water-intensive crop that is ill-suited to Marathwada’s semi-arid climate.
  • Sugarcane consumes about 22.5 million litres of water per hectare during its 14-month long growing cycle compared to just four million litres over four months for chickpeas, commonly grown in India and called gram locally.
  • Growing sugarcane in drought-prone areas is a recipe for water famine. Yet, the land area under sugarcane cultivation in Maharashtra has gone up from 1,67,000 hectares in 1970-71 to 1,022,000 ha in 2011-12.
  • Maharashtra is India’s second-biggest producer of this water-intensive crop, despite being one of the country’s drier states.
  • Sugarcane now uses about 70 percent of Marathwada’s irrigation water despite accounting for four percent of cultivated land.
  • A similar story is playing out in Punjab and Haryana, but with rice taking the place of sugarcane. Rice covers 62 percent of Punjab’s area under cultivation, up from 10 percent in 1970.
  • The expansion of rice has been similar in neighboring Haryana.
  • Though the droughts have hit all crops, India still produces more rice, wheat, and sugar than it consumes. It is quite natural for farmers to plant rice and cane when both power and water are almost free.

Measures needed:

  • Policy changes:
    • A NITI Aayog report has recommended shifting of some areas under sugarcane cultivation to less water-intensive crops by providing a suitable incentive to farmers.
    • The task force, headed by the NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand, has recommended shifting sugarcane farmers to other crops on at least three lakh hectares by paying a remuneration of Rs 6,000 per hectare for alternative cultivation patterns.
    • The new scheme should be piloted for a three years’ implementation time, the task force recommended. The task force, which also consists of secretaries of a number of ministries, has recommended that only 85 per cent of the sale slip (purchase of sugarcane) to ensure that the farmers opt for alternative crops on at least 15 per cent of the land.
  • Re-designing the cropping pattern:
    • 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.
    • It is vital for the Centre to arrive at a policy that gives constructive advice to farmers on the ideal cropping mix and help them get the cost-plus-50% margin.
    • Growing less water-intensive crops in the dry season and transitioning away from irrigation-intensive systems where there is little water.
    • For instance, shifting rice cultivation in water-scarce areas like Punjab to Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, etc, and sugarcane cultivation to the traditional sub-tropical regions like UP and Bihar instead of Maharashtra.
    • Adopt drought-resistant crop varieties as has been done in some parts of Odisha for paddy/rice through the help of the International Rice Research Institute. This can maintain productivity and income of the farmers and also ensure price stability to the consumers.
  • 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.
    • Water-deficient states should promptly move towards micro-irrigation systems. These techniques have significantly higher efficiency vis-à-vis flood irrigation techniques.
  • 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.
  • Watershed Management:
    • Rainwater harvesting, an age-old technique for capturing monsoon run-off, can provide the country with reliable water supplies throughout the year. Building check dams on riverbeds will improve groundwater levels.
    • Farm ponds, percolation tanks, water reservoirs and small and medium-sized dams can help retain more surface water while increasing the groundwater recharge.
    • 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.
  • Creating awareness:
    • Creating sustainable change would require a bottom-up approach by empowering the local community to become active participants in managing groundwater.
    • 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.

Conclusion:       

The cropping pattern in India has undergone significant changes over time. As the country runs out of water fast, India needs to change its game for sustenance. Replacing water-intensive crops with sustainable ones in dry areas is a step in the right direction.

To put it in a nutshell, the strategy of “diversify crops, save water” can work only by introducing long-run stable price policy to make alternative crops profitable, with additional focus on the development and diffusion of profitable technologies for alternative crops, expansion of area under controlled irrigation; and expanding markets through rural infrastructure.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Case Study

7. Even though one of the most basic needs of a human being is food, the producers of that food in India, that is farmers, are in a very difficult condition. Today, it is perceived that the major reason for this is economic in nature. However, there are other factors also – social, attitudinal etc.

 In this context explain why do you think ? None of the parents want their children to pursue farming as a profession or  no youth, educated or otherwise, wants to engage in farming? How would you persuade them so that farming gets back its lost dignity? Explain. (250 words)

Why the question:

The question is based on the concerns associated with deteriorating position of farmers as a potential profession in the country.  

Key Demand of the question:

One must bring out the ethical and moral concerns associated and answer the questions that follow.

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:

Start with identifying the issues in the question.

Body:

Focus must be given on deliberations on ethical angle involved in the case.

First identify the current conditions in the case – Farmers economic situation deteriorating, the social status of farming going down, the attitude in general towards farming is changing, aspirational value of farming decreasing etc.

Then discuss the values that are involved in the above case study; Empathy and Compassion – to be able to understand the farmers’ situation and act upon it, Dignity of labour, respect from society.

Elaborate on what is your stand.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a fair and balanced opinion.

Introduction:

Agriculture distress has been a long-term trend in India without a solution for long. ‘Annadata Sukhibhava’ is a saying in Sanskrit which translates to ‘Let the one who feeds be happy’. Unfortunately, in India, this has not been true for a long time. Recent farm protests also show the non-remunerative picture of Agriculture.

Body

Agriculture in India

It is a well-known fact that even though nearly half of India’s population is involved in agriculture, the sector contributes to just 14% of GDP. This tells us the financial well-being of farmers is very poor. India has achieved food security, but farmers are yet to achieve financial security.

Farmer suicide has been an ongoing phenomenon due to issues of indebtedness, crop loss, exploitation of unsuspecting farmers among others. Most of them are small and marginal farmers without any social security. This is the difficult situation faced by Indian farmers today.

Agriculture as a profession

According to the Census 2011, every day 2,000 farmers give up farming. The young among the farming communities are hardly interested in agriculture. Even a majority of students who graduate from agricultural universities switch over to other professions. It is called the “great Indian agro brain drain”.

Youth today don’t see agriculture as a profession as it hardly allows them to become financially secure. It is also a socially induced influence that views farming as a lesser profession vis-a-vis other occupation. This is mainly due to the state of Indian farmers.

On one hand, government is also trying to shift jobs from agriculture to non-agriculture jobs. This may benefit the next generation with better livelihood income. Yet, reforms are needed in agriculture sector so that, farmers get a better deal in return for India’s food security.

Persuading youth to take up farming

Hardly 5 per cent of the youth are engaged in agriculture though over 60 per cent of the rural people derive their livelihood fully or partly from farming and its related activities. Clearly, the modern youth are disenchanted with agriculture and are shunning it as a profession.

Firstly, one must respect dignity of labour. As Gandhiji said, that a life of labour, i.e., the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman, is the life worth living. Not just in words, this must be practiced as well.

New methods of farming, with improved technology must be made available to youth. Diversified income from farm and non-farm activities should be encouraged. Organic farming, Agro-forestry, horticulture, bee-keeping among others are areas where there is a scope for innovation. And youth must be prepared to take up these initiatives with new-age technology and innovative ideas.

Conclusions

It will not be wrong to say that future agriculture development will largely depend upon the contribution of rural youths and for this to happen we have to make agriculture occupation a rewarding and profit-oriented activity on priority basis. Along with this, our attitude towards farming must change and it should become a socially acceptable occupation and be treated on par if not higher with any other professions.


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