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              Doubling Farmers’ Income: An Assessment

GS Paper III

Context:The Prime Minister recently revealed his desire to see farmers’ earnings double in the year when India celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence and enters Amrit Kaal. It is a good idea to go back on that dream now that we have arrived at Amrit Kaal and assess if it has been realised, and if not, how best it may be accomplished. That was a great ideal since we cannot have sustained high growth in the GDP as a whole without increasing farmer incomes.

What is Doubling Farmers Income scheme?

The Indian government established a goal in February 2016 to double farmers’ income by 2022–2023.

to improve the welfare of farmers, alleviate agrarian hardship, and achieve pay parity between farmers and those in non-agricultural professions.

The future of agriculture may immediately benefit from doubling farmers’ income.

Doubling Farmers Income: A Noble Vision

Better Farm Equipment and Advanced Technologies: If a farmer’s income doubles, they will have access to better farm equipment and sophisticated technology, which will boost output and result in better seeds and agricultural practises.

Improved Agricultural Productivity: Doubling farmers’ income translates into increased ag production, which is necessary to satisfy the nation’s rising food demand.

Increased Crop Quality: Raising farmer income would raise agricultural productivity as well as crop quality, which is essential for guaranteeing food security and achieving export quality criteria.

Expansion of the Indian Economy: Through raising rural demand for products and services, generating job possibilities, and fostering general economic growth, doubling farmers’ income will help the Indian economy thrive.

Decreased Farmer Suicide Incidents: In India, financial stress is one of the main contributors to farmer suicides. By doubling their income, farmers will have more financial stability, which will lower the number of farmer suicides and enhance their general wellbeing.

Government efforts in this direction:

Budget for fertiliser subsidies now exceeds Rs 2 lakh crore. Even when urea prices reached $1,000/metric tonne globally, the price of urea in India remained stable at about $70/tonne. It’s possible that this is the lowest price ever.

PM-Kisan: For the fiscal year 2023–2024, the government has allotted Rs 60,000 crore to its flagship PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana.

PM The Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana Also, the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana provides free rations of at least 5 kg per person per month to many small and marginal farmers.

Crop insurance, financing, and irrigation are all subsidies in addition to the others (drip). Governments also generously distribute power subsidies, particularly for irrigation. Several states provide subsidies for everything from farm equipment to customised hiring businesses.

Impact of all these policies on farmers’ incomes and on environment:

Effect of Output Trade Policy and Input Subsidies on Farmers’ Income: But lowering the cost of inputs like seeds, fertiliser, and irrigation helps increase farmers’ incomes. Government-adopted output trade and marketing restrictions, such the prohibition on wheat exports or the 20% export tariff on rice, can reduce farmers’ revenues.

Pro-Consumer Strategy: A key issue with our policy framework is that the present policy approach favours consumers over farmers.

Environmental Harm Resulting from Uncontrolled Procurement Practices and Subsidized Inputs: Significant environmental harm is being done as a result of the excessive subsidisation of inputs like power and fertilisers as well as the unrestrained acquisition of rice and wheat in some states. The need to justify these regulations is rising.

Way Forward:

To understand where farmers stand, it is critical to evaluate the net impact of input subsidies and output trade policies on their income.

Realign the support policies with an eye towards the effects on the environment.

Maybe carbon credits might be assigned to millets, pulses, oilseeds, and much of horticulture to encourage their production. They need less fertiliser and water. Subsidies and other forms of support must be crop-neutral.

Adopting pro-farmer policies that advance their interests, encourage income development, and boost general economic growth is essential.

Innovations in technology, goods, institutions, and regulations are needed in agriculture today to support a more diverse, high-value, and environmentally friendly sector.

Conclusion:

When it comes to the issue of doubling farmers’ income, we must acknowledge that it will take time. It may be accomplished by improving production through improved irrigation and seeds. Unrestricted access to the marketplaces for their goods must be paired with it. It will also be necessary to diversify into high-value crops and maybe even plant solar panels as a third crop on farmer farms. We can only quadruple farmers’ earnings with such a determined and persistent effort.

Source: The Hindu

 

                                    Lankan Fishermen Oppose Proposal to License Indian Fishermen

GS Paper II

Context: The government’s intention to provide Indian fisherman permits to access Sri Lankan seas is passionately opposed by the country’s northern fishermen, who label the action as a “major setback” to their almost 15-year-long campaign.

Recent development:

The Sri Lankan government has suggested granting Indian fishermen fishing permits so they can fish in Sri Lankan seas.

Fishermen in the Northern Province have vehemently opposed the idea because they see it as a danger to their livelihoods and a violation of their rights to fish.

Tensions between the two groups have increased as a result of accusations made against Indian fishermen of utilising illegal fishing techniques and harming the marine habitat.

Violence and arrests have resulted from the dispute over fishing rights on both sides.

