National Current Affairs – UPSC/IAS Exams- 2nd December 2019
In News: Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar failed to give government’s definition of farmers when it was asked in Parliament recently.
More on the Topic:
- The Agriculture Minister evaded giving any definition of a farmer and instead said agriculture is a State subject. He provided data on the number of agricultural landholdings and noted that the Centre provides income support to all farmer families who own cultivable land, that is, via the PM-KISAN scheme.
- The number of land holdings do not necessarily equate with the number of farming households.
Definition according to National Policy for Farmers:
- It was drafted by the National Commission of Farmers headed by M.S. Swaminathan and officially approved by the Centre in 2007 following consultations with the States.
- It says, “For the purpose of this Policy, the term ‘FARMER’ will refer to a person actively engaged in the economic and/or livelihood activity of growing crops and producing other primary agricultural commodities and will include all agricultural operational holders, cultivators, agricultural labourers, sharecroppers, tenants, poultry and livestock rearers, fishers, beekeepers, gardeners, pastoralists, non-corporate planters and planting labourers, as well as persons engaged in various farming related occupations such as sericulture, vermiculture and agro-forestry. The term will also include tribal families / persons engaged in shifting cultivation and in the collection, use and sale of minor and non-timber forest produce.”
Problems associated with not having a “comprehensive definition for farmers”
- It was noted that dairy farmers, fisherfolk, fruit and flower growers, as well as landless agricultural workers who cultivate the land belonging to others, would not fit into a narrow definition where farmers are linked to ownership of land alone.
- The government’s ambiguity has serious implications for the design and beneficiaries of the schemes meant to help them, including its flagship PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi).
- Most schemes meant for farmers’ welfare, including the procurement of wheat and paddy at minimum support prices, are effectively available only for land owners. Even in death, those who work on the land may not be identified as farmers for the purposes of counting farmer suicides.
- According to Census 2011, there are 11.8 crore cultivators and 14.4 crore agricultural workers.
- Crop insurance and loan waivers go to loanees so they are left out of that as well. Access to subsidised crop inputs is difficult without identification as farmers. In the event of crop failure, compensation is only given to owners.
- Linking the identity of a farmer to land ownership has devastating consequences for women farmers. Some studies estimate that 60%-70% of farmers are actually women, but their names are rarely on ownership documents.
- There is a need to convert the M.S. Swaminathan Commission’s definition into a legal and actionable tool for identification.
- Already, the revenue department is supposed to annually record who is actually cultivating each piece of land. In an era of GPS, GIS and Aadhaar, this should not be that difficult. It just needs strong political will.
- Apart from adding inclusion criteria other than land-ownership, the Centre must add exclusion criteria so absentee landlords are left out.
- Otherwise, the farmer who actually takes the risk gets no support, but those who treat land as an investment or speculation get all the benefits.
Topic: Polity and Governance
In News: Over last few days, the Prime Minister, President, Vice President and Law Minister have been stressing Fundamental Duties.
More on the Topic:
- The Fundamental Duties were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the Constitution 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, during Emergency under Indira Gandhi’s government. Today, there are 11 Fundamental Duties described under Article 51-A, of which 10 were introduced by the 42nd Amendment and the 11th was added by the 86th Amendment in 2002.
- These are statutory duties, not enforceable by law, but a court may take them into account while adjudicating on a matter. The idea behind their incorporation was to emphasise the obligation of the citizen in exchange for the Fundamental Rights that he or she enjoys. The concept of Fundamental Duties is taken from the Constitution of Russia.
Topic: Environment and Ecology
In News: Operation Clean Art was the first pan India operation to crackdown on the smuggling of mongoose hair in the country.
More on the Topic:
- The mongoose is listed in Schedule II Part 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and any smuggling or possession of its body part is a non-bailable offence.
- Mongoose hair is smuggled for making paint brushes.
- An adult mongoose yields over 30-40 gm of long hair, from which only 20-25 gm of “brush-making hair” is recovered.
- Operation Clean Art was conceived by WCCB with the singular aim of ensuring that the mongoose hair brush trade should be closed down across the country.
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: India must accelerate implementation of its National Action Plan on anti-microbial resistance to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics in disease-causing germs.
More on the topic:
- Antibiotics have saved millions of lives till date. Unfortunately, they are now becoming ineffective as many infectious diseases have ceased to respond to antibiotics. In their quest for survival and propagation, common bugs develop a variety of mechanisms to develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
- Resistant bugs has the potential to make fatal even minor infections. Complex surgeries such as organ transplantation and cardiac bypass might become difficult to undertake because of untreatable infectious complications that may result post-surgery.
