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[op-ed snap] A flawed defence procurement policy

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy| Investment models

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Offset Partnership

Mains level: The newscard discusses flaws in India’s defence procurement policy , which is indirectly hampering Make in India policy and provides scope for crony capitalism to persist.


News

Row over Rafale

  1. The Defence Procurement Procedure, 2016, (DPP) recognizes the need to ensure that procurement is undertaken in a manner that takes India closer to the goal of developing a world-class domestic defence and aerospace industry.
  2. However, the offset requirements under the DPP are not helping it achieve this goal.
  3. The recent Rafale controversy is the symptom of a larger underlying problem in decision-making, transparency and consistency of public policy.

Offsets guidelines in the DPP

  1. Offsets are a portion of a contracted price with a foreign supplier that must be re-invested in the Indian defence sector, or against which the government can purchase technology.
  2. Some good intentions inform the DPP and its offsets regime, such as the need for public-private partnership, encouraging startups and direct investment, and flexibility for foreign suppliers.
  3. However, when it comes to the details, things look different.

Procurement Policy of India

  1. Under Indian law, government procurement is treated as distribution of endowments by the state and, hence, must be fair, transparent and equitable.
  2. There can be no favouritism or nepotism in the award of public contracts.

Biggest Policy Loophole

  1. Offsets are financed by Indian taxpayers, but the award of contracts by foreign suppliers is not subject to public procurement safeguards.
  2. The DPP even seems to indicate that the foreign supplier has complete discretion on choice of the Indian offset partner (IOP).
  3. This would permit the Indian government to avoid public procurement rules when taxpayer money is routed through a foreign supplier towards “offsets”.

An Open to Abuse Policy?

  1. Such a policy was the government’s argument during the Rafale controversy.
  2. It is openly falsehood for the government to require foreign suppliers to have IOPs and yet not have a say in the choice of offset partner or its investments.
  3. If this were true, the offset regime would be inherently open to abuse by the foreign supplier.

DPP norms for selecting Offset

  1. The DPP provides the government with extensive control over selection of the offset partner.
  2. For instance, it has the power to bar any entity from becoming an offset partner.
  3. The government also retains the power to evaluate offset proposals received in response to procurement tenders and conclude offset contracts.
  4. The DPP also provides that all offset proposals will be approved by the Union minister of defence, regardless of their value.
  5. During the period of the contract, any change in the Indian offset partner also requires government approval.

Are the offset guidelines satisfactory?

  1. From the above norms it is unlikely that the government has nothing to do with the selection of Indian offset partners. Neither would this be desirable.
  2. The intention is to create a free, open and competitive market, and yet at the same time, ensure that Indian taxpayers money not taken for a granted.

They are not, because:

[I]

  1. Defence procurement should be subject to transparent processes that ensure that Indian companies, big and small, compete on a level playing field.
  2. The selection of a large (and failing) conglomerate with no prior experience, as is the case with Rafale, would not have been possible if the government had directly procured under a sophisticated award process.
  3. If it is not possible or desirable under a direct procurement regime, it is difficult to argue that it is desirable under an offsets regime.

[II]

  1. While the procurement policy recognizes the need for domestic private partnership, it does not mandate a fair and diverse procurement process for offsets.
  2. Given the large contract values involved, this makes it likely that foreign suppliers will partner with just one or two large industrial groups to discharge their offset obligations.

[III]

  1. The definition of IOP is flawed. IOPs are defined as Indian enterprises engaged in making eligible products and/or services.
  2. If the objective is to build a domestic defence sector, the focus should instead be on direct investments.
  3. In other sectors where India has succeeded, foreign technology and know-how has followed investments, irrespective of ownership.

More Transparency is the need of Hour

  1. Indian ownership does not necessarily contribute to the growth of a sector, as much as investments within Indian shores.
  2. Focussing on investments will ensure that companies of all sizes, including foreign companies who wish to manufacture in India, are permitted to grow and flourish.
  3. For this, regulations that restrict foreign investments in the defence sector require a dose of reform.
  4. More importantly, transparency is essential in procurement contracts.

Way Forward

  1. In the interest of fairness, foreign suppliers should be free to invest in India, yet at the same time, offset investments/procurement must be subject to safeguards.
  2. Without substantive reforms in the DPP, there are likely to be more controversies and perceptions of crony capitalism.
  3. What is worse, the substantial amount of taxpayer’s money meant for the development of an indigenous defence sector might not find its way back.
Make in India: Challenges & Prospects

Explained: How Zika spreads, and harms

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about Zika Virus

Mains level: Tackling Zika Virus menace in India


News

Context

  • In what is India’s first large outbreak of the Zika virus, afresh 100 cases have been detected so far Jaipur itself.
  • A look at how the virus spreads and the big risk it involves — the possibility of babies being born with a defect:

Zika

  1. Zika is a viral infection, spread by mosquitoes.
  2. The vector is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and Chikungunya.
  3. First identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys, Zika was detected in humans five years later.
  4. Sporadic cases have been reported throughout the world since the 1960s, but the first outbreak happened only in 2007 in the Island of Yap in the Pacific.
  5. In 2015, a major outbreak in Brazil led to the revelation that Zika can be associated with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small and underdeveloped brains.

Transmission of Zika Virus

  1. Infected people can transmit Zika sexually.
  2. Fears around Zika primarily involve microcephaly, especially when pregnant women are infected.
  3. Generally, the virus is not considered dangerous to anyone other than pregnant women.
  4. Some countries that have had a Zika outbreak, including Brazil, reported a steep increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome — a neurological disorder that could lead to paralysis and death, according to WHO.
  5. In 2017, following a study on Brazil’s confirmed cases, the US National Institutes of Health study estimated the fatality rate at 8.3%.

