CURRENT AFFAIRS: FEBRUARY 2013

Current Affairs: February 2013

NATIONAL AFFAIRS


Economic Survey, 2013. Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan’s first ever Economic Survey was tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2013, by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. According to the Survey, WPI inflation is seen declining to 6.2-6.6 percent by March, which could create more room for rate cuts going ahead. It pegs growth at 6.1 and 6.6 percent in FY14. Though problem areas are recognised, the survey seems to provide a sense of optimism within the current macro-economic framework.

Highlights:

  • FY13 GDP growth seen at 5%.
  • Indian economy likely to grow at 6.1-6.7% in FY14.
  • Growth downturn more or less over; economy looking up.
  • WPI inflation may decline to 6.2-6.6% in March.
  • Food inflation mainly driven by cereal prices.
  • Oil subsidy key fiscal risk; needs to be addressed.
  • Need to up diesel, LPG prices in-line with global rates.
  • Economic slowdown a wake-up call for stepping up reforms.
  • Room to increase exports limited in short-term.
  • Need to curb gold imports to cut current account deficit.
  • Financial sector to be influenced by short-term/long-term factors.
  • Fund flows to be influenced by risk perception of investors.
  • Revival of investment in industry, infra key challenge.
  • Industry growth still vulnerable to local, global factors.
  • Impact of policy easing may not lead to inflation surge.
  • Tax mop-up slippage can be lowered with additional efforts.
  • Inflation expectation anchored around current inflation targets.
  • India’s GDP growth seen around 5% in 2012-13.
  • India’s GDP growth seen at 6.1-6.7% in 2013-14.
  • India government target for fiscal deficit is 4.8 pct of GDP in 2013-14.
  • India government target for fiscal deficit is 3 pct of GDP in 2016-17.
  • Raising tax to GDP ratio to more than 11 pct seen as critical for sustaining fiscal consolidation.
  • Recommends curbing gold imports to reign in current account deficit.
  • Foreign InsAtitutional Investors (FIIs) flows need to be targeted towards long-term rupee instruments.
  • India’s industrial output seen growing around 3% in 2012-13.

Union Budget 2013. On February 28, 2013, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram presented the Union Budget in the Parliament. While it was a job well-done on the fiscal front, the Budget failed strategically in certain critical areas and in comforting domestic equity markets. The Finance Minister met the fiscal deficit target for FY2013 RE with 5.2% (as % of GDP), as against the budget estimate of 5.3%, despite 18% increase in the subsidy burden in FY2013—it is noteworthy to know that the progress is not only in terms of ratio of GDP but also in absolute terms. Fiscal deficit in absolute terms is up just by 1.4% in FY2013 RE over FY2013 BE and merely 1% over the actual fiscal deficit in FY2012, despite about 122% increase in petroleum subsidy alone. The government spent only 96% of budgeted expenditures in FY2013 RE and is committed to bring down fiscal imbalances significantly in FY2014. All four major deficit parameters viz., Fiscal Deficit (overall deficit), Revenue Deficit (overall deficit without accounting for borrowings), Effective Revenue Deficit (Revenue deficit excluding Capital assets creating Grants from Revenue account) and Primary Deficit (overall deficit excluding interest payments) are expected to come down. In absolute terms also Revenue Deficit, Effective Revenue Deficit and Primary Deficits are expected to fall by 2.9%, 23.1% and 15.9%, respectively. Only overall Fiscal Deficit is expected to go up marginally, by 4.1% in absolute terms. Subsidy bill is expected to be contained at 2% in FY2014 BE, as against 2.6% in FY2013 RE—in absolute terms projected to fall by 10.3%, not an impossible task considering commitment to raise diesel price periodically, implementation of Cash Transfer Scheme and possible fall in crude oil prices due to global slowdown.

The Finance Minister earmarked Rs.33,000 crore for MNREG (welfare schemes) for FY2014 BE, same level as maintained in FY2013 RE. He has reduced number of Centrally Sponsored Schemes to 70 from 173, and also committed to review them every two years. The Plan expenditure is projected to grow by 29.4%, whereas Non-Plan expenditure to grow only by 10.8%. Revenue expenditure (mostly non-asset creating expenses) to grow 13.7%, as against 36.6% increase for Capital expenditures (mostly reduce liability or to create assets). The government’s responsibility towards a good budget and its concern regarding the stressful situation for the corporate and individuals was also evident from the way the fresh tax burden was imposed. 10% surcharge has been imposed on super-rich (with annual income of more than Rs one crore) for one year. Tax on royalty and fees on foreign companies has been increased from 10% to 25%. Service tax has been imposed on AC restaurants. Excise duty on cigarettes has been increased by 18%. Service tax abatement rate has been reduced to 70%, from 75%,which means individual who buy a house worth more than Rs one crore have to shell out additionally Rs50,000.

The overall tax revenues are expected to go up by 19.1% which is a comfortable growth target for the economy. On non-tax revenues the government is expecting a good growth of 32.8% on the back of increased surplus with the RBI to the tune of Rs 43,996.24 crore for FY14, versus Rs 25,446.75 crore in FY13, a growth of 73% y-o-y.  Other significant contribution to the non-tax revenues comes from the telecom auctions which were not completed in FY13 owing to the high price of the spectrum. The telecom auctions and license fees are expected to garner Rs. 40,847 crore in FY14E.  The government was able to divest close to Rs. 24,000 crores in FY13 through successful OFS of various companies like NMDC, NTPC, etc. Buoyed by the sentiment in FY13 the government would continue to divest its holding in various public sector enterprises and has increased the divestment target of PSUs to Rs 40,000 crore.  The Finance Minister also mentioned his intent to improve the tax to GDP ratio to the 2007-08 peak of 11.9%, from 5.5% (for direct taxes) and 4.4% for indirect taxes seen in 2011-12.

Other significant measures for the benefit of economic growth and promoting foreign investments are: 15% deduction as investment allowance for the companies which buy plant and machinery worth more than Rs.100 cr; almost freezing defence outlays, a significant component of total expenditure, over FY2013BE; classifying foreign investments more than 10% in a company as FDI—this will promote more inflows from the FIIs; tax-free infra bonds limit raised to Rs 50,000 crore, from Rs 25,000 crore earlier. There were no significant measures to boost households’ financial savings, nor encouragement to the domestic investors in the form of abolishing, reducing short term capital gain tax or doing away with the STT, considering the fact that the retail investors are shying away from the domestic equity markets. No credible commitments have been made to contain current account deficits, nor have any substantial measures been proposed to promote the infrastructure outlays with help of private sector – like allowing large banks to issue tax-free bonds, etc.

Key features

  • Tax Administration Reforms Commissions to be set up.
  • Relief to tax payers with income between Rs 2 lakh-5 lakh with tax credit of Rs 2,000.
  • Surcharge of 10% on people with taxable income of Rs 1 crore or more.
  • Education cess for all tax payers to continue at 3 per cent.
  • Power sector tax holiday extended.
  • TDS of one per cent on transaction of property over Rs 50 lakh. Not to be applicable to agriculture.
  • Securities transaction tax on equity futures cut from 0.17 to 0.1 per cent
  • Commodities transaction tax on non-agriculture future contracts at 0.01 per cent.
  • E-filing of tax returns to be made mandatory for more sectors.
  • Royalty tax hiked from 10% to 25%.
  • Import duty on set-top boxes increased to 10% from 5%
  • Duty on imported goods like motor vehicles, yatchs and motor cycles increased
  • Excise duty on SUVs hiked to 30 per cent from 27 per cent. No duty on those used as taxi.
  • All silver to attract excise of 4 per cent.
  • Mobile phones priced over Rs 2,000 to attract 6 per cent duty.
  • Service tax on all A/C restaurants with over 2,000 sq ft.
  • Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme for Service Tax payers.
  • Direct Taxes after changes will yield Rs 13,300 crore and indirect taxes Rs 4,700 crore.
  • Rs 9,000 crore for balance CST compensation to the States.
  • An additional sum of Rs 200 crore for women and child-welfare schemes to end discrimination.
  • Nirbhaya Fund of Rs 1,000 crore—for women and girl child related schemes.
  • Rs 150 crore proposed for health scheme for old. Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy to be mainstreamed; stresses on care for elderly (geriatric care).
  • Education to get Rs 65,867 crore, 17 per cent more than previous year. Mid-day meal scheme will get Rs 13,215 crore; Child development scheme to get Rs 17,700 crore, which is 11.2 per cent higher than previous year.
  • Clean drinking water and sanitation to get over Rs 15,000 crore.
  • MNREGS to get about Rs 33,000 crore.
  • Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana II announced for Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan. States that have completed PMGSY will be eligible for PMGSY 2.
  • Rural Development Schemes to get Rs 80,194 crore.
  • Agriculture sector to get Rs 24,049 crore.
  • Interest subvention scheme—Rs 1,000 crore for Eastern States growing rice.
  • Allocation to agricultural ministry increased 22 per cent, to Rs 27,049 crore for 2013-14.
  • Agricultural Research to get Rs 3,415 crore in 2013-14.
  • Farmers Producers Organisations to get matching grant, and credit enhancement scheme
  • Over and above food subsidy, Rs 10,000 crore set apart for food security Bill.
  • Credit disbursement to farmers targeted at Rs 7 lakh crore in 2013-14.
  • Budget 2013-14 proposes Rs 5,000 crore for NABARD to finance construction of warehouses, cold storage silos to store agriculture produce.
  • RIDF corpus to be increased to Rs 20,000 crore, from Rs 19,000 crore.
  • Infra Debt Fund to be encouraged to provide long term, low cost funds. Of the four IDFs registered, two have been launched.
  • Scheme to allow cities and municipalities to take up waste to energy projects on PPP mode. Waste to energy projects undertaken by municipalities to get viability gap funding.
  • Low cost finance for renewable energy projects. Life span for five years. Rs 800 crore for generation-based incentives for wind energy.
  • Low interest bearing funds from National Clean Energy Fund to IREDA to lend for clean energy projects.
  • New criteria to define backward regions: per capita, literacy and other human development indicators.
  • Defence allocation increased to Rs 2,03,672 crore. Department of Space to get Rs 5,615 crore; Rs 6,275 crore allocated to the Ministry of Science and Technology; Atomic Energy to get Rs 5,880 crore.
  • An independent authority for the road transport sector has been proposed. About 3,000 km of roads to be awarded in the first six months of 2013-14.
  • Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor proposed with Japanese funding support.
  • Stating that five inland waterways have been declared as national, the river in Assam will be the sixth.
  • Two new ports will be set up—one in Sagar in West Bengal and another one in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Tax free bonds in 2013-14 up to Rs 50,000 crore.
  • Income limit for tax-savings under Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme raised to Rs 12 lakh from Rs 10 lakh. Inflation-indexed bonds will be announced on June 1.
  • First time home buyers, taking loan of up to Rs 25 lakh in FY 13-14, will get additional interest benefit of Rs 1 lakh.
  • NELP will be reviewed to move from profit sharing to revenue sharing and gas pricing policy will be reviewed.
  • SIDBI will get more funds to provide finance to MSMEs; corpus of Rs 500 crore proposed for SIDBI to set up credit guarantee fund.
  • Rs 50 crore for apparel parks proposed.
  • Funds provided to technology incubators located in educational institutes approved by DST, MSME to be counted as Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • Women in handloom sector to get working capital and term loans at concessional interest of 6 per cent.
  • Rs 50 crore for environment schemes for textile units; Rs 96 crore for Textile Ministry interest subvention.
  • India’s first public sector bank for women proposed with Rs 1,000 crore as initial capital.
  • Rs 2,000 crore for urban housing fund to be set up by NHB.
  • Private FM channels to reach 294 new cities, 839 new channels to be auctioned in 2013-14. All cities with over one lakh population will be covered by private channels.
  • Central Sponsored Scheme to be restructured. Numbers to be brought down to 70 from 173.
  • Over Rs 400 crore to make to make Post Offices IT-linked and provide real-time based banking services.
  • Rs 250 crore to set up National Institute of Sports Coaching at Patiala.
  • Insurance companies will be allowed to open branches in Tier two cities without IRDA’s approval. LIC will be allowed to open branches in all towns with over population of 10,000.
  • RSBY will cover auto-rickshaw pullers, taxi drivers, sanitation workers, rag pickers.

Railway Budget 2013. Rail Budget 2013 was presented by Railway Minister P.K. Bansal on February 26, 2013.
The highlights of the Railway Budget are:

  • Special coaches, called “Anubhuti”, equipped with luxurious services, to be introduced in select trains.
  • A new train, “Azadi Express” to places linked with the freedom struggle to be introduced, fares to be concessional.
  • Allocation of Rs 1,000 crore each made for Railway Land Development Authority and Railway Station Development Authority.
  • Common rail-bus ticket to be introduced for Katra-Vaishnodevi pilgrims.
  • Railway energy management company to be set up to harness solar and wind energy.
  • 1,000 crossings to be energised by solar power.
  • 1.51 lakh vacancies to be filled up.
  • Locomotive cabs to be air-conditioned.
  • India has joined China, Russia and the US as 1 billion-plus tonne freight carrier using Railways.
  • By end of 2013-14, 1,500 km of contracts to be awarded for two dedicated rail corridors.
  • Rs.1 lakh crore target set for public-private-partnership route.
  • Free Wi-Fi to be provided on some trains.
  • Rs.100 crore for improving stations in New Delhi.
  • SMS alerts for passengers on reservation status.
  • Next generation e-ticketing system by end of 2013.
  • Corporate plan for 10 years to be drawn up.
  • 10 per cent reservation in Railway Protection Force (RPF) for women.
  • Six more Rail Neer bottling plants to be set up.
  • Losses mounted from Rs.22,500 crore in 2011-12 to Rs.24,600 crore in 2012-13.
  • 12th Plan railway size to be Rs 5.19 lakh crore, with gross budgetary support of Rs 1.94 lakh crore.
  • 5.2 per cent growth in passenger traffic expected in 2013-14
  • Railway hopes to end 2013-14 with a balance of Rs 12,506 crore.
  • Fall in accidents-per million accidents down from .41 to .13.
  • Aim to eliminate 31,846 level crossings.
  • Dynamic fuel adjustment component to be introduced on freight rates from April 1, 2013, that will result in less than five per cent increase in rates.
  • Identification of 104 stations for upgradation in places with more than one million population and of religious significance.
  • 67 new express trains to be introduced; 27 passenger trains, 8 DEMUs.
  • Rs 9000 crore investments expected, including Rs 3,800 crore in port connectivity and Rs 800 crore in iron ore mines connectivity.
  • Indian Railway Institute for Financial Management to be set up at Secunderabad to train rail officers on a regular basis.
  • Forged Wheel Factory at Rae Bareli in collaboration with Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited.
  • Greenfield Mainline Electrical Multiple Units (MEMU) manufacturing facility at Bhilwara (Rajasthan) in collaboration with State Government and BHEL.
  • Coach Manufacturing Unit in Sonepat District (Haryana) in collaboration with State Government.
  • Midlife Rehabilitation Workshop at Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh) in collaboration with the State Government.
  • Bikaner and Pratapgarh workshops to undertake POH of BG wagons.
  • Workshop for repair and rehabilitation of motorized bogies at Misrod (Madhya Pradesh).
  • Wagon maintenance workshop in Kalahandi (Odisha).
  • Modern signalling equipment facility at Chandigarh through PPP route.
  • Upgrading another 60 stations as Adarsh Stations in addition to 980 already selected.
  • Centralized Catering Services Monitoring Cell set up with a toll free number (1800 111 321).
  • Introduction of executive lounge at 7 more stations, namely, Bilaspur, Visakhapatnam, Patna, Nagpur, Agra, Jaipur and Bengaluru.
  • Railway Energy Management Company to be set up to harness solar and wind energy.
  • Railways’ freight loading traffic scaled down by 100 million tonnes from 1025 million tonnes because of economic slowdown.
  • North-eastern State of Arunachal Pradesh will be added to the country’s railway map with the laying of the first track from Harmoti in Assam to Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh. The track is likely to be commissioned within 2013-14.

