UPSC Online Editorial Analysis
- Punjab, Haryana need to look beyond MSP crops (The Hindu) – Written by Ramesh Chand and Jaspal Singh (They are withNITI Aayog, New Delhi as Member andConsultant, respectively.)
- How Punjab can achieve crop diversification (The Indian Express)
Topic in syllabus: Issues related to Agriculture, Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Pricesetc. (GS-2)
Analysis about: These articles talks about issues and solutions regarding monoculture of wheat & paddy.
- Thepackage of technology and policies in Punjab Haryana region produced quick results whichenabled India to move from acountry facing a severe shortage ofstaple food to becoming a nationclose to self-sufficiency in just 15years.
- But amidst the ongoing farmers’ protests are also questions that are being raised on the sustainability of paddy-wheat cultivation, especially in Punjab.
What is the extent of paddy-wheat monoculture in Punjab?
- Punjab’s gross cropped area in 2018-19 was estimated at 78.30 lakh hectares (lh).
- Out of that, 35.20 lh was sown under wheat and another 31.03 lh under paddy, adding up to 84.6% of the total area planted to all crops.
- That ratio was just over 32% in 1960-61 and 47.4% in 1970-71.
What is the reason behind paddy-wheat monoculture in Punjab?
- Procurement of marketed surplusof paddy (rice) and wheat at Minimum Support Price (MSP) completely insulated farmers against any price or market risks.it ensured a reasonably stable flow of income from these two crops.
- Thetechnological advantage of riceand wheat in this region over other competingcrops further increased as publicsector agriculture research anddevelopment allocated their bestresources and scientific manpower to these two crops.
- Publicand private investments in waterand land and input subsidies werethe other favourable factors.
- Wheat in rabi and paddyin kharif turned out to be the bestin terms of productivity, income,price and yield risk and ease ofcultivation among all the fieldcrops.
- Land-labour ratio is also very favourablein Punjab when compared to other States.
Why is monoculture such a problem?
- Growing the same crops year after year on the same land increases vulnerability to pest and disease attacks.
- The more the crop and genetic diversity, the more difficult it is for insects and pathogens to device way to pierce through plant resistance.
- Wheat and paddy cannot also, unlike pulses and legumes, fix nitrogen from the atmosphere.
- Their continuous cultivation sans any crop rotation, then, leads to depletion of soil nutrients and growing dependence on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
- The biggest casualty of paddy cultivation and the policy of free power for pumping out groundwater
for irrigation is this: the depletionof groundwater resources.
- It is feared that Punjab andHaryana will run out of groundwater after some years if the currentrate of overexploitation of water isnot reversed.
What are the more concerning challenges in this region?
- With the productivity of riceand wheat reaching a plateau,there is pressure to seek an increase in MSP to increase income.
- However, demand and supply donot favour an increase in MSP inreal terms.
- Procurement of almost the entire market arrivals of rice andwheat at MSP for more than 50years has affected the entrepreneurial skills of farmers to selltheir produce in a competitivemarket where prices are determined by demand and supply andcompetition.
- In India, the per capitaintake of rice and wheat is declining and consumers’ preference isshifting towards other foods. It may look strange that the average spending by urban consumers is more on beverage and spices than on all cereals.
- In the last couple ofyears, the burning of paddy stubble and straw has become anotherserious environmental and healthhazard in the whole region.
- Another rather more seriouschallenge for the two States is toprovide attractive employment torural youths.
- The younger generation isnot willing to do manual work inagriculture and looks for betterpaying salaried jobs in nonfarmoccupations. Government jobs arefew and far less than the numberof job seekers.
What are the solution to tackle these problems?
- The first has to do with paddy being a warm season crop not very sensitive to high temperature stress.
- It can be grown in much of eastern, central and southern India, where water is sufficiently available.
- A sensible strategy could be to limit Punjab’s a non-basmati paddy area to 10 lh and ensure planting of only shorter-duration varieties. These can be transplanted after June 20 and harvested well before mid-October, giving farmers enough time to manage the standing stubble without having to burn.
- Further water savings can be induced through metering of electricity and direct seeding of paddy, which, in fact, covered a record 3.6 lh this time.
- The 10 lh less non-basmati area can be diverted towards basmati varieties (they consume less water because of transplanting only in July and aren’t procured by government agencies), cotton, maize, groundnut and kharif pulses (arhar, moong and urad) with some assured government price/per-acre incentive support.
- The same could be done for the 5 lh wheat area diverted to chana, mustard or sunflower.
- It is necessary to createjobs in the private industry andthe services sector. This requires private investments in suitableareas.
- To meet the aspirations of rural youth to get satisfactory employment, the State needs largescale private investments in modern industry, services, andcommerce besides agriculture.
- To enable Punjab and Haryana farmers to movetoward high paying horticulturecrops requires institutional arrangements on price assurance such as contract farming.
- The solution to the ecological,environmental and economicchallenges facing agriculture inthe traditional Green RevolutionStates is not in legalising MSP butto shift from MSP crops to high value crops and in the promotion ofnonfarm activities.
- Rather thanfocusing on a few enterprises,Punjab and Haryana should lookat a large number of area specificenterprises to avoid gluts.
- Both Punjab and Haryana need topromote economic activities withstrong links with agriculture tailored to State specificities.Someoptions for this are:
- Promotion offood processing in formal and informal sectors;
- A big push to postharvest value addition and modern value chains;
- A network ofagro and agriinput industries;
- A directlink of production and producersto consumption and consumerswithout involving intermediaries.
Title: Law and disorder
Topic in syllabus:Polity – Judiciary(GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about issues associated with the Indian judicial system.