Symptoms

  1. Most people infected with the virus do not develop symptoms.
  2. When they are manifested, the symptoms are similar to those of flu, including fever bodyache, headache etc.
  3. WHO says these symptoms can be treated with common pain and fever medicines, rest and plenty of water.
  4. If the symptoms worsen, people should seek medical advice.
  5. Additional symptoms can include the occasional rash like in dengue, while some patients also have conjunctivitis.
  6. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is estimated to be 3-14 days.

Preventive Measures against Zika

  1. Mosquito control measures such as spraying of pesticides, use of repellents etc. are widely suggested.
  2. Because of the possibility of congenital abnormalities and sexual transmission, there is also focus on contraceptives.
  3. WHO requires countries to counsel sexually active men and women on the matter to minimize chances of conception at the time of an outbreak.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Suicides in India: What data shows?

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population and associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Burden of Disease Study, Stats mentioned

Mains level: The problem of suicides and its effects on society as well as the demographic dividend of India


News

Context

  • The nation accounts for over a third of the world’s annual female suicides and nearly a fourth of male suicides, a significant rise in global share from 1990.

About the research

  1. This outcome is based on the study conducted by Public Health Foundation of India, which was published in the Lancet Public Health Journal.
  2. It studied multiple sources, including official sample registration and vital registration surveys, medically certified causes of death, and verbal autopsy studies.
  3. The research was part of the 2016 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors (GBD 2016), a worldwide database of health indicators.

India accounts for a growing share

  1. The suicide rates for men and women in India were much higher than the global averages.
  2. Drinking alcohol was associated with the risk of suicide in men.
  3. Being widowed, divorced or separated was associated with a slightly decreased risk of suicide in women.
  4. Violence against women is an important determinant of suicide, research suggests.

The big bad female suicide problem

  1. Across the world, men commit suicide at a higher rate than women, and India is no different.
  2. India has the sixth highest female suicide death rate in the world.
  3. If Indian states were countries, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal would have the third, fourth and fifth worst rates of female suicide in the world (only Greenland and Lesotho are worse).
  4. The three Indian states with the highest age-standardized suicide rates among men— Tripura, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu—would be the 11th, 17th and 20th highest in the world if they were countries.
  5. In all, there are 45 countries with higher male suicide death rates than India.

Regional skew

  1. India’s southern states are more developed, but also more suicide-prone.
  2. This follows a global pattern, with more developed states having higher suicide rates.
  3. However, in the medical literature, instead of “more developed” and “less developed” countries or states are classed by their stage in the “epidemiological transition”.
  4. It is moving from high rates of fertility to lower rates as incomes grow, health improves and women become educated.
  5. Among lower fertility states, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal, and among higher fertility states Uttarakhand had significant declines in suicide rates for women from 1990 to 2016.

A youth suicide crisis

  1. Young people in India die predominantly of suicide, the GBD data shows.
  2. For both sexes in India, suicide was the leading cause of death among those aged 15-39 in 2016, while globally it was the third most common cause of death for this age group.
  3. There is another significant difference between suicides among men and women in India.
  4. The highest age-specific rates of suicide for men were among elderly men aged 75 years or older, while among women it was for young women aged 15-29.

Problem of Under-reporting

  1. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 130,000 suicides in India, according to the Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report brought out by the NCRB.
  2. That’s 100,000 fewer suicides than estimates, or a decrease of 77%.

Way Forward

  1. The decriminalization of suicide in 2017 is expected to have a major role in access to mental health treatment and possible reduction in under-reporting and stigma associated with suicide.
  2. The first step in addressing India’s suicide crisis would be to record suicide deaths accurately, and acknowledge the gravity of the crisis.

LPG set to make Kerala the first smoke-free State

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Kerala’s success in various sectors of development.


News

Context

  • Kerala is now set to become the first smoke-free State in the country with public sector oil companies eyeing 100% LPG penetration here.

Mission mode Supply of LPGs

  1. LPG is being supplied beyond commercial considerations with the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum.
  2. With three bottling plants at Kochi, Kozhikode, and Kollam, LPG is being brought to 49.79 lakh customers through 308 distributors.
  3. The Indian Oil is also prepared to provide with new generation fuels like CNG and other green fuels.
  4. Piped gas supply of LPG is also being attempted by the company.

100% penetration

  1. Villages getting symbolic smoke-free certificates have been making headlines in the country for some time now.
  2. Kerala is one of the States with the highest penetration of LPG, which is transforming lifestyles.
  3. The target has almost been achieved in most villages, towns and cities in the Kerala.

25 lakh trees saved

  1. LPG consumption was 933.3 TMT (thousand tonnes) in the Kerala in 2017-18.
  2. And Indian Oil sold 4.25 lakh tonnes of LPG the previous fiscal.
  3. It is estimated that one crore tonnes of emissions, from poisonous gases like firewood cooking, have been contained and 25 lakh trees have been saved.

[pib] CSIR develops affordable Water Disinfection System “OneerTM”

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: OneerTM

Mains level: Provision of Safe Drinking Water


News

OneerTM

  1. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR) has developed a Drinking Water Disinfection System with trade name OneerTM.
  2. It is useful for continuous treatment of water and eliminates all disease causing pathogens such as virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and cyst.
  3. It provides safe drinking water to domestic and communities settings as per National and International standards prescribed for potable water (BIS, WHO etc.).
  4. It will provide access to safe and clean drinking water at a cost of just 2 Paise / Ltr.

Importance of the development

  1. A large proportion of India’s rural community is consuming water that does not meet the WHO drinking water quality standards.
  2. According to the World Health Organization, access to safe drinking-water is essential to health, a basic human right and a component of effective policy for health protection.
  3. The Community level model is of 450 LPH capacities which can be scaled up to 5000 to 1 lakh L/day; and is also maintenance and membrane free.
  4. The technology will be helpful especially for rural people since it can be solar powered and this development is in line with the ‘Make in India’ Mission.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[pib] 12th ASEM Summit

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ASEM

Mains level: Importance of such international engagements


News

12th ASEM Summit, Brussels

  1. The Vice President of India has left for Belgium to attend the two-day 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels.
  2. The bi-annual event is considered the highest platform for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe in the areas of trade, investment, security and tourism.
  3. The theme of the ASEM Summit is ‘Global Partners for Global Challenges’.

Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

  1. The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an intergovernmental process established in 1996 to foster dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe.
  2. The initial ASEM partnership in 1996 consisted of 15 EU member states and 7 ASEAN member states plus China, Japan, Korea and the European Commission.
  3. Presently it comprises 53 partners: 30 European and 21 Asian countries, the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat.
  4. ASEM addresses political, economic, social, cultural, and educational issues of common interest, in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership.
  5. The main components of the ASEM process rest on the following 3 pillars:
  • Political & Security Pillar
  • Economic & Financial Pillar
  • Social, Cultural & Educational Pillar
Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

‘Swastha Bharat Yatra’ campaign to create awareness about safe food

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Eat Right Movement, Swastha Bharat Yatra

Mains level: Read the attached story.


News

Context

  • The government has launched a national campaign ‘Swastha Bharat Yatra’ on the World Food Day under which a pan-India cycle rally is being organised to sensitize people about eating safe food and be healthy.

Swastha Bharat Yatra

  1. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is leading this campaign where about 7,500 cyclists are expected to participate in over 18,000 km relay.
  2. The cycle rally will travel across six tracks through almost every state and UT over 100 days to propagate a powerful message ‘Eat Right India’.
  3. The cyclathon will culminate in the national capital on January 27.

Activities under the Yatra

  1. Along with a bicycle convoy, there will be ‘Eat Right Mobile Unit’ and ‘Mobile Food Testing Unit’ to build awareness around food safety, combating food adulteration and healthy diets.
  2. In all, over 7,500 volunteer cyclists would stop at 2,000+ locations and conduct in-city and en-route activities and ‘Prabhat Pheris’ to propagate the message of Eat Right India.
Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[op-ed snap] Making India open defecation free

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, World Toilet Summit

Mains level: Singapore model of cleanliness and how India can adapt it to become open defecation free


Context

Sanitation scenario in the world

  1. About 2.3 billion people in the world do not have access to clean, safe and reliable toilets
  2. They have to walk for miles every day to reach a safe spot where they can relieve themselves in the open
  3. Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 280,000 deaths worldwide, annually

Scenario in India

  1. In India, about 732 million people do not have access to proper toilets
  2. As much as 90% of the river water is contaminated by faeces
  3. People drink water from the same rivers, bathe and wash their clothes and utensils there, and even cook food with the contaminated water
  4. Pathogens and worms from the faeces spread life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, schistosomiasis and trachoma

Impact on women

  1. Rapes occur when women and young girls are on their way to fields to defecate at night
  2. Each day, they have to suffer humiliation while squatting near gutters or bushes
  3. Most girls drop out of schools at an early age because of the lack of toilets

Swacch Bharat Abhiyan 

  1. India’s sanitation crisis has started to improve drastically ever since the launch of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’
  2. The campaign vowed to combat the sanitation crisis within five years by setting a target of building 110 million toilets nationwide—the largest toilet-building programme in the history of mankind
  3. More than 83 million household toilets have already been built in India
  4. India can replicate Singapore’s success story for achieving benefits out of SBA

Singapore model

  1. The campaign is similar to the one launched in Singapore post-independence when open defecation was a common sight in the 1950s-60s
  2. Even sophisticated urban areas had primitive toilet systems where human waste was collected manually in buckets and disposed directly into nearby waterways
  3. Singapore did not have the time or resources to build an expensive curative health-care system
  4. It, therefore, invested in toilet hygiene and clean water as a preventive health strategy, which was much cheaper and far more effective
  5. By focussing on providing clean water and sanitation, Singapore created a healthy and productive workforce, ready for international business and commerce by the 2000s

Challenges in India

  1. The major challenges of sanitation in India arise from puritan religious beliefs
  2. Many people in India view toilets as impure and refrain from installing them within their household premises
  3. Most defecate in the open as it is something they have grown accustomed to since their childhood
  4. No matter how many toilets the government builds, the country will never be able to become open defecation free until people start using them

Suggested solutions

  1. In order to make India 100% open defecation free, it is essential to launch a comprehensive behavioural change strategy similar to Singapore that focuses on changing the mindset of people and eradicating the open defecation habit
  2. Toilets need to be repositioned as a status symbol that is desired by all
  3. School textbooks should include chapters on sanitation
  4. Both children and adults should be shown films and TV programmes on the subject to help them understand the importance of defecating in toilets
  5. Toilets need to be projected as a trend that people can follow, rather than forcing them as a prescription
  6. India needs to move beyond that and take steps towards efficient faecal sludge management for a safer environment which does not pose any threat to the health of its people
  7. Post construction of toilets, the government should establish a monitoring system that makes sure that the latrines are emptied regularly when they fill up and the waste is decomposed safely, and not into nearby rivers or oceans
  8. In rural areas, focus needs to be laid upon panchayati raj institutions, which can be used as a platform to promote sustainable sanitation practices and creation of public-supported frameworks of organic disposal and utilisation of human waste
  9. Platforms like World Toilet Summit, organized on World Toilet Day in Mumbai, will highlight the importance of faecal sludge management and behavioural change which will help in attracting investments in the sewerage networks that ensure safe transportation of faecal sludge to the treatment units

Way forward

  1. It is only through a holistic sanitation model that we can break the open-defecation-disease-expenditure-poverty cycle and make India a progressive and productive nation
Swachh Bharat Mission

[op-ed snap] India’s abysmal human capital development

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nobel prizes, Global Human Capital Index, Global Innovation Index

Mains level: Human capital development in India


Context

Nobel prize for Economics 2018

  1. The announcement for the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer calls for a moment of celebration for the field of development economics
  2. Romer’s endogenous growth theory, unlike previous growth models, assumes ‘technology’ as an endogenous or internal factor adding value to the growth capacity of a given nation through greater investments, made by profit-maximizing agents in the economy
  3. The distinguishing feature of the technology as an input is that it is neither a conventional good or a public good; it is a non-rival, partially excludable good

What does ‘non-rivalry’ lead to?

