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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 JULY 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 JULY 2018


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


Topic – Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1)The distinctive features of its culture and its uniqueness are the precious possession of the Indian society. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference

 

Why this question

India is a unique country with a rich ancient history and with one of the oldest yet dynamic culture. It has a distinct identity and although diverse in all respects, there is an underlying unity in Indian culture.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the uniqueness of Indian culture and its salient characteristics. Here we have to be as exhaustive as possible while confining ourselves to the given word limit.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates to write at length about the key demand of the question- salient characteristics and uniqueness of Indian culture.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about the prehistoric origin of Indian civilization and the diversity of our culture in all forms ranging from dance to literature, architecture to philosophy etc.

Body– Mention that in spite of all these differences and diversity, Indian culture as a whole has some unique and salient characteristics. Discuss in points, about the uniqueness and salient features of our culture. E.g

  • Continuity and Change
  • Variety and unity
  • Secularism
  • Universalism
  • Materialistic as well as spiritualistic etc.

Discuss each point in detail and discuss how each aspect is highlighted in our culture. Take the help of the article attached to the question to frame your answer.

Background:-

  • India is a vast country with a lot of diversity in her physical and social environment. The composite and dynamic character of Indian culture is a result of the rich contributions of all these diverse cultural groups over a long period of time. The distinctive features of Indian culture and its uniqueness are the precious possession of all Indians.

Distinctive features:-

  • Continuity and change :-
    • Indian culture has had an enduring character. Despite major changes and upheavals significant threads of continuity can be traced throughout the course of Indian history right upto the present day.
  • Variety and unity:-
    • Indian culture, over the last three mellenia, has successfully, but quietly, observed 
      the best assimilable parts from other religions and cultures, from time to time and integated them into itself.
    • A large number of languages and dialects are spoken in our country which has led to the growth of a great variety of literature. People belonging to eight great religions of the world co-exist here in a harmonious manner. 
    • The second important reason for the variety in our culture is the intermingling among various ethnic groups. Since time immemorial, people from far and near have been coming and settling here.
    • The people belonging to other cultures brought their cultural habits, thoughts and ideas, which got amalgamated into the existing culture .
    • Cultural exchange between different regions of India has also continued. 
  • Secular outlook:-
    • The secular character of Indian culture is a result of the intermingling of people belonging to diverse cultural groups over a long period of time. Right to freedom of religion ensures secular nature of our polity.
    • In the Western context development of secularism meant complete separation of the church and the state. In India secularism is taken as a more positive concept to cope with the complex social structure in the country with a view to protecting the interests of all, particularly the minorities.
  • Universalism:-
    • The concept of coexistence has not been confined to the geographical and political boundaries of the country only. India has a universal outlook and it has been promoting the message of peace and harmony to the entire world.
    • India has been raising a strong voice against racialism and colonialism. It has protested against the formation of power blocks in the world. In fact India became one of the founder members of the non-aligned movement
  • Materialistic and spiritualistic:-
    • India is popularly known to be a land of spirituality particularly to the West. However, Indian history from ancient times to present day shows that the developments of materialistic and non-materialistic culture have been going on alongside.

Topic-Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

2)Although cyclones bring sheer devastation, they also bring several benefits with them. Comment, in the context of India.(250 words)

Why this question

India is highly vulnerable to several kinds of natural disasters and cyclone is one of them. It is essential to know about the vulnerability of India to cyclones, their negative effects as well as positive effects, if any.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our knowledge and understanding of the vulnerability of India to cyclones, and the positive as well as negative effects of cyclones.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to form an opinion on the issue – impact of cyclones in India and whether cyclones have any positive effects along with the apparent negative effects it brings.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Define what is a cyclone and their types- tropical vs temperate cyclones.

Body

  1. Mention that India is highly vulnerable to tropical cyclones, present the picture of Indian coastline and vulnerable areas(3 coastal states/UTs encompassing 84 coastal districts)  in the country; months of the year when cyclones usually hit the Indian coast etc.
  2. Discuss the negative effects of cyclones. E.g strong winds and associated loss of life and property; torrential rainfall and flooding; storm surge and its effects on the low-lying coastal areas etc.
  3. Discuss the positive effects of cyclones. E.g relief in drought conditions; Carry heat and energy away from the tropics and transport it towards temperate latitudes, thus helps to maintain equilibrium in the Earth’s troposphere ; maintaining a relatively stable and warm temperature worldwide etc.

Conclusion– discuss in 2-3 lines about India’s efforts in dealing with the cyclones- National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP).

Background:-

  • Cyclones are among the most dangerous and most destructive natural disasters that can occur. They have been responsible for about 1.9 million deaths worldwide over the last two centuries, and it is estimated that 10,000 people are killed each year by these storms. Cyclones tend to do the most damage in coastal areas, where they have been known to alter the landscape and remove forest canopy.
  • 13 coastal states and Union Territories in the country are affected by Tropical Cyclones (TCs). 