Issues for Sri Lanka:

Trawler proliferation: The marine environment in SL seas is being harmed by the excessive usage of motorised trawlers in Palk Bay.

Violation of sovereignty: Indian fisherman had several advantages as well, including better access to Sri Lankan seas during the country’s civil conflict.

Porous borders: Since maritime borders were never properly protected, Indian trawlers frequently enter Sri Lankan waters to fish.

Civil War’s End: As the civil war came to a conclusion in 2009, everything changed. Due to the depletion of marine resources on the Indian side, violence and arrests of Indian fishermen rose as they continued to fish in Sri Lankan seas.

Fishermen’s concern:
 

(1) Depletion of fisheries:

Due to the depletion of fisheries on the Indian side, Indian fishermen enter Sri Lankan seas, depriving their counterparts a means of subsistence.

Even though they run the risk of being apprehended or killed by the Sri Lankan Navy, they purposefully enter the territorial seas.

Because to Indian fisherman’s poaching, Sri Lankan fishermen on the other side of Palk Bay are concerned about a similar depletion on their side (where trawlers are prohibited).

(2) Rights over Katchatheevu Island:
 

In the area of Katchatheevu island, where they have fished for centuries, Tamil fishermen have begun entering Sri Lankan seas.

After Indira Gandhi signed an agreement between the two nations without consulting the Tamil Nadu government, the island was given to Sri Lanka in 1974.

Although it grants Indian fisherman “access to Katchatheevu for relaxation, for drying of nests, and for the annual St Anthony’s festival,” the pact does not guarantee their customary fishing rights.

(3) Hefty fines:

Following a brief reprieve in the previous several years, Sri Lanka enacted stricter legislation that outlaws bottom-trawling and imposes steep fines for foreign vessels that intrude on its territory.

The penalties for Indian vessels caught fishing in Sri Lankan seas has been raised from LKR 6 million (about 25 lakh) to LKR 175 million (around 17.5 crore).

The SL marines regularly kill the fisherman by shooting them.

Way Forward:

The second strategy would convince Colombo to grant Indian fishermen with valid licences permission to fish in Sri Lankan seas up to five nautical miles away from the IMBL.

Examining previous agreements: A review of the 2003 plan for licenced fishing is possible.

A systematised meeting schedule between the fishing communities of the two nations might be established to foster a more cordial environment when fishing at sea.

Conclusion:

In order to prevent the fisheries conflict from destabilising bilateral ties, the fundamental problems that it raises must be resolved.

The phase-out of trawling should start right away, and alternate fishing methods should be discovered.

Source: The Hindu

 

                                                                                Bio-Computers

GS Paper III

Context: The development of bio-computers utilising a brand-new field of study dubbed “organoid intelligence” has been proposed by scientists at Johns Hopkins University.

Background:

In order to better understand the scientific underpinnings of human cognition, learning, and neurological illnesses, JHU scientists will harness the brain’s processing capability.

Rat brains, which vary from human brains in both structure and function, are commonly used in traditional ways of researching the human brain.

Building brain organoids in the lab:

Using human stem cells, researchers are creating brain organoids, 3D colonies of brain tissue.

Brain organoids are being used to investigate human brain development and test medications because they replicate many anatomical and functional aspects of a growing human brain.

Yet, the lack of sensory inputs and blood flow in brain organoids created in the lab restricts their capacity for development.

Transplanting brain organoids:

Organoid cultures of the human brain were transplanted into rat brains, where they connected to the rat brain and were functionally active.

Nonetheless, the rat-brain microenvironment still serves as the home for human brain organoids, limiting their applicability to humans.

What is the new “bio-computer”?

The “bio-computers” developed by JHU researchers combine brain organoids with cutting-edge computing techniques.

To record the neuronal firing patterns and apply electrical stimulation, brain organoids will be grown inside flexible frameworks with several electrodes attached.

Analyzing the neuronal response patterns and their impact on human behaviour or biology will be done using machine learning approaches.

Opportunities for “bio-computers”:

Stem cells from patients with neurodegenerative illnesses or cognitive impairments can be used to create brain organoids, revealing the basic underpinnings of human cognition, learning, and memory.

The discovery of medications for neurodevelopmental and degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease and microcephaly may be aided by “bio-computers” that can decipher the pathophysiology of these conditions.

Challenges for bio-computers:

The typical number of cells in brain organoids is less than 100,000, which limits their ability to do computations.

Microfluidic systems must be created by researchers to carry waste materials and nutrients, as well as oxygen.

Large volumes of data generated by the hybrid systems will need to be stored, processed, and analysed utilising “Big Data” infrastructure and cutting-edge analytical methods.

It is suggested that an ethics team be formed to recognise, go over, and evaluate any ethical problems that come up throughout this process.

