Indian Express Explained 04/06/2020

Strengthening the India-Australia bilateral ties

Source – Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Context – The virtual summit between India and Australia presents the opportunity for both to plug the gaps in their ties

Figure 1 – Timeline of the stalled ties between two

Priority areas to enhance the ties in post-corona world

  1. Reforming the international institutions– The issues regarding WHO’s handling of the pandemic has lead to demand of reformations in international governance structures. India and Australia both can participate together for a consensus based transformation of such structures.
  2. Fighting climate change– Both can strengthen together the international solar alliance to building resilience against climate change and disasters like Australian bushfire and Indian cyclone Amphan.
  3. Security cooperation in Indo-Pacific– The cooperation in Indo-pacific included a wide range of activities which will ensure better security of the region
  • Both can initiate a full range of joint activities, including on maritime domain awareness, development of strategically located islands and marine scientific research.
  • India’s engagement in Five Power Defence arrangement along with Australia and other member

Way Forward – India need to build its ties with not only great power but also middle ranged countries like Australia which is necessary for resolving global as well as regional issues with better partnership among concerned nations.

2)Subsidies in Agriculture 

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 3 – Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

Context – Recently centre has prescribed that the free power supply scheme should be replaced with the direct benefits transfer (DBT) in all the states

Since 1970s, state governments in India adopted a policy of providing free or subsidized power to farmers to increase agricultural productivity.

Farm subsidy has benefitted the farmers, especially small and marginal. It has also aided the agricultural productivity in nation which has ensured food security for all. However, there are negative implications of power subsidy too which have been discussed below.

Negative Implications of Power Subsidy

  1. Depleted groundwaterdue to over extraction of groundwater and the issue of water-stress in India.
  2. Massive waste of powerdue to large unmetered connections.
  3. Financial burden on state governments due to subsidies given to farmers including rich farmers.
  4. Deteriorating financial healthof the electricity distribution companies (DISCOMs).
  5. Increased cross-subsidy burden on industrial and commercial consumers which affect their total cost of production.
  6. Promotes unsustainable agriculture:Subsidized electricity to farmers promotes growth of crops not suitable to agro-climatic zones like sugarcane, paddy which are water-intensive also.

Suggestions to Rationalize Farm Sector Subsidies

  1. Adopting Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT) for power subsidy as prescribed by government.
  2. IEC – Information, Education and communication (IEC) campaigns among farmers regarding judicious use of scarce resources.
  3. Metering –Large number of unmetered connections for farm irrigation leads to unrestrained usage of electricity for irrigation leading to massive waste of power and groundwater.
  4. Promoting sustainable agriculture – Disincentivizing water-intensive crops such as rice in areas where groundwater is rapidly depleting like Punjab and use of methods like drip-irrigation.

Way Forward – Reforms in agriculture including subsidy rationalization is must for economic growth and fiscal consolidation and the DBT in power subsidy is a tool to achieve the same.

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