Mains Q & A 01 JUNE 2023
3. To end hunger and malnutrition, the PDS supply chain must be redesigned for successful and efficient food delivery. Examine. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II – Poverty related issues
The Public Distribution System (PDS), an Indian food security system, was developed as a way to manage emergency circumstances and distribute food at reasonable costs. It provides the underprivileged in India with subsidised food and non-food goods. Launched in June 1947, this plan. It runs on a regular basis at a subsidised price through a network of Fair Price Shops.
Food grains are provided to the underprivileged at prices lower than those found in private stores.
Farmers are guaranteed a higher price because food grains are bought straight from them.
Make products affordable for consumers, especially the weaker and more impoverished segments of society.
Correct the current supply and demand imbalances for consumer goods. Check for and stop black marketing and stockpiling of necessities.
Make sure that the distribution of essentials for life reflects social justice.
even out variations in the cost and accessibility of consumer products.
Encourage rural employment projects (SGRY/SGSY/IRDP/Midday Meals, ICDS, DWCRA, SHGs, and Food for Work), as well as educational feeding schemes, to help reduce poverty.
Challenges PDS is facing:
All incoming grains are accepted in open-ended procurement even if buffer stock is exhausted, causing a shortfall on the open market.
The Nation Food Security Act’s recent implementation will only result in more procurement, which will raise grain prices.
the discrepancy between needed and available storage space.
Farmers have been encouraged to switch from producing coarse grains that are consumed by the poor to rice and wheat by the availability of minimum support prices.
Lack of storage space with FCI.
damage to or spoiling of food grains stored in CAP or Cover & Plinth systems.
The government incurs significant carrying expenses due to the storage of food grains.
Distribution of grains for food:
There are many poor and needy people who are left out and many phoney cards are also issued, making the states’ identification of the impoverished not always accurate.
Illegal Fair Price stores: To sell food grains in the open market, the store operators have produced a sizable number of fictitious cards or ghost cards (cards for nonexistent customers).
Food grain shipment leaks and is diverted.
Distribution, procurement, and generational distribution of food are uneven. For instance, the north-eastern states are relatively far from Punjab and Haryana, the sources of wheat. Food grain transportation from Punjab to remote regions of the North East will be expensive and time-consuming.
Good-quality grains are frequently swapped out with inexpensive, low-quality grains.
Only a few food grains, such wheat and rice, are distributed through the public system, which does not provide a full diet.
Owner of Fair Price Shop purchases fictitious Ration cards and sells food commodities in the open market.
PDS reforms carried out by the government:
Digitalized ration cards linked to Aadhaar: This enables online beneficiary data submission and verification. Additionally, it permits online monitoring of beneficiaries’ monthly allocations and food grain consumption.
Computerised Fair Price Shops: The installation of a “Point of Sale” system to exchange the ration card made FPS automated. It verifies the recipients and keeps track of how much grain aid was delivered to each home.
DBT: The Direct Benefit Transfer scheme substitutes a cash transfer for the food grain subsidy component by transferring money to the beneficiaries’ accounts. They will have the freedom to purchase food grains from any vendor in the marketplace. The States/UTs would need to finish digitising beneficiary data and seed Aadhaar and bank account information before implementing this strategy. Cash transfers alone are thought to be capable of saving the government’s coffers 30,000 crores of rupees annually.
Utilisation of GPS technology: The use of GPS technology to track the motion of trucks transporting food grains from state stockpiles to FPS can aid in preventing diversion.
SMS-based monitoring: Enables citizens to keep track of TPDS commodities by registering their mobile numbers and sending and receiving SMS alerts when the commodities are being delivered.
Public grievance redressal mechanisms, such as a toll-free number for call centres to submit complaints or ideas, can be used through a web-based citizens’ portal.
Priority should be given to making sure that FCI operates in a quick and efficient manner in accordance with the Shanta Kumar Committee’s recommendations.
The nation must develop a 100 lakh tonne storage silo capacity. RITES has been tasked with modifying the silo model in this regard, and they will deliver their recommendations to FCI in 90 days.
In addition to contractual employment, FCI currently employs three other types of workers: departmental, Daily Payment System (DPS), and No Work, No Pay (NWNP) personnel. The Indian government is considering concluding the three disparate arrangements and bringing all FCI employees under a single, uniform structure that will guarantee everyone’s salary and tenure security.
