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30 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Note: this answer has been written for the purposes of explanation; Hence, it may not adhere to word limit. For examination purposes, phrases instead of full sentences could be used.
An analysis of the viewpoints presented above is as follows:
Viewpoint- 1

  • The idea that an individual’s attempts to adhere to ethical principles may cause great personal peril inherently exhibits lack of moral courage.
  • A public servant must keep duty obligations and public interest over and above personal interest. In this path, even if adherence to ethical principles for fulfilment of public functions leads to personal loss, the officer must choose this righteous path.
  • Being pragmatic and following the path of least resistance even in case of compromise with duty, may lead to least personal harm but organisational and public interest is being lost in the way.

Viewpoint-2

  • This viewpoint presents the problem of most officers and public servants resorting to wrongful means.
  • The viewpoint is quite pessimistic as it resorts to continuing with the current order even though it might be against public interest.
  • In this context, it must be remembered that tiny drops together fill up a pitcher. Even if one officer refuses to contribute to the pitcher, it remains a tiny bit empty. Hence, one can be honest inspite of others as well.

Viewpoint- 3

  • According to this view fuss about ethical viewpoints may hamper the economic progress of our country.
  • This is a very narrow construct. Fast paced economic progress without a principled approach may lead to development. But such a development scenario would be quite hollow, unbalanced and non-inclusive.
  • In this context, it must be remembered that adherence to ethical principles if done in true spirit does not stop or deter economic progress. In fact, principles would ensure that the economic progress is holistic, inclusive and caters to the interests of all stakeholders.

Viewpoint-4

  • According to this view, small gratifications and favours do no harm but contribute to higher motivation levels for all.
  • In this context, it must be remembered that small things pave way for bigger and eventually corruption gets engrained into the system. Further, small or big, graft and favours are inherently wrong and against conduct rules.

Advice to the friend

  • On the basis of the discussion of the viewpoints expressed above, I would advise my friend to keep duty obligations and public interest over and above personal interests. Truly and unconditionally be an honest officer despite what others are doing. Have a firm faith in the goodness of ethical principles and their ability to ensure holistic and inclusive progress. Maintain absolute integrity and have no room for deviations, even small favours.
30 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article elaborates the policies and programmes launched by government to augment the farmer’s income.

  • Government believes, that farmers welfare will improve if there is increase in net income from the farms. With this end in view, the approach is to reduce cost of cultivation, enable higher yield per unit and realize remunerative prices of farm produce.
  • Some of the important new initiatives in this context and the targets achieved are as follows:
  • Scheme to rationalize input management:-
  • Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme by which the farmers can know the major and minor nutrients available in their soils which will ensure judicious use of fertiliser application and thus save money of farmers. The balanced use of fertiliser will also enhance productivity and ensure higher returns to the farmers.
  • Neem Coated Urea is also being promoted to regulate urea use, enhance its availability to the crop and reduce cost of fertilizer application. The entire quantity of domestically manufactured urea is now neem coated. From the current year (i.e. 2016), the urea that is imported would also be neem coated.
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is being implemented with a view to promoting organic farming in the country. This will improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer so as to realise premium prices.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) is being implemented to expand cultivated area with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency.
  • Scheme to cover nature related risks:-
  • Government has also recently approved a new crop Insurance scheme namely Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) to replace National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified NAIS (MNAIS) from Kharif 2016 season.
  • PMFBY has addressed all the shortcomings in the earlier schemes and would be available to the farmers at very low rates of premium. The farmers will get full insurance cover as there will be no capping of sum insured and consequently the claim amount will not be cut or reduced.
  • This scheme would provide insurance cover for all stages of the crop cycle including post-harvest risks in specified instances. The area coverage would be increased from 23% presently to 50% in two years.
  • Scheme to transfer remunerative prices to farmers:-
  • A Market Intervention Scheme, namely e-NAM was approved to be implemented during 2015-16 to 2017-18. The releases of grants under the scheme are made on the basis of completion of 3 reform pre-requisites i.e. Single Trading License, Single License Fee and Creation of e-Platform for Trading. The scheme was launched on 14.04.2016 in 8 States viz. Gujarat, Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand covering 21 markets. As of now 23 markets integrated.
  • Scheme to increase productivity:-
  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM) pulses: Out of a total allocation Rs. 1700 crore, an amount of Rs. 1100 crore is allocated for pulses as centre share. The target set for pulses production during the year 2016-17 is 20.75 million tons and the area coverage target is 26 million hectares during this year.
  • In addition, the Government is implementing several Centrally Sponsored Schemes:
  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH): The strategy of the MIDH will be on production of quality seeds and planting material, production enhancement through productivity improvement measures along with support for creation of infrastructure to reduce post harvest losses and improved marketing of produce with active participation of all stakeholders, particularly farmer groups and farmer producer organizations. MIDH will subsume six ongoing schemes of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation on horticulture development viz. three Centrally Sponsored Schemes of NHM, HMNEH, NBM, and three Central Sector Schemes viz. NHB, CDB and the Central Institute for Horticulture (CIH) Nagaland. The interventions under MIDH will have a blend of technological adaptation supported with fiscal incentives for attracting farmers as well as entrepreneurs involved in the horticulture sector.
  • National Mission on Oilseeds & Oil palm (NMOOP): This would help in enhancing production of oilseeds by 6.58 million tonnes. The implementation strategy in the Mission would place emphasis on increasing the Seed Replacement Ratio (SRR) with focus on varietal replacement; increasing irrigation coverage under oilseeds from 26 percent to 38 percent; diversification of area from low yielding cereals crops to oilseeds crops; inter-cropping of oilseeds and use of fallow land; area expansion under oil palm and TBOs; increasing availability of quality planting materials of oil palm and TBOs; enhancing procurement of oilseeds and collection and processing of TBOs. Recommended varieties and proven technologies would be demonstrated in a cluster approach through mini kits and frontline/cluster demonstration. The cluster approach would ensure participation of all categories of farmers, irrespective of the size of their holdings, social status and would demonstrate visible impact of technologies in enhancing productivity and production.
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) seeks to transform Indian agriculture into a climate resilient production system through suitable adaptation and mitigation measures in domains of both crops and animal husbandry. NMSA as a programmatic intervention focuses on promotion of location specific integrated/composite farming systems; resource conservation technologies; comprehensive soil health management; efficient on-farm water management and mainstreaming rainfed technologies.
  • National Mission on Agricultural Extension & Technology (NMAET): The aim of the Mission is to restructure and strengthen agricultural extension to enable delivery of appropriate technology and improved agronomic practices to farmers. This is envisaged to be achieved by a judicious mix of extensive physical outreach and interactive methods of information dissemination, use of ICT, popularisation of modern and appropriate technologies, capacity building and institution strengthening to promote mechanisation, availability of quality seeds, plant protection etc. and encourage aggregation of Farmers into Interest Groups (FIGs) to form Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs).