- The citizens of thecountry expect the judiciary and its constituents to be ideal, and the challenge of the
Supreme Court is to come to terms with thatreality.
- However, it is not the Supreme Courtalone that matters in the justice delivery system.
- As a result of the unrelenting focus onthe anguished knocks at the doors of thehighest court, the other inadequacies of thesystem don’t get as much public attention.
Issues related to spending:
- Most often, the issue of spending on judiciary is equated with a call for increasing the
salaries of judges and providing better courtinfrastructure. Such perceptions are unfortunate.
- India has one of the most comprehensive legal aid programmes in the world,the Legal Services Authority Act of 1987. Under this law, all women, irrespective of theirfinancial status, are entitled to free legal aid.Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes andchildren too are entitled to free legal aid.
- However, inreality, this law is a dead letter. There hasbeen little effort on the part of successive governments to provide a task force of carefully selected, well-trained and reasonably paidadvocates to provide these services.
Issues related to judge – population ratio:
- India, has only 19 judges per million populations. Of these, at any givenpoint, at least onefourth is always vacant.
- While much is written on vacancies to theSupreme Court and the High Courts, hardlyany attention is focused on this gaping inadequacy in lower courts which is where thecommon man first comes into contact (or atleast should) with the justice delivery system.
- In All IndiaJudges Association v. Union of India (2001),the Supreme Court had directed the Government of India to increase the judge population ratio to at least 50 per million populations within five years from the date of thejudgment. This has not been implemented.
Why “access to justice” needs attention?
- In Anita Kushwaha v.PushpaSadan (2016), the Supreme Courtheld unambiguously that if “life” implies notonly life in the physical sense but a bundle ofrights that make life worth living, there is no
justice or other basis for holding that denialof “access to justice” will not affect the quality of human life.
- The courtpointed out four important components ofaccess to justice. It pointed out the need foradjudicatory mechanisms.
- It said that themechanism must be conveniently accessiblein terms of distance and that the process of
adjudication must be speedy and affordableto the disputants.
- The state in all its glorious manifestations — the executive, judiciary and the legislature — is yet to draw out a national policy and road map for clearing backlogs and making these concepts real.
- A disproportionate amount of attention that is given to the functioning of the Supreme Court, important as it is, distracts from these and similar issues.
- Let us assume that the apex courtachieves the distinction of being “ideal” inthe near future, of being all things to all people. Still, a fine mind alone is of little avail ifthe rest of the body lies disabled, as the justice delivery system is today.
- Paving way forDigital India (The Indian Express) – Written by Ram Sewak Sharma
- From a digital India to a digital Bharat (The Hindu) – Written by Sumeysh Srivastava
Topic in syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation. Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes. (GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about the new scheme PM-WANI.
- On December 9, the Union cabinet gave approval to the Pradhan Mantri Wireless Access Network Interface (PM-WANI).
- On the surface, this looks like a project to install WiFi hotspots, one that most other countries already have. However, the devil is in the details.
Details of PM-WANI:
- This provides for “Public WiFi Networks by Public Data OfficeAggregators (PDOAs) to providepublic WiFi service through Public Data Offices (PDOs) spreadacross [the] length and breadth ofthe country to accelerate proliferation of Broadband Internet services through Public WiFi network inthe country”.
- PM-WANI unbundles whose wired connection you use from who you pay to use that connection.
- It is built on unbundling three as — access, authorisation and accounting.
- The PDO can be anyone,and it is clear that along with Internet infrastructure, the government also sees this as a way to generate revenue for individuals andsmall shopkeepers. It is importantto note that PDOs will not requireregistration of any kind, thus easing the regulatory burden onthem.
- Next, is the PDOA, who isbasically the aggregator who willbuy bandwidth from Internet service provider (ISPs) and telecomcompanies and sell it to PDOs,while also accounting for dataused by all PDOs.
- Finally, you havethe app provider, who will createan app through which users canaccess and discover the WiFi access points.
Advantages of PM-WANI:
- The PMWANI has the potential tochange the fortunes of Bharat Netas well. Bharat Net envisionsbroadband connectivity in all villages in India.
- PM-WANI allows anyone — a kirana shop owner, a tea-stall vendor, or a Common Service Centre — to resell internet to its customers without a licence and without fees! By installing a wireless router, they can get on the PM-WANI network and start selling connectivity.
- Due to this deregulation, the distribution of endpoints of PM-WANI will be selected by entrepreneurs rather than being decided top-down. That means the communities’ connectivity problems will be solved by members of the community itself.
- PDOs will make similar sachets out of reliable data and serve it over an interoperable WiFi network. This is where the second dimension of PM-WANI becomes exciting. One of the reasons ISPs are regulated is because an open internet endpoint can be used for malicious purposes.
- Having such a public network also allows international travellers to take advantage of India’s connectivity, without paying exorbitant roaming charges to their home networks.
- These PDOs can become local distribution centres for content. Students in rural areas can access offline content without using bandwidth.
- The cost of access over PM-WANI will be lesser than that of 4G. Combine this with the liberalisation of the Other Service Providers (OSPs) regulations, and you can see that India is paving the way for digital SMEs to go online without the burden of onerous compliances.
- With the PM-WANI, the state isexpanding the reach of digitaltransformation to those who havebeen excluded till now.
- It can be a game changer because it has the potential to move Digital India to Digital Bharat.
- With cabinet approval, the ball is now in the Department of Telecom’s court. But Without good execution, PM-WANI is merely an exciting concept on paper.
- However, if done right, PM-WANI will revolutionise the way India accesses the internet and be a fillip to small businesses. We hope there will be more than 10 million WiFi hotspots in the next two years.