Budget Estimates 2013-14. Freight loading of 1047 MT, 40 MT more than 2012-13.
– Passenger growth: 5.2 per cent. Gross Traffic Receipts: Rs 1,43,742 cr, an increase of 18,062 cr over RE, 2012-13.
– Ordinary Working Expenses: Rs 96,500 cr.- Appropriation to DRF at Rs 7,500 cr and to Pension Fund at Rs 22,000 cr.- Dividend payment estimated at Rs 6,249 cr.
– Operating Ratio to be 87.8 per cent.
– Fund Balances to exceed Rs 12,000 cr.
Annual Plan 2013-14– Highest ever plan outlay of RS 63,363 cr.
– Gross Budgetary Support: Rs 26,000 cr
– Railway Safety Fund: Rs 2,000 cr
– Internal Resources: Rs 14,260 cr.
– EBR—Market Borrowing: Rs 15,103 cr.
– EBR—PPP: Rs 6,000 cr.
– 500 km new lines, 750 km doubling, 450 km gauge conversion targeted in 2013-14.
– Loan of Rs 3,000 cr repaid fully.
– 347 projects prioritized with assured funding.
– A new fund—Debt Service Fund—set up to meet committed liabilities.
– Target to create fund balance of Rs 30,000 cr in the terminal year of the 12th Plan.

RBI allows for new banks to be opened
Corporates, conglomerates—whether in the public or private sectors—as also Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) can now apply for a banking licence using a Non-Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC) structure.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued final guidelines for new banks on February 22, 2013. It refrained from restricting entities that had a significant presence in the real estate and broking sectors from setting up a bank, although it had put in some caveats in the draft guidelines.

RBI has stipulated that the new banks cannot have any exposure—whether credit or investments in debt or equity—to the “promoters, group entities or individuals associated with the promoter group or the NOFHC” and will count on feedback from investigative and tax agencies to issue licences on a “very selective basis”.

The NOFHC must hold a minimum of 40% of the paid-up equity capital of the bank for five years, with the stake being pared to 15% within 12 years. A minimum initial capital of Rs 500 crore is needed to set up a bank, and 25% of the branches need to be located in unbanked arees.

RBI has also tightened foreign holdings in new banks by capping the aggregate stakes of non-resident Indians, FDI and FIIS at 49% for the first five years. Currently, foreign direct investment of up to 74% is allowed in private banks.

To prevent round-tripping and circular movement of funds in the banking group, RBI has said that the financial entities held by the NOFHC should not have any exposure—credit and investments—to promoters or promoter-group entities or individuals associated with the promoter group or the NOFHC.

The new banks would be governed by all the existing prudential norms including Basel II and priority sector rules, the RBI said.

Major highlights:

  • Private and public sector entities & NBFCs can apply.
  • Minimum paid-up equity capital of Rs 500 crore required.
  • No curbs on brokerages and real estate companies.
  • NOFHC must cut stake in new bank to 15% in 12 years.
  • Total foreign stake capped at 49% for first five years.
  • NOFHC can hold up to 40% for up to 5 years.
  • Banks must list within 3 years of starting operations.

State Elections
Tripura: On February 28, 213, the Left Front retained power in Tripura for the fifth consecutive time, sweeping 50 of the 60 seats and leaving the Congress badly bruised with just 10 seats. The CPI-M bagged 49 seats while the Communist Party of India (CPI) won one seat. The Left has ruled Tripura since 1978 barring one term (1988-93). Manik Sarkar was re-elected as the Chief Minister.

It was the best result for the Left since 1978, when it won a record 56 seats. While the Congress managed to retain its 2008 tally of 10 seats, its ally the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) drew blank. The Trinamool Congress, which fielded 22 candidates in 2008, did not contest this time to prevent a split in non-Left votes. But even that did not help the Congress. Tripura had made history when a record 93.57 percent of the 2.3 million voters exercised their franchise February 14.

Nagaland: The Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) won 37 seats to retain control of the 60-member Assembly in Nagaland.

The NPF is the main constituent of the ruling DAN government. Congress (I), the main opposition party, could win only eight seats. A partner in the DAN, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won one seat while the Janata Dal-United got one seat.

Meghalaya: Congress (I) emerged as the single largest party securing 29 seats in the 60-member Assembly.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma retained his Ampati constituency for the fifth successive term. The electoral battle proved fatal for former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma’s NPP as only two of its 32 candidates won.

Centre notifies Cauvery Tribunal Award
The Union Government as directed by the Supreme Court on February 19, 2013, notified the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and this is expected to set in motion another round of confrontation between the two riparian States—Karnataka and Tamil Nadu—which have been in serious dispute for over three decades.

The Supreme Court had accused the Centre of abdicating its duty by not notifying the six-year-old final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and directed it to do so by February 20.

The Union Government has also gazetted the notification which is mandatory.

With the final award having been notified it is evident that the Union Government has to necessarily pave the way for the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board, under an Act of Parliament.

The award prescribes the constitution of a board for the overall management of the Cauvery basin reservoirs in the two States which in a way will be a successor to the Cauvery River Authority presently functioning under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. The award also orders the formation of a Cauvery Water Regulation Committee which will be a successor to the Cauvery Monitoring Committee. Both the board and the regulation committee are expected to function under the direct charge of the Central Water Commission although they will comprise of representatives of all the four riparian States—Karnataka , Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Puducherry.

Gazetting of the final notification will result in the State government losing supervisory control over the four Cauvery basin reservoirs—the Krishnarajasagar , Hemavathi, Kabini and the Harangi reservoirs. In other words, Karnataka cannot exercise the option to release water to Tamil Nadu only after it had a sufficient storage in the reservoirs, particularly in the years of distress.

Sexual Harassment Bill passed

On February 26, 2013, Parliament passed the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, with the Rajya Sabha approving the legislation. It was approved by the Lok Sabha in September 2012.

The Bill covers under its list of offences sexual remarks, demand for sexual favour, or any act of physical advance or an unwelcome touch. Internal complaint committee will be mandatory for organisations with 10 or more employees. Employers not adhering to the rules will face Rs 50,000 fine and stricter penalties for repeated violations. The law also provides for action against complainant under service rules for false or malicious complaint. Clients, customers, apprentice, daily wage workers entering the workplace are also covered.

Visit of French President
President of France Francois Hollande arrived in New Delhi on February 14, 2013. During his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, France and India reiterated their commitment to the early implementation of the Jaitapur nuclear power project and speedy conclusion of the over $10-billion deal for 126 Rafale fighter jets.

Addressing a joint press conference with Manmohan Singh after delegation-level talks, Hollande said while France and India do not share the same kind of people or economy, they both “share the same values and principles”.

On boosting economic relations, Hollande said France wants to have “even more trade and in more fields” with India.

Manmohan Singh said India regards France as “one of its most valued strategic partners” and their relationship is “defined by the breadth and diversity of our co-operations, as well as by the intensity of our dialogue”.

Both sides also concluded negotiations on the short-range surface-to-air missile. The two countries had been discussing the surface-to-air missile, named ‘maitri’ (friendship) for more than five years. India’s DRDO and France’s MBDA are likely to jointly develop this system. The system would be deployed by the IAF and the Navy.

France and India also inked agreements in the railway sector, a cultural exchange programme, a letter of intent on intensification of cooperation in the fields of education, higher education and research and a statement of intent for long-term cooperation in space.

Under the agreement for cooperation in the field of railways, France would assist India in the upgradation of railways stations, high speed corridors and the modernisation of the railway network.

France also expressed anew its support to India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council at the earliest and also becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) and other export control bodies. The two countries decided to establish an annual dialogue between their Finance Ministers to boost bilateral economic relationship.

On Afghanistan, the two sides expressed commitment to the key principles for a peaceful inter-afghan dialogue: acceptance of the Afghan Constitution, renunciation to violence and breaking links with terrorism.

Rail link between Tripura and Bangladesh approved
On February 16, 2013, India and Bangladesh signed a pact which will enable Tripura become the second State of India to have a rail link with Bangladesh. At present, West Bengal is the only State which is connected to Bangladesh. The MoU on the Agartala-Akhaura rail link was signed during the visit of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to Bangladesh for the second Joint Consultative Commission meeting.

Akhaura, prior to 1947, served as a major link between Chittagong port and Tripura. Agartala is now linked on the Indian Railways meter gauge rail network, which will shortly be converted to broad gauge.

The linking of Akhaura and Agartala by rail was suggested in 1974 with the signing of a protocol between Bangladesh and India for cross traffic movement.

It was revived during trade talks between India and Bangladesh in December 1998. In a joint communiqué issued during Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina’s visit in January 2010, it was agreed that construction of the Akhaura-Agartala link would be financed by grant from India.

The new line would be from Agartala to Gangasagar in Bangladesh. This would involve a double line from Gangasagar to Akhaura and additional loop lines at two stations in Bangladesh—Gangasagar and Imambari.

This link would also be vital for the Trans-Asian Railway Network, of which both India and Bangladesh are members. As part of TAR, India is already constructing a 350-km rail link from Jiribam (India) to Moreh (Myanmar). Bangladesh can also benefit by using this connection.

Visit of British Prime Minister

On February 18, 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron came to India for a three-day official visit.

Among the agreements signed during the visit was an agreement to set up a joint task force to fight cyber crime, a move London hopes will help it safeguard the personal banking and mobile phone data of millions of Britons, much of which is stored on Indian servers.

Prime Minister David Cameron led the biggest business delegation from the UK, and met members of the leading chambers, CII, FICCI and Assocham in Mumbai. Mr Cameron also announced the decision to give visas to Indian businessmen in one day.

During his discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr Cameron was asked to help in ensuring an early conclusion of a fair, balanced and forward looking broad-based India-EU Trade and Investment Agreement, which will open new opportunities for trade and investment between the two countries. Mr Cameron also promised full cooperation with the investigation into alleged corruption in a helicopter deal, an issue which clouded his trip to New Delhi.

Cameron has targeted a doubling of annual bilateral trade with India, from 11.5 billion pounds ($17.8 billion) in 2010 to 23 billion pounds by the time he faces re-election in 2015.

He also stressed that there was “no limit” on the number of students who can study at British universities providing they have an offer and an English-language qualification.

India and Britain also decided to commence negotiations on a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced at the media interaction after his talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Singh also thanked Britain for its support for India’s full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) and other multilateral export control regimes.

Mr Cameron said Britain was in favour of transferring high-technology to India. The two leaders also expressed interest in cooperation with regard to India in the Global centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership.

Mr Manmohan Singh thanked Cameron for “strong personal commitment to India”— this was his second visit since becoming Prime Minister in 2010.

On February 20, David Cameron became the first serving British Prime Minister to voice regret for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, one of the bloodiest episodes in colonial India where hundreds of civilians were killed in Amritsar in 1919. He expressed the regrets during his visit to Amritsar.

Trilateral Talks—India, US mull joint projects in Afghanistan
On February 19, 2013, India, USA and Afghanistan held a trilateral dialogue in New Delhi to discuss the situation there and consider how they could jointly take up developmental projects and ensure stability in the war-ravaged nation.

Y.K. Sinha, Additional Secretary in-charge of Afghanistan, led the Indian delegation while Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin and US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake led their respective delegations.

The meeting is considered significant in diplomatic circles, in the backdrop of the drawdown by Western forces from the embattled nation in 2014. Both USA and India are concerned that Afghanistan should not slip into the hands of extremist and radical forces after the drawdown.

The meeting is also discussed ways to enhance cooperation to deal with common challenges and opportunities, including combating terrorism and violent extremism and increasing regional trade and investment.

VVIP copter purchase scandal
The arrest of the Giuseppe Orsi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of aerospace giant Finmeccanica in Italy, on graft charges, on February 12, 2013, prompted Defence Minister A.K. Antony to order a CBI probe into Rs 3,500-crore helicopter deal with the manufacturer.

India had placed an order of 12 copters for VVIP use with Augusta-Westland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica. The multi-crore deal was signed in February 2010. The first lot, comprising three copters, was delivered in December 2012, while the remaining nine would be delivered in batches by March 2014.

“Future deliveries will depend on the outcome of the CBI probe and the Ministry of Defence could evoke the integrity clause to stall the deal while imposing penalties on the maker,” top MoD sources said.

The copters supplied by Augusta are to be a part of the IAF’s Communication Squadron, which ferries the President, the Prime Minister and other VVIPs. So far, the Russian-built Mi-17 is used for VVIP duties.

“Giuseppe Orsi arrested on Monday in relation to a probe into international corruption. He is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes regarding the sale of 12 helicopters by Finmeccanica’s subsidiary Augusta-Westland to the Indian government.

Prosecutors suspect that around 50 million euros (Rs 362 crore approximately), about 10 per cent of the deal were ploughed back into kickbacks to ensure Augusta-Westland won the contract. The Italian firm had won the bid beating American chopper maker Sikorsky.

Italian investigators have also alleged that business conglomerate Finmeccanica bribed S.P. Tyagi when he was chief of the Indian Air Force to swing the controversial Agusta-Westland VVIP chopper deal in favour of the company. The allegation is made in a preliminary inquiry report of the suspected corruption in the Rs 3,546 crore deal filed by prosecutors in Italy.

The deal had been under the scanner for more than a year now after Italian media reports suggested the arrest of two alleged middlemen in Europe for paying bribes to secure it. In December 2012, Defence Minister A.K. Antony told Parliament that there were allegations of bribery in a deal to procure VVIP helicopters from Augusta-Westland, but no formal inquiry has been ordered into the case due to lack of “specific information” so far. “If any wrongdoing is found in the case, suitable measures will be taken by the ministry,” he had said.

India slips on Human Rights Index
India has been cited for deteriorating human rights situation by the foremost global watchdog of civil liberties, with New Delhi getting raked for abuses and mishandling cases ranging from the Maoist insurgence in central India to the protests against a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

Human Rights Watch’s 665-page world annual opus on the subject for 2012 also zeroed in on the rape of a Delhi medical student that convulsed the nation and brought worldwide opprobrium, saying violence against women continued unabated in India with increased reports of sexual assault.

The criticism came even as India’s ambassador to Washington Nirupama Rao wrote on op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, promising that the government is “determined to change our nation’s laws—as well as the implementation of those laws—to prevent such heinous acts in the future.”

However, the report acknowledged that the government did make progress in some areas, including new legislation to protect children from sexual abuse and stronger support for international resolutions to protect human rights in other countries, notably Sri Lanka.

 

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS


Presidential Elections in Cyprus
Conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades won an overwhelming victory in Cyprus’ presidential runoff on February 24, 2013, boosting hopes he will quickly act on his pledge to seek a bailout deal with international lenders to prevent the country’s financial meltdown.

Final election results showed Anastasiades took 57.5 percent of the vote, far ahead of his left-wing rival, the Communist-backed Stavros Malas, who finished with 42.5 percent.