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29 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Universal Immunization Programme

Evolution of the programme:

  • 1978: Expanded Programme of immunization (EPI).  
  • Limited reach - mostly urban
  • 1985: Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).  
  • For reduction of mortality and morbidity due to 6 VPD’s.  
  • Indigenous vaccine production capacity enhanced
  • Cold chain established
  • Phased implementation - all districts covered by 1989-90.  
  • Monitoring and evaluation system implemented
  • 1986: Technology Mission On Immunization  
  • Monitoring under PMO’s 20 point programme  
  • Coverage in infants (0 – 12 months) monitored
  • 1992: Child Survival and Safe Motherhood (CSSM)
  • Included both UIP and Safe motherhood program
  • 1997: Reproductive Child Health (RCH 1)
  • 2005: National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)

Vaccines under UIP

  • Under UIP, following vaccines are provided:
  • BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guerin)
  • DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus Toxoid)
  • OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine)
  • Measles
  • Hepatitis B
  • TT (Tetanus Toxoid)
  • JE vaccination (in selected high disease burden districts)
  • Hib containing Pentavalent vaccine (DPT+HepB+Hib) (In selected States)

Diseases Protected by Vaccination under UIP

  • Diphtheria
  • Pertussis.
  • Tetanus
  • Polio
  • Tuberculosis
  • Measles
  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese Encephalitis ( commonly known as brain fever)
  • Meningitis and Pneumonia caused by Haemophilus Influenzae type b

Objectives:

  • The stated objectives of UIP are:
  • To rapidly increase immunization coverage.  
  • To improve the quality of services.  
  • To establish a reliable cold chain system to the health facility level.  

Monitoring of performance.  

  • To achieve self sufficiency in vaccine production.  

Scope and eligibility:

  • India has one of the largest Universal Immunization Programs (UIP) in the world in terms of the quantities of vaccines used, number of beneficiaries covered, geographical spread and human resources involved.
  • Under the UIP, all vaccines are given free of cost to the beneficiaries as per the National Immunization Schedule.
  • All beneficiaries’ namely pregnant women and children can get themselves vaccinated at the nearest Government/Private health facility or at an immunization post (Anganwadi centres/ other identified sites) near to their village/urban locality on fixed days.
  • The UIP covers all sections of the society across the country with the same high quality vaccines.  

Achievements:

  • The biggest achievement of the immunization program is the eradication of smallpox.
  • One more significant milestone is that India is free of Poliomyelitis caused by Wild Poliovirus (WPV) for more than 33 months.
  • Besides, vaccination has contributed significantly to the decline in the cases and deaths due to the Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs).
29 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Cresting Water Abundance Through Conservation and Judicious Use

  • The world today faces imminent threats due to water scarcity with implications for world peace, justice and security. Water scarcity affects socio-economic growth.
  • Around 4 billion people or two-third of the world’s population face severe water shortage for at least one month every year.
  • Water scarcity can result in low productivity and crop failure, leading to food shortages, increasing prices and subsequent hunger.
  • Agriculture accounts for approximately 70 per cent of global freshwater withdrawals and is perceived as one of the main factors behind the increasing global scarcity of freshwater. Globally, irrigation water withdrawals are expected to grow by about 6 per cent in 2050.

India’s current water crisis:

  • One third of India’s districts are affected by severe drought, affecting some 33 crore people in 256 districts in 10 states.
  • Since January 2015, around 1000 farmers have killed themselves due to acute drought and debt in Karnataka.
  • Some 1000 villages in 8 districts of gujarat are suffering from acute drinking water crisis.
  • Water wagons from Miraj in Western Maharashtra are serving the dry regions of Latur.
  • The Bundelkhand districts across MP and UP continue to reel under third drought in a row.
  • Shimla, Himachal Pradesh is an example of a hill town facing acute water shortage and Jaundice outbreak due to contaminated water supply.
  • Power production was disrupted in Farakka, West Bengal due to water shortage.
  • This shortfall of water across the States has led to crop failures, mass forced migration, suicide, deaths, closing down of health care facilities and industry. It has seriously affected the health of women and children.
  • This problem has been more due to water mismanagement than its actual scarcity.