Cyclones bring devastation:-

  • Property:-
    • The strong winds of cyclones can cause damage over an area of 25 km in smaller systems and up to 500 km in larger systems. Winds have been known to destroy smaller buildings and knock out power for thousands of people.
  • Storm surge:-
    • Potentially disastrous surges occur in coastal areas with low-lying terrain that enables inundation. The storm surge is typically the most damaging effect of cyclones, historically resulting in 90 percent of tropical cyclone deaths.
    • When combined with strong winds, storm surges can produce massive waves that can cause inland flooding and destruction.
  • Life:-
    • Cyclones often cause loss of life, heavy damages in built environments, and have negative effects on shipping,
  • Fisheries, and tourism:-
    • Statistics show that the global average annual losses from cyclones and storm surges are estimated at US$ 80 billion.
  • Temperature:-
    • Tropical cyclones can quickly change the environment of the affected areas. They can bring warmer air into hot places. This makes the atmosphere feel very sticky and muggy and rises the temperature dramatically. This can cause heat strokes and other heat related illness to children and the elderly after the storm which is not good.

Benefits:-

  • Clearing pollution:-
    • Rain can also help clear some pollutants from air.
  • Heat Balance :-
    • Tropical cyclones help maintain the global heat balance by moving warm tropical air away from the equator, towards the poles.
    • Also, tropical cyclones prevents heat energy to building up in the tropics and stops from more storms from forming for a short period of time. 
  • Replenish islands:-
    • Cyclones have the power to pick up substantial amounts of sand, nutrients and sediment on the ocean’s bottom and bring it toward those barrier islands. Storm surge, wind and waves will often move these islands closer to the mainland as sand is pushed or pulled in that direction.
    • Without tropical cyclones or artificial restoration, barrier islands would eventually shrink and sink into the ocean.
    • Small reef islands are built up by the deposit of new sediments through wind and waves. 
  • Wind energy:-
    • High winds associated with cyclones could enhance the production of wind energy especially the wind farms in coastal areas.  
  • Dry areas:-
    • They also provide beneficial rains to many areas that would otherwise be too dry.
  • Sea life benefit greatly by cyclones, mainly through the flushing out of estuaries and river channels. It provides food and breeding grounds through this process. 
  • Nutrients:-
    • Tropical cyclones bring supplemental nutrients from the ocean to the land upon landfall. These nutrients helps plants grow strong, and keep the land healthy.
    • Tropical Cyclones can greatly benefit farmers who thrive for the best fruits and vegetables since the nutrients would aid in the plants being tastier and healthier.
  • Tropical cyclones can bring warmer area into cool places. They can help warm up the environment surrounding the affected area. In effect, they bring more appropriate temperatures for .
  • While cyclone ‘Vardah’ caused distress to several people in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, it brought cheer to farmers in Andhra Pradesh, as the rainfall is just sufficient for tilling and sowing. The availability of water is also likely to bring down the investment cost for them.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic: Part of static series under the heading – “ Comparison of the powers of president with the respective powers of the Governor “

3)Both President and the Governor are the nominal heads in centre and state respectively, yet, their powers differ a lot. Discuss. (250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss that despite the fact that the constitution has cast both the president and the governor in the role of nominal head of the centre and state executive respectively, their powers differ significantly from each other. We have to bring out how their powers differ as well as how they are similar.

Directive word

Discuss – Here you have to compare and contrast the powers of the governor and president in your discussion.

Structure of the answer

  • Discuss the role that constitution envisages the governor and president to play.
  • Discuss their powers and how their are similar to each other – veto power, clemency power, ordinance power, discretionary power etc
  • Discuss how their powers differ from each other in above respect

Conclusion – Mention the overall sense of the role that these two constitutional authorities have to play and whether president exercises control over the governor.

 


Background :-

  • As envisaged in the Indian constitution in a federal constitutional division of power between centre and real power vests in council of ministers president and governor are only ceremonial heads of state. Real power lies with elected government headed by PM and CM

Differences :-

  • The discretionary powers of Governor are with wider scope in the statethan the President in the Union.
  • Governor cannot grant pardon to somebody convicted and sentenced to death, although he can commute such sentence. Only president has power to pardon someone sentenced to death. Only President can pardon a person punished under Martial law.
  • President can nominate two members of Anglo-Indian Community in Lok Sabha, Governor can nominate one member of Anglo-Indian Community in State Legislature.
  • President nominates 12 members in Rajya Sabha. Governor nominates 1/6th members of State Legislative Council wherever bicameral legislatures exist in states.
  • Only President can declare war or peace.
  • The Presidentof India has the power to declare three types of emergency. They are National Emergency, State Emergency and Financial Emergency.
  • Once the governor reserves a bill for the President s consideration ,the subsequent enactment of the bill is in the hands of the president and the governor shall have no further part in its career.

