Mains Q & A 10 February 2023
Q1. Despite the farm bill’s repeal, action must still be taken to encourage agricultural growth and provide farmers with fair prices. Discuss. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS III Indian Agriculture
The future of agriculture must be taken into account by the planners and all other stakeholders. Small farm holdings, primary and secondary processing, supply chains, infrastructure permitting effective resource utilisation, and marketing, which tries to reduce middlemen in the market, are some of the main difficulties facing Indian agriculture that the government and other organisations are striving to address.
According to the prime minister, three divisive farm laws that were approved by Parliament in September 2020 have been retracted.
India’s farmers face the following challenges:
Unprofitable agriculture: Because Indian landholdings are so small, there is little surplus that can be sold. As a result, they are compelled to engage in subsistence farming, which prevents mechanisation.
Fragmented holding: This makes it impossible for marginal farmers to obtain loans or new technology, which has a detrimental effect on farm output and income. This puts them fully dependent on predatory moneylenders.
Agriculture that is not organised lacks systematic institutional and organisational planning for cultivation, irrigation, harvesting, and marketing. The lowest farmers are unable to pay the minimum purchase price imposed by the government.
Programs like the debt alleviation initiative and the forgiveness of agricultural debt are poorly implemented by the government. Most of the welfare programmes and subsidies that the federal and state governments have offered do not help struggling farmers. However, these programmes exclusively benefit significant landowners.
Cheap high-quality Seeds are an essential and vital part of boosting crop yields and maintaining the expansion of agricultural production. Unfortunately, because premium seeds are so expensive, most farmers, especially small and marginal farmers, cannot afford them.
Low average yield: Crops have been produced on Indian soils without regard for replenishing for thousands of years. This has reduced the production of soils by causing them to become exhausted and depleted.
Despite being the second-largest irrigated country in the world after China, just one-third of the agriculture in India is covered by irrigation systems.
Lack of mechanisation: The vast bulk of agricultural operations are carried out by human hands using primitive and simple tools like wooden sickles and ploughs. As a result, production decreased.
Agriculture marketing: The situation is still quite bad in rural India in terms of agricultural marketing. Most farmers are only left with small amounts of produce.
Lack of capital: Agriculture is a large business that depends on capital, just like all other industries. The significance of capital input is increasing as agricultural technology advances.
Unreliable monsoon: In India, the monsoon is always a gamble. If it doesn’t rain, farmers will be most impacted by drought and famine. A farmer may not receive a fair price for his produce because of the market’s large supply as a result of overproduction, or his crop may be ruined by heavy rain.
Indian farmers are born into debt, carry it with them throughout their lives, and die in debt. Our country’s biggest societal problem is this.
Causes of general societal problems:
Agriculture is completely dependent on drought and other natural disasters.
Not having a second side job
Outmoded agricultural knowledge and traditional methods
Disagreements and conflict within the family.
Needless expenditures and modern lifestyle-related activities.
Unorganized farming: There is no systematic institutional or organisational planning for the cultivation, irrigation, harvesting, and marketing processes. The lowest farmers are unable to pay the minimum purchase price imposed by the government.
Resistance to literacy and progress: The majority of marginal farmers are illiterate. He therefore finds it difficult to pick up new abilities. Similar to other people, farmers are superstitious, traditional, and hesitant to try new things. It is said about this civilization that it has a low culture.
Actions taken to better the lot of Indian farmers:
Reforms to the MSP are required to address problems such arbitrary and unjustified engagement in trade tariffs and restrictions, crop-based and regional imbalances in MSP-led procurement activities, and ineffective distributional and stocking strategies.
Infrastructure for irrigation: Irrigation systems cannot be installed by small farmers. They need the appropriate irrigation. Therefore, it should be mandated that the government take the initiative in providing irrigation to small landowners.
Agricultural education The subject of crop rotation is one that few farmers are familiar with. The government has neglected education in rural areas generally and in the agricultural industry, despite the fact that it has greatly improved in urban areas. Governmental entities should therefore start efficient systems in this regard.
Because the cultivable land is not currently covered by the available irrigation systems, better water management is needed. The majority of the time, inefficient water management rather than a shortage of water is to blame. It is vital to create improved modern rainwater collection methods.
establishing alternative farming income sources It is the responsibility of the government to provide farmers with new skills that will enable them to become less reliant on agriculture. Promotion of growing businesses like fishing, aquaculture, and horticulture is crucial.
The establishment of collectives for product marketing by firms is essential.
Examples of marketing triumphs include dairy cooperatives, Rytu bandhu in Andhra Pradesh, and Apni mandi in Punjab.