Reversing the trend: Creating Water Abundance

  • Concerted, consistent and sustained efforts can lead to drought proofing and creating water abundance. It can also help alleviating the challenges posed by climate change.
  • For this to happen, cooperation from all stakeholders is required.
  • The first step in water management would involves undertaking comprehensive, consistent and constant campaigns to re-establish the relationship between people and water.
  • Awareness generation among communities is the prerequisite for water conservation activities. It will also mean people taking charge of water management and making and adhering to commitments.

Immediate steps to handle immediate crisis:

  • Formation of drought mitigation committees in the villages comprising panchayat members and representatives of all interest groups. These committees can take care of, and monitor, drought requirements and management.
  • Elicit commitment to prevent suicide by farmers.
  • Arrange for tanker water supply where there is drinking water scarcity. Involve villagers to ensure that the water is safe and provided to all in the village.
  • Arrange for water and fodder for livestock in livestock camps to stop forced selling and abandoning of the livestock by poor people.
  • Assess the functioning of the public distribution system (PDS) and other programmes under the Right to Food and ensure availability of food grains to the affected.
  • Restore/rehabilitate/create water conservation structures. Villagers must be awared about rain water harvesting.
  • Funds allocated for MGNREGA must be directed towards reviving and creating water conservation structures. There is a need to facilitate smooth and swift transfer of funds to the villagers.

Long Term Measures:

  • This will require detailed planning and funds.
  • India is blessed with an annual average rainfall of 1100 mm most of which falls in around 100 hours. This primary source of water must be captured either for direct use, or for recharge of groundwater aquifers and surface waterbodies.
  • If rain is not managed well, it leads to flooding during the monsoon and water scarcity in the following months. The option is to capture the rain and create a ‘water bank’ for current and future use.
  • Every region of India has had traditional water harvesting systems suited to the region, which must be revived at scale. These models can be tested, replicated and modified if required to suit contemporary needs.

Water conservation: Cross Country Community Efforts, Some Examples

  • In Bundelkhand, Parmarth, a civil society organisation is supporting resilience amongst the drought affected families. Jal Sahelis are managing in-village water supply and water conservation efforts.
  • Under Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems (APFAMGS) project implemented in 7 drought prone districts of AP, farmers are managing their groundwater systems and have adopted suitable agricultural options.
  • Drought prone Laporiya village in Rajasthan has a unique dyke system called the ‘chauka’ to capture rainwater, improving water availability for drinking and harvest.

Artificial Groundwater Recharge: Subsurface Water Banks:

  • The percentage of recharging of groundwater needs to be at least doubled. This is easily possible by natural processes and artificially directing rainwater into underground aquifers.
  • Rainwater harvesting and artificial groundwater recharges serves dual purpose: Absorbing excess water and releasing it when required.
  • Artificial groundwater recharge is the infiltration of surface water into shallow aquifers to
  • Increase the quantity of water in the subsurface.
  • Improve its quality by natural attenuation processes.
  • Artificial infiltration of surface water into aquifers offers qualitative and quantitative advantages.
  • Natural processes reduce the contamination of infiltrated river water.
  • Generally, artificially recharged groundwater is better protected against pollution than surface water, and the delimitation of water protection zones makes it safer. Artificial recharge thus offers a tremendous potential.
  • If rainwater conservation is undertaken in rural and urban areas from the smallest unit up to the state then there is cause for optimism.

Water conservation: Sectoral approach

Agriculture sector:

  • This sector has to tackle multiple water related issues:
  • Low efficiency in water use.
  • Declining water availability.
  • Increasing food demand.
  • Changing food habits.
  • Commitments under Right to Food.
  • Competitive demands over water.

Some of the options for increasing water use efficiency in agriculture include:

  • Promote agricultural crops which can grow in available water. Local varieties should be encouraged and a minimum price/market and marketing system should be developed for these.
  • Adoption of Micro Irrigation such as drip and sprinkler irrigation can result in saving between 40-80 per cent of water. Irrigation methods such as irrigation scheduling, tillage, mulching and fertilisation can also result in higher utilisation of waters by crops, enhancing their productivity.
  • Land and water management practices such as soil-water conservation, adequate land preparation for crop establishment, rainwater harvesting, conservation tillage to increase water infiltration, reduce run off and improve soil moisture.
  • Using laser levelling technique which removes unevenness of soil surface, having significant impact on the germination, stand and yield of crops. It can save water and enhance output.
  • System of Rice Intensification (SRI): it reduces water requirement and the growth days resulting in increased water productivity of rice. It is also useful for sugarcane cultivation.

Industry:

  • Water use by industry has led to misuse and pollution creating a situation of water scarcity and poor water quality.
  • There has to be a change in the way industries perceive water i.e. from the traditional view of water as a cheap resource available in plenty, to one that has competitive users and affects basic human rights.
  • Companies are eager to reduce their water footprint, get certified for their water responsive behaviour and products.