Cyprus has been caught in a financial crisis aggravated by the situation in Greece. The government is seeking international help because Cypriot banks suffered huge losses from Greece’s sovereign debt restructuring. The island, which has been shut out of international financial markets since May 2011, needs about $22 billion in aid.

Cyprus has been split into an internationally recognized Greek-speaking south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Only the 545,000 eligible voters in the south could vote in the election. Many are believed to have cast blank ballots or abstained in protest.

Anti-austerity vote delivers hung Parliament in Italy and troubles for eurozone’s economy
Success in Italy for parties opposed to European Union-backed austerity policies delivered a hung Parliament on February 26, 2013, in the eurozone’s third-largest economy, raising the spectre of a prolonged period of political instability.

In the elections held on February 24-25, Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left bloc narrowly beat ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi in the lower House, but failed to secure a majority in the Senate. Control of both houses is needed to govern.

A protest movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo won a quarter of the vote.

The outcome of the election, which comes amid a deep recession and tough austerity measures, was so close that the margin of victory given in interior ministry figures was less than 1% in both houses of Parliament.

Italians have had more than a year of technocratic government under Mario Monti. But his attempts to reduce spending caused widespread public resentment and his decision to head a centrist list in the Parliamentary elections attracted little more than 10% of the vote.

It’s almost certain that the inconclusive election result will herald renewed market pressure on the country. The conflicting and confused message sent by voters is bound to trigger further effects beyond the initial plunge on the Milan stock market and an overnight hike in bond yields.

The reformist policies being pursued by Mr Monti’s outgoing technocratic government were standing between Rome and unaffordable borrowing costs. The Monti reforms were also underpinning the European Central Bank’s fragile grip on monetary stability throughout the currency area.

Now that voters have rejected those very policies, the ECB may be forced to ride to Italy’s rescue. But even this is fraught with difficulty, because the ECB can only intervene and engage in its much-vaunted “outright money transactions” if the receiving country is still pushing through a programme of reforms.

Germany would agree to nothing less. So the outcome of Italy’s election is a strong signal that the eurozone debt crisis is far from over. It could also be damaging for Ireland and Portugal—the two somewhat better-behaved members of the bailout programme. Both had hoped to take the “exit” at the end of 2013.

This election result also illustrates that the longer the hardship lasts, the more voters may be drawn to populist policies. Some 57% of Italian voters plumped for parties that explicitly oppose austerity.

Recent history suggests people are more likely to support austerity measures, if they can start to see tangible results in return for their sacrifice. Italy remains bureaucratic and highly State-regulated. A weak centre-left government, drawing on support from unions, may find it even harder to enact the kind of reforms that stand any chance of improving productivity and competitiveness.

Italy’s economy is still shrinking and its debt is forecast to rise to 128% of GDP by the end of 2013. Both the Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo political camps opposed some of the tax hikes and public spending cuts instituted by Mr Monti. Yet, even if some of these cuts were reversed, it seems doubtful that an economy that has hardly grown in two decades could be turned around anytime soon.

Reversing the most recent reforms would also signal that the new government was unwilling or unable to deal with fundamental economic problems. This in itself could lead to spiralling bond yields and the flight of capital invested in Italy could resume.

The only possible silver lining is that this latest popular backlash against Brussels-imposed austerity may force Germany and other EU partners to reconsider the pace of reforms.

EU agrees to first ever bloc budget cut
On February 8, 2013, European Union leaders agreed the first ever cut in the bloc’s budget after all-night talks driven by sharp differences over priorities for the next seven years.

Pushed by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said the EU could not increase spending while many of its members were forced to slash their national budgets, leaders agreed a cut of around three percent compared with the 2007-13 budget.

Under the accord, 2014-20 actual spending, or “payments” in EU jargon, was set at 908.4 billion euros ($1.2 trillion), with an absolute ceiling of 960 billion euros for spending “commitments” to the budget.

That is just one percent of the bloc’s gross domestic product (GDP) and is less than the figure of 973 billion euros that Cameron and allies such as the Netherlands had rejected in November.

In the EU budget process, commitments refer to the maximum amount that can be allocated to programmes, while actual spending or “payments” is usually lower because projects are sometimes delayed or dropped.

Originally, the European Commission had sought a 5.0 percent increase in commitments to 1.04 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion).

The final agreement, however, is only part of the battle because there is another important hurdle to clear—the European Parliament must approve the budget, and lawmakers are in no mood for austerity. The heads of the four largest groups in Parliament, which is to vote on the budget in July, said they could not accept it in its current form as it would not help boost the struggling EU economy.

Visit of Iranian President to Egypt
On February 6, 2013, President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the first visit to Cairo by an Iranian leader in more than three decades, called for a strategic alliance with Egypt and said he had offered the cash-strapped Arab State a loan, but drew a cool response. Ahmadinejad said outside forces were trying to prevent a rapprochement between the Middle East’s two most populous nations, at odds since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and Egypt’s signing of a peace treaty with Israel in the same year.

The two countries have not restored diplomatic ties since Egypt overthrew its long term leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but its first Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, gave Ahmadinejad a red-carpet welcome to a summit of Islamic nations.

North Korea conducts Nuclear test

On February 12, 2013, North Korea staged its most powerful nuclear test yet, claiming a breakthrough with a “miniaturised” device in a striking act of defiance to global powers, including its sole patron China.

The communist State said it had staged its third test with a “successful” underground detonation, in a riposte to what it said was US “hostility”.

Its claim of miniaturisation suggests that it is a step closer to fitting a nuclear warhead onto a ballistic missile.

The third nuclear test by a defiant North today drew sharp condemnation from the international community, including the UN, the US, Japan as well as China, the reclusive nation’s only major ally.

Analysts said the timing appeared to be an attention-grabbing calculation from a State well versed in provocative acts, coming just ahead of US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address at the start of his second term.

North Korea’s two previous tests in 2006 and 2009 had triggered waves of UN sanctions.

DO YOU KNOW


The Solicitor General (SG) is the second senior-most law officer of the country.

Airtel has announced the launch of their voice service, “Apna Chaupal”, that will provide information in regional languages on agriculture, devotion, jibs, health and education.

World Cancer Day
is observed on February 4. The 2013 theme focuses on item five of the World Cancer Declaration, adopted by the United Nations in 2011, which aspires to “dispel damaging myths and misconceptions” about the disease.


From February
6, 2013, India’s biggest air show was held in Bangalore, with titans like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sukhoi etc. bringing their wares to India’s booming market.


On February
7, 2013, the Union government sold a 9.5 per cent stake in NTPC and the auction was part of the government’s drive to raise Rs 27,000 crore in 2012-13, from selling shares in profitable public sector. The government got approximately Rs 11,430 crore from the stake sale. The government has so far raised over Rs 10,000 crore from selling stakes in NMDC (Rs 6,000 crore), HCL (Rs 800 crore), National Buildings Construction Corporation (Rs 125 crore) and Oil India (Rs 3,113 crore). This was the third time that NTPC, India’s biggest power producer with a capacity of 36GW, hit the markets in the past decade. While the company made its market debut with a listing in 2004, it launched a follow-on public offer in February 2010.

India’s per capita income, a gauge for measuring living standard, is estimated to have gone up 11.7 per cent to be Rs. 68,747 (Rs 5728 per month), as compared to Rs. 61,564 during 2011-12, as per the Advance Estimate of National Income. The per capita income in real terms (at 2004-05 constant prices) during 2012-13 is likely to attain a level of Rs. 39,143, as compared to the first revised estimate for the year 2011-12 of Rs. 38,037.

The gross
fixed capital formation (GFCF) at current prices is estimated at Rs. 29.94 lakh crore in 2012-13 as against Rs. 27.49 lakh crore in 2011-12. However, at 2004-05 constant prices, the GFCF is estimated at Rs.19.44 lakh crore in 2012-13, as against Rs. 18.97 lakh crore in the previous fiscal.


Government
Final Consumption Expenditure (GFCE) registered an increase of 13.8 per cent and is estimated to be Rs. 11.87 lakh crore at current prices for 2012-13, against Rs. 10.43 lakh crore in 2011-12.

Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE) is estimated to have registered an increase of 12.8 per cent to Rs. 57.06 lakh crore at current prices, as against Rs. 50.56 lakh crore in the previous fiscal.

In a major
initiative to reach out to the people in the social media space, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, on February 7, 2013, launched the “MyIndia Initiative-A Digital Volunteer Programme” aimed at disseminating development messages across the social media platform by registering citizens as volunteers in an effort to contribute positively towards nation building.

C-DAC Pune launched Param Yuva II, the fastest supercomputer in India and 62nd fastest in the world, on February 8, 2013. This is the first supercomputer that has crossed 500 teraflops in computing power in the country.

A Canadian astronaut has teamed up with Bare-naked Ladies lead singer Ed Robertson for the first ever original track to be written and recorded in space, 402 km above the Earth aboard the International Space Station. The pair wrote the song together before the collaboration was recorded via satellite at a studio in Toronto. The song, called “I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)” focuses on the experience of a person in space missing his loved ones on the Earth below. Astronaut Chris Hadfield and Robertson began co-writing the song when Hadfield was still in training in Russia for his five-month mission on the ISS.

“Somebody That I Used to Know”, by Australian artist Gotye, won Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards, 2013. The melodic heartbreak song, which featured New Zealand singer Kimbra, was one of 2012’s biggest hits. Mumford & Sons won album of the year Grammy.

Pandit Ravi Shankar received the Lifetime Achievement Grammy award, which was jointly accepted by his daughters, sitarist Anoushka Shankar and singer-songwriter Norah Jones. Pt Ravi Shankar also won the Best World Music Album Grammy for “The Living Room Sessions Part 1”, beating daughter Anoushka who was nominated in the same category for her album “Traveller”.

Ratan Tata is taking up a new role by joining hands with global leaders, including former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, to launch the Global Ocean Commission (GOC). The GOC brings together eminent people from different parts of the world for a new initiative to restore health and productivity to the ocean. It is an independent body of international leaders and aims to reverse degradation of the ocean and restoring it to full health and productivity.

‘One Billion Rising’
was a campaign held on February 14, 2013, to protest violence against women. One in every three women is raped or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to the UN. That’s a billion women. A billion women violated is an atrocity, a billion women dancing is a revolution. That was the message behind the ‘One Billion Rising’ movement conceived by American playwright Eve Ensler, inviting people to walk out, dance, rise up, and demand an end to the violence.

According to the Open Budget Survey 2012, the transparency in the Indian budgetary system has improved marginally and is ranked 14th among 100 countries. India’s open budget index (OBI) score improved from 67 in 2010 to 68 in 2012. The survey showed New Zealand, with an OBI score of 93, provided the most information on budget, followed by South Africa (90), the UK (88) and Sweden (84).

ONGC’s chartered-hired ultra-deep water drillship DDKG1 has set a world record for drilling well in deepest water depth by an offshore drilling rig. The rig DDKG1 drilled well NA7-1 in exploratory block KG-DWN-2004/1 in east coast India at a water depth of 3165 metres on January 23, 2013. Thereafter it successfully lowered and latched subsea (facilities) to drill further to target depth of 5625 metres. The rig, owned by Transocean, surpassed Transocean’s own prior record, set in 2011 by DDKG2 working for Reliance Industries on the east coast.

Nicolaus
Copernicus, mathematician and astronomer, helped popularise the idea that Earth revolves around the Sun, instead of the other way round, as was commonly believed at that time. His 540th birth anniversary was celebrated on February 19, 2013.

India’s first wildlife skywalk will come up in Maenam wildlife sanctuary in Sikkim. The State government had proposed to build a 22 kilometer rope-way from Maenam sanctuary to the skywalk, to be built beyond on the edge of Bhalleydhunga steep face with rain shelter and public conveniences.

London
elbowed its way past Hong Kong to regain the title as the world’s most expensive market in which to rent office space, while Rio de Janeiro jumped to the No. 3 spot from No. 8, according to a report by Cushman & Wakefield. Delhi’s Connaught Place is the fourth most expensive market for office space.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated since 1997 every year on February 2 to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention).

February 28th
is celebrated as National Science Day in India, commemorating the discovery of the Raman Effect by C.V. Raman.


On February 25,
2013, in Jorhat, Assam, artistes played 315 types of musical instruments from across the world to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records. A large number of singers and musicians got together for the event—‘A Musical Journey for World Peace’. The accompanying vocalists presented the biggest non-classical symphony of its kind in the world. The earlier record of using the largest number of musical instruments in one such event was 181 at a musical concert in Japan. The event was organised by Mazumba Media and Entertainment and the music was composed by Rupam Jyoti Sharma, an engineer from Jorhat who is now based in California, USA.

ISKCON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness) is planning to build the world’s largest vedic temple, the Chandrodaya Mandir, at Mayapur in the Nadia district of West Bengal, at an estimated investment of about $75 million.

Finance
Minister P Chidambaram, with his 2013 Budget speech, became the second minister to have presented eight Budgets in the history of independent India. Morarji Desai had presented 10 Budgets, of which two were interim Budgets.

The Union Budget 2013 has proposed setting up of two ports—one in Sagar, West Bengal and the other in Andhra Pradesh, which would increase the cargo handling capacity in the country. In addition, a new outer harbour will be developed in the VOC port (VO Chidambaram Port Trust, formerly Tuticorin Port at Thoothukkudi, Tamil Nadu) through the PPP. At present, there are 12 major ports in India. These are at: Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Kolkata (with Haldia), Chennai, Cochin, Paradip, New Mangalore, Marmagao, Ennore, Tuticorin, Kandla and Visakhapatanam.

In order to remove the ambiguity that prevails on what is FDI and what is FII, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram proposed in Budget 2013 to follow the international practice and lay down a broad principle that, where an investor has a stake of 10 per cent or less in a company, it will be treated as FII and, where an investor has a stake of more than 10 per cent, it will be treated as FDI.

India and the United Kingdom have signed an accord to strengthen collaboration in the field of earth sciences and help improve forecasts about climate-related phenomena. The Memorandum of Understanding has been inked between Natural Environment Research Council of the UK (NERC) and Earth System Science Organization, Ministry of Earth Sciences (ESSO-MoES).

 

 

Business News


Telecom major Bharti Airtel has bought the entire shareholding in the joint venture with Alcatel Lucent, called Alcatel Lucent Managed Network Service India, as part of a new business model to manage fixed line and broadband networks.

US-based Computer maker Dell has announced it will take itself private in a $24.4 billion deal which is considered one of the most significant buyouts since the financial crisis. Dell has signed a definitive merger agreement under which the company’s Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell would acquire Dell. Company stockholders would receive $13.65 in cash for each share of Dell common stock they hold.

Private sector lender Kotak Mahindra  has acquired the business loans portfolio of the Indian arm of Barclays. With this acquisition, Kotak will have 6000 customers with total loans outstanding of about Rs 700 crore .

India’s
second largest telecom operator, Vodafone India has tied up with loyalty programme Payback as its exclusive partner in the telecom category. The partnership will allow the Payback members redeem their points for every recharge at Vodafone as well as pay bills using the loyalty points earned.

Sun Pharmaceutical’s dream to buy all the outstanding shares in Israel’s Taro Pharma and take it private has turned sour. Taro and Sun have mutually agreed to terminate their merger agreement, announced in August 2012.

The Insurance
Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has approved revised investment regulations for insurance companies, allowing them to increase their exposure in equity in a given company from 10% to a higher level of 12% and 15%, depending on the size of the controlled fund.