A Human Resource Management System (HRMS) must be put into place in order to enhance the use of information technology at FCI.
PDS has contributed to socioeconomic justice by assisting in the reduction of hunger, malnutrition, and anaemia among the BPL population, women, children, and the poorest of the poor. The efficiency of PDS will be further improved by the use of ICT to decrease touchpoints.
4. Although the National Mission on Edible Oils and Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) may succeed in achieving the much-desired palm oil self-sufficiency, there are other underlying political, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges. Analyse it critically. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II – Government Policies and Interventions
Studies on Southeast Asia’s agricultural development have revealed that growing oil palm plantations are a significant factor in the region’s diminishing biodiversity. In 2020, Indonesia lost 1,15,495 hectares of forest, primarily due to oil palm plantations.
Indonesia lost 91,54,000 hectares of its primary forest cover between 2002 and 2018.
Additionally to having a negative effect on the nation’s biodiversity, it has contributed to an increase in water contamination.
Regarding rising carbon emission levels and causing climate change, the shrinking forest cover has severe ramifications.
850 different bird species are known to reside in the Northeast.
The area is known for its citrus fruits, medicinal plants, and unusual plants and herbs.
It features 51 different kinds of woodlands, to start. Government studies have also emphasised the Northeast’s abundant biodiversity.
The region’s wealth could be destroyed by the palm oil strategy.
The palm oil mission seeks to completely transform the farming system of Northeast India, which is in direct conflict with the government’s commitments made under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, which calls for “making agriculture more productive, sustainable, remunerative, and climate resilient by promoting location specific integrated/composite farming systems.”
Government policy and traditional land rights are at odds because of palm oil plantations.
Such rights are important sources of income for people who depend on the forest.
Increased land-related conflicts between government representatives, communities, and agro-business groups have occurred in Malaysia and Indonesia as a result of legislation that permits the clearance of tree cover and cutting forests for growing palm trees.
The oil palm effort may cause unrest in the politically delicate Indian states in the north-east.
Social and economic effects:
The first official support for such a crop causes a significant and rapid shift in the current cropping pattern, which is not always in sync with the agro-ecological circumstances and food requirements of the region. Such initiatives therefore go against the idea of community self-reliance.
Studies have demonstrated that households relying on palm oil farming become vulnerable in the event of changes in the price of palm oil globally; yet, they are still able to survive with the aid of pro-active state intervention.
A large portion of small landowners still rely on alternative revenue sources.
In other words, such a change in agriculture does not support itself, and it leaves local populations exposed to outside forces and vulnerable.
The yield is increased by irrigation. As an illustration, production of groundnut oil fluctuates widely even if only 20–25% of the crop is irrigated. In contrast to rapeseed-mustard crops, which have 70–75% irrigation cover, soybean oil has been able to contribute what it has while having less than 1% of the crop under irrigation during 2003–2004 and 2013–2014.
focused attention based on the agro-climatic conditions and encouraging farmers to grow the appropriate crop for the area. For instance, India imports the most oil palm from South-east Asian nations.
It is necessary to use agro-ecological practises like System of Crop Intensification and Relay Cropping on a large scale. Not only will this boost productivity, but it will also use less water and lower farming costs for farmers.
Productivity can be increased with better extension systems that have downward accountability and last mile extension gaps filled, as is the case with many agro-ecology based schemes. CRPs are community-level resource persons who are currently engaged in farming.
In states like Andhra Pradesh, community planning processes and institutional frameworks have made it possible to use scarce resources like groundwater for emergency irrigation for groundnut farming more effectively. These need to be widely reproduced.
Farmers will be encouraged by higher net returns thanks to domestic pricing, remunerative prices, assured procurement, and higher import levies for imported oil.
Policies and initiatives like NMOOP and ISOPOM encourage the per-hectare cultivation of oilseeds.
Encourage private sector involvement in oilseed crop processing and value addition. Constraints for low-capacity utilisation should also be taken into consideration.
Studying and Developing:
To revitalise the oil sector, it is necessary to broaden the area of research, spread technology, and institutional involvement.
Increasing public research funding in oilseed crops for the creation of strains resistant to biotic and abiotic stress is one aspect of this.
India must develop its own self-sufficient edible oil industry as part of its Aatmanirbharta. Farmers must receive specific WTO-compliant incentives to boost the nation’s production of oilseeds in order to guarantee domestic cultivation.
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