Similarities:-

  • Both the President and Governor have the status of Constitutional Heads.
  • All executive decisions are taken in their name but actual power is exercised by Council of Ministers
  • All ordinary / money bills passed must get their assent before they become an act.
  • Both of them have powers to promulgate ordinances.
  • All Money bills can be introduced with prior recommendation of President in the Lok Sabha and Governor in the state legislature.
  • Both have clemency powers.

Topic-mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

4)Despite the protection granted by RpWD Act, the status of the differently abled with respect to reservation remains dicey. Examine.(250 words)

The hindu

 

Why this question

The article talks about the status of reservation for disabled persons and how the mandate of RPwD Act is being flouted. The question is important as RPwD Act was a key legislation expected to drastically improve the rights enjoyed by the differently abled.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the provisions of RPwD Act with respect to reservations. Thereafter we have to examine the status two years hence. We also need to write corrective actions.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the recent findings wrt reservation for the  disabled which raisedls issues over the performance of RpWD Act.

Body – Mention the aims and objectives of RpWD Act. Discuss the key provisions which secure rights of persons with disabilities. Discuss why is it, that despite such an act the status of reservation for differently abled remains dicey. Examine what precautions and steps should be taken to ensure that persons with disabilities get what is rightfully theirs by virtue of RpWD Act.

Conclusion – Mention that disabled form a very vulnerable section of the society, the government is giving extra attention to their empowerment which makes it necessary to ensure that RPwD Act functions effectively.

Background:-

  • In India, the population with disabilities is around 26.8 million, constituting 2.21% of India’s total population, if one goes by the 2011 population census data. 
  • Recent reports suggest that Jawaharlal Nehru University may have been in violation of disability reservation provisions in student selection and faculty recruitment.

Protection granted by RpWD act:-

  • The Act has a great significance to it as it included the Private employers within its jurisdiction which was subject to interpretation in the previous act.
  • The Act brought in provisions by which no person can be discriminated against on the grounds of their disability thereby providing an equal opportunity. No employee can be discriminated against in cases of career growth, promotions, transfers, etc.
  • The PwD persons cannot be discriminated against in assigning client facing roles. Rather, responsibilities are to be assigned based on the merit.
  • The act suggests that if there are 20 or more PwD employed in the firm, it should set out a policy with job roles identified as suitable for them and should provide the required amenities for PwD, training, special leave, etc.
  • A liaison officer is to be appointed to monitor various stages which include recruitment of PwD, work environment which is conducive to PwD, etc.
  • It obligates the company to maintain a clear record with the details of the employees and the facilities provided to them.
  • Compliance of Accessibility is the key provision of the act. It states that no company will be provided a certificate of completion unless it provides ramps, elevators, transport, communication, adheres to minimum width of walkways, etc. Thus making the company an inclusive environment.
  • It has increased the quota of reservation for persons with benchmark disabilities from 3% to 4% in government jobs and from 3% to 5% in higher educational institutions. Since the Act came into force, there have been multiple instances of persons with disabilities having to fight their cases in courts to ensure that government and educational institutions comply with the disability reservation provisions.

Despite such an act the status of reservation for differently abled remains dicey:-

  • In government jobs and higher educational institutions, where the total seats offered are fewer, disability reservation takes a back seat. The argument often given by authorities is that due to the paucity of seats, the disability reservation cannot even be calculated.
  • Many premier educational institutions and various State governments have been in violation of the prior Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995 and of the RPwD Act, The system is designed such that disability is seen as the inability of a person and therefore many differently abled candidates are not recruited, additionally contributing to the mounting huge backlog of vacancies.
  • Although there are persons with disabilities (PwD) employed in the private giants, they are majorly restricted to the urban India and most of the private companies still stay reluctant to employ people with disabilities.
  • Many think that persons selected under reserved categories, especially under the differently abled category, are not meritorious candidates and their selection brings down the quality of institutions in which they are selected.
  • Main problem lies in the psyche of a significant mass which considers persons with disabilities a liability, and this leads to discrimination and harassment against them and their isolation from the mainstream.
  • Legislation alone is not enough; implementation remains abysmal.
  • Data from the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People show that 84% of seats for persons with disabilities lie vacant in top universities.