  1. The “non-rival” feature allows “technology” to act as a unique value-addition factor in growth diagnosis
  2. It is in the interest of profit-maximizing agents (firms, households, and government) to constantly invest in technology and seek “non-excludable” gains from tech-based advancements over time
  3. For example, making investments in geo-spatial technologies like GIS and Google Maps will distribute gains to everyone across sectors in a non-excludable manner while drastically increasing production capacities

Linking human capital development to technology

  1. There is a greater need for linking human capital development capacities (via complementary investments in education, health and skilling of workers across social groups) in proportion with the rate of technological investments required for ensuring consistently high levels of developmental growth
  2. The World Bank recently released its report on the Global Human Capital Index rankings, where India currently ranks 115th out of 157 nations (China being 46th, Indonesia 87th, Malaysia 55th)
  3. The research will help map investments in expanding technological growth and its adoption by the social fabric of the society through proportional investments in areas of human capital development

India’s scenario

  1. According to the index scores from the report, a child born in India is likely to be only 44% productive when (s)he grows up, if (s)he receives education and adequate healthcare
  2. India, in relation to other developing economies, does poorly in its ability to expand overall productivity with a rise in GDP per capita
  3. There is also a disconnect between our rate of technological growth and our inability to distribute the gains from it by adequately focusing on skilling (via knowledge, education) and health, critical for greater resilience and sustained productivity
  4. The scenario for technological growth in India over the last three decades reflects a mixed effect on its growth scenario

Tech advancements in India & less tricle down

  1. Information and communication and information technology (ICT), manufacturing industry, transportation, defence, and space technologies are some of the important sectors which have attempted to incorporate modern technologies in enhancing sector-wise growth capacities
  2. Most of such benefits (and investments) in the tech-based advancements are accrued by a few elitist sections of the society, occupationally involved in these sectors
  3. At a corporate level, too, only selected firms with visible monopolistic advantages (because of high capital bases) seem to have benefitted more from global advancements in certain kinds of technologies (say in mechanization of food-processing, automation of automobile manufacturing etc.)
  4. This has led to a widening of the asymmetric distribution of tech-accrued benefits which is seen in the distributional inequities of wages and employment patterns
  5. This has further raised concerns for the negligible trickle-down effect of knowledge bases from technology developments

Global Innovation Index (GII)

  1. The GII reflects the technological state of growth for around 180 economies, computing the progress made in technological advancements at a national level, ranging from intellectual property filing rates to mobile application creation, education spending, and scientific and technical publications
  2. India currently ranks 57th (out of 180) in GII’s latest ranking released in 2018
  3. It is vital to acknowledge that most technology-based innovations in any stage of development require two things to be ensured in continuum by a nation’s economic policy environment: growth of innovators and finance
  4. Unless the state and other regulatory agencies are able to nurture an environment for ensuring the right balance of incentive structures for both, innovators and financiers, the interests of innovators will perpetually outbalance the needs of the society, creating poor productive capacities for the economy to grow

Way forward

  1. Real-time data and increased frequency of credible measurement of investments made in education, health and areas of technological adoption require proper monitoring and evaluation
  2. This calls for a more robust state capacity and bureaucracy to implement state-sponsored programmes and to assist the private sector to further crowd in more social investments for sustained (inclusive) growth
Human Development Report by UNDP

[op-ed snap] A security architecture without the mortar

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Security challenges & their management in border areas

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Strategic Policy Group, Defence Planning Committee

Mains level: Shortcomings in India’s security architecture and need of a national security vision


Context

New security architecture provisions

  1. In April this year, the Union government set up a Defence Planning Committee (DPC) to assist in the creation of national security strategy, international defence engagement strategy, roadmap
  2. Earlier this month, it also decided to revive the Strategic Policy Group (SPG) within the overall National Security Council (NSC) system
  3. The DPC aims to
  • build a defence manufacturing ecosystem
  • strategy to boost defence exports
  • prioritize capability development plans

Security scenario in India

  1. India’s national security environment has steadily deteriorated since 2014
  2. Both the overall violence in Jammu and Kashmir and ceasefire violations on the Line of Control reached a 14-year high in 2017, a trend that refuses to subside in 2018
  3. There are far more attacks on security forces and security installations in J&K, and militant recruitments and violence against civilians in the State than at any time in the past decade-and-a-half
  4. The pressure from China is on the rise
  5. The surgical strikes hardly made any significant gains, and the Chinese forces (by all accounts including a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs) are back in the Doklam plateau with more force
  6. New Delhi’s neighbourhood policy continues to be in the doldrums and there is a clear absence of vision on how to balance, engage and work with the many great powers in the regional and the broader international scene

Lacunae in India’s defence structure

    1. India spends close to $50 billion annually on defence and yet there are serious concerns about the level of our defence preparedness
    2. India might be ill-equipped to fight the wars of the modern age
    3. There is a little conversation between the armed forces and the political class, and even lesser conversation among the various arms of the forces
    4. One of the most serious lacunas in our defence management is the absence of jointness in the Indian armed forces
    5. Our doctrines, command structures, force deployments and defence acquisition continue as though each arm is going to fight a future war on its own