Some of the options before the industry are given below:

  • Increasing water efficiency: a systematic approach can reduce water consumption by 25-50 per cent.
  • Some of the methods that can reduce water footprint include:
  • Change in technology from water cooling to air cooling.
  • Replacing of water intensive equipment and fixtures.
  • Waste water recycling and reuse into industrial process.
  • Rain water harvesting and its use.
  • Life cycle analysis: It can help to assess the environmental impact associated with the various stages of a product’s life right from the cradle to the grave.
  • Supply chain water management: companies are designing effective water management strategies for their supply chain. For instance, H&M in partnership with WWF has established pillars of water management.
  • Water offset: For situations where water consumption cannot be reduced through efficiency improvements, water reuse or recycling, ‘water offsets’ investments to watershed are adopted. It involves planting trees or investing in efficiency measures in far off lands.

Question:

Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by UN, Goal 6 is dedicated for ensuring access to water and sanitation for all. In the context of India, challenges for achieving this goal are immense but possible, provided some steps are taken at the earliest. Elaborate.

Source: Yojana, July Edition

Compiled by: Ankur Singhal

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29 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article analyses the recent amendments in Child Labour Act and its consequences.

  • Of the many injustices that have scarred India, the most unconscionable are those of unequal childhoods.
  • India’s child labour law, until the recent amendments passed by Parliament, barred child work until 14 years only in officially designated hazardous employment.
  • There was no bar on the employment of children between 14 and 18 years.
  • On the face of it, two major amendments to India’s child labour law seem welcome.
  • These amendments prohibit all work, hazardous or otherwise, for children under 14, who now also enjoy the constitutional right to free and compulsory education.
  • And for adolescents between 14 and 18 years, whose labour was entirely lawful until now, the law prohibits their employment in work scheduled as hazardous.
  • Yet on closer scrutiny, the reality of what is being offered is the reverse of what appears on paper.
  • The ban on hazardous adolescent work is accompanied by changes in the schedule of hazardous work in the statute, bringing these down from 83 prohibited activities to only three.
  • Apart from mining and explosives, the law only prohibits processes deemed hazardous under the Factories Act 1948.
  • In other words, the amended law prohibits only that child work which is considered hazardous for adult workers, without recognising the specific vulnerabilities of children.
  • More damaging is the caveat in the amended law that permits even children under 14 years to now work in non-hazardous “family enterprises” after school hours and during vacations.
  • The family is defined to include not just the child’s parents and siblings, but also siblings of the child’s parents.
  • A family enterprise includes any work, profession or business in which any family member works along with other persons.
  • In effect, this proviso accomplishes the very opposite of what it claims to do. Instead of ending child labour, it actually makes lawful once again a large part of child work that was earlier unlawful.
  • It is estimated that around 80 per cent of child labour is in work with family members. This is in farms, forests, home-based work such as bidi rolling, carpet weaving, making of bangles and handicrafts, domestic work, and street vending etc.
  • Child rights activists had fought long and hard to compel governments to include many of these occupations in the statutory list of hazardous occupations.
  • But by the double whammy of legalising child participation in non-hazardous “family enterprise” work and drastically trimming the list of hazardous occupations, in effect the government has again legalised the bulk of child work.
  • These amendments is part of a larger package of weakening labour protections for enhancing labour market flexibility to facilitate higher corporate investments.
  • The quarter century of economic reforms has witnessed the steady dismantling of factory floor manufacture by organised adult workers into a preference for unorganised migrant, adolescent and child workers and contractual and home-based production systems.
  • Home-based work absolves the owners and managers of global supply chains from any legal obligations of fair wages, healthy work conditions and social protection to the actual end-line workers who labour in isolated home-based units.
  • The argument that has long held sway is that child labour, however unfortunate, is inevitable as long as households remained poor. Only after parents escape poverty will their children be able to enter school.
  • What these claims ignore is that the reverse is far more true. That child labour is indeed a major cause of persisting poverty.
  • That if a child is trapped in labour instead of being able to attend fully to her schooling, she will never be able to escape the poverty of her parents.
  • And also, for every child in work is an adult denied the same work, an adult who could have ensured that her children could be in school.
  • Children enrolled in schools but rising from disadvantage face many barriers. They may be poorly nourished; be first-generation learners; have no place for study in their homes; and be unable to afford tutors.
  • It is they who would be further disadvantaged by this amendment.
  • Those who defend this amendment applaud the opportunity it would provide for children to learn the trades of their parents.
  • This argument is a thinly disguised defence of caste, because it is only the caste system that envisages the “natural” transition of children into the professions of their parents.
  • These amendments are one more spur to India’s ancient tradition of unequal childhoods.

Question:

Child labour is indeed a major cause of persisting poverty. If a child is trapped in labour instead of being able to attend fully to her schooling, she will never be able to escape the poverty of her parents. In the light of these statements, critically analyse the new amendments relating to Child Labour.

Suggested Approach:

Recent amendments in the Act.

Positive impact of the amendments.

Negative impact of the amendments.

Further measures needed.

Link: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/child-labour-bill-unequal-childhood-family-workers-free-education-2941209/

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28 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Whose forests are these anyway? ( The Indian Express; 28/7/2016)

The article discuss about the need to bring amendment in CAMPA bill and give rights to gram sabha to utilise the fund for social and ecological outcomes.