Precautions that need to be taken:-

  • The national action plan for skill development of persons with disabilities was announced in March last to impart skill training and improve their chances of employment in public and private sector.
  • There needs to be a shift from a charity-based approach to a rights-based approach.
  • Care must be taken to ensure disability-inclusive development. India has to create sensitive and harmonious society, where every person feels empowered and a society of empathy, where one person feels the pain of another.
  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have the potential in enhancing their social, cultural, political and economic participation.
  • Incorporation of accessibility principles across all new developments will also complement the Accessible India Campaign
  • Representation of persons with disabilities in all ministries, commissions and committees to advise and ensure inclusion in all policies, programmes and developments.
  • Adherence to the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines should be made mandatory while developing websites and mobile applications.

Conclusion :-

Real change occurs only on effective implementation and on tackling the attitudinal barriers of society. The eloquently articulated observations of the Supreme Court are likely to pave the way for the creation of a more egalitarian social order, not just in law, but also in reality.


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.

5) The optimal policy response to  a structural surplus cannot be higher procurement prices. Critically examine the statement in the light of the increasing MSPs for farm products.(250 words)

Livemint

Indian express

Why this question

Agriculture remains a critical employment and  livelihood source for around half of the Indian population. Getting a decent profit out of agricultural activities is essential to ensure sustainability of this critical sector. In this direction, the govt announces MSPs for several agricultural products. However, this does not simply translate into immediate or long term gains for the agricultural economy and has many negative ramifications as well.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into issue underlying the question and discuss why there is a structural surplus in agricultural production and why higher MSPs will not help in solving the problem to the desired extent. Based on our discussion we have to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Directive word

Critically analyze- here we have to form an opinion on the issue after discussing the reasons behind the structural surplus in agriculture and the implications of providing higher MSPs for agricultural products.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – write a few lines about the state of Indian agriculture today where periods of abundance are followed by short periods of low production. Mention the emerging agricultural surplus state of our economy etc.

Body-

  1. Discuss why there is agricultural surplus. E.g improved seed varieties, faster diffusion of technology, low per capita land availability, better roads, electricity, irrigation and communication infrastructure etc.
  2. Discuss the implications of higher MSPs vis a vis its limitations and negative effects. E.g they provide incentive to grow more of a particular crop whereas in present times there is already agricultural surplus; limited procurement capacity of FCI; MSPs don’t guarantee procurement; spillover to generalized inflation which in turn will hurt the rural and agricultural economy etc.

Conclusion– Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced opinion on the issue in the form of a way forward. E.g allowing agro trading companies to buy more in the Indian market, fixing procurement caps above which no procurement will be guaranteed and upto which the whole produce will be procure; building the capacity of RBI monetary policy committee  to target inflation etc.

Background:-

  • Last year, around 184 farmer groups came together from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Telangana to take part in a ‘protest walk’, demanding higher prices for agricultural produce.  The protest once again highlighted the plight of farmers and the extent of agrarian distress despite surplus production. No matter the price, the quantity harvested and sold remained virtually the same. 

Structural surplus in India is due to the following reasons:-

  • Better seeds and faster diffusion of technology have made a difference.
  • With planting of hybrids paddy yields have gone up.
  • Advances in plant breeding and genetics for improved supply response from farmers. The Operation Flood programme helped boost India’s milk production 
  • Investments in infrastructure especially rural roads and electricity which have enabled milk to be procured from the interiors and chilled at village collection centres.
  • Farmers are also more aware about prices and the latest hybrids/varieties, crop protection chemicals, machinery and agronomic than earlier. As a result, they take far less time to respond to high prices.

However farmers suffer due to multiple reasons so MSP only does not help:-

  • Good rains, excessive sowing and the bumper harvest last year produced gluts in the market that sent the prices of many crops, and therefore farm incomes, crashing.
  • None of the economic tools available for protecting farm incomes the price support scheme, the price stabilisation fund and the market intervention scheme was employed to the best advantage. 
  • Although MSPs are announced for more than 20 crops, noteworthy procurement is conducted for three: paddy, wheat and sugarcane 
  • Procurement frequently takes places at prices below the MSP, as is happening this year, according to reports. Finally, small and vulnerable farmers usually do not get paid MSPs at all, as they sell their produce to aggregators, not directly in mandis.
  • Gluts, depressed market prices and mounting farmer losses are a direct consequence of the malfunction in agri-pricing policies.
  • Despite a bumper crop last year, farmers are not satisfied with the procurement price.They are, therefore, unable to repay loans they have taken, both from institutional sources and private moneylenders. 
  • The small and marginal land holdings (less than 2 hectares) account for 72% of land holdings, and this predominance of small operational holdings is a major limitation to reaping the benefits of economies of scale.
    • Since small and marginal farmers have little marketable surplus, they are left with low bargaining power and no say over prices.
  • Risk because of pests, diseases, shortage of inputs like seeds and irrigation, which could result in low productivity and declining yield; the lower remunerative price; the absence of marketing infrastructure and profiteering by middlemen adds to the financial distress of farmers.
  • Also, the predominance of informal sources of credit, mainly through moneylenders, and lack of capital for short term and long term loans have resulted in the absence of stable incomes and profits.
  • Farmers face price uncertainties due to fluctuations in demand and supply owing to bumper or poor crop production and speculation and hoarding by traders.
  • The costs of farm inputs have increased faster than farm produce prices
  • The absence of a robust market for buying and selling forward-looking contracts
  • Uncertain policies and regulations such as those of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee, besides low irrigation coverage, drought, flooding and unseasonal rains, are some other factors that hit farmers hard.