Arvind Lifestyle Brands has acquired India operations of US-based Hanesbrands Inc and is aiming to generate Rs 500 crore revenue in next four years in the niche market.

When Parle Products launched Parle-G in 1939 during the British rule, the firm considered it a responsibility to sell affordable biscuits to Indians. Today, the same value plank has helped the glucose biscuit brand become the first Indian FMCG brand to cross the Rs 5,000-crore mark in retail sales in a year. In 2012, Parle Products sold Rs 5,010 crore worth of its flagship glucose biscuit brand at retail price, besting the entire domestic sales of Dabur or Godrej products and selling three times more than Maggi noodles.

On February 13, 2013,  Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) cleared four foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals in single brand retailing, including that of Decathlon, Fossil Inc, French fashion brand Promod, crockery maker Le Creuset and sports giant Decathlon. The proposal of Le Creuset, Fossil Inc, and Decathlon were for 100 per cent FDI, while Promod sought entering the segment through a joint venture. Decathlon alone would bring in foreign equity worth Rs 700 crore, while Promod would bring about Rs 30 crore and the American high-end accessories firm Fossil Inc plans over Rs 22 crore investment.

Warren Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway Inc and 3G Capital will buy ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co for $23.2 billion in cash. Heinz valued the deal at $28 billion, which it called the largest in food industry history.

State-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd has commissioned a Rs. 4,500 crore pipeline carrying gas from the just operationalised Dabhol LNG terminal into Bengaluru that promises to change the energy landscape of the region. The 1,000-km pipeline will feed industries at Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Bellary, Davanagere, Chitradurga, Tumkuyr, Ramanagaram and Bengaluru who have till now been using costlier and polluting liquid fuels like naphtha and diesel as feedstock.

RDA Holding Co, the US-based owner of magazine Reader’s Digest, once the staple of doctors’ offices and coffee tables, has filed for bankruptcy for the second time in less than four years, citing a greater-than-expected decline of the media industry.

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), India’s oldest exchange and S&P Dow Jones Indices have entered into a 50:50 joint venture partnership to manage all the BSE indices, barely a week after it was informed that the global index provider licensing agreement with NSE expired on January 31, 2013. The new partnership with BSE also allows S&P Dow Jones to have an operational hub now in India for implementing its South-asia growth strategy to support clients globally. S&P Dow Jones’ other global hubs are in Hong Kong, London and New York. BSE Sensex will now be known as S&P BSE Sensex.

Apple has rolled out its media streaming device, Apple TV, in India at a starting price of Rs. 7,900. With the launch of Apple TV, the company’s full portfolio of Apple products are finally available in India. Apple TV allows consumers to wirelessly stream media content from their iTunes account to their television. The device faces competition from Micromax’s Smart Stick and Akai’s Smart Box.

BP Plc,
Europe’s second biggest oil company, and Reliance Industries will invest US $5 billion in developing untapped gas reserves in the D6 block in the Krishna Godavari basin off India’s east coast as the partners attempt to reverse the fall in gas production.

Info Edge India, owner of the country’s largest job website Naukri.com, has acquired a majority stake in online restaurant guide Zomato. Info Edge’s total investment in Zomato stands at Rs. 86 crore, and it now has a 57.9 per cent stake in the company.

The Gujarat government and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Jakarta, Indonesia-based leading economic research institute, have decided to join hands for developing human resources in automobile manufacturing sector.

List of New Awards 2014

List of New Awards 2014

 

  1. Abhishikta S Shetty – Miss South India 2014
  2. Ahmet Sik (Turkish journalist) -UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2014
  3. Amitabh Bachchan –  India’s Global Icon of the Year
  4. Amul (Milk Product Brand)  –  High Performance Brand Award 2013
  5. Anand Kumar –  Ramanujan Mathematics Award 2014
  6. Anees Salim –  The Hindu Prize for Best Fiction 2013
  7. Angela Merkel –  Israel’s highest civilian honour (the “Medal of Distinction”)
  8. APJ Abdul Kalam –  honorary degree from University of Edinburgh
  9. Arogya Swami Joseph Paulraj –  2014 Marconi Society Prize
  10. Assamese Film Ekhon Nedekha Nadir Xipaare (As River Flows) –  Audience choice award in North Carolina film festival
  11. Bharat Gupta – Youth Achievers Award
  12. Bipan Chandra – Itihas Ratna Award 2014
  13. C Radhakrishnan (Writer, Theekkadal Katanhu Thirumadhuram) –  Moortidevi Award for 2013
  14. Caparo Group –  International Business of the Year award 2014
  15. Chandi Prasad Bhatt –  Gandhi Peace Prize (2013)
  16. Cristiano Ronaldo  –  world’s best soccer player for the 2012/2013 season (FIFA)
  17. Cyrus Mistry –  DSC prize for South Asian literature
  18. Donna Tartt (for the book Goldfinch) -Pulitzer Prize 2014 (Fiction)
  19. Dr Sumeet Chugh – Simon Dack Award
  20. Sanjaya Rajaram –  World Food Prize 2014
  21. Tej Vir Singh – UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence 2013 in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge
  22. Eimear McBride (Author, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing) – Bailey’s Women’s Prize 2014
  23. Gabriela Isler – Miss Universe 2013
  24. Govind Mishra (for the book Dhool Paudho Par) – Sarawasti Samman (2013)
  25. Gulzar – Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2013
  26. Gyan Correa –  Gollapudi Srinivas National Award 2013
  27. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) -Navaratna award
  28. ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund – Morningstar India‘s best fund house award in the debt
  29. Iwao Hakamada –  WBC honorary Championship Belt
  30. Javed Aktar – Sahitya Akademi Award 2013
  31. Jeev Milkha Singh (for the book Lava) -Asian Tour‘s Player of the Decade
  32. Jhumpa Lahiri (for the book Lowland) -Baileys Prize 2014(Shortlisted)
  33. Kapil Dev – C. K. Naidu Award
  34. Kathy Cross –  First woman to be inducted in an ICC umpires’ panel
  35. Kedarnath Singh – Jnanpith award 2013
  36. Kerala Tourism – United Nations Award
  37. Killa (a Marathi film) –  Crystal Bear (Glasernen Bar)Award at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival. 
  38. Kolkata Airport –  Airport Service Quality Award
  39. Koyal Rana – 51st Femina Miss India
  40. Laxmi (an acid attack victim) –  International Women of Courage Award, US
  41. Lewis Hamilton – Chinese F1 Grand Prix
  42. Lingaiah Nagarapu –  STF Best Scientist Award
  43. Lord Swraj Paul –  Lifetime Achievement Award, Black Country Asian Business Association
  44. Luis Suarez – PFA Player of the year
  45. Madan Babu –  Protein Science Young Investigator Award 2014
  46. Malala Yousafzai –  Children’s Nobel Prize (Nominated)
  47. Malala Yousafzai – Liberty Medal
  48. Mathangi Sathyamurthy –  M S Subbulakshmi Award
  49. Meb Keflezighi –  First US male athlete to win the Boston Marathon
  50. Meera Chandrasekhar –  Robert Foster Cherry Award for Teaching 2014
  51. Mitchell Johnson – Allan Border medal
  52. Mitul Kadakia –  Gregory Braden Memorial Fellow of the Year Award 2014
  53. MS Dhoni – UK’s 2014 Asian Award
  54. N R Narayana Murthy (Infosys) –  Canada India Foundation Chanchalani Global Indian  Award 2014
  55. Nadine Angerer –  Best women’s football player in the world (2013)
  56. Nirendranath Chakraborty –  Sunil Gangopadhyay Memorial Award (2012)
  57. Pankaj Mishra –  Windham Campbell Literature Prize 2014 (Non-Fiction)
  58. Pope Francis – Time Person of the year 2013
  59. Pranab Mukherjee –  Award of Honor from Rotary International
  60. Prof C N R Rao – Bharat Ratna
  61. Prof Stuart Parkin –  Millennium technology Prize 2014
  62. Queen Latifah – 2014 Matrix Award
  63. Rajesh Gopakumar –  23rd G D Birla Award for scientific research (2013)
  64. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport –  Sword of Honour award
  65. Ramesh Agrawal – Goldman Prize
  66. Ratan Tata –  UK’s highest civilian award (Knight Grand Cross)
  67. Richard Quest –  UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement 2013
  68. Sachin Tendulkar – Bharat Ratna
  69. Sachin Tendulkar –  Cricketer  of Generation Award
  70. Sankha Ghosh –  Sunil Gangopadhyay Memorial Award (2013)
  71. Shahrukh Khan –  Officer of the Legion of Honour, France
  72. Shigeru Ban – Pritzker Architecture Prize 2014
  73. Shikhar Dhawan – Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year
  74. Shubhranshu Choudhary –  Digital activism award
  75. Sikkim – National Tourism Award
  76. Silent Screams : India’s Fight Against Rape (documentary)  –  New York Festivals TV & Film Awards 2014
  77. Slaman Rushdie – Pen Pinter Prize 2014
  78. Sourav Ganguly –  Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) degree by BESU
  79. Sriprakash KS – Asia Pacific Academy Award
  80. Stanislas Wawrinka –  Monte Carlo Masters Title
  81. Sudarsan Pattnaik –  People’s Choice prize at World Cup of Sand Sculpting-2014
  82. Swraj Paul –  International Business of the Year award 2014
  83. TCS – Top Employer in Europe
  84. Tejinder Virdee – Knighthood Bachelor
  85. Tomas Halik – Templeton Prize 2014
  86. T-TBI (Technopark Technology Business Incubator) – Golden Peacock Award 2014
  87. Somasundaram –  Bharat Ratna JRD Tata Award 2013
  88. Vijay Seshadri – Pulitzer Prize 2014 (Poetry)
  89. Vishwanath Tripathi – Vyas Samman 2013
  90. Yakov Grigorevich Sinai – Abel Prize 2014
  91. Yushi (Taiwan Poet)  –  Thiruvalluvar  award

 

15th IIFA (International Indian Film Academy Awards) winners list 2014

 

  Best Performance in a Leading Role (Male) – Farhan Akhtar for ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’

  Best Performance in a Leading Role (Female) – Deepika Padukone

  Best Performance in a Leading Role (Male) – Aditya Roy Kapur for “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’

  Best Debut (Male) – Dhanush for ‘Raanjhanaa’.

  Best Debut (Female) – Vaani Kapoor for Shudh Desi Romance

  Best Director – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’.

  Best performance in a comic role – Arshad Warsi for ‘Jolly L.L.B’

  Best performance in a negative role – Rishi Kapoor for ‘D-Day’

  Best Playback Singer (Female) – Shreya Ghoshal for Sun Raha Hai Na Tu (Aashiqui 2)

  Best Playback Singer (Male) – Arijit Singh for Tum Hi Ho (Aashiqui 2)

  Entertainer of the year – Deepika Padukone

  Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema  – Shatrughan Sinha

  Outstanding Contribution To International Cinema – John Travolta

  Best Cinematography – Binod Pradhan

  Best Screenplay and Best Dialogue – Prasoon Joshi

  Best Editing – P S Bharti

  Best Sound Design – Nakul Kamte

  Best Sound Mixing – Pranav Shukla

  Best Background Score – Shankar-Ehsaan- Loy

  Best Costume Designing – Dolly Ahluwalia

  Best Make-Up – Vikram Gaikwad

 

67th annual Cannes Film Festival Winners List 2014

 

  Palme d’Or : “Winter Sleep” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

  Grand Prix : “The Wonders” (Alice Rohrwacher)

  Director : Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”

  Actor : Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner”

  Actress : Julianne Moore, “Maps to the Stars”

  Jury Prize : “Mommy” (Xavier Dolan) and “Goodbye to Language” (Jean-Luc Godard)

  Screenplay : Andrey Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, “Leviathan”

 

List of 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners

 

  Journalism

o  Public Service :  The Guardian Us And The Washington Post

o  Breaking News Reporting – The Boston Globe Staff

o  Investigative Reporting – Chris Hamby Of The Center For Public Integrity, Washington, D.C.

o  Explanatory Reporting – Eli Saslow Of The Washington Post

o  Local Reporting – Will Hobson And Michael Laforgia Of The Tampa Bay Times

o  National Reporting – David Philipps Of The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Co

o  International Reporting – Jason Szep And Andrew R.C. Marshall Of Reuters

o  Feature Writing – No Award

o  Commentary – Stephen Henderson Of The Detroit Free Press

o  Criticism – Inga Saffron Of The Philadelphia Inquirer

o  Editorial Writing – The Editorial Staff Of The Oregonian, Portland

o  Editorial Cartooning – Kevin Siers Of The Charlotte Observer

o  Breaking News Photography – Tyler Hicks Of The New York Times

Feature Photography – Josh Haner Of The New York Times

 

  Books, Drama And Music

 

o  Fiction – “The Goldfinch” By Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)

o  Drama – “The Flick” By Annie Baker

o  History  –  “The Internal Enemy: Slavery And War In Virginia, 1772-1832” By Alan Taylor(W.W. Norton)

o  Biography  –  “Margaret Fuller: A New American Life” By Megan Marshall (HoughtonMifflin Harcourt)

o  Poetry – “3 Sections” By Vijay Seshadri (Graywolf Press)

o  General Nonfiction – “Toms River: A Story Of Science And Salvation” By Dan Fagin(Bantam Books)

  • Music – “Become Ocean” By John Luther Adams (Taiga Press/Theodore Front MusicalLiterature)

 

Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2014

 

  Ms. Senator Lisa Maria Singh – First member of South Asian descent in AustralianParliament

  Kurian Varghese – Leading overseas Indian businessman in Bahrain

  Vasdev Chanchlani – Entrepreneur and philanthropist based in Canada

  Ramakrishna Mission – Fiji

  Bikas Chandra Sanyal – Renowned educationist in France

  Satnarainsing Rabin Baldewsingh – Significant contribution to promoting better understanding of India in The Netherlands

  Sasindran Muthuvel – First Member of Parliament of Indian origin in Papua New Guinea

  Shihabudeen Vava Kunju – Contributor to welfare of Indian community in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

  Ms. Ela Gandhi –  Contributions in promoting ties between India and South Africa, and the cause of freedom in South Africa

  Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil  Parambath  –  Contribution in field of healthcare business and for promoting better  understanding of India in UAE

  Shailesh Lakhman Vara – First Indian origin Govt. minister for Conservative Party in UK

  Dr. Parthasarathy Chiramel Pillai  –  Contributions in field of science, and fostering closer relations between India and USA

  Dr. Renu Khator – one of the first persons of Indian origin to head a higher system and a research university in America. President and Chancellor of The University of Houston.