  • A recent controversial bill that outlines a framework for the utilisation of compensatory afforestation funds is being strongly contested and challenged by civil society actors.
  • It raises important questions that are fundamentally connected to forests: Whose are they and who should be compensated for their loss.
  • The Compensatory Afforestation, Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) has over the years accumulated a staggering Rs 41,000 crore as recompense for forest land having been diverted for non-forestry purposes.
  • The current bill does not take into account any of the criticism voiced against an earlier version and it continues to ignore the Forest Rights Act.
  • Instead of using the CAMPA funds to empower local communities to carry out afforestation, forest enrichment activities and ecological restoration, the Bill places its faith in the colonial-era forest bureaucracy.
  • India inherited a colonial forest governance infrastructure that unilaterally treats forests as state property.
  • The state takeover of forest land has been deeply contested and it was only in 2006, that a nationwide mobilisation demanding local rights over forests led to the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
  • The FRA provides for individual and community rights over forests and provides a framework for communities to govern them.
  • According to a recent study, almost half of India’s forests are likely to come under the jurisdiction of gram sabhas; thus, any efforts to regenerate or afforest these lands will require their consent and support.
  • In view of this, an amendment to the proposed bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha to include the provision of gram sabha consent for any afforestation activity.
  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), however, wants to push the CAMPA Bill in its current form, bypassing the authority of gram sabhas and the legal and moral rights of local communities over forests.
  • The emphasis is on using these funds for plantation drives through the forest department despite there being clear evidence that much of these efforts fail.
  • Official records show that 19.4 million hectares has been afforested by the forest department over the last decade but forest cover has barely increased, reflecting the failure of the centralised forest bureaucracy to undertake ecological greening.
  • Even the ecological value of whatever survives is highly dubious, as monocultures and mixed plantations can’t be substitutes for natural forests.
  • Instead of entrusting the Rs 41,000 crore to the forest bureaucracy, we need to use these funds to further strengthen local rights and empower communities to restore forests and degraded lands.
  • India has a large number of examples of communities taking up ecological restoration at low costs.
  • These efforts can be greatly strengthened through securing local rights over forests and providing support to community efforts to conserve them.
  • The decision over where, what and how to plant and regenerate degraded lands, instead of being in the hands of a distant, inefficient bureaucracy, needs to be in the hands of local communities, who have the capacity to undertake adaptive management and maintain close oversight.
  • Innovative systems of incentives and direct payments can be designed using remote sensing.
  • Evidence from around the world shows that farmers and local communities are far more efficient and effective at protecting landscapes as compared to centralised bureaucracies, and that secure rights lead to better stewardship of land and forests.
  • Even in India, farmers have taken up forestry with great enthusiasm and 85-90 per cent of the country’s industrial wood supply is now sourced from them.
  • Using CAMPA funds to support community-based afforestation will also lead to major positive social and ecological outcomes.
  • It will ensure a flow of Rs 4,000-5,000 crore to some of the poorest communities, as wage labour every year, with positive spin-offs in terms of improved incomes, poverty alleviation, food security and nutrition as well as better ecological outcomes in terms of eco-restoration, biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration.
  • Both legally and morally, forests are local commons — and it is the tribals and forest dwellers who suffer the most when they are lost.
  • Even though both the Kanchan Chopra Committee and the IIFM Committee on Forest NPV clearly mention that communities must be compensated for the loss of forests, the CAF bill is totally silent about their rights and compensation.
  • One can only describe this as a retrogressive resource grab by a ministry and the colonial-era bureaucracy, which pays no heed to the law of the land and the moral claims of the most vulnerable Indians.
  • The political leadership in the country needs to see through this resource grab and stand by its forests and forest people.

Question:

Evidence from around the world shows that farmers and local communities are far more efficient and effective at protecting landscapes as compared to centralised bureaucracies, and that secure rights lead to better stewardship of land and forests. Critically examine the statement in the light of CAMPA bill.

Suggested Approach:

1. Provision in the CAMPA bill to give power to bureaucracy to utilise the funds.

2. Need to give Gram Sabha the central role to utilise the money for forests.

3. Example from China and India.

Link: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/campa-bil-monsoon-session-compensatory-afforestation-fund-bill-forest-rights-act-2939306/

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27 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Cities at Crossroads: A looming crisis (The Indian Express; 27/7/2016)

The article focus on the inefficient water use in India and its growing crisis along with some suggestions to overcome it.