China & Pakistan’s policy vis a vis India

  1. China has progressed a great deal in military jointmanship, and Pakistan is doing a lot better than India
  2. In India, talk of appointing a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has all but died down
  3. Even the key post of military adviser in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) remains vacant
  4. The NSC, which replicates the membership of the Cabinet Committee on Security, almost never meets under the new regime, and the National Security Advisory Board, initially set up by the Vajpayee government, to seek ‘outside expertise’ on strategic matters, is today a space for retired officials
  5. As a result, there is little fresh thinking within the government or perspective planning on the country’s national security or defence

Outcomes expected from SPG & DPC

  1. All that the SPG and DPC would achieve is to further bureaucratise the national security decision making and centralise all national security powers under the PMO
  2. Top-heavy systems hardly work well unless supported by a well-oiled institutional mechanism

Need of national vision on security

  1. Many of India’s national security inadequacies stem from the absence of a national security/defence vision
  2. Ideally, the country should have an overall national security document from which the various agencies and the arms of the armed forces draw their mandate and create their own respective and joint doctrines which would then translate into operational doctrines for tactical engagement
  3. In the absence of this, as is the case in India today, national strategy is broadly a function of ad hocism and personal preferences
Internal Security Architecture Shortcomings – Key Forces, NIA, IB, CCTNS, etc.

How Satyagraha still drives change globally

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: World History | Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global non-violence movements

Mains level: Success of non-violent struggle across the globe


News

Gandhi: A leader with a Global Cause

  1. Gandhi is a global figure who is rarely studied and analysed from a global perspective.
  2. As a global thinker with a trans-historical influence, Gandhi applied his experiments with truth and practice of non-violence, not only at an individual level but also in the process of the global affairs.
  3. Therefore, as in the case of means and ends, truth and non-violence were interchangeable entities beyond cultural borders and mental ghettos for Gandhi.

Gandhi’s Relevance in Global Politics

  1. According to Gandhi, non-violence in international politics was a matter of non-violent organization of the world bringing peace and inter-connectedness among cultures and civilizations.
  2. Gandhi was always concerned with cooperation among nations in terms of mutual understanding, empathetic friendship and non-violent partnership.

Cultural Harmony and Peaceful Co-existence

  1. The heart of Gandhi’s ethics of inter-connectedness and mutuality was to look within oneself, change oneself and then change the world.
  2. That is to say, at a more fundamental level, for Gandhi, cultures and nations were not isolated entities, because they all played a special role in the making of human history.
  3. Therefore, Gandhi rarely spoke in terms of a linear world history. His goal for every culture (including his own) was the same as his goal for every individual: to find the truth and establish peace.
  4. This was a way for him to open up the world to a harmonic exchange and a transformative dialogue among nations.
  5. Therefore, at a more philosophical level, Gandhi believed that every culture should learn from others.

Democratization of Cultural Pluralism

  1. Gandhi’s conception of “enlarged pluralism” took on the task of fostering togetherness and solidarity among cultures and traditions.
  2. It was in the interest of democratizing modernity and bringing about a more just global order.

Global success of Satyagraha

  1. Satyagraha turned into a global instrument of non-violent dissent against authoritarianism and a pragmatic tool of the powerless against the powerful.
  2. There have been several successful experiences of Satyagraha in the past 50 years.
  3. Many of Gandhi’s followers successfully launched their own Satyagraha against racial, religious and economic injustice and struggled for human rights.
  4. One could mention names like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Benigno Aquino, Jr. and many others.

[I] Defying Religion and Ethnicity: Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

  1. Gandhian non-violence was already invoked during his lifetime by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as the “Frontier Gandhi”.
  2. Few people know about Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan as a Muslim proponent of non-violence, who stressed the compatibility of Islam and Satyagraha.
  3. The recent history of non-violent action around the world has shown us clearly that Satyagraha is a seed that can grow and flourish in other cultures and religions rather than only in the Hindu society.

 [II] Defying Racism: Martin Luther King, Jr

  1. Often labelled as the “American Gandhi”, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized Gandhi’s legacy of non-violence for the effectiveness of his own campaigns in areas such as integration and voting rights.
  2. He embraced Gandhi’s Satyagraha as a method of struggle for the emancipation of blacks in the US.
  3. Non-violent action was related to a permanent struggle in human nature between good and evil as per King.
  4. King adopted two principal tactics of non-cooperation and civil disobedience against racist laws in the US.
  5. For him, the practical consequence of the belief in Gandhian Satyagraha was an active application of the two concepts of love and community in terms of the concrete realities of black experience in America.

[III] Democratic Deliberations and Civic Participation: Nelson Mandela

  1. The Gandhian experience of non-violent action found its most authentic exemplification in the African continent with Nelson Mandela.
  2. Undoubtedly, Mandela’s imprint and influence on our world and times as a non-violent leader remain as powerful as that of Gandhi.
  3. His release after having served twenty-seven years in prison was celebrated as the triumph of empathetic truth and non-violence over injustice and repression.
  4. By practicing Gandhian non-violence in South African politics, Mandela became one of the key models for global Gandhism in the 21st century.

Mandela: the unparalleled Gandhi

  1. Mandel opined that in order to make peace with an enemy, one must work with that enemy, and that enemy becomes your partner.
  2. This is the clue to Mandela’s Gandhian moment, which puzzled thoughts in the black and in the white communities within South Africa
  3. Mandela strengthened the institutional bases of the Gandhian moment by engaging his moral capital in the direction of civic participation and democratic deliberation in South Africa.

[IV] Against Autocratic State: Arab Spring

  1. In the past 30 years, the world witnessed non-violent campaigns and movements in places such as Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Myanmar, Iran, the Palestinian Territories, Egypt, and Tunisia.
  2. The non-violent democratic awakenings in West Asia from 2009 to 2012 demonstrated once again that Gandhian non-violence could help to provide the disobedient space that is needed.
  3. What united Tunisian and Egyptian citizens in their democratic uprisings was freedom from interference and a struggle against the concentration of arbitrary power.
  4. Their freedom meant putting an end to the unjust accumulation of power and to demand their governments to be based on public accountability and popular sovereignty.
  5. Though these non-violent social movements were not homogeneous, they provided the West Asian societies with a new Gandhian tool of struggle beyond the rule of political parties.