- Development and dissemination of new antibiotics has virtually dried out. No new class of antibiotics has been discovered in the past three decades. The reason is simple.
- Availability of a new antibiotic takes 10-12 years and an investment of $1 billion. Once it comes into the market, its indiscriminate use swiftly results in resistance, rendering it useless.
Human’s role in Anti biotic Resistance:
- The resistance to antibiotics in germs is a man-made disaster. Irresponsible use of antibiotics is rampant in human health, animal health, fisheries, and agriculture.
- While in humans antibiotics are primarily used for treating patients, they are used as growth promoters in animals, often because they offer economic shortcuts that can replace hygienic practices.
- Globally, use of antibiotics in animals is expected to increase by 67% by 2030 from 2010 levels.
- The Sustainable Development Goals have articulated the importance of containing AMR. Similar articulations have been made by the UN general Assembly, G7, G20, EU, ASEAN and other such economic and political platforms. Earlier, the O’Neill report on AMR warned that inaction in containing AMR is likely to result in annual mortality reaching 10 million people and a 3.5% fall in global GDP by 2050.
- Inter-country development agencies (WHO, FAO, and World Organisation for Animal Health) developed a Global Action Plan on AMR.
- India developed its National Action Plan on AMR (NAP) in 2017. It is based on the One Health approach, which means that human health, animal health and the environment sectors have equal responsibilities and strategic actions in combating AMR.
- The Indian government banned the manufacture, sale and use of colistin in the poultry industry. Colistin is considered the last-resort medicine to treat a person with life-threatening infection.
Way Ahead of India:
- Implementation of India’s NAP needs to be accelerated. The health of humans and animals falls in the domain of State authorities, and this adds complexity to the nationwide response.
- The magnitude of the problem in India remains unknown. Surveillance networks have been established in human health and animal health (with help of FAO).
- It is critical to expand and surveillance networks.
- There is an urgent need to augment capacity for regulatory mechanisms, infection control practices and diagnostics support, availability and use of guidelines for therapy, biosecurity in animal rearing practices and understanding the role of the environment and the engagement of communities. For this, the world must launch a global movement to contain AMR.
Topic: International Relations
In News: India and Japan held their first ever Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue (2+2) in New Delhi.
More on the Topic:
- The 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue is an upgrade of meeting between foriegn and defence secretaries of two countries, the first round of which took place in 2010. This upgradation was followed after an agreement was reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during 13th India-Japan Annual Summit held in Japan in October 2018.
- Dialogue provided an opportunity for two countries to review the status of as well as exchange further views on strengthening defence and security cooperation between India and Japan so as to provide greater depth to ‘India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership’.
- Both sides also exchanged their views on situation regarding Indo-Pacific region as well as their respective efforts under India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and Japan’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision’ for achieving their shared objective of progress, peace prosperity, to realise a better future for people of two countries and region.
In News: The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has announced institution of the first National Startup Awards.
More on the Topic:
- The National Startup Awards seek to recognize and reward outstanding startups and ecosystem enablers that are building innovative products or solutions, with high potential of employment generation or wealth creation, demonstrating measurable social impact.
- The National Startup Awards will also reward exceptional Incubators and Accelerators as key building blocks of a robust startup ecosystem.
- The awards for startups will be given in 35 areas, classified into 12 broad sectors like agriculture, education, enterprise technology, energy, finance, food, health, Industry 4.0, space, security, tourism, and urban services.
- In addition, there are three special awards for startups from educational institutions, making impact in rural areas and women entrepreneurs.
Topic: Personalities in News
In News: Udham sigh was mentioned during recent discussion in the parliament.
More on the Topic:
- He was Born in Sunam in Punjab’s Sangrur district in 1899.
- He was a political activist who got associated with the Ghadar Party while in the US.
- In 1934, Singh made his way to London with the purpose of assassinating O’Dwyer, who in 1919 had been the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab and unsurprisingly, Singh considered O’Dwyer to be responsible for the massacre.
- Instead of Dyer, who instructed his men to open fire at the crowd gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, O’Dwyer is considered to be the actual perpetrator, since Dyer could not have executed it without his permission.
- On March 13, 1940 Singh shot O’Dwyer at a meeting of the East India Association and the Royal Central Asian Society at Caxton Hill.
- He was sentenced to death and was hanged on July 31, 1940 at Pentonville Prison.
|Ghadar Party was a multi-ethnic party was believed to have communist tendencies and was founded by Sohan Singh Bhakna in 1913. Headquartered in California. It was committed to the ouster of the British from India.|
Model Mains Question: Critically analyse the Gadharite movement.