  • India’s water crisis is even more serious than its energy crisis though this is not generally realised.
  • For energy, alternative sources such as solar and wind energy are becoming more cost-effective. For water, the only major alternative available is desalination and it is far too expensive.
  • Until about a decade ago, water was seen as a key requirement for the agricultural sector, and the focus was on the need to invest in infrastructure for irrigation, which would reduce the dependence of our farmers on rains and also meet the rural drinking needs.
  • The Green Revolution accentuated the need to secure water for the high- yielding varieties of foodgrains.
  • However, inadequate investments and poor planning and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure meant that canal irrigation was much less effective than planned.
  • Farmers turned to groundwater with zeal and they could do this because groundwater extraction was unregulated.
  • Free or cheap electricity also meant that farmers turned to tubewells and electric pumps as preferred instruments for lifting water from underground.
  • Since water is not economically priced, it is used inefficiently through flood irrigation. For the same reason, water-intensive crops are grown in areas where water is highly scarce; for example, rice in Punjab and sugarcane in Maharashtra, thereby contributing further to the decline in water tables.
  • Over the past decade or so, unplanned urbanisation has highlighted the water problems facing urban India: Declining water tables and a serious challenge of water pollution.
  • Urbanisation has been gathering momentum with India’s rapid growth. Increasing urban water demand can be met by releasing water from agriculture by improving efficiency in water use and recycling of wastewater.
  • This requires that drinking water, sewerage and wastewater treatment, stormwater drains, and also solid waste management be planned and managed in an integrated manner.
  • These services are actually being managed in silos, in some cases by the urban local governments themselves though they are not sufficiently empowered and in other cases by parastatal institutions (metro boards) of state governments.
  • Even the national missions are encouraging a fragmented approach by separating solid waste management under Swacch Bharat from the rest under Amrut, and even worse, dispensing with the requirement of a city development plan in which all projects must be anchored.
  • The result is that the state of water delivery in Indian cities is visibly highly Wastewater treatment has been a neglected area in India’s urban water planning, even though it is crucial to keep our rivers and groundwater clean and also to augment supplies by generating “used water” for gardening, flushing, etc.
  • The capacity to treat sewage or wastewater is only 37 per cent of the total need in the country, and the actual treatment is even less, only 30 per cent.
  • The sewage treatment capacity is also sometimes redundantly utilised. Surveys of groundwater also show high levels of microbiological contamination, clearly suggesting contamination from municipal sewage.
  • The implications of polluted and unsafe water and poor sanitation are extremely serious for public health.
  • India is the largest user of groundwater in the world with groundwater abstraction at 251 cubic km per year, which is more than double that of China’s. India’s use of groundwater is much in excess of the actual recharge being carried out.

Initiatives taken:

  • The 12th Five Year Plan had called for a paradigm shift and proposed a comprehensive programme for the mapping of India’s aquifers as a prerequisite and a precursor to a National Ground Water Management Programme, and some pilot projects have been initiated.
  • Groundwater use in India is currently governed by the framework of British common law sanctified by the Indian Easement Act of 1882.
  • This provides that a landowner has the absolute right to draw any amount of groundwater from under the land owned by him.
  • The attempt at legislative reform in the past focused mostly on allocation and setting up a public regulatory authority for groundwater regulation and management such that the state government will take the final decision.
  • The government of India is currently working on a national water framework bill and also a model groundwater bill which addresses the challenges of equitable access and aquifer protection, moving away from the focus on the link between land ownership and control over groundwater and treating groundwater as a common pool resource to be exploited only for public good.
  • State governments could adapt the bill to their specific context. This is a bold step which is long overdue.
  • How easy it would be to enforce such a system given the weak capacity for governance at the local government level remains to be seen, though it is clear that this is the only way to go.

Question:

Over the past decade or so, unplanned urbanisation has highlighted the water problems facing urban India: Declining water tables and a serious challenge of water pollution. Elucidate.

Suggested Approach:

1. How unplanned urbanisation is is creating water problems.

2. Examples of different states.

3. Suggested measures.

Link: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/india-water-crisis-privatisation-of-water-distribution-amrut-2937415/

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26 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article analyses the performance of 1991 reforms in terms of Poverty and Inequality in the society and the way forward.

  • India embarked on big-bang economic reforms 25 years back in 1991. The success of reforms depends on whether the well-being of people, particularly that of poor, increased over time.
  • In this context, let’s examine the impact of economic reforms on poverty and inequality.
  • There are two conclusions on trends in poverty:
  • The first one, shown in a World Bank study is that poverty declined by 1.36 percentage points per annum after 1991, compared to that of 0.44 percentage points per annum prior to 1991.
  • The study shows that among other things, urban growth is the most important contributor to the rapid reduction in poverty even though rural areas showed growth in the post-reform period.
  • The second conclusion is that in the post-reform period, poverty declined faster in the 2000s than in the 1990s.
  • The official estimates based on Tendulkar committee’s poverty lines shows that poverty declined only 0.74 percentage points per annum during 1993-94 to 2004-05. But poverty declined by 2.2 percentage points per annum during 2004-05 to 2011-12.
  • Higher economic growth, agriculture growth, rural non-farm employment, increase in real wages for rural labourers, employment in construction and programmes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) contributed to higher poverty reduction in the 2000s compared to the 1990s.
  • Another issue discussed all over the world is rising inequality. The evidence shows that inequality increased in India in post reform period.
  • Inequality is much higher in India if we use income rather than consumption as base to compare. If we consider non-income indicators like health and education, inequalities between the poor and rich are much higher.
  • What should be done to reduce poverty and inequality?

  • Policymakers must continue to follow the two-fold strategy of achieving high economic growth and direct measures through social protection programmes.

  • The focus should also be on increase in urban growth and income as the share of urban poverty will rise with urbanization.

  • There can be several solutions, but let’s focus here on the two important measures:

  • Creating productive employment and providing quality education for reduction in poverty and inequality.

  • There is a feeling that we should have some flagship programmes like MGNREGA to reduce poverty.

  • But equitable growth is much broader than this and productive inclusion in terms of generating quality employment should be the focus of any inclusive approach.

  • Employment focus is the major part of equity approach. Studies have shown that agricultural growth leads to reduction in poverty twice as that of non-agriculture.

  • We need more diversified agriculture for raising the income of farmers. However, future employment has to be created in manufacturing and service.