Conclusion

  1. In many countries, non-violent civic pressure has been used to fight colonialism and foreign occupation, advance women’s and minority rights, and improve transparency and good governance.
  2. Gandhian non-violence has been instrumental in political transitions from authoritarian or oppressive rule for many decades.
  3. Indeed, non-violent revolutions, characterized by civil society organization, mass mobilization, and negotiation, have revolutionized the very concept of revolution.
  4. Long gone are the days when the very concept of revolution was synonymous with violent struggle from below and armed efforts at state capture or overthrow.
History- Important places, persons in news

UPI to facilitate interoperability among prepaid payment instruments

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources, Banking

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Benefits of using prepaid payment instruments


News

RBI to allow interoperability of payments

  1. The Reserve Bank of India has released the guidelines for interoperability between prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) such as wallets and cards.
  2. This will effectively allow users of popular payment wallets such as Paytm, Freecharge, Mobikwik, PhonePe and PayZapp to transfer money from one wallet to another.
  3. These wallets could implement interoperability through the Unified Payment Interface (UPI).

PPI’s to issue cards

  1. The RBI has allowed PPIs to issue cards using authorised card networks such as Mastercard, Visa or Rupay.
  2. PPI issuers shall adhere to all the requirements of card networks/UPI, including membership type and criteria, merchant on-boarding.
  3. It has mandated for adherence to various standards, rules and regulations applicable to the specific payment system such as technical requirements, certifications and audit requirements, governance, etc.

Benefits of the move

  1. The RBI guidelines while boosting the e-wallet segment, would also ensure the safety and accuracy of the transfer of money by individuals from one wallet to another.
  2. The transaction from one e-wallet app to another need to be speedy and accurate for the interoperability to be effective and efficient.
  3. It is a progressive move for non-bank players and would lay the foundation to reach the under-banked and unbanked segment with a powerful payment product.
Cashless Society – Digital Payments, Demonetization, etc.

Govt. to launch app to rope in volunteers

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: #Self4Society app

Mains level: CSR activities in India.


News

Context

  1. Corporate professionals often wanted to do volunteer work but did not have any guidance.
  2. Professionals keen on doing volunteer work in their free time will be provided a platform by the government through the new app.

#Self4Society App

  1. #Self4Society app is developed by MyGov and will be inaugurated by PM Modi.
  2. This platform will help to create better synergies among so many CSR and other initiatives and lead to a much better outcome of the efforts of professionals.
  3. Companies have observed that a spirit of service and volunteering improves employee satisfaction and reduces employee attrition.
  4. This app comes after discussions with companies from the information technology sector on these lines.
  5. The app will have incentives, gamification and intra- and inter-company competitions, and social networking.
  6. The volunteer time for the government’s flagship programmes such as Swachh Bharat is expected to increase.
Digital India Initiatives

IRCTC launches ‘Ask Disha’ AI chat bot

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ask-Disha

Mains level: Use of AI in Governance activities


News

 ‘Ask Disha’ (Digital Interaction to Seek Help Anytime)

  1. IRCTC has launched the chat bot to answer various queries about ticket booking, cancellation and various value added services.
  2. It has been jointly developed by IRCTC and CoRover Private Limited, a Bangalore-based startup.
  3. It is a new artificial intelligence-enabled chat bot is a first of its kind initiative for any Indian government.
  4. It can be used by Indian Railways passengers to get their questions answered through the chat bot.

Features of Ask-Disha

  1. The new next-generation IRCTC e-ticketing website gets an average 4 million users per day.
  2. Hence the chat bot is included with 24*7 customer query support, quick response time to queries and multi-tasking.
  3. The chat bot is available on the right-hand side bottom corner of the IRCTC website.
  4. Once the user starts typing in a query, the chat bot auto suggests some options.
  5. According to IRCTC the chat bot will “improve its knowledge” over a period of time, expanding its ambit of questions to ensure greater efficiency in catering to queries of users.
Digital India Initiatives

Indian Navy acquires deep submarine rescue capabilities

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DSRV

Mains level: Modernising Indian Navy


News

Context

  1. Enhancing its operational capabilities, Indian Navy has inducted its first deep submergence rescue vehicle.
  2. It can be deployed to rescue downed or disaster-struck submarines at high sea.

Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV)

  1. DSRVs are used for rescue of personnel in downed submarines.
  2. They are also deployed for various other missions including to lay cables on the sea bed.
  3. Some DSRV vessels are air transportable in very large military cargo.
  4. The DSRV which was inducted can be mobilized from the naval base in Mumbai to nearest mounting port by air, land and sea.
  5. The second DSRV is expected to be inducted at Visakhapatnam in 2019.

Importance of DSRV Deployment

  1. With induction of the DSRV, India has joined a select group of countries that have the capability to locate and rescue distressed submarines.
  2. At present, the US, China, Russia and a few other countries have the capabilities to deploy DSRVs.
Indian Navy Updates

[pib] A Victim of Child Sexual Abuse can file a complaint at any time irrespective of his/her present age

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2: Governance| Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Section 19 of the POCSO Act

Mains level:  Facilitating more ease for reporting child sexual abuse cases.


News

Context

  1. The WCD Ministry has recently consulted Ministry of Law in view of the overriding provisions of the POCSO Act over other criminal laws and provisions of mandatory reporting of such offences.
  2. The Section 19 of POCSO Act deals with reporting of sexual offences.
  3. The Law Ministry has examined the Section 19 of POCSO Act and CrPC and came to the conclusion.