 

National Communal Harmony Awards 2013

 

  Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai – Organization category

  Mohinder Singh – Individual Category

  N Radhakrishnan – Individual Category61st

 

National Film Awards Winners List

 

  Best Film (Hindi) : Jolly LLB

  Best Actress : Geetanjali Thapa (Liar’s Dice, Hindi)

  Best Actor : Raj Kumar (Shahid, Hindi) & Suraj Venjaramoodu (Perariyathavar, Malyalam)

  Supporting Actor (Female) : Aida Elkashef, Ship of Theseus and Amruta Subash, Astu

  Best Direction : Hansal Mehta for Shahid (Hindi)

  Special Mention : Gauri Gadgil and Sanjana Rai for ‘Yellow’ (Marathi)

  Direction (Non Feature) : Chidiya Udh

  Special Effects : Jal

  Short Fiction (Non Feature) : Mandrake! Mandrake! (Hindi)

  Non Feature Film on Social Issues : Gulabi Gang (Hindi, Bundelkhandi)

  Environmental Film including Agriculture : Foresting Life (Hindi,Assamese)

  Non Feature Film : Rangbhoomi (Hindi)

  Best Book on Cinema : Cinema Ga Cinema (Telgu) by Nandagopal

  Sound Design : Bishwadeep Chatterjee, Madras Cafe

  Choreography : Ganesh Aacharya, Havan Karenge (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)

  Special Jury Award : Yellow (Marathi) & Miss Lovely (Hindi)

  Best Children’s Film : Kaphal (Hindi)

  Best Film on Environment Conservation/Preservation : Perariyathavar (Malyalam)

  Best Film on Social Issues : Tuhya Dharma Koncha (Marathi)

  Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration : Thalaimuraigal (Tamil)

  Best Popular Film providing wholesome Entertainment : Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Hindi)

  Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director : Fandry (Marathi)

  Best Feature Film : Ship of Theseus

  Playback Singer : Bela Shinde Khura Khura

  Best Feature Films in Local Languages (in alphabetical order) :

  Best Feature Film in Assamese : ‘Ajeyo’

  Best Feature Film in Bengali : ‘Bakitar Byaktigoto’

  Best Feature Film in English : ‘The Coffin Maker’

  Best Feature Film in Hindi : ‘Jolly LLB’

  Best Feature Film in Kannada : ‘December 1’ 

  Best Feature Film in Konkani : ‘Baga Beach’

  Best Feature Film in Malayalam : ‘North 24 Kaatham’

  Best Feature Film in Marathi : ‘Acha Divaz Mazha’

  Best Feature Film in Tamil : ‘Thanga

  Best Feature Film in Telugu : ‘Naa Bangaru Talli ‘

 

59th Film Fare Awards 2014 Winners List

 

  Best Film – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

  Best Actor – Farhan Akhtar (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)

  Best Debut Actor  – Dhanush (Raanjhanaa)

  Best Actress – Deepika Padukone (Goliyon Ki Raslila RamLeela)

  Best Debut Actress  – Vaani Kapoor (Shuddh Desi Romance)

  Best Director – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)

  Best Debut Director – Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox)

  Best Film (Critics) – Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox)

  Best Actor (Critics) – Rajkummar Rao (Shahid)

  Best Actress (Critics) – Shilpa Shukla (BA Pass)

  Best Screenplay – Abhishek Kapoor, Chetan Bhagat, Supratik Sen and Pubali Chaudari (Kai Po Che)

  Best Story – Subhash Kapoor (Jolly LLB)

  Best Actor (Supporting Role)  – Nawazuddin Siddiqui (The Lunchbox)

  Best Actress (Supporting Role)  – Supriya Pathak Kapur (Goliyon Ki Raslila- Ram Leela)

  Lifetime Achievement Award  – Tanuja

  Best Music – Jeet Ganguly, Mithoon and Ankit Tiwari (Aashiqui 2)

  Best Lyrics – Prasoon Joshi for Zinda (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)

  Best Playback Singer Male – Arijit Singh (Tum hi ho, Aashiqui)

  Best Playback Singer Female – Monali Thakur (Sawaar loon, Lootera)

  RD Burman Award – Sidharth Mahadevan

  Best Choreography – Samir and Arsh Tanna – Lahu muh lag gaya (Goliyon Ki Raasleel Ram-Leela)

  Best VFX – Tata Elxis (Dhoom:3)

  Best Background Score – Hitesh Sonik (Kai Po Che)

  Best Action – Thomas Struthers and Guru Bachchan (D Day)

  Best Cinematography – Kamaljit Negi (Madras Cafe)

  Best Editing – Aarif Sheikh (D-Day)

  Trendsetter of the year – Chennai Express

  Best Production Design – Acropolis Design (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)

  Best Costume – Dolly Ahluwalia (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)

  Best Sound Design – Bishwadeep Chatterjee and Nihar Ranjan Samar (Madras Cafe)

 

Complete List of 71st Golden Globe Awards Winners 2014

 

  Best motion picture, drama : 12 Years A Slave

  Best motion picture, musical or comedy : American Hustle

  Best director for motion picture : Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

  Best actor in a motion picture, drama : Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

  Best actress in a motion picture, drama : Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

  Best actor in a motion picture, comedy : Leonardo DiCaprio, Wolf of Wall Street 

  Best actress in a motion picture, comedy : Amy Adams, American Hustle

  Best supporting actor in a motion picture : Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

  Best supporting actress in a motion picture : Jennifer Lawrence

  Best screenplay : Spike Jonze, Her

  Best foreign language film : The Great Beauty

  Best original score : Alex Ebert, All is Lost

  Best original song from a motion picture : Ordinary Love, from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

  Best animated feature film : Frozen

  Best TV drama : Breaking Bad

  Best actor in a TV series, drama : Bryan Cranston

  Best actress in a TV series, drama : Robin Wright, House of Cards

  Best actor in a TV series, comedy : Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

  Best actress in a TV series, Comedy : Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

  Best TV series, comedy or musical : Brooklyn 99

  Best supporting actor in a TV series, mini-series or TV movie : Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

  Best mini-series or TV movie : Behind the Candelabra

  Best actor in a mini-series or TV movie : Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra

  Best actress in a mini-series or TV movie : Elisabeth Moss

 

Oscar Awards 2014 winners List

 

  Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave

  Best Actor in a Leading Role – Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

  Best Actress in a Leading Role – Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

  Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

  Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

  Best Animated Feature – Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)

  Best Cinematography – Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

  Best Costume Design – The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)

  Best Directing – Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

  Best Documentary Feature Film – 20 Feet from Stardom (Nominees to be determined)

  Best Documentary Short Film  –  The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed)

  Best Film Editing – Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)

  Best Foreign Language Film – The Great Beauty (Italy)

  Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews)

  Best Original Score – Gravity (Steven Price)

  Best Original Song –  Let It Go – Frozen

  Best Production Design –  The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)

  Best Animated Short Film – Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares)

  Best Live Action Short Film –  Helium (Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson)

  Best Sound Editing –  Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

  Best Sound Mixing –  Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro)

  Best Visual Effects –  Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)

  Best Adapted Screenplay –  12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

  Best Original Screenplay –  Her (Spike Jonze)

 

4th Asian Awards Top 100 (2014) :

 

  Top 1 – Chinese President Xi Jinping

  Top 2 – Sonia Gandhi

  Top 3 – LiKequiang (china)

  Top 4 – Narendra Modi

  Top 5 – Rahul Gandhi

  Top 6 – Manmohan Singh

 

Padma Awards Winners List for the year 2014

 

  Padma Vibhushan

o  Dr. Raghunath A. Mashelkar,  Science and

Engineering, Maharashtra

  • Shri B.K.S. Iyengar, Others-Yoga, Maharashtra

 

  Padma Bhushan

 

o  Prof. Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Art – Painting, Gujarat

o  Begum Parveen Sultana, Art  –  Classical Singing, Maharashtra

o  Shri T.H. Vinayakram, Art  –  Ghatam Artist, Tamil Nadu

o  Shri Kamala Haasan, Art-Cinema, Tamil Nadu

o  Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Public Affairs, Delhi

o  Prof. Padmanabhan Balaram, Science and Engineering, Karnataka

o  Prof. Jyeshtharaj Joshi, Science and Engineering, Maharashtra

o  Dr. Madappa Mahadevappa, Science  and Engineering, Karnataka

o  Dr. Thirumalachari Ramasami, Science and Engineering, Delhi

o  Dr. Vinod Prakash Sharma, Science and Engineering, Delhi

o  Dr. Radhakrishnan Koppillil, Science and Engineering, Karnataka

o  Dr. Mrityunjay Athreya, Literature and Education, Delhi

o  Ms. Anita Desai, Literature and Education, Delhi

o  Dr. Dhirubhai Thaker, Literature and Education, Gujarat

o  Shri Vairamuthu Ramasamy Thevar, Literature and Education, Tamil Nadu

o  Shri Ruskin Bond, Literature and Education, Uttarakhand,

o  Shri Pullela Gopichand, Sports  –  Badminton, Andhra Pradesh

o  Shri Leander Paes, Sports  –  Tennis, Maharashtra

o  Shri Vijayendra Nath Kaul, Civil Service, Delhi

o  Late Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma, Public Affairs, Uttar Pradesh

o  Late Dr. Anumolu Ramakrishna, Science andEngineering, Andhra Pradesh

o  Prof. Anisuzzaman, Literature and Education, Bangladesh

o  Prof. Lloyd I. Rudolph, Literature and Education, USA

o  Prof. Susanne H. Rudolph, Literature and Education, USA

o  Dr. (Smt.) Neelam Kler, Medicine  -Neonatology, Delhi

 

Beauty Contests

 

 51st Femina Miss India 2014 – Koyal Rana

  Miss India Earth 2014 – Jhataleka Malhotra

  Miss India Supernational – Gail Nicole Da Silva

  Miss India Asia Pacific World 2014 – Anukriti Gusain

  Miss Universe 2013 – Gabriela Isler

  Miss World 2013 – Megan Young

  Miss Asia Pacific World 2014  – May Myat Noe (Myanmar)

 

 

List of New Appointments 2014

List of New Appointments 2014

 

  1. A L Banerjee – New DGP (UP)
  2. K. Dubey – Chairman, Coal India Limited
  3. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – 6th President of Egypt
  4. Adarsh Kumar Goel- New Judge of Supreme Court
  5. Aditi Khanna – first woman President of Indian Journalists‘ Association (IJA), London.
  6. Ahmed Maitiq – New Prime Minister of Libya
  7. Ajit Doval – New National Security Adviser
  8. Ajoy Misra –  MD & CEO, Tata Global Beverages Limited
  9. Akhilesh Das Gupta –  President (Re-Elected), Badminton Association of India (BAI)
  10. Akhilesh Gupta –  President of  Indian Meteorological Society
  11. Amit Shah – BJP President
  12. Amit Sharma –  New Commander of Strategic Forces
  13. Amitabh Kant –  Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
  14. Anandiben – Chief Minister of Gujarat
  15. Anant Geete –  Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister
  16. Ananth Kumar –  Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister
  17. Arseniy Yatsenyuk – Interim Prime Minister of Ukraine
  18. Arun Jaitley –  Finance, Corporate Affairs, Defence Minister
  19. Arun Kumar Gupta –  CMD, Shipping Corporation of India (SCI)
  20. Arun Mishra – New Judge of Supreme Court
  21. Arvind Mayaram – New finance secretary
  22. Ashok Gajapathi Raju –  Civil Aviation Minister
  23. Ashraf Jehan –  First female judge, Pakistan‘s National Sharia Court
  24. Ashwin B. Pandya – Chairman, Central Water Commission
  25. N. Sri Krishna –  Chairman of Financial Planning Standards Board India (FPSB)
  26. BS Chauhan –  Chairman of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT)
  27. Chetan Tamboli –  Chairman of CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), Western Region.
  28. D K Pathak – New Director General of BSF
  29. Y. Patil – West Bengal’s Governor
  30. V. Sadananda Gowda – Railways Minister
  31. Dalbir Singh Suhag – New Army Chief
  32. Devendra Kumar Pathak –  Special DG, Border Security Force.
  33. Dinesh Sarraf –  New CMD of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.
  34. Harsh Vardhan- Health and Family Welfare Minister
  35. Edward Snowden –  New Rector of the University of Glasgow
  36. Rohini –  1stWoman Chief Justice, Delhi High Court
  37. Glen Attewell – New CEO to Tesco HSC
  38. H C Meena –  Secretary Security, Cabinet Secretariat.
  39. Harish Rawat – CM of Uttrarakhand.
  40. Harsimrat Kaur Badal –  Food Processing Industries Minister
  41. Hiroshi Naka –  Vice President and Auditor General of World Bank
  42. Ibrahim Mahlab – New PM of Egypt
  43. Jamila Bayaz –  First Women Police chief, Afghanistan
  44. Janet Yellen – Head of US Federal Reserve (1st Woman)
  45. Jatinder Bir Singh –  Chairman and Managing Director of Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB)
  46. Jean-Claude Juncker –  Next President of European Commission
  47. Jitan Ram Manjhi – Chief Minister of Bihar
  48. John Thompson – Chairman of Microsoft.
  49. Jual Oram – Tribal Affairs Minister
  50. Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez –  President of Panama
  51. Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur –  Chairman of the 7th Pay Commission
  52. Justice B.S. Chauhan –  Judge of the Supreme Court
  53. Chandra Sekhar Rao –  CM of Telangana state
  54. Siva Prasada Rao –  first Assembly speaker of new Andhra Pradesh
  55. Kailash Meghwal –  Speaker, Rajasthan Assembly
  56. Kalraj Mishra –  Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister
  57. Kalvakuntla Chandra Sekhar Rao –  Chief Minister of Telngana
  58. Kalyan Singh – vice president of BJP
  59. Kamal Nath – pro tem speaker of Lok Sabha
  60. Kamla Beniwal – Mizoram Governor
  61. Karim Massimov –  New Prime Minister of Kazakhstan
  62. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw –  Chairperson, Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B)
  63. Lt Gen P R Kumar –  Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Indian Army
  64. M Teresa Kho –  ADB’s (Asian Development Bank) new country director for India
  65. Madhuri Dixit –  Brand ambassador for Mamta Abhiyan, Madhya Pradesh
  66. Madhusudanachari –  first Speaker of Telangana
  67. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi –  Women and Child Development Minister
  68. Manuel Valls – New Prime minister of France
  69. Marco Lambertini –  Director-general of the WWF International
  70. Margaret Alva – New Governor of Gujarat
  71. Marie-Lousie Coleiro Preca –  Precident of Malta
  72. Matteo Renzi – Italy’s youngest PM
  73. Mukul Mudgal –  chairperson of Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC)
  74. Mukul Rohatgi –  new Attorney-General of India
  75. N P Singh – CEO, Multi Screen Media
  76. N Srinivasan – 1st Chariperson of ICC
  77. Ramachandran – President, Indian Olympic Association
  78. Srinivasan –  Chairman of the International Cricket Council
  79. Srinivasan –  Chief of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association
  80. Nabam Tuki –  Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh
  81. Najma Heptulla – Minority Affairs Minister
  82. Nara Chandra Babu Naidu – Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
  83. Narasimhan –  Common Governor of 2 states (Andhra Pradesh & Telangana)
  84. Narendra Kothari –  Chairman of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) Ltd
  85. Narendra Modi – Prime Minister of India
  86. Narendra Singh Tomar – Mines, Steel, Labour and Employment Minister
  87. Naveen Patnaik – Chief Minister of Odisha
  88. Nitin Gadkari – Road Transport and Highways, Shipping Minister
  89. Nripendra Misra –  Principal Secretary to Narendra Modi
  90. Oleksandr Turchynov –  Interim President of Ukraine
  91. Madhusudan – CMD, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL)
  92. Pawan Chamling – Chief Minister of Sikkim
  93. Petro Poroshenko – Ukraine President
  94. PK Mishra –  Additional Principal Secretary of Prime Minister
  95. Poonam Khetrapal Singh –  Regional Director of World Health Organisation (WHO) South-East Asia Region
  96. Pradeep Kumar Saxena – GM, South Western Railway
  97. Priyadarshi Mohapatra –  MD Avaya’s India and SAARC operations)
  98. R Gandhi – Deputy Governor of RBI
  99. Chandrashekhar – President, NASCOM
  100. K. Dhowan – New Navy Chief
  101. Kavery Banerjee –  New Secretary at Department of Posts
  102. M. Lodha – New Chief Justice of India
  103. K.Tiwari –  Chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)
  104. Radha Mohan Singh – Agriculture Minister
  105. Rajeev Kher –  Secretary in Department of Commerce.
  106. Rajeev Suri –  1stIndian  President and CEO of Nokia
  107. Rajeev Topno –  Private Secretary to Prime Minister
  108. Rajendra Mal Lodha – Chief Justice of India
  109. Rajiv Takru – New Revenue Secretary
  110. Rajnath Singh – Home Affairs Minister
  111. Rakesh Khurana – Dean, Harvard College
  112. Rakesh Maria – Mumbai Police Commissioner
  113. Ram Vilas Paswan –  Consumer Affairs, Food
  114. and Public Distribution Minister
  115. Ranjit Kumar – Solicitor General of India
  116. Rasik Ravindra – member of UNCLCS
  117. Ratan Tata –  member of the Board of Boao Forum for Asia (BFA)
  118. Ravi Chauhan – New MD of SAP India
  119. Ravi Shankar Prasad –  Communications and Information Technology, Law and Justice Minister
  120. Robin K Dhowan – New Navy Chief
  121. Rohington F Nariman –  New Judge of Supreme Court
  122. K. Sharma – CMD of Bharat Electronics Ltd.
  123. Salvador Sanchez Ceren  –  EL Salvador President
  124. Sanjay –  Deputy Chairman of CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), Western Region.
  125. Sanjay Kapoor – Chairman, Micromax
  126. Satya Nadella – 1stIndian CEO of Microsoft
  127. Saurabh Chandra –  Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas
  128. Shaktikanta Das – New Revenue Secretary
  129. Shankar Venkateswaran –  Chief, Tata Sustainability Group
  130. Sharat Chander – Information officer in PMO
  131. Shefali Duggal –  Member, US Holocaust Memorial Council
  132. Sheikh Hasina – Prime Minister of Bangladesh, 3rd Time
  133. Sheila Dikshit – Governor of Kerala
  134. Shikhar Dhawan –  Brand Ambassador to Canara Bank
  135. Smriti Irani –  Human Resource Development Minister
  136. Soma Mondal – 1stwoman director of National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO).
  137. Sudhir Gupta – Secretary, TRAI
  138. Sumitra Mahajan – Speaker of Lok Sabha
  139. Sunil Kumar Sood –  General Manager, Central Railway
  140. Suresh Kumar Reddy –  First ambassador to ASEAN and East Asia Summit
  141. Sushil Koirala – PM of Nepal
  142. Sushma Swaraj –  External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister
  143. Nanda Kumar –  Chairman, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)
  144. Thawar Chand Gehlot –  Social Justice and Empowerment Minister
  145. TR Zeliang – Chief Minister of Nagaland
  146. Uday Sareen – Deputy CEO, ING Vysya Bank
  147. Uma Bharati –  Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Minister
  148. Kannan – CMD of Vijaya Bank
  149. Vakkom Purushothaman – Nagaland governor (resigned immediately)
  150. Venkaiah Naidu –  Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Parliamentary Affairs Minister
  151. Viktor Orban – Prime Minister of Hungary
  152. Vinod Sawhny –  CEO of Reliance Communications (RCom)
  153. Vishal Sikka – Infosys CEO
  154. Yaduvendra Mathur –  CMD of Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank)
  155. Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein –  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