Conclusion:

In order to better understand the molecular underpinnings of human cognition, learning, and other neurological illnesses, biocomputers will harness the brain’s processing capability.

The main problems are scaling up brain organoids and creating microfluidic systems and analytical methods.

An ethics team will examine moral dilemmas brought on by the advancement of biocomputers.

Source: Indian Express

 

                                          India close to Hindu Rate of Growth: Raghuram Rajan

GS Paper III

Context: India is “dangerously near to the Hindu rate of growth,” according to former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.

What is Hindu Rate of Growth?

The “Hindu Rate of Growth” is a phrase used to characterise the sluggish growth rate of the Indian economy between the 1950s and the 1980s.

Raj Krishna, an economist from India, first used the term in the 1970s.

The average annual growth rate of the Indian economy during this time was about 3.5%, which was much less than that of other developing nations like South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

The phrase is problematic because it implies that cultural or religious reasons, rather than economic policies and structural problems, were to blame for the poor development rate.

Yet, the phrase is still used to describe the sluggish expansion of the Indian economy during this time in scholarly and policy discussions.

Features of Hindu Rate of Growth:

The then features which led to the coining of this term were-

Low GDP growth rate: The phrase alludes to the decades between the 1950s and the 1980s, when India’s economy developed at a pace of about 3.5% year on average, far less than that of other emerging nations.

Slow industrialization: The private sector was highly controlled, while the industrial sector was dominated by a small number of public sector businesses.

Agriculture is stagnant because there has been little investment in it and because government policies have not placed much emphasis on it.

Indian economic policy was socialist, and there was a lot of regulation. The License Raj system mandated licences and permissions for enterprises, resulting in a bureaucratic and dishonest system that impeded entrepreneurship and innovation.

Import Substitution: India adopted an import substitution strategy whereby the administration sought to promote native sectors by shielding them from international rivalry. This resulted in little competition, poor product quality, and exorbitant costs.

Public Sector Inefficiency: While it accounted for the majority of the economy’s output, the public sector was ineffective, underproductive, and corrupt. Low productivity was caused by public sector enterprises’ frequent overstaffing and bad management.

Absence of International Investment: During this time, there was minimal foreign investment in India’s economy since it did not appeal to foreign investors. Foreign investment was subject to tight government restrictions, and the regulatory environment discouraged it.

Concerns flagged by Rajan:

Rajan noted that India’s economic growth rate had been declining even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

(a) Decline in GDP growth rate:

Before the epidemic struck in the first quarter of 2020, India’s economic growth rate had slowed to 4.5%.

The pandemic caused a severe economic downturn in India, with GDP contracting 7.7% in the fiscal year 2020–21.

The IMF anticipates 9.5% GDP growth for the current fiscal year, indicating that the economy has partially recovered.

(b) Lower growth potential than hyped:

Nevertheless, Rajan pointed out that because of issues including an ageing population, a drop in the working-age population, and slow investment, India’s prospective growth rate is probably going to be lower than in the past.

Moreover, he pointed to the nation’s subpar performance on human development metrics, such as health and education, as a barrier to progress.

Key suggestions:

Rajan urged action to overcome the structural barriers to growth, including spending on infrastructure and education as well as facilitating commercial transactions in India.

In order to prevent inflation and currency devaluation, he also underlined the significance of preserving budgetary restraint and macroeconomic stability.

A better targeting of subsidies to those who need them the most was among the actions he asked for to combat inequality.

Conclusion:

Rajan’s comments indicate that structural reforms will be necessary to overcome India’s considerable hurdles in maintaining high rates of economic development.

Source: Indian Express

 

     Ayurveda Practice: Significant Challenges

GS Paper II

Context:Due to widespread scepticism regarding the effectiveness of Ayurvedic ideas and practises, graduates of Ayurveda confront substantial obstacles in their pursuit of a career in Ayurvedic practise. There is a confidence gap in these systems, despite the advertising initiatives to support Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH).

What is National AYUSH Mission?

The National AYUSH Mission (NAM), which will be implemented through States and UTs, was launched during the 12th Plan by the Department of AYUSH in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India.

The main goal of NAM is to support AYUSH medical systems by developing educational systems, enforcing quality control laws for ASU & H pharmaceuticals, and ensuring the long-term supply of ASU & H raw materials.

It anticipates flexible programme execution, which will result in significant engagement from the UT and State Governments.

The NAM envisions the creation of both a National Mission and equivalent Missions at the State level.

What is Ayurveda?

The term “The Science of Life” derives from the Sanskrit words “Ayu” for “life” and “Veda” for “knowledge” or “science.”

Ayurveda is a conventional medical practise that has its roots in India and dates back more than 5,000 years.

It was passed down orally from great masters from one generation to the next.

Later, some of this information was written down, but much of it is still unavailable.