No time limit for reporting cases under POCSO Act

  1. The POCSO Act does not provide for any period of limitation for reporting the child sexual offences.
  2. Now any victim, at any age, can complain the sexual abuse faced by him/her as a child.
  3. Ministry urged the victims to report the cases through POCSO e-Box.

Why such move?

  1. Children are often unable to report such crimes as the perpetrator in most cases is either a family member, a relative or closely known person.
  2. Studies have also shown that the child continues to carry the trauma of sexual abuse till very late in life.
  3. In order to overcome this trauma many grown up people have started coming out to report the abuse faced by them as children.

Back2Basics

Quick recap of POCSO Act

  1. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), Act 2012, came into force on 14.11.2012.
  2. It is a gender neutral Act which has been enacted to strengthen the legal provisions for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
  3. The POCSO Act, 2012 defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] Hamstringing the RTI Act

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RTI Act, CIC (Appointment, removal, functions)

Mains level: Government’s proposed amendments to dilute the RTI act and associated harms


Context

Dilution of RTI Act

  1. The Right to Information (RTI) Act, operationalised in October 2005, was seen as a powerful tool for citizen empowerment
  2. It showed an early promise by exposing wrongdoings at high places and bringing to limelight various scams
  3. The act now faces multiple challenges

Lacunae in the act

  1. The Act did not give adequate authority to the Information Commissions to enforce their decisions
  2. Besides awarding compensation to an applicant for any loss suffered, the commissions can direct public authorities to take the steps necessary to comply with the Act but are helpless if such directions are ignored
  3. If an officer fails to fulfil his duty, the commission can either impose a maximum penalty of ₹25,000 or recommend disciplinary action against him
  4. This deterrent works only when the piece of information lies at the lower levels; it is ineffective in many cases where the information relates to higher levels of government
  5. Section 4 of the RTI Act requires Suo motu disclosure of a lot of information by each public authority. However, such disclosures have remained less than satisfactory

Proposed amendments to the Act

  1. The government proposes to do away with the equivalence of the Central Information Commissioners with the Election Commissioners on the ground that the two have different mandates
  2. The government also proposes to replace the existing fixed five-year tenure of the Information Commissioners with a tenure as may be prescribed by it
  3. The Act struck a balance between privacy and transparency by barring the disclosure of personal information if it has no relationship to any public activity or would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy
  4. The Justice Srikrishna Committee has proposed an amendment that would broaden the definition of ‘harm’, restricting disclosure of personal information even where it may be clearly linked to some public activity

Impact of proposed amendments

  1. The underlying assumption that transparency is less important for a democracy than the holding of free and fair elections is preposterous
  2. The proposal to alter tenure would make the tenure a largesse to be bestowed by the government. This would be detrimental to the independence and authority of the Information Commissions

Lack of staff due to delay in appointments

  1. The Central and State Information Commissions have been functioning with less than their prescribed maximum strength of eleven because governments have dragged their feet on appointing commissioners
  2. This leads to delay in disposal of cases, which is compounded by the backlog in the High Courts, where a number of decisions of the commission are challenged

Misuse of the act

  1. The clogging of the RTI system is also because a number of applicants, usually disgruntled employees of public institutions, ask frivolous queries
  2. Their applications have unfortunately continued to exist alongside those of numerous RTI activists who have done commendable work, often risking their life and limb

Way forward

  1. The RTI Act continues to render yeoman service in providing information to citizens.
  2. Though its aim is not to create a grievance redressal mechanism, the notices from Information Commissions often spur the public authorities to redress grievances
  3. If the issues listed above are not addressed, this sunshine law will lose its promise, particularly in terms of ensuring transparency at higher levels of governance
RTI – CIC, RTI Backlog, etc.

[op-ed snap] From food security to nutrition security

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Public Distribution System – objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks & food security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Biofortification, HarvestPlus programme

Mains level: Need for nutritional security in India


Context

World food day

  1. October 16 is observed as the World Food Day to mark the creation of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1945
  2. The world body envisions a “zero hunger world” by 2030
  3. It’s important to understand the role of science and technology in ushering the Green Revolution, which ensured food security in India
  4. Today, similar innovations in biotechnology hold the promise to provide nutrition security

Impact of Green Revolution

  1. While the country’s population has grown by more than four times, from 330 million in 1947 to 1.35 billion in 2018, India’s wheat production has increased by over 15 times in roughly the same period — from about 6.5 MMT in 1950-51 to 99.7 MMT in 2017-18
  2. India contributes about 13 per cent of the world wheat production, next only to China whose share is about 17 per cent
  3. Rice production has shot up by about 5.5 times — from 20.6 MMT in 1950-51 to 112.9 MMT in 2017-18
  4. India has a 23 per cent share in world rice production, next only to China whose share is about 29 per cent
  5. India is also the largest exporter of rice in the world

Challenge of nutritional security

  1. Notwithstanding its foodgrain surpluses, the country faces a complex challenge of nutritional security
  2. FAO’s recent publication, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2018 estimates that about 15 per cent of the Indian population is undernourished
  3. More than 38 per cent of Indian children aged below five years are stunted and 21 per cent suffer from wasting

Factors behind malnutirition

  1. Poor diet
  2. Unsafe drinking water
  3. Poor hygiene and sanitation
  4. Low levels of immunisation and education, especially that of women

Solutions for reducing malnutrition

  1. Latest innovations in biotechnology that fortify major staples with micronutrients like vitamin A, zinc and iron can be game changers
  2. Globally, the HarvestPlus programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is doing a lot of work in this direction
  3. In India, the group has released the iron-rich pearl millet
  4. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has independently released zinc and iron-rich wheat, rice, and pearl millet in 2016-17
  5. This could possibly lead to the next breakthrough in staples, making them more nutritious

Way forward

  1. This seems to be the beginning of a new journey, from food security to nutritional security
  2. Innovations in biofortified food can alleviate malnutrition only when they are scaled up with supporting policies
  3. This would require increasing expenditure on agri-R&D and incentivising farmers by linking their produce to lucrative markets
Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