 

Public-Private Partnership in Indian Infrastructure Developmen http://nagahistory.wordpress.com/

Public-Private Partnership in Indian Infrastructure Development: Issues and Options

Infrastructure bottleneck has been a serious concern in India in its way of robust pace of economic progression. While many advanced economies and fiscal constrained developing countries have developed their physical infrastructure successfully either through private participation or through public-private partnership (PPP) model, in India, private participation in the process of infrastructure development has received lacklustre response. While private telecom services is a success story in India, the PPP constitutes a miniscule share in overall infrastructure building despite initiation of various policy adjustments and sector-specific reform programmes. The main focus of this paper is to provide an analytical abstract of sector-wise infrastructure developments in the country and the status of private participation and the PPP in building such public infrastructure. This paper raises some specific concerns in the power, transportation, telecom, petroleum, and urban infrastructure sectors and puts forth suggestive measures to enhance the private participation. It also identifies some generic issues such as inadequate transparency of procedures, inappropriate risk allocation, improper project appraisal, cost and time overruns, overlapping of regulatory independence, dearth of good governance, etc., which need attention to attract private investors to participate in the public infrastructure building.

Physical infrastructure is an integral part of development of an economy and provides basic services that people need in their every day life. The contribution of infrastructure to economic growth and development is well recognised both in academic and policy debates. Well developed physical infrastructure provides key economic services efficiently, improves the competitiveness, extends vital support to productive sectors, generates high productivity and supports strong economic growth. Physical infrastructure covering transportation, power

and telecommunication through its forward and backward linkages facilitates growth; social infrastructure including water supply, sanitation, sewage disposal, education and health, which are in the nature of primary services, has a direct impact on the quality of life.

Over the years, the basic infrastructure in India has been developed to an extent, which is not sufficient enough while considering India’s geographical and economic size, its population and the pace of overall economic development. Infrastructure bottleneck has been a serious concern in India and basic infrastructure like roads, railways, ports, airports, communication and power supply are not comparable to the standards prevalent in its competitor countries.

To develop the Indian infrastructure to a world class and to remove the infrastructure deficiency in the country, the investment requirements are mammoth, which could not be met by the public sector alone due to fiscal constraints and mounting liabilities of the Government. This would call for participation of private sector in coordination with the public sector to develop the public infrastructure facilities. In this direction, the economic reforms initiated in the country provide forth the policy environment towards public-private partnership (PPP) in the infrastructure development. Sector-specific policies have also been initiated from time to time to enhance the PPP in infrastructure building. While the PPP is spreading to develop basic infrastructure world wide, in India, the participation of private sector in the infrastructure building has not been much encouraging, despite several rounds of policy reforms.

Section I

Structure of PPP – Literature Survey

What is Public-Private Partnership?

The expression public-private partnership is a widely used concept world over but is often not clearly defined. There is no single accepted international definition of what a PPP is (World Bank, 2006). The PPP is defined as “the transfer to the private sector of investment projects that traditionally have been executed or financed by the public sector” (IMF, 2004). Any arrangement made between a state authority and a private partner to perform functions within the mandate of the state authority, and involving different combinations of design, construction, operations and finance is termed as Ireland’s PPP model. In UK’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI), where the public sector purchases services from the private sector under long-term contracts is called as PPP program. However, there are other forms of PPP used in the UK, including where the private sector is introduced as a strategic partner into a state-owned business that provides a public service.

The PPP is sometimes referred to as a joint venture in which a government service or private business venture is funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies. Typically, a private sector consortium forms a special company called a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to build and maintain the asset. The consortium is usually set up with a contractor, a maintenance company and a lender. It is the SPV that signs the contract with the government and with subcontractors to build the facility and then maintain it.

Thus, the PPP combines the development of private sector capital and sometimes, public sector capital to improve public services or the management of public sector assets (Michael, 2001). The PPP may encompass the whole spectrum of approaches from private participation through the contracting out of services and revenue sharing partnership arrangement to pure non-recourse project finance, while sometime it may include only a narrow range of project type. The PPP has two important characteristics. First, there is an emphasis on service provision as well as investment by the private sector. Second, significant risk is transferred from the Government to the private sector. The PPP model is very flexible and discernible in variety of forms. The various models/ schemes and modalities to implement the PPP are set out in Table 1.

Table 1: Schemes and Modalities of PPP

Schemes Modalities

Build-own-operate (BOO)

Build-develop-operate (BDO)

Design-construct-manage-finance (DCMF) The private sector designs, builds, owns, develops, operates and manages an asset with no obligation to transfer ownership to the government. These are variants of design-build-finance-operate (DBFO) schemes.

Buy-build-operate (BBO)

Lease-develop-operate (LDO)

Wrap-around addition (WAA) The private sector buys or leases an existing asset from the Government, renovates, modernises, and/ or expands it, and then operates the asset, again with no obligation to transfer ownership back to the Government.

Build-operate-transfer (BOT)

Build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) Build-rent-own-transfer (BROT)

Build-lease-operate-transfer (BLOT) Build-transfer-operate (BTO) The private sector designs and builds an asset, operates it, and then transfers it to the Government when the operating contract ends, or at some other pre-specified time. The private partner may subsequently rent or lease the asset from the Government.

Source: Public Private Partnership, Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF.

Privatisation and Public-Private Partnership

Typically, the PPP is not a privatisation. At the same time, it cannot be described as partial privatisation also. Privatisation has generally been defined as a process of shifting the ownership or management of a service or activity, in whole or part, from the government to the private sector. The privatisation may be of many forms, which include outsourcing, management contracts, franchise, service shedding, corporatisation, disinvestment, asset sales, long-term lease, etc. The key difference between the PPP and privatisation is that the responsibility for delivery and funding a particular service rests with the private sector in privatisation. The PPP, on the other hand, involves full retention of responsibility by the government for providing the services. In case of ownership, while ownership rights under privatisation are sold to the private sector along with associated benefits and costs, the PPP may continue to retain the legal ownership of assets by the public sector. The nature and scope of the services under privatisation is determined by the private provider, while it is contractually determined between the parties in PPP. Under privatisation, all the risks inherent in the business rest with the private sector while, under the PPP, risks and rewards are shared between the government and the private sector.

Thus, the PPP operates at the boundary of the public and private sectors, being neither nationalised nor privatised. Thus, politically, the PPP represents a third way in which governments deliver some public services in conjunction with private sector. Moreover, in a practical sense, the PPP represents a form of collaboration under a contract by which public and private sectors, acting together, can achieve what each acting alone cannot (Michael 2001).

The Indian Case

In the Indian context, the term PPP is used very loosely while at the international arena, the PPP is adopted for developing public assets in various forms as explained in Table 1. According to Ministry of Finance Government of India the PPP project means a project based on a contract or concession agreement, between Government or statutory entity on the one side and a private sector company on the other side, for delivering infrastructure service on payment of user charges. This is a narrower definition as compared to world best practices where the private sector participation in any form of concession agreement, divestiture of the public sector, greenfield projects and management and lease contract are considered as PPP. The Planning Commission of India has defined the PPP in a generic term as “the PPP is a mode of implementing government programmes/schemes in partnership with the private sector. It provides an opportunity for private sector participation in financing, designing, construction, operation and maintenance of public sector programme and projects”. In addition, greenfield investment1 in the infrastructure development has also been given more encouragement in India.

1 Greenfield investment is defined as an investment in a start-up project, usually for a major capital investment and the investment starts with a bare site in a greenfield.

Section II

Global Practices towards PPP in Infrastructure Development

While discussing the infrastructure development, a generic question arises, ‘Why is PPP needed?’ In the face of fiscal and other constraints, governments of most emerging economies have been turning towards the private sector as a means of financing infrastructure development. Many countries have, however, found that it is not always easy to attract the private sector, as the conditions for their participation are, in most cases, different from the traditional method of funding. A closer alliance between various parties involved in the infrastructure development will, however, provide the opportunity to share their views on the risk perspectives, legislative and regulatory environments, which support private investment, project funding packages, project formulation and the means of reducing project preparation and gestation period. It has been empirically proved that “both the public and private sectors have significant effect on each other, the magnitudes of the long-run influence of private production on infrastructure expansion are relatively greater than the reverse for most countries” (Eric C Wang 2002). Review of cross-country experiences while adopting the PPP model in the infrastructure development would provide due solution to the critical question raised at the beginning of this Section.

A number of OECD countries have well established PPP programmes. Other countries with significant PPP programmes include Australia and Ireland while the US has considerable experience with leasing. Many continental EU countries, including Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain have PPP projects, although their share in public investment remains modest. Reflecting a need for infrastructure investment on a large scale, and weak fiscal positions, a number of countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, have embarked on PPP. There are also PPP programmes in Canada and Japan. The PPP in most of these countries are dominated by road projects. Similarly, the EU Growth Initiative envisages the use of PPP type arrangements primarily to develop trans-European road network.

While focusing on country specific practices, the PFI of the UK is perhaps the best developed government’s PPP programme, which also comprises privatisation and other forms of cooperation between the public and private sectors, including the provision of guarantees. The PFI projects are viewed primarily as being about the provision of services, and not about the acquisition of assets. In this endeavour, the private sector makes a long-term commitment to maintain assets and provide services, and the government makes a long-term commitment to procure those services; significant risk is transferred to the private sector; public sector investment projects are considered for PFI where they are likely to represent value for money, and where it meets the UK government’s criteria for efficiency, equity and accountability (IMF, 2004).

Lessons Drawn for India

Many developing countries like China, have developed toll roads and a number of private sector greenfield power projects, while Argentina has developed its power sector mostly through divestiture and greenfield investments. The main aim of the Chinese is to attract investors through PPP. Brazil has not only attracted more greenfield projects in power sector but also known for its telecommunication sector development under PPP model. The UK provides guarantees for PFI projects to attract more investment. Chile, on the other hand, has succeeded in the PPP model with institutional development, standardised contract procedures and appropriate risk sharing mechanism. Cross country analysis reveals that the PPP model differs widely across countries and sectors. Overall, many developing countries have developed their power projects, roads, telecom, ports and airports through PPP model, which they considered as the apposite way of developing the public infrastructure through private participation, while these countries have faced fiscal constraints. Judging from the country experiences, the selection of right PPP model is based on the concessions that the PPP is getting, level of development, risk sharing mechanism, government guarantees, stability of the policy environment and commercial consideration of the projects. Therefore, it is rightly accepted that right type of private participation in the infrastructure development with right risk sharing is the only way out to build public infrastructure and thereby bridge the infrastructure gap.

Section III

Status of Private Participation in Infrastructure

Development – Global Scenario

Till the early 1990s, provision of infrastructure services were the monopoly of the government world over and the private sector participation was very limited. Disenchantment with past approaches to providing infrastructure services, coupled with tightening budget constraints, governments have explored how best to harness the benefits of private participation. Accordingly, the private participation in the infrastructure development has started picking up in various forms. Moreover, the globalisation and opening up of the markets by Emerging Market Economies (EMEs) have provided investment opportunities for the private investors to develop the public infrastructure projects with or without collaboration with the public sector. Multilateral Institutions have also focused their attention towards the progress in the infrastructure development with private participation, as the basic infrastructure would accelerate the pace of overall economic development of a country. The World Bank has stared capturing such details and also a leading data source for private participation in infrastructure development through its Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) Project Database2. This database has information on over 3,800 projects in energy, telecommunications, transport, and water and sewerage sectors spread across 150 low and middle-income countries. This database covers the private sector investment/commitment to the development of infrastructure projects and does not include public investment.

According to PPI database, between 1990 and 2006, about 3841 infrastructure projects have reached financial closure, of which major share pertaining to Latin America and the Caribbean (31.4 per cent) followed by East Asia and the Pacific (28.6 per cent) and the Europe and Central Asia (19.4 per cent) (Table 2). Middle East and North African region attracted a meager share of private investment at 2.9 per cent. Though the Latin American and Caribbean countries have attracted more private projects during the mid-1990s, the pattern has changed during the recent period towards East Asia and South Asia due to growing investment opportunities in these countries in tandem with their macroeconomic developments.