The real challenge is getting small and marginal farmers connected to high value crops and organised for selling.
As a result, a coordinated plan is needed to benefit from marketing.
practises for sustainable agriculture Organic farming is the most viable solution for sustainable agriculture. The certification process for organic products needs to be accelerated. Precision farming assists in overcoming problems associated with drought by providing customised inputs. It requires less input and lowers production costs.
Female support: Women farmers have no legal claim to their land. India’s government is in the process of digitising land records. The family’s female farmers may be able to secure their rights during this procedure. Furthermore, gender neutrality is a requirement for usable smart farm equipment.
Agriculture that is climate-resilient (CRF): It mostly depends on technology methods, such smart weather forecasts based on big data analytics. By developing short-lived cultivars, submerged crop types for coastal zones, and drought resistant variety for dry places, plant biotechnology can further enhance CRF.
Similar to how high-income countries did over the preceding 50 years, it is projected that middle-income countries like China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia would play a larger role in the future of global agriculture and food production. In order to fully utilise this tremendous potential, India must create an agricultural regulatory framework that makes it easier for its farmers to conduct agricultural activities, increasing their productivity, competitiveness, and income.
Q2. Despite technical and operational difficulties, the E-Shram platform has the potential to ensure the social security of undocumented workers. Analyse. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Government Policies and Interventions
The 38 crore unorganised workers that the government intends to register include domestic workers, street vendors, migrant workers, and construction labourers. An e-Shram card with a 12-digit unique number will be given to the workers in order to facilitate future efforts to include them in social security programmes. In the first three months of operation, only 24% of India’s 38 crore unorganised labourers registered on the website.
E-shram and deliberate welfare initiatives:
Up until this moment, workers in the unorganised sector were essentially free from the implementation of labour laws.
After unorganised workers register on this site, the government asserts that it will be able to provide social security benefits such insurance coverage, maternity benefits, pensions, educational benefits, provident fund benefits, housing programmes, etc.
The UAN number will be known all over the country and will help ensure that workers, especially migrant workers, receive social security payments wherever they are.
The database will make it feasible to provide a single location where you can access all social security benefits.
Possibility of the e-SHRAM gateway:
Benefits distribution: The website will be helpful for distributing the multiple social security programmes that the federal and state governments are now running, in addition to registering them.
keeping an employment roster for the unorganised sector: In India, 38.2% of the population is employed, according to the recently published Periodic Labour Force Survey Annual Report 2019–20. In the unorganised sector, 81% of the workforce is employed, according to the ministry’s annual report.
Beedi rolling, agarbatti making, papad making, tailoring, embroidery work, street vendors, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washermen, rickshaw pullers, and landless labourers are just a few of the occupations that a sizable portion of unorganised workers perform from home.
Worker welfare: More unorganised employees are projected as a result of the economic challenges caused by the pandemic. The gateway will help workers get paid fairly as a result.
This strategy also intends to help migratory workers by making their entitlement to benefits more “portable.”
Interstate programmes are available to migrant workers in varying degrees, ranging from 5% to 27.5%, with 0.5% having the least access and 27.5% having the most.
Portal will make up the difference.
Technology and operational challenges:
It focuses on creating a database of employees rather than giving information on the social security benefits that registered employees are supposed to get in addition to accident insurance.
Due to the necessary Aadhaar-based cellphone linkage and the challenging biometric authentication at common service centres, many workers are experiencing difficulty registering.
Obstacles include the inability for users to self-register and slow servers.
The Common Service Centers overcharge its customers for a variety of activities, including printing certificates, banking through Aadhaar-enabled payment systems, submitting PAN card applications, and gaining access to health benefits.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions has declared that steps for off-line registration are necessary due to the potential that certain workers won’t be able to utilise the internet site.
The e-Shram portal gathers migration data if the immigrant is a semi-permanent immigrant and is limited to a particular occupation, in contrast to the Supreme Court’s requirement to register circulatory migrants.
How to Proceed:
Allowing several forms of ID is important because the Aadhaar registration requirement is unlawful and excludes some groups of people. To verify a worker’s identity, other government-issued ID cards ought to be accepted.
Permit using the latest recent figures: Any number should be available for employees to register with. Employees must be able to modify their registered number through the interface.
Allow offline registration: The government must create a system for offline database registration. Common service centres can serve as “registration camps” for persons who would rather register offline. Data from employees registered on earlier databases must be automatically supported into the new database.
The federal and state governments must organise neighbourhood get-togethers and door-to-door worker recruitment initiatives to make registration simpler. A helpline should be established to address complaints about the portal. Associations and industry organisations must both share responsibility for personnel registration.
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