  • In this context, the Make in India initiative, focus on start-ups, Mudra, financial inclusion, etc., are steps in the right direction.

  • Equally, service sector employment has to be promoted. Over time, the share of the organized sector has to be raised while simultaneously improving productivity in the unorganized sector.

  • Youth unemployment is high. This is one reason for unrest and social tensions. The need for skill development and productive jobs to reap the demographic dividend is obvious.

  • For reducing inequality:

  • The tax/GDP ratio has to be raised with a wider tax base.

  • Fiscal instruments like public investment in physical and social infrastructure can be used to reduce inequality.

  • Everyone irrespective of caste, class and gender should have equal opportunities in education, health, employment and entrepreneurship.

Question:

Many reckon that poor governance is the biggest constraint in achieving the aspirations of a new generation and reduction in poverty and inequality. Examine the statement in the context of Indian society.

Suggested Approach:

  1. Current status of poverty and inequality in our society.

  2. The reforms needed to tackle, in brief.

  3. Economic reforms can’t be successful without the governance reforms.

Link: http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/Mr2DS2Qv4ika8zEuScxN1L/Poverty-and-inequality-after-reforms.html

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25 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article talks about the growing threat of cybercrime and the need of globalised integrated approach to tackle them.

  • Internet ubiquity and cyber security are two sides of the same coin. However the rising number of internet users in India that has crossed 400 million this year, has been accompanied by growing cyber crimes.
  • As per the the report of IndiaSpend, over the last 10 years, cyber crimes have risen by 19 times in India.
  • In such a backdrop, the imperative for cyber security is never more than now.
  • Moreover, the government’s ambitious programmes of Digital India and Make in India—have the potential for closer integration of the global supply chains with those in the country.
  • A robust cyber security programme calls for securing the supply chains. The supply chain risk is particularly daunting, as often, it involves suppliers of hundreds of components operating in multiple countries.
  • There are important lessons India can learn from the global community as it transitions to a more mature cyber economy in this complex digital journey.

Government as a facilitator

  • The government has a big role to play. It should be a facilitator in establishing integrated governance that will drive forward collaborative approaches to cyber security.
  • For some years now, governments around the world, including the US, have been moving away from developing their own safety systems and products (GOTS—government off-the-shelf software), toward commercial products (COTS—commercial off-the-shelf software).
  • Governments came to realise that in-house solutions customised to their needs were time-consuming and the costs prohibitive.
  • Besides, they simply could not keep up with the pace of changing technology. So they looked to the private sector for answers.
  • But it was then that they realised that they were being exposed to supply chain and product integrity risk by shifting to commercial vendors.
  • They had exposed themselves to additional risk because they could not easily determine the quality of the products, where the parts and components came from and who had access to them in a global supply chain.
  • This dilemma applies to India too as it moves up the global supply chain. There is therefore a need for independent evaluation and certification, a robust supply chain integrity framework and stronger legislation.

Integrated approach 

  • The global community is increasingly recognising the need for collaborating on principles, laws, standards and protocols.
  • A recent European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) report and the US-based National Institute for Standards and Technology supply chain cyber security framework noted the need for greater coordination in managing supply chain risks.
  • In India, the ISO 28000-compliant supply chain security management system can identify and control security risks during the end-to-end process, that is, from incoming materials to deliveries to customers.
  • Tainted products are the main threats to a supply chain.
  • Here too, a robust traceability system should be established to prevent tainted and counterfeit products from entering the supply chain.
  • Other measures needed to improve the cybersecurity of a supply chain:
  1. Securing products in the “last mile,”
  2. Taking stringent measures on regional warehouse,
  3. Inbound inventory and outbound management
  4. Selecting logistics service from a trusted logistics service provider
  5. Building product site inspection mechanism.
  • Finally, the top leadership in organisations must have an insight into risk management and effective programme implementation. But at the same time, they should not micro-manage risk, but “own” the risk management process and the results.
  • As India integrates more with the global community, companies will find cyber threats more daunting and real.
  • There is another important factor which today has not been given its due value: a robust supply chain can be an important driver of profitability.
  • In a global supply chain environment where no individual company holds any technology and where multiple countries are involved, a coordinated and collaborative approach is needed where industry, government and the technology provider must work hand-in-hand.
  • As India touches the quarter century milestone next month of the opening up of the country’s economy, accomplishing greater supply chain cyber security will be a key litmus test of India’s success and maturity in globalisation.

Question:

In a global supply chain environment where no individual company holds any technology and where multiple countries are involved, a coordinated and collaborative approach is needed where industry, government and the technology provider must work hand-in-hand. Discuss.

Suggested Approach:

  1. The growing internet penetration and cyber crime.
  2. The inability of government alone to tackle such crimes.
  3. Need of coordinated and collaborative approach.

Link: http://www.financialexpress.com/industry/companies/a-blueprint-for-cyber-security-in-digital-india/327559/

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23 July 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article analysis the Nutrition level of Indian society and problems associated with government programmes along with suggestion.

  • The Global Nutrition Report 2016 once again demonstrates India slow overall progress in addressing chronic malnutrition, manifest in stunting (low weight for age), wasting (low weight for height), micronutrient deficiencies and over-weight.
  • In a ranking of countries from lowest to highest on stunting, India ranks 114 out of 132 countries. Even Bangladesh and Nepal rank marginally higher than India.
  • On wasting, India ranks 120 out of 130 countries and on the prevalence of anaemia in women of reproductive age, India ranks 170 out of 185 countries.