Increasing MSP gives short term results :-

  • Incentivise production of a specific food crop which is in short supply.
  • Protects farmers from any sharp fall in the market price of a commodity.
  • Ensures that the country’s agricultural output responds to the changing needs of its consumers.
    • Ex: The government hiked the MSP of pulses to expand sowing of pulses.
  • Higher farm profits will encourage farmers to spend more on inputs, technology etc
  • Protect farmers from the unwarranted fluctuation in prices, provoked by the international level price variations.

Increasing MSP is not the solution:-

  • Imposition of MSP beyond some point is market distortingas it severs the link between prices and demand-supply. This can also be inflationary and out of sync with the physical market dynamics.
    • Support price does not come with a commitment to buy whatever farmers offer. Actual procurement will be limited by the fiscal room available, especially at a time when a significantly higher fiscal deficit could lead to further pressure on the rupee.
  • RBI has highlighted the announcement of higher MSPs as being one of the major risk factors this year for inflation. This is significant as the government has spoken of providing a mark-up of 50% on cost for all products when deciding on the MSPs for FY19.
  • Farmers have got negative returns in several crops prompting many economists to question the usefulness of MSP’s.
  • Input costs:-
    • The cost of cultivation varies across states while MSP’s are based on a weighted all India average so farmers don’t get guaranteed profits.
    • MSP’s have failed to keep pace with input costs.
  • Only a selected few states such as Punjab, MP, Haryana etc have well developed procurement infrastructure
  • Government procurement at MSP is benefiting the large traders than farmers.
    • More than three fourths of farming households don’t produce any marketable surplus and hence cannot really benefit from price support.
  • There is no provision in the budget to increase the ambit of farmerswho are covered by MSP and that is a problem in addition to how the MSP is calculated
  • Farmers also argue that MSP is only announced for 25 crops, while for other crops they have to deal with market volatility. There is no MSP for fruits and vegetables. 
  • Only a fraction of the farmers actually have access to MSP.
    • MSP often does not reach farmersas the government does not procure on time and the farmer has to make distress sales at rates lower than the MSP.
  • In the recent budget ,government has decided to keep MSP for all the unannounced crops of kharif at least at one and half times of their production cost .There is no clarity on how the implementation takes place.
    • There are concerns whether all states would agree with that cost
    • Also as MSP and Inflation highly co-related and any increase in MSP will eventually resulted into price hike of many agricultural products.
  • India’s price support programme is also promoting cultivation of water intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane even in water deficit regions such as Punjab ,Haryana and Maharashtra
  • Farmers keep producing the same varieties as cropping pattern is hardly changed in some regions.
  • Higher MSP’s over incentivize production leading to supply glut.
  • Hikes in MSP’s also adversely affect exports by making Indian farm goods uncompetitive especially when international market prices are lower.

Way forward:-

  • Government needs to allow agro trading companies to buy more in the Indian market, especially given the limitations of the Food Corporation of India.
  • Procurement system of the government needs to be streamlined.
    • There need to be reforms in APMC acts to ensure farmer selling directly to farmers
  • Government needs to analyse the recommendation of the M.S Swaminathan Report which suggested MSP over C2.
  • India should now explore alternate models to boost farmer’s income and stop relying on MSP’s alone.
  • A non inflationary way to resolve the agricultural crisis is to raise farm productivity through increased investment in irrigation and post harvest infrastructure
  • Based on Telangana experience it is time to consider a transparent ,crop neutral and easier to implement income support programme.
    • The state government gives a payment of Rs.10000 per hectare of cultivable land to all farmers irrespective of the crops they raise.
  • Recommendations by NITI aayog:-
    • The awareness to farmers and timely dissemination of information till the lowest level so that it would increase the bargaining power of the farmers.
    • Timely payment should be ensured.
    • MSP should be announced well in advance of the sowing season so as to enable the farmers to plan their cropping.
    • Improved facilities at procurement centres, such as drying yards, weighing bridges, toilets, etc.
    • More godowns should be set up and maintained properly for better storage and reduction of wastage.
    • The criteria for fixing MSP should be current year’s data and based on more meaningful criteria rather than the historical costs
  • The monitoring at every phase for the efficiency of the process and accountability of the people involved in its implementation.
  • The ambitious projects like e-NAM, doubling farmer’s income by 2022, price stabilisation fund, implementation of Swaminathan and Shanta Kumar committee is required.
  • Best way to double the real incomes of Indian farmers would be to halve their numbers through job creation in other parts of the economy.

