Indian Express Explained 09/06/2020

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India –China relations – Win-win or zero sum game

Source – The Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 2 – Bilateral Relations

Context – Recently Chinese soldiers have moved into Indian territory across the Line of Actual Control (LAC)

India-China Border

India-China border is divided into three sectors:

  1. Western Sector– The LAC in the western sector falls in the union territory of Ladakh and is 1570 km long
  2. Middle sector– The middle sector of 545 km length falls in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
  3. Eastern sector– The 1325 km long eastern sector falls in the states of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The middle sector is the least disputed sector, while the western sector witnesses the highest transgressions between the two sides.

Line of Actual control

  1. LAC is only a concept– The border is not fully demarcated and the LAC is neither clarified nor confirmed by the two countries. India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
  2. Patrolling based on perception-This has led to different perceptions of the LAC for the two sides, and soldiers from either side try to patrol the area up to their perception of the LAC.
  3. Chinese assertiveness– A higher number of transgressions indicates that the Chinese soldiers are coming to the Indian side more often, and their movements are being observed and recorded by the Indian soldiers. This can be seen as an indicator of increased Chinese assertiveness.

Reasons for large scale movement by China :

  1. Infrastructure building by India– China is responding to India’s efforts to bolster border infrastructure in Ladakh after the completion of the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO)  road (near the confluence of Shyok and Galwan rivers).
  1. Pre-emptive step– Chinese army is physically changing the ground position and preventing our troops from undertaking regular patrolling in the area.
  2. Diverting attention– The need for China to show strength amid the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, which has harmed the Chinese economy and worsened relations with many countries. The ongoing transgressions will shift world’s attention from this to border issue.
  3. Discouraging Investment in India– Due to disruption in supply-chain amid the COVID pandemic and the flight of MNC’s from China has increased possibility of these companies to settle in India. Such border disruptions usually discourage the investors as there will be lack of stability and peace in country

Implications of the transgressions

  1. Updation in Standard Operating Procedure– The established SOPs and drills have not worked this time and new drills will be required as the situation on the ground has changed.
  2. Unreasonable concessions by India– Due to increased Chinese pressure, India might resolve the border issue by going soft on China in international institutions like World Health Assembly.

Way Forward – The Panchsheel principle holds the key to resolve the current crisis. When followed in spirit and letter it will pave way for settled border dispute and amicable ties between the two.

2)Need to shift from subsidies to Cash Transfers to double farmers income.

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 3-Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Context: Analysing the road to the government’s ambitious plan to double the farmers income by 2022-23.

Importance of Agriculture for India:

  • During 2019-20: The gross value added (GVA) in agriculture and allied sectors registered a growth of 4 % whereas the growth of overall GVA of the economy is only at 3.9 % and overall GDP (including net taxes) at 4.2 per cent.
  • Expectation during COVID-19: In 2020-21, due to impact of COVID-19, the GDP may register a negative growth of as high as -5 per cent, agriculture may still surprise with a positive growth of 2.5 per cent. (as per CRISIL’s recent forecast).
  • Labour force: Almost 44 % is engaged in agriculture.

Comparison with China:

Growth rateLow growth rateHigh growth (about 4.5 % over the last 40 years)
ProductivityLow productivityHigh productivity
MigrationDue to “push” factor because agriculture cannot support a large percentage of the working population.Due to “demand-pull” to higher productivity sectors with better skills.

To tackle the issues in agriculture and tackling the effects of COVID-19, the government introduced some changes under Atma Nirbhar package.

Reforms on the Agri-Marketing: Liberalizing the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), APMC Act and contract farming through the ordinance route.

Issue with amended ECA: 

  • Clause for stocking limits in case of extraordinary price rise: This is being defined as a 100 % increase in the price of perishables and a 50 % increase for non-perishables over a 12-month period. It has been done to attract private investment in storage.
  • The stocking limits are to be imposed in case of natural calamity, famine, wars, etc. In other case it is only for rent-seeking by the “inspector raj”.

To improve the conditions of farmers, government formed Ashok Dalwai committee to double farmers’ incomes. It talked about the real income and it required a growth rate of 10.4 % per annum till 2022-23.

Author’s Reservations about Doubling farmers income:

  • Comparing the data of NSO And NABARD surveys on farmers’ incomes in 2002-03, 2012-13, and 2015-16 with Agri-GDP growth over the same period, the trends in Agri-GDP and farmers’ incomes follow each other very closely (about 3.6 to 3.7 % per annum).
  • The base year growth rate in 2015-16 was meagre (0.6 per cent) and the average annual growth of Agri-GDP during the next four years (2016-17 to 2019-20) was 4.8 per cent.
  • In 2020-21, CRISIL forecasts GVA in agriculture at 2.5 % and even if one assumes Agri-growth to be around 4 % per annum for the next two years, the annual Agri-GVA growth for the seven-year period (from 2016-17 to 2022-23) is around 4.2 %. This cannot double the income of farmers by 2022-23.

Suggestions by author to achieve the target:

  • The shortfall from the target can be filled by adding the direct income transfers under PM-Kisan.
  • The government can convert food and fertilizer subsidies into direct cash transfers.

Way Forward

There is a need to have paradigm shifts and to transfer real prices on farmers’ produce by improving marketing efficiencies and Agri-logistics.

3)Solving the Human-animal conflict

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context: The recent death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala has caused outrage on social media. The explosive laden pineapple which killed the elephant was a trap for wild boars.

Brief Overview of Wildlife Protection in India

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: The aim of the Act is to ensure the ecological and environmental security of India.

  • Protected Areas: It contains provisions for setting up and managing national parks, sanctuaries and other protected areas
  • Scheduled Species: It also consists of 6 schedules which provide a varying degree of protection to animals. Animals listed under Schedule V are called vermin which can be hunted. Example: Rats

In this editorial, the author points out certain issues regarding human-animal conflict and provides solutions for the same:

Modern conservation aims to separate human and wildlife spaces as overlap leads to conflict. However, this does not hold true for India. In India, most of the animal range is outside protected areas. For example, in case of elephants only about 25% of their range is within protected areas.It is important to reorient the forest department to do away with the wildlife-territorial dichotomy of management that currently exists. Humans and animals have always coexisted and mostly peacefully interacted in India. 
Due to habitat fragmentation and shrinking of habitat due to encroachment in forest lands, people and animals are increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food. Addressing habitat loss, destruction and fragmentation to provide long-term solution to conflict
With the absence of large predators outside forests and the huge availability of easily accessible food crops, deer, monkeys, boar occupy fringe areas. These animals lead to huge destruction of croplands. Farmers should be empowered and subsidized to better protect their land and not entirely depend on compensation after damage is done. 
In other countries, vermin are kept in control, so they don’t destroy large crop areas. However, in India, though government has the provision to declare overabundant animals’ “vermin”, and cull them under the Wildlife Protection Act, it very rarely does this. It is important to control the population of wild boar to minimize the impact they have on farmers. However, it should be ensured that there is no over-hunting and local extinction in some areas that have governance or enforcement problems.

Conclusion:  Education and training activities at different levels should be taken up for disseminating innovative techniques, building local capacity in conflict resolution and increasing public understanding of man-animal conflicts

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