[op-ed snap] Not just liquidity: on NBFCs crisis

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: NPA crisis & its expanse to various sectors of economy


Context

NBFC crisis unfolding

  1. The default of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) on several of its debt obligations over the last couple of months has raised serious questions about how regulators missed the growing debt pile of a systemically important financial institution
  2. Apart from the obvious failure of regulators to do their jobs, the IL&FS saga has also exposed the underlying weaknesses in the non-banking financial company (NBFC) sector as a whole which has depended heavily on low-cost, short-term debt financing to sustain its shaky business model
  3. Then there is the further, and more serious, risk of NBFCs being unable to roll over their short-term debt in case of a severe credit crunch in the aftermath of the IL&FS saga

Rise of NBFCs

  1. The rise of NBFCs was fuelled primarily by the demise of traditional banks which have been unable to lend as they were bogged down by non-performing loans

Government’s response

  1. The response of policymakers to the ongoing crisis, which seems warranted if its purpose is to prevent a wider systemic crisis, is fraught with other risks
  2. The Reserve Bank of India, the National Housing Bank and the State Bank of India last week decided to increase the supply of liquidity in the market to keep interest rates under control
  3. The RBI has also urged NBFCs to make use of equity rather than debt to finance their operations
  4. This is apart from the government’s decision to replace IL&FS’s management and commitment to providing the company with sufficient liquidity

What could this lead to?

  1. While offering easy money may be a welcome measure in the midst of the ongoing liquidity crisis, the prolonged supply of low-cost funds to the NBFC sector also creates the risk of building an unsustainable bubble in various sectors of the economy
  2. Defaults associated with any such bubbles will eventually only affect the loan books of lenders
  3. State bailouts could also fuel the problem of moral hazard as other financial institutions may expect a similar lifeline in the future

Way forward

  1. Policymakers should thus try to focus on taking steps to address structural problems that contributed to the crisis
  2. This includes steps necessary to widen the borrower base of NBFCs which have been banned from accepting deposits
  3. This would allow NBFCs to tap into more reliable sources of funding and avoid similar liquidity crises in the future
NPA Crisis

The land challenge underlying India’s farm crisis

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Land reforms in India

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Stats mentioned in the newscard about land holdings

Mains level: Analysing the challenges for “Doubling Farmers Income”


News

Lack of Land

  1. From farm subsidies to farm loan waivers, the Indian government spends crores on farmer welfare, but these efforts will be inadequate unless they can tackle an increasingly daunting barrier: lack of land.
  2. The provisional figures from the latest agriculture census reveals how land—the most critical input for agriculture is getting more fragmented.

Declining Land Holdings in India

  1. Since the first agriculture census over 45 years ago, the number of farms in India has more than doubled from 71 million in 1970-71 to 145 million in 2015-16,
  2. However the average farm size more than halved from 2.28 hectares (ha) to 1.08ha.

  • Smaller, more numerous farms have been driven by rural population growth.
  • This relationship is a reflection of India’s inheritance pattern, which leads to farms divided between multiple heirs.
  • Between 1970-71 and 2010-11, the number of farms increased by 194%, almost exactly in line with rural population, which increased by 189%.

Regional Variations in Land Holding

  1. Within India though, there is significant variation in farm sizes. With an average size of 5ha, Nagaland is home to India’s largest farms.
  2. Punjab and Haryana, two states known for their agricultural output, also have larger farm sizes (3.6ha in Punjab and 2.2ha in Haryana).

  • The majority of India’s farms (86%) are less than 2ha. The bulk of which are located in the poorer states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Paradox of better Cultivation

  1. The Indian experience shows that small farmers are more productive than large farmers.
  2. Small farmers use more inputs (such as fertilizers), use their land more intensely (planting more crops) and adopt more technology.
  3. Yet, despite this efficiency, farm incomes remain poor.
  4. It is the poor returns to farming—despite intensive efforts put in by farmers—that lie at the root of India’s farm crisis, and the recent farm angst.

Income- Farm size Proportionality

  1. Given household sizes in rural India, small farms struggle to generate enough income for everyone in a household and often lack alternative sources of income.
  2. A 2016 study which uses the NSSO 2003 and 2013 surveys of farmers to show how farm size is an important determinant of income.
  3. It found that in 2013, for marginal farmers(less than a hectare of land), household consumption exceeded net monthly income of less than ₹ 5,500 from both farming and non-farming activities.

  • Using the 2015-16 census data, this would mean nearly 100 million farming households would struggle to make ends meet.
  • Examining farmer incomes between 2003 and 2013, they find that incomes grew the least for marginal farmers and growth of incomes was proportional to the size of a farm.

Land Consolidation: Is it a Feasible Solution?

  1. One obvious solution to small farm sizes will be consolidating land into larger farms by enabling land leasing.
  2. However, this can be a complex and costly process, made more difficult by the lack of accurate land records.
  3. As a report by PRS Legislative Research has highlighted, land records in India are poorly maintained and do not reflect ground realities.
  4. It pointed out that, despite most states computerizing and digitizing land records, as of 2017, spatial data had only been verified in 39% of villages.
  5. This is particularly problematic for small farmers who, without accurate land records, cannot access credit or secure insurance.
  6. Economists agree that improving land records, investing in research and development, providing local rural non-farm employment opportunities and building better rural infrastructure are policies that can help small farmers.

Way Forward

  1. India’s farmers are not alone in these struggles.
  2. A 2016 study estimated that around 84% of the world’s farms are less than 2ha.
  3. While many of these small farms face the same challenges, some small farmers, such as those in China, have been more successful in securing sustainable livelihoods.
  4. In all such light, doubling farmer’s incomes is a reality only for the largest land-owning group.
Land Reforms