Ayurveda serves as the foundation for several natural therapeutic techniques, including Homeopathy and Polarity Therapy.

What are the reasons for the public’s skepticism towards Ayurveda?

The Ayurveda establishment has struggled to keep up with contemporary intellectual and scientific advancements.

outdated theories and a lack of reliable evidence: Sophisticated dogmas are offered in place of antiquated notions that are likely to raise scepticism in the eyes of educated patients. Therapies that are said to be based on these notions are not put through simple testing.

Another widespread belief that defines the general perception of Ayurveda is that its therapies take a long time to show positive results.

What are the challenges faced by Ayurveda graduates in pursuing a career in practice?

Usability in daily life is restricted: Ancient medical knowledge is only partially practical when taught in college instruction

Absence of a healthy research ecosystem dependence on one’s own experiments as a result of the absence of a robust scientific and research ecosystem. The research method includes a great deal of patient trial and error and predictably damages the practitioner’s reputation.

Complementing contemporary medicine with Ayurveda is essential: being unable to treat all primary-care ailments, which calls for the use of modern medicine—which is often not allowed in states.

harmful advertising and competition: competition from others that rely on publicity and gimmicks.

How can appropriate policy-making help solve these challenges?

Ayurveda graduates who receive the proper training can revitalise primary care by becoming competent primary-care physicians.

An evaluation of Ayurveda based on facts: evaluating Ayurveda beliefs and practises rigorously using evidence in order to separate useful information from useless information.

Ayurveda graduates are now legally permitted to practise modern medicine in designated primary care settings.

Conclusion:

Ayurveda places an emphasis on prevention via balance, nutrition, lifestyle, and herbs and places the needs of the patient above personal satisfaction. A gradual shift to wellness is necessary for sustainable therapy. Science, public welfare, and ayurveda all stand to win. On the part of stakeholders, honesty, clarity of thought, and some adventure are required.

Source: Indian Express

 

Facts for Prelims

SWAMIH investment fund:

A social impact fund created expressly to finish troubled and stalled residential projects is called the SWAMIH Investment Fund I.

The Fund is supported by the Ministry of Finance and is run by State Bank Group business SBICAP Ventures Ltd.

For troubled projects, the Fund is regarded as the lender of last resort.

The Fund’s involvement in a project frequently serves as a catalyst for improved sales and collections, especially in projects that have been put off for years.

The biggest domestic real estate private equity team at SWAMIH Fund, according to the Finance Ministry, is solely responsible for funding and supervising the completion of distressed housing projects.

Over 130 projects with penalties totaling more than Rs 12,000 crore have received final approval from SWAMIH to date.

The Fund has built 20,557 homes and plans to build approximately 81,000 dwellings in 30 tier 1 and tier 2 cities over the next three years.

With 26 projects, the Fund has been able to finish development while producing profits for its investors.

With the ability to effectively release more than Rs. 35,000 crore in liquidity, it has also significantly contributed to the expansion of several auxiliary companies in the real estate and infrastructure sectors.

 

One Nation, One Challan initiative:

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has launched a campaign called One Country, One Challan.

It intends to unite all relevant organisations on a single platform, including the traffic police and the Regional Transport Office (RTO), to facilitate easy challan collection and data transfer.

The integrated system monitors the CCTV network for traffic infractions and employs apps like VAHAN and SARATHI to acquire the offending vehicle’s registration number.

The applicable penalty amount is subsequently included in an e-Challan that is created and emailed to the vehicle’s associated mobile phone.

The goal of virtual courts is to do away with the need for litigants to appear in person.

On the website of the virtual court, an accused person can look up their case. When the fine has been successfully paid, the matter will be marked as resolved.

For the time being, one court is being chosen to serve as Gujarat’s virtual court.

 

Foldscope:

The Foldscope is a small portable microscope that connects easily to a smartphone camera and is primarily composed of paper.

It can recognise objects as small as 2 micrometres across and has a magnification of around 140x.

Researchers at Stanford University initially developed it in 2014.

The IISc version of Foldscope costs about Rs 400, which is significantly less than the Stanford version.

The scientists discovered that Foldscope could picture an object’s roundness and aspect ratio to within 5% of what a cutting-edge tool called a scanning electron microscope could (SEM).

Each SEM is more than Rs 50 lakh expensive.

Whereas preparing a sample for a SEM was “tedious and time-consuming,” doing it with a Foldscope takes less than an hour.

Foldscopes can be used in a variety of industries, including cosmetics (to see powders and emulsions), environmental research (to detect contaminants), and pharmaceuticals (to check medicinal formulations).

The morphology of soil particles may be studied, which “helps comprehend soil structure, nutrient availability, and plant development” in agriculture.

It enables in-field soil analysis and the visualisation of soil structure according to the Indian Standard Soil Classification System, which previously required large, high-resolution microscopes.


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