Breaking the cycle

  • Aggregate levels of undernutrition in India remain shockingly high, despite the impressive reduction in stunting in the last decade.
  • The segments most at risk continue to be adolescent girls, women and children, and among them Scheduled Castes and Tribes are the worst off, reflecting the insidious economic and sociocultural deprivation so prevalent in India.
  • According to the most recent United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report, nearly 50 per cent of women in India are married before they turn 18, in violation of the law.
  • The poor nutritional status of adolescent girls, combined with child marriage and multiple pregnancies even before becoming an adult, lead to another dismal fact, that 30 per cent of all children are born with low birth weight.
  • For India to be healthy and break the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition, we have to focus on the health, nutrition and social status of children, adolescent girls and women as a priority.
  • The past decade has seen a steady build-up of momentum around nutrition with the setting up of the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) secretariat in the UN.
  • The World Health Assembly adoption (in 2012) of the 2025 global targets for maternal, infant and young children nutrition, and the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals which centre-stage the ending of all forms of malnutrition for all people by 2030, to name a few.
  • Indias progress clearly lags behind what is needed to eliminate malnutrition by 2030.
  • Maharashtra was the first State in India to launch a nutrition mission, in 2005, followed by five other States, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat and Karnataka, covering a total population of 300 million.
  • In all six States the focus of the nutrition mission is inter-sectoral coordination to improve child nutrition in the first 1000 days.
  • The problem and solution framework are correctly identified, but there are hardly any targets or financial commitments or concrete and specific programmes and processes to accomplish this goal.
  • Systemic development is a long process that requires continuity, consistency, excellence in execution and a measurement of process, output and outcome/impact metrics, and so far at least, much of this seems to be missing for converting intent to action.
  • One of the reasons for persistent undernutrition in India, despite the creation of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in 1975 and national coverage of the mid-day meal scheme in 1995, is that there is no structure for multi-sectoral coordination which is essential to address the inter-generational and multifaceted nature of malnutrition.

Poor nutrition is poor economics

  • The World Bank estimates that India loses 2-3 per cent of its annual GDP by way of lower productivity, the underlying cause of which is malnutrition.
  • Poor nutrition will fracture the dreams and aspirations of India to become a global player in manufacturing and other industries.
  • The human dividend on which we are banking is actually a huge liability given that one out of every three children is born underweight and unable to realise the full potential for physical growth and cognitive development, leading to lower levels of productivity.
  • Poor nutrition is poor humanity. Article 47 of the Constitution mentions the duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health. The state shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties.”

Harnessing positive factors

  • Several programmes already announced by the government like Swachh Bharat, Beti Bachao, Beti Padao, etc. are critical nutrition-sensitive factors that address hygiene, sanitation and education.
  • For the nutrition-specific areas, India already has the infrastructure and mechanism for reaching people most at risk. These have to be urgently revamped and made more effective.
  • The three structures that must be prioritised are:
  • The ICDS, which caters to the needs of pregnant and nursing mothers and children under the age of six;
  • The mid-day meal scheme, which directly feeds approximately 120 million schoolchildren every day;
  • The public distribution system, which makes available subsistence rations to above and below poverty line families.
  • All three are also excellent platforms for public-private partnerships to improve the level and quality of service and could be considered as specific areas for collaboration in CSR programmes.
  • Borrowing from best practice in countries that have made quick and significant progress in combating malnutrition, it is recommended that a Nutrition Mission be created to orchestrate and sequence the work both in nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive areas so that the impact from each of these is embedded in positive and productive outcomes.
  • There is enough evidence from other countries, especially those which have adopted a multi-sectoral framework, that the results are tangible and specific.
  • There are other proven interventions like large-scale food fortification (flour, oil, milk, etc. in addition to salt) that are inexpensive and effective and must be mandated into food standards.

Steps to change outcomes

  • The immediate actions to step change nutrition outcomes could be summarised as follows:
  • Create a Nutrition Secretariat as part of the Prime Minister Office with responsibility for ensuring multi-sectoral alignment on priorities, sequencing and timelines. This would include both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive initiatives. Agree on a dashboard of nutrition metrics to be tracked, just as we track economic metrics.
  • Make the nodal Ministries accountable for revamping the ICDS, MDM, PDS with clear goals, timelines and resources. Open these up for public-private partnerships and make these CSR-eligible.
  • Extend large-scale food fortification beyond salt to other staples like flour, oil, dairy, etc. and establish mandatory standards by category.
  • Invest in information and education about good nutrition practices, extending from a diverse diet to deworming, breastfeeding, hygiene and sanitation, etc. Nutrition is complex and therefore needs to be simplified in behavioural terms.

Question:

The Global Nutrition Report 2016 once again demonstrates India slow overall progress in addressing chronic malnutrition, manifest in stunting (low weight for age), wasting (low weight for height), micronutrient deficiencies and over-weight. India must convert its young population to a competitive advantage, and nutrition and health are foundational to that outcome. Discuss.

Suggested Approach:

  1. The present level of nutrition level problems in India.
  2. Why it is important to improve nutrition and health.
  3. Suggestions

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/on-indias-slow-progress-in-the-malnutrition-front/article8887622.ece

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