Topic– Indian agriculture – issues

6) A recent OECD and ICRIER research has highlighted that despite higher positive inputs in comparison to global averages, Indian farmers have negative PSE. Critically examine whether focussing on e-NAM would bring a change in PSE of Indian farmers?(250 words)

Financial express

 

Why this question

The article talks about an important research report which highlights that despite higher than average government support, those inputs are not getting transformed into corresponding income gain for the farmers. This calls for a paradigm shift in the way agriculture support is thought of and implemented. This question is thus important.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the findings of the report, examine the causes behind the lack of translation of government support into positive PSE. Thereafter we need to discuss whether promotion of e-NAM would bring about the desired impact, or whether we need simultaneous focus on different aspects to improve farmers situation.

Directive word

Critically examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement. Here in the bad part, we have to write how focussing on e-NAM alone would not alleviate the issues, but an amalgamation of steps are required to bring about lasting change.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight that a sizeable chunk of Indian LFPR finds employment in agriculture , which necessitates keen focus on how effective the government interventions have been.

Body

  • Discuss the findings of the report that says that despite positive input support, farmers output price realisation lags behind peer economies.
  • Examine what might be the reasons. Highlight the shortcomings of governmental intervention through MSP and how it is unable to improve farmers situation across a variety of regions and crops. Discuss other support like fertilizer subsidy, insurance support, export policy etc and why they are not translating into desired outcomes.
  • Discuss whether the shortcomings of APMC is one of the key reasons why farmers are not enjoying positive PSE. Examine whether success of e-NAM would ensure that farmers start enjoying apt price for their produce.
  • Discuss how focussing on e-NAM alone would not be sufficient and requires a comprehensive approach as suggested by Shanta Kumar Committee, Niti Ayog report on smart agriculture etc

Conclusion – Give a fair and balanced view on what should be the way forward.

 

Background:-

  • The need to focus on farmers incomes instead of production or the growth rate in agriculture stems from the facts that there has been agrarian distress in the sector for the last two decades and a very large proportion of farming households in most of the central and eastern states live below the poverty line (BPL)
  • 40% of Indian farmers disliked farming as a profession due to its low profits, high risk, and the lack of social status

Findings of the report:-

  • OECD and ICRIER jointly undertook research over two years to map and measure the nature of agricultural policies in India and how they have impacted producers and consumers. 
  • The results of the PSE exercise reveal that India’s PSE, on average, during 2014-15 to 2016-17 was -6% of farm receipts. India is very much in the minority in this respect as most of the other countries studied by OECD have positive PSEs, with the OECD average at 18.2%.
  • A positive PSE (%) means that policies have helped producers receive higher revenues than would have been the case otherwise, and a negative PSE (%) implies lower revenues for farmers (a sort of implicit tax) due to the set of policies adopted.
  • Overall, PSE (%) was negative to the tune of 14%, on average, over the entire period from 2000-01 to 2016-17, indicating that, despite positive input subsidies, farmers in India received 14% less revenue due to restrictive trade and marketing policies. 

Why farmers are unable to achieve greater incomes:-

 

  • Weak Producer –Consumer Linkages:
    • There is a disconnect amongst what the Indian farmer produces and what the consumer demands. The farmer is not connected to aggregators, food processors and retail chains to help shape the nature of his produce. As a result, produce remains the same annually, largely dependent on farmers and is often driven by the government’s MSP program.
  • Weak Supplier Power:
    • The farmer is barely empowered as a supplier. He continues to be small & marginal, inadequately resourced, ill-informed on markets and marketing, ill-equipped to manage risk, burdened with credit & debts and is dependent on traders to reach the buyers.
  • Overdependence on Agriculture:
    • 60% of the Indian population depends on agriculture for livelihood while contribution to the national GDP through agriculture is only 14-15%.
  • Technology Starved:
    • The farmer is not equipped with the latest technology nor trained to adopt it fast. Lack of new technology solutions keeps the farmer from gaining an equal footing globally.
  • Low investment in Research & Development:
    • Less than 1% of the Agricultural GDP in India is spent on research. That is abysmal considering this sector is critical to food security of the country and provides livelihood to 60% of Indian population.
  • Lack of enabling infrastructure along the value chain:
    • There is a staggering lack of infrastructure across the entire agricultural value chain. 
  • Restrictive export policies for agri-products which have inflicted a large negative price support to farmers.
  • Higher input subsidies
  • Lesser coordination between the Centre and the states, and also across various ministries (for example, the agriculture, food, water resources, fertilizers, rural development and food processing).
  • There has been a pro-consumer bias in India’s trade and marketing policies, which actually hurts the farmers and lowers their revenues compared to what they would have received otherwise.
  • The challenges posed by present day APMCs :-
    • Fragmentation of State into multiple market areas, each administered by separate APMC
    • Separate licenses for each mandi are required for trading in different market areas within a state. This means that there is limited first point of sale for the farmer.
    • Licensing barriers leading to conditions of monopoly.
    • Opaque process for price discovery.
    • An overwhelming majority of farmers still rely on the same broken system of markets under APMC, which is monopolistic and rent-seeking, with high commissions, especially for perishables.