2 This database records contractual arrangements with and without investments in which private parties assume operating risks in low- and middle-income countries. Projects included in the database do not have to be entirely privately owned, financed or operated. Some have public participation as well.

When we look at the details on country-wise infrastructure projects with private sector participation, China tops in the list of attracting more projects in the developing region followed by Brazil, Russian Federation, India and Argentina. Development of energy infrastructure in China was the leading sector, both in number of projects and investments, followed by construction of toll roads. In case of Brazil, large private investment has flown into the telecom sector. Argentina has attracted more private investment towards the development of their energy sector.

Section IV

Indian Experience in Private Participation in Infrastructure Development

Before the launching of economic reforms in the country, the infrastructure projects were mainly developed by the Government. Since the initiation of the economic reforms, the development of infrastructure has been given thrust through varied means. Along with the initiation of structural reforms in the country, the Government of India has announced new industrial policy in 1991 to develop the industrial and infrastructure sectors, which gave more emphasis on private participation. Policy announcements relating to sector-specific infrastructure developments with the PPP have also been announced in the subsequent annual Budgets of the Union Government. The coverage of the term infrastructure was expanded from time-to-time to enable the sector to avail of fiscal incentives such as tax holidays and concessional duties during the course of their development.

Since the initiation of the reform process, measures were introduced to strengthen the existing infrastructure and to develop new projects with private participation. The private sector participation in the infrastructure building have broadly been taken place through corporatisation of existing PSUs (e.g. GAIL, ONGC, IOC, etc), greenfield investment for development of new projects, PPP in the form of BOT or BOOT model in the road sector and concession agreements with the private sector such as rehabilitate, operate, and transfer; or rehabilitate, lease or rent and transfer; or build, rehabilitate, operate, and transfer basis. Recently established joint venture structure of institutions to develop and modernise the Delhi and Mumbai airports is an apt form of PPP.

Investment requirements of the infrastructure projects are huge and the private sector contribution to the development of public infrastructure has increased many folds during the recent period due to various policy initiatives by the Government towards more encouragement for private participation. However, when compared to other EMEs, private participation in the infrastructure development in India has gained momentum only recently and its share is not much encouraging. India has attracted only about 6.5 per cent of the total investment among 150 low and middle income nations.

Section V

Investment Requirements to bridge the Infrastructure Gap

After analysing the realistic stature of private participation in the infrastructure development in India, it would be more appropriate to look into the quantum of investment requirements to bridge the infrastructure gap and to transform the Indian infrastructure into a world-class. The impact of infrastructure investments on growth depends on the timing of investments, their scale in relation to the existing imbalance between demand and supply of infrastructure, and the location of the projects themselves. Taking into account the infrastructure gap in the country, there is no concrete estimation of requirements for infrastructure development to fill the gap in the country as the requirement will vary from time to time, place to place and project to project.

After the initiation of economic reforms, the first estimation of investment requirements for infrastructure development was attempted by the Expert Group on Infrastructure (The India Infrastructure Report, 1996). The Group estimated that the investment in infrastructure was to be stepped up from 5.5 per cent of GDP in 1995-96 to 8.5 per cent of GDP in 2005-06. But at the same time, the average annual investment was at 4.9 per cent during the 10th Plan period. Then the Committee on Infrastructure, headed by the Prime Minister, has estimated in 2006 the investment requirements for the 11th Plan period at Rs.14,50,000 crore or US $320 billion. The 11th Plan document has identified sector-wise infrastructure gap and accordingly fixed physical target to be completed during the 11th Plan to achieve overall GDP growth of 9 per cent (Table 6).

The 11th Plan document has revised the earlier estimation by the Committee on Infrastructure and placed the investment requirement for

developing the physical infrastructure at about Rs.2,060,193 crore or US $515 billion, which is higher by 136.4 per cent of the anticipated investment in 10th Plan (Table 7). The document estimated that the private investment would be about 30 per cent and suggested a strategy that the private participation is to be encouraged directly as well as through various forms of PPP wherever desirable and feasible.

In this connection, some basic issues need to be discussed. First, how to step up the investments in infrastructure? Over the past three years, the infrastructure investment was at around 5 per cent of GDP, which is targeted to be increased to 9 per cent at the end of the 11th Plan period as suggested by the Plan document. Here the question arises, where such a huge investment has to come from? To increase the investment to 9 per cent at the end of the 11th Plan, each year, additional investments has to increase by at least one per cent of GDP during the Plan period. To fund such additional investments, there are broadly two sources – domestic savings and external savings. Under the domestic sources, household savings forms part of major source, which are to be stepped up from the level of 23.7 per cent of GDP on an average during the 10th Plan. Then the government savings, which has mainly represent the public sector savings that have started being positive since 2003-04 only. Next comes the private corporate savings that estimated at 6 per cent of GDP on an average during the 10th Plan is to be increased significantly to cope up with the additional infrastructure requirements during the current Plan. To fill the gap between the investment requirements and the domestic savings, foreign capital inflows is to be channelised from the level of 1.1 per cent of GDP in 2006-07. Then the question arises, how to mobilise such huge investments from different sources? At the Government side, both Centre and States have to borrow about 27 per cent of estimated total investments in addition to budgetary allocations and internal generation.

At the financing side, three major initiatives have been taken to augment the funding for infrastructure projects, viz., (a) setting up of India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL), a SPV, to meet the long term financing requirements of potential investors; (b) provision of viability gap funding; (c) using of a limited portion of foreign exchange reserves for the development of infrastructure projects through the subsidiaries of IIFCL. But these developments will not serve the purpose fully. Private investments have to flow freely to achieve the desired goal.

The ability to tap private resources – from within the country as well as internationally – for financing infrastructure will strengthen the development. In this regard, the banking system would play a crucial role while transforming the financial savings into investments. But the problem is that, in the post reform era, there has been decline in activities and importance of term lending institutions. In fact, some term lending institutions have converted into banks. Given the huge requirement of funds for investment in infrastructure and increasing role of private players, it is natural to expect them to approach banks to raise funds for investment. As the basic sources of funds for banks are public deposits, mostly of short or medium term in nature, it would create mismatch in the asset-liability management of the banking system while lending to infrastructure on a long term basis, which is to be addressed.

Another major issue is, how to transform corporate and other savings into infrastructure investment? The 11th Plan document has estimated that the private share in infrastructure development would reach 30 per cent during the 11th Plan from 20 per cent during the 10th Plan. Further more, about 48 per cent of the infrastructure financing requirements has to come from debt financing. But the development of corporate debt market is at a nascent stage. A prudent policy to develop the corporate debt market in India will only help to mobilise such huge investment requirements, which would facilitate to achieve the desired development levels in the infrastructure.

Next the foreign investment flows, which requires innovative instruments and mechanisms that are to be devised much attractive to capture such inflows. The international financing of infrastructure could be in the form of greenfield FDI, ADRs, GDRs, asset securitisation, finance through SPV, etc., for which, suitable policy framework are to be devised to utilise economically the increasing capital flows without affecting the domestic monetary and exchange rate stability.

On the whole, the return on infrastructure is not always lucrative as projects yield returns with considerable lags. Also, the implementation of infrastructure project is spread over a long period of time. This creates uncertainty about both the feasibility and profitability of the projects. The massive investments for infrastructure development, therefore, require innovative methods of financing and unbundling of risks. The investment in the infrastructure sector, both from the public and the private, is to be stepped up significantly to remove the infrastructure bottlenecks and thereby sustain the economic growth.

Section VI

Sector-wise Private Participation – Status and Issues

India has been growing at a level of 9.3 per cent, on an average, during the last three years and the supply of infrastructure has also improved to an extent to cope up with the increasing demand. But gaps are widening. The developments in the infrastructure projects since the introduction of economic reforms could be captured on the basis of two major data bases in addition to respective Ministry sources – one by the Planning Commission on PPP projects and the other by the World Bank on PPI database. As we have already discussed about the PPI database, let us have a brief overview on the status of sector-wise infrastructure projects based on Government of India databases and throw some light on the sector specific issues.

A. Infrastructure Projects under PPP Model

Since most of the infrastructure services are rendered by the Government, commercial approach towards cost recovery has not been adopted, and with the limited resources at Government’s disposal, PPP has been encouraged to fill the infrastructure gap. To support the PPP model projects, a Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) was constituted in January 2006. The PPPAC has been adding value by shortening the approval process within the Government, reducing the transaction costs and acting as a central focal point for identifying and disseminating best practices in rolling out PPP across sectors and Ministries of the Government. Since its constitution, it has granted approval to 65 projects, with an estimated project cost of Rs.53,136 crore.

When we look at the overall developments of infrastructure under PPP model, only 147 projects in the roads, ports, civil aviation and urban infrastructure have been materialised under the Government of India scheme. Investment in these projects is expected to be around Rs.59,793 crore. However, only about 33 projects have been completed and the remaining projects are in progress (Table 8). Majority of the PPP projects are pertaining to the road sector under BOT or BOOT basis. Government has entered into concession agreement with the private partners for a period of 10 to 30 years in these road sector projects for construction, maintenance and revenue sharing arrangements.

PPP in the States

Many of the State Governments have also ventured into PPP model to develop their State infrastructure on the lines of central schemes. Accordingly, about 244 projects are in progress under the PPP model with an estimated investment of Rs.69,893 crore and another 76 projects with an estimated cost of Rs.34,724 crore are in the pipeline. Among the ongoing projects, Rajasthan has more number of PPP projects (42 projects), followed by Madhya Pradesh (28), Gujarat (27), Karnataka (26), Sikkim (24) and Andhra Pradesh (21). However, investment-wise, Gujarat attracted higher share at 26.1 per cent of the total investments, particularly for the development of 13 ports at a cost of Rs.11,730 crore and two urban development projects at Rs.5100 crore. Other states like Sikkim and Maharashtra also have more shares in the PPP projects (Table 9).

In the State scheme, road sector attracted about 46.7 per cent of the total PPP projects in the country followed by urban infrastructure and power sector. Along with the national highways development, States have also taken various initiatives to strengthen and modernise their road sector to smoothen the transport movement. However, in term of investments, port sector attracted major share at 34.5 per cent as it involves huge capital requirement for its development. Other sectors like power and roads have also attracted a share of 23.5 per cent and 20.4 per cent, respectively (Table 10). Overall, the potential benefits that normally expected from the PPP projects include cost effectiveness, higher productivity, accelerated delivery of projects, clear customer focus, enhanced social service and recovery of user charges. Due to various

facilities offered by the Government for infrastructure development through PPP, there is further potential for PPPs to contribute more and help bridge the infrastructure gap in India.

B. Sector-wise Infrastructure Developments – Major Concerns

When we assess the overall physical infrastructure development in the country, India has the fifth largest electricity generation capacity and

has generated about 704 billion units of power in 2007-08. Its road network is the second largest in the world aggregating 3.34 million kilometers (Kms). Indian Railways is the second largest rail network under a single management in the world. India is the third largest telecom services market in the world with 326 million strong telephone networks at the end of June 2008, including mobile phones of around 287 million. Indian ports, both major and minor, have estimated to handle 650 million tonnes traffic during 2006-07. To develop such a huge physical infrastructure, in addition to PPP model, private sector has also been directly involved in the development of public infrastructure, particularly in telecom, power, ports, airports and urban development. Despite various concession agreements, tax holidays and other benefits to develop the public infrastructure with private participation, the infrastructure development so far have said to be not much encouraging due to sector specific policies and other constraints as discussed below.

Power Sector

India has a huge installed power generation capacity of 1,43,061 MW (end-March 2008), of which the private sector projects constituted at 14.0 per cent only (Table 11). Government of India has, earlier, envisaged a mammoth capacity addition plan of 100,000 MW through 2012 to meet its mission of power for all. The 11th Plan has targeted additional power generation capacity at 78,577 MW, which is more than the total capacity added in the previous three Plans. Even among the proposed capacity additions, the private sector would have a share of only 13.7 per cent, which is very low when compared to power requirements. This huge capacity addition may not be feasible viewing from the pace of development of ongoing and proposed new projects.

Given the fiscal constraints, private participation in the power sector development has been considered essential for meeting this capacity addition and to meet the growing demand for power. However, there is no PPP model power project in the central sector and in the states also, it is very limited as the power projects have either been developed by the public sector or by the private sector as Independent Power Producers (IPP), Captive Power Plants (CPP) and Merchant Power Plants (MPP).

The initial response of the domestic and foreign investors to the private participation in the power sector was extremely encouraging. However, many projects have encountered unforeseen delays. There have been delays relating to finalisation of power purchase agreements,guarantees and counter-guarantees, environmental clearances, matching transmission networks and legally enforceable contracts for fuel supplies. Continuous losses by State Electricity Boards (SEBs) arising both from inadequate tariff and from Aggregated Technical and Commercial losses of as high as 40 per cent discouraged the private investors in power generation as they faced insecurity of payment and hence expansion of private investment in this sector was constrained. In this regard, policy issues such as inability of SEBs and State Governments to provide acceptable payment security to the private power suppliers, delay in finalisation of power purchase agreement (PPA), fuel supply agreement, fuel transportation agreement and problems in sourcing coal supply to thermal power stations need a relook to encourage private participation.

Second, focusing of small projects under private participation may be viable, bankable, and easily executable and above all, the gestation period will also be minimal. On the other hand, big projects like Dabhol, which encountered with many problems, has also been a discouraging factor for the private participation in mega projects. Reducing the risk is a better option than allocating it. Therefore, minor power projects in the private sector or on PPP basis should be encouraged. An important factor which discourages private participation is the reluctance of lenders to finance large IPPs.

Third, using domestically available fuel may reduce the input cost, which is to be explored first before going in for import of fuels by the developers. Captive mining – not only in India but also abroad – by the power producers would ease the fuel constraints. The cost could be reduced by minimising the complexities in the projects instead of shifting the risks to other parties. Better management and appropriate choice of technology for the Indian condition would reduce the capital cost significantly.

Fourth, the disappointing aspect of the reform process could be the slow tangible progress on competition and open access to grid in the sector. The Electricity Act 2003 provides for an enabling framework to stimulate private investments for capacity augmentation and also for private licensees in transmission and distribution through an independent network. However, private participation in transmission and distribution system has not been an easy task. It is widely debated that the captive unit have found it difficult to transmit excess power through the national grid, while putting private grid is a costly affair and unviable option at the initial stage.

Fifth, renewable energy should play a major role in the supply of power. However, using of renewable energy sources in India is very limited at around 25 per cent of hydro power and another 7.7 per cent of other renewable energy out of total installed capacity, which is to be encouraged in the wake of their availability, cost and environmental friendly features. Gross wind power potential in the country has been estimated at over 45,000 MW, based on the areas having wind power density of 200 Watt per square meter or more, which is to be explored fully to optimise the power generation at a lower cost. When renewable energy sources are used, the demand for fossil fuels will be reduced. Unlike fossil fuels, most renewable sources do not directly emit greenhouse gases. In view of aforesaid issues, power sector reform has to go a long way, although the legislative and institutional pre-requisites are now in place. If implemented properly, it would create a user competition in wholesale as well as retail power supply.

Telecommunication Sector

Usually, the Government owned operators play a major role in the development of telecom sector worldwide. In India, private investment and association of the private sector was needed in a big way to bridge the resource gap. Therefore, the telecom sector was opened up for private participation after the announcement of industrial policy in 1991 to bridge the gap. As a result, the private telecom companies have started operations in the Indian soil due to vast availability of market potentials. Slowly, they picked up their market share and currently they outperform the government owned services due to increasing commercial gains.

Adoption of unified access service, accepting the intra-circle mergers and acquisitions, licensing regulations and announcement of broadband policy, the private sector has continued to play a significant role in the growth of the telecom sector and their participation has increased significantly during the recent period. The total telephone connections have increased substantially from 45 million at the end of March 2003 to over 300 million at the end of March 2008 (Table 12). The Government continues to provide incentives to the telecom sector and reduced the

license fees significantly. Due to acute competition in this sector, the tariffs for various services have experienced a downward movement apart from harmonisation. As at end March 2008, 134 private licensees have been providing mobile telephony services with a total investment of Rs.95,000 crore. Besides, 120 new private licensees are yet to commence their service (GoI).

New mobile phone connections have been increasing substantially during the recent period and as a result, India has 326 million strong telephone networks with 88 per cent share relates to mobile segment at the end of June 2008, which is one of the largest in the world. Due to continuous encouragement for private operators in this sector, their share in the total telephones has increased to about 73.5 per cent as at end-March 2008. India has joined 100 million mobile club of the world during 2006 as the fifth country after China, the US, Japan and Russia. The private sector projects are reported to be working successfully in the cellular segment due to increase in commercial gains and also vast investment opportunities available in this sector.

Though it appears to be a major success story in private sector participation in the telecom sector, some of the issues deserve attention.Issues such as spectrum allocation, tariff rationalisation, etc., need to be addressed to encourage further healthy competition in this sector. Since April 2008, one of the major issues concerning the private operators, viz., the access deficit charges have been removed, which may lead to a downward tariff revision. Though the overall tele-density has improved to 28.3 per cent at the end of June 2008, the slow progress in rural tele-density is to be addressed to improve the communication facilities across the country.

Petroleum Sector

The Government has formulated New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) to accelerate and expand exploration of oil and gas in the country. The latest NELP-VII is offering 57 blocks under transparent international competitive bidding system (29 onshore, 9 shallow water and 19 deepwater blocks beyond 400m bathymetry). Simultaneous 10 blocks of Coal Bed Methane is under offer for exploration in the third round. Some of the PSUs in this sector have formed joint venture companies for exploration and production. However, the response of the private sector has not been much encouraging. About 14 per cent of the crude oil production is under joint venture and private sector projects. In the refinery sector, India has a refinery capacity of over 156 million tonnes. During the recent period, creation of additional refinery capacity has been limited in the country in the public as well as in the private sector when compared to the demand. Currently, two private sector refineries control 28 per cent of refinery capacity in the country. In the case of natural gas production, the share of private/joint venture sector has been picking up with 23 per cent during 2005-06 (Table 13). Steps to augment

the crude oil production as well as refinery capacity of the country would ease strain on domestic petroleum prices and supply.

Roads and Highways

The PPP model may be considered as a successful one not only in the world over but also in India in the development of road sector as majority of the on-going highways development projects have been taken up under this model. With a view to attract private investment in road development, maintenance and operation, National Highways Act (NH Act) 1956 was amended in June 1995 to facilitate private participation in road infrastructure projects. While there are a number of forms of PPP, the common forms that have been used for development of National Highways are Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) on Toll basis, BOT on Annuity basis and SPV basis. At present, the Government has embarked upon a massive programme to develop highways through the National Highways Development Project (NHDP), Phase-I to Phase-VII. Under these projects, 13,146 Kms of National highways have been proposed at an estimated cost of Rs.54,000 crore. So far 82 projects valued about Rs.23,104 crore have been taken up on BOT (Toll) basis. Of this, 34 projects have been completed and remaining 48 projects are under progress. Under annuity basis, 25 projects covering a length of 1376 Kms have been taken up, of which eight projects have been completed and the remaining projects are under progress (Table 14). Another

projects have been taken up under SPV funding, of which five projects have been completed. Given the unmatched investment opportunity, contractors and supervision consultants consisting of 46 firms from 27 countries have been implementing about 80 projects with a cost of about Rs.22,000 crore in India.

The Committee on Infrastructure has proposed a massive infrastructure developmental programme, of which the road sector projects include (i) Completion of GQ and NS-EW corridors, (ii) Four-laning of 10,000 kms under NHDP Phase-III, (iii) Two-laning with paved shoulders of 20,000 Kms of national highways under Phase-IV, (iv) Augmenting highways in North East under Special Accelerated Programme, (v) Six-laning of selected stretches of National Highways under Phase-V, (vi) Development of 1000 Kms expressways under Phase-VI, and (vii) Construction of ring roads, flyovers and bypasses on selected stretches under Phase-VII. NHDP Phase I and II were mostly funded through Government where the share of BOT highways was only 10 per cent. Under the second phase, financing was through cess and market borrowings in addition to external funding of Rs.7,609 crore by World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Further, a policy decision has been taken that all the projects in NHDP Phase-III to Phase-VII would be taken up on the basis of PPP on BOT model. The development of 1,000 Kms access-controlled Expressways under PPP will be on new alignment and built on Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) model. The Committee on Infrastructure had mandated the formulation of a Model Concession Agreement (MCA) for PPP projects in national highways to specify the policy and regulatory framework on a fair and transparent basis. Accordingly, a MCA has been released by the Government as a guideline. The MCA unbundles the risks and costs, and allocates them to the partners best suited to manage them. Establishment of Dedicated Road Fund may ease the financial constraints of the Government in view of the large number of projects, which are under various stages of implementation.

Another issue in the road sector is that many of the projects have been delayed due to problems in land acquisition, hurdles in material movements, law and order problem. A clear mandate to acquire land for public use is to be conceived and to be operationalised to speed up the public projects. In case of toll roads, levying of user charges at a higher rate at the initial stage may dampen the road users, which could be rationalised through gradual increase in the later stage. Risk and revenue sharing arrangements should be clearly dealt with for smooth passage of project implementation. Excessive commercialisation may affect the common man, who may be protected with some element of subsidy at the initial stage. Above all, the confidence of the local people is to be gained for smooth implementation of the project.

Airports

There are 449 airports/airstrips in the country. Among them, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) owns and manages 92 airports and 28 civil enclaves at defence airfields, which provides air traffic services over the entire Indian airspace and adjoining oceanic areas. The legislative framework for privatisation of airports already exists in India. Some airports have already been owned by State Governments, private companies and even individuals. However, the financing of airport infrastructure has some inherent problems. These projects have a large element of cost, very long gestation period and highly uncertain returns on investment based on several assumptions of traffic growth that may not materialise. It has been estimated by the Task Force on Financing Plan for Airport constituted by the Planning Commission that private sector investment for the modernisation and development of various airports under PPP model would be Rs.31,100 crore (Table 15).

Modernisation and restructuring of Mumbai and Delhi airports at an estimated investment of US $3 billion over next 20 years under PPP model has already been in operation. Construction of new greenfield international airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad on BOOT basis, though delayed, have been completed by April 2008. Modernisation of other major airports like Chennai, Kolkata, etc., is pending due to procedural hassles and land acquisition problems, which are to be addressed urgently to ease the air traffic. Due to the introduction of open sky policy, the air traffic has increased significantly in major airports and the runways in these airports are not in a position to handle the increasing traffic, which resulted in flight delays. This call for expansion and modernisation of existing airports on a priority basis and also new airports of international standard, at least in the metros, are to be developed to accommodate the growing air traffic. Further more, the Committee on Infrastructure has approved the development of 35 non-metro airports. While the AAI will undertake all the development works on the air side, city side developments at most of the viable airports will be undertaken with private sector participation through JVC/private consortium.

In view of worldwide thrust towards corporatisation and privatisation of airports, comprehensive strategy needs to be prepared to capture the best investment opportunities. In case of greenfield projects, the promoter may be required to prepare pre-feasibility study for the smooth functioning of the project. Transparency in the operations and in the revenue and risk sharing would ease the hurdles in the implementation of the projects under PPP model. There will also be need for commercialisation of marginal or loss-making airports by transferring them to private companies, State Governments, urban local bodies etc., for operation and management under negotiated terms and conditions.

Ports and Shipping

There are 12 major ports and about 60 non-major and private ports in the country. With the awarding of infrastructure status for inland waterways and inland ports, the construction of ports under private sector has picked up. At present, 36 private/captive port projects involving capacity addition of about 137 MTPA3 and an investment of about Rs.9,756 crore are at various stages of evaluation and implementation. Out of these, 13 projects with capacity addition of about 47.40 MTPA involving an investment of about Rs.2662 crore have been operationalised and four projects are under implementation through private participation. Development of other ports is under slow progress, which needs attention of all concerned for early execution. The main areas which have been thrown open for private investment under BOT basis include construction of cargo handling berths, container terminals, warehousing facilities, installation of cargo handling equipments, construction of dry-docks and

3 Million tonnes per annum.

ship repair facilities. There is a plan to develop 54 new berths through PPP model in the next five years, which are to be hastened to relieve the port congestion problem.

India’s weak export infrastructure in the ports such as congestion problems, insufficient bulk terminals and age old Coastal Regulatory Zone Act, need to be addressed. More encouragement for PPP model and captive ports for development of minor/intermediate ports will improve the port infrastructure in the country. In addition, efficiency in cargo handling is to be improved to reduce the dwelling time of ships, which is higher when compared to international standards.

Railways

The demand for railway containers has grown rapidly due to increasing containerisation of cargo during the recent period. Since the beginning of the year 2006, container movement has been thrown open to competition and private sector entities would be eligible for owning and operating container trains. The rapid rise in international trade and domestic cargo has placed a great strain on the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata rail track. Government has, therefore, decided to build a dedicated freight corridor on these high density routes. This corridor would be constructed, operated and maintained by a corporate entity on commercial principles. Part of eastern, western and dedicated fright corridors would be undertaken through PPP model. The approach to be adopted for the dedicated freight corridor would herald the ownership and operation of a large number of freight trains by competing private entities. It is expected that the proposed separation of rail from wheels would initiate a paradigm shift in the functioning of Indian railways.

Urban Development

Over the next 25 years, modernising and expanding the water, electricity, and transportation systems of the cities of the world will require approximately $40 trillion. But the cost of not meeting the challenge could be even greater than $40 trillion (Viren Doshi et al, 2007). In the Indian scenario, there are about 400 cities with more than 100,000 population, which are facing immense problems in terms of financial management, in the provision of public services, and overall city

management. Government or local bodies alone could not develop the cities and solve the problems. Development of urban infrastructure should be an integral part of development strategy, which includes mass rapid transport system, drinking water, sewage system, solid waste management, urban roads and lightings, etc. However, investment in these areas has been inadequate. Development of this sector with the PPP may have a changing pace in the overall economic development, which requires an investor friendly environment with commercial viability of the projects. Overall, the solution to overcome the urban infrastructure bottlenecks is to organise the infrastructure more effectively, balance the public-private interest, reinvigorate electricity, water and transportation system by integrating finance, governance, technology and proper designing of the projects.

Section VII

Generic Issues and Options

Despite improvements in physical infrastructure development in the country during the recent years, significant gap exists between demand and supply of critical infrastructure facilities, which has become a binding constraint on the rapid pace of economic progress. As mentioned earlier, infrastructure gap exists in almost all the sectors (Table 6). In the case of power sector, the power shortage stood at around 9.8 per cent and the power shortage during the peak demand period has been much higher at about 16.6 per cent (in 2007-08), which severely affected the industrial production and economic development. The per capita consumption of electricity has increased to 704 kwh in 2007-08, which constantly put pressure on the generation front. In the road sector, among the proposed development of about 5846 Kms of Golden Quadrilateral (GQ), 96.7 per cent of the projects have been completed and the remaining works are pending due to various litigations. In North South-East West corridor of 7142 Kms, only about 1962 Kms have been completed till February 2008 even though the completion target has been fixed by end-December 2009. Employee productivity of railways in India is very low when compared to China, Korea, Brazil and Indonesia. Wagon shortage hinder the movement of industrial raw materials, coal, minerals, etc., which affects the industrial production. Port container and air freight traffic is also very low in India as compared to other Asian economies. India’s weak export infrastructure in the ports, congestion problem and insufficient bulk terminals are major constraints in this sector. Space is a major constraint in big cities to expand the basic infrastructure. In the absence of well defined law to acquire land for public infrastructure development has also lead to slowdown in the urban infrastructure. Poor basic amenities in the rural areas are also a major concern, despite 72 per cent of the population lives in villages.

When we look at the progress of infrastructure development so far, private participation and PPP arrangements in the development of public infrastructure have still faced several implementation challenges. These challenges typically involve tariff setting and adjustment, regulatory independence or dispute over contractual provision and risk sharing. It may be observed from the discussion so far, the PPP in the infrastructure development is picking up during the recent years, particularly in the road sector and to some extent in the airports and ports sectors. Telecom sector is considered to be a successful sector in attracting private participation on a large scale. This may be due to sector-specific policies and other factors such as Government commitment, increased private interest in these sectors, move towards better competitive process, greater availability of information, size of the projects, acceptable price and encouraging developer return, fiscal concessions, etc. However, considering the size and magnitude of the proposed and ongoing projects in the infrastructure sector as a whole, the lacklustre response by the private participation and slow progress in some of the projects need to be reversed through investor friendly policies, transparent procedures and other conducive measures. The PPP model will not be feasible in all types of infrastructure but they are possible in many areas, which are to be exploited fully. The key to making PPP model acceptable is to create an environment where PPPs are seen to be a way of attracting private money into public projects, not putting public resources into private projects. Towards this direction, the following generic issues, therefore, need the attention to make the PPP model as a success storey in the infrastructure development as in the case of some of the developed and developing economies.

Transparency: There is a widespread consensus among economists that transparency is crucial in the case of PPP projects. At present, the process of executing the projects in India involves various stages and each stage is to pass through complicated policies and programmes. Though, the process of bidding and awarding the contract is stated to be much transparent, still there is scope for improvements. The PPPs can sometimes run into controversy if the private partner is seen to have received unduly favourable treatment. This can be overcome by ensuring that the terms of concession agreements are transparent and protective of public interest. Though this approach has been adopted by the Centre through model concession agreement, the State governments should also adopt transparent approach similarly to ensure that the PPP will be a success story.

Risk Allocation: As the projects in the infrastructure sector requires huge investments and involve much time frame for their execution, various risks, viz., construction risk, financial risk, market risk, performance risk, demand risk and residual value risk are to be allocated appropriately among the constituents. The risks should not be passed on to others as and when arise, which would affect the cost and progress of the project and create unnecessary litigations. Too many risks assumed by Government will likely put unjustified pressures on taxpayers. On the other hand, too few will prevent potential private investors from participating in the venture.

Project Appraisal: Execution of infrastructure projects should have a clear choice about its implementation whether by the Government or private or both under PPP. Also, the technicality of the project should be clear regarding its soundness, viability and return. When we look at the PPP programme, while there are a number of successful projects, there have also been a number of poorly conceptualised PPPs brought to the market that stood little chance of reaching financial closure. Clear appraisal of the project before its execution would avoid many litigations. At the same time, it is important to avoid a possible bias in favour of the private sector.

Cost and Time Overruns: Many of the projects under the PPP are delayed due to litigations, which lead to cost and time overruns in their implementation. For instance, as per