Focussing on e-NAM would bring a change in PSE of Indian farmers:-

  • For the farmers, NAM promises more options for sale. It would increase his access to markets through warehouse based sales and thus obviate the need to transport his produce to the mandi.
  • For the local trader in the mandi / market, NAM offers the opportunity to access a larger national market for secondary trading.
  • Bulk buyers, processors, exporters etc. benefit from being able to participate directly in trading at the local mandi / market level through the NAM platform, thereby reducing their intermediation costs.
  • The gradual integration of all the major mandis in the States into NAM will ensure common procedures for issue of licences, levy of fee and movement of produce. In a period of 5-7 years Union Cabinet expects significant benefits through higher returns to farmers, lower transaction costs to buyers and stable prices and availability to consumers.
  • The NAM will also facilitate the emergence of value chains in major agricultural commodities across the country and help to promote scientific storage and movement of agri goods.
    • Better storage and transportation facilities would allow buyers to participate in electronic purchases irrespective of their location. This would boost volumes, making the exchange a liquid one, and facilitate transparent price discovery.
  • e-NAM automatically addresses the problem of asymmetry in information flows, which is a problem currently because there is no data on secondary transactions between traders. A well-functioning spot exchange will pave the way for a thriving derivatives platform, given the larger objective is to have a seamless and integrated market for agri- commodities.
  • e-NAM was to help farmers find the best possible price for their produce by expanding the market nationally and eliminating middlemen. 
  • The highlight of the scheme is the single point levy of market fees, i.e. on the first wholesale purchase from the farmer.
  • The provision lets farmers to showcase their produce in nearby markets and facilitate traders from anywhere to quote price.
  • The portal enables harmonisation of quality standards of agricultural produces and provision for assaying (quality testing) infrastructure in every market that will pave way for informed bidding by buyers.
  • There will be liberal licensing of traders or buyers and commission agents enabled by state authorities without any precondition of physical presence or possession of shop /premises in the market yard.
  • It will address the following challenges:
    • Fragmentation of state into multiple market areas.
    • Poor quality of infrastructure and low use of technology.
    • In the traditional mandi system, farmers generally procured very less price for their crops as they had to pass through various intermediaries at the physical marketplace. This not only adds costs but also handling costs.

Constraints:-

  • To implement it, each State has to first amend its APMC Act to make a provision for electronic auction as a mode of price discovery, allow a single licence across the State and have market fees levied at a single point. Currently, only 13 States have enacted the necessary amendments.
  • There are no scientific sorting/grading facilities or quality testing machines. Testing labs are yet to be set up both in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • Lack of internet connectivityis another issue impeding progress. In Maharashtra, the infrastructure is in the development stage, internet connectivity and computers are being provided.
  • No grading/assaying infrastructure in most mandis.
  • Market remains isolated, with traders from outside the APMC not being able to buy farmers produce from the mandi and buyers having to physically inspect quality of turmeric.
  • State agricultural departments have been finding it difficult to convince all stakeholdersfarmers, traders and commission agents  to move to the online platform. While traders fear the taxman, farmers fear lower prices if the produce is assayed.
  • Lack of technical expertiseat the State Agricultural Departments has also delayed the setting up of grading/assaying facilities, say officials from the mandis.
    • It requires someone with technical expertise to assess the kind of equipment needed for the crops in the mandi, but currently, not many understand.
  • Currently, the platform suffers from basic flaws such as data being fed into the system post the auction.
  • Fruits and vegetables, where there often are prices fluctuations, are yet to be included in the NAM platform.

Way forward:-

  • Large Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)
    • While there are some successful FPOs currently running, sustainability of operations in FPOs is still a question. What can help is ensuring that FPOs are properly networked and federated, regionally as well as centrally. 
  • Encourage Land Bankswherever possible, especially hills and semi-arid areas where farming is difficult.
    • This may be more feasible in areas where fruits are grown.
    • Individual farmers can form large land banks by depositing their land into a large pool and then cultivate as one body in a professional manner on predetermined price and other terms.
  • A comprehensive vision document to promote and establish direct linkages between growers and consumers:
    • A policy framework that promotes structured, direct linkages between professional aggregators, food chain collaborators, food processors with large FPOs/Land Banks will reduce uncertainties drastically. This will ensure a fair share of the value created at the terminal end insuring the farmer from concentrated risk.
  • Roadmap that establishes a distinctive and customized policy approach for different crop groups
    • Measures such as establishing Agro Export Zones that have an independent APEDA equivalent as an enabler will be key. A customized approach and policy framework is needed for each crop segment such as food crops, commercial crops and vegetable growing regions.
  • Advance technology adoptionthroughout the agro-value chain.
    • Keeping current realities in mind, a complete overhaul of education in Agri Universities and research in scientific institutions need to be considered. R&D investments and capabilities in the sector must be enhanced substantially while bringing in transparency and accountability.
  • State of the art infrastructurein areas like storage & transportation, knowledge & information, credit & insurance etc. needs to be established.
  • Need for electronic payments across the mandis or APMCs so that payments are prompt.
  • Even as the Centre works with States to persuade them, infrastructure such as reliable third-party certification for the produce in every mandi and robust computer systems, including uninterrupted web connectivity, need to be put in place.
  • Importantly, the hold of the middleman, who often is also the financier of the farmer against a pledge of the produce, needs to be broken. That can be done only by bringing the farmer into the formal financial system.
  • Experts say that as long as fruits and vegetablesare kept outside the purview of NAM, the volatility in prices would continue, thus depriving farmers from getting better prices.
  • Barriers hampering interstate transfer of agricultural commodities also have to be removed.High taxes and levies imposed by states such as Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh on agricultural commodities trade have to be brought down; this would boost interstate trade and farmers income.
  • Expert panel:-
    • The expert panel had noted the need for a dispute resolution mechanismcritical, if e-NAM is to work.
    • Believes farmers should not be restricted to selling their produce only at recognised APMCs, they should be allowed to sell even outside the APMC premises, such as an electronic platform or in regulated private markets, without a fee being charged.
  • Niti Ayog report on smart agriculture and implementation of Shanta Prasad committee recommendations are needed.

Conclusion:

  • Eventually, the success of e-NAM will depend upon whether farmers get a higher price for their produce or not and whether this reduces price volatility.
  • Since most state governments have a history of blocking supplies when local prices go up, it will be critical to ensure the states on the platform don’t resort to their old tricks in times of supply shortage.

 


General Studies – 4


Topic :Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

7)You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. Comment.(250 words)

Reference

Reference

Key demand of the question

The question wants to check our analytical skills and come up with an opinion on the issue- whether a person reveals himself more in a play than in a conversation; why/ why not.

Directive word

Introduction– write a few lines about the behaviour of a person and what are the important factors deciding a particular behaviour/ disposition.

Body- Discuss how a person will reveal himself more during a playful event rather than during a planned/ unplanned conversation. Try to brainstorm and find the reasons behind such behaviour. E.g less control over behaviour during a play; competitive nature of the play which brings out the true character of the participants; broad set of behaviours involved during a play than during a conversation; higher consciousness and a relaxed atmosphere during conversation which favours more control over one’s behaviour etc. These examples are just for guidance purposes and it is advised to refer the articles attached to the question, and other relevant material, to frame your answer. The purpose of the question is to build your analytical capabilities, which should be the prime concern while answering this question. If you can relate the quote to static portion of ethics- behaviour, determinants of ethics; emotional intelligence; attitude etc then the purpose of the question will be well served.

Conclusion– Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.

 

 

Human behaviour is the responses of individuals or groups of humans to internal and external stimuli. The way an individual addresses a situation single-handedly or say in a group is influenced by many factors. The key factors influencing an individual’s attitude in personal as well as social life are Abilities, Race and culture, attribution, Perception , Attitude etc.

Most people will go kind of easy in conversation.  Say the safe things, say what they think the other person wants to hear.  If they disagree, they generally don’t do so loudly or rudely.  If they agree, it will probably be equally subdued.

Well, playing carry more information because a normal conversation is quite structured  that means that a conversation carries too little information per time because it uses only a few ‘information channels’. Playing has usually much more ‘information channels’. For that reason one can use games not only to know a person better, but also to achieve knowledge in a quick and creative way – because of the higher number of ‘information channels’.

When a person plays, he/she shows his/her original character as they have to give the best of theirs in a limited time. So in a way it reflects a person’s personality as the behaviour during the play is spontaneous and is under less control.

A play is unpredictable and it puts a person in different complicated situations where the person’s character is truly tested. Great sports personalities like Federer, Nadal ,Sachin Tendulkar ,Dravid etc are respected for the way they play the game and people take inspiration from their personalities.

However sometimes during play due to competition a person reacts differently which might be totally different than what he/she reacts outside of play. But to a large extent a one of play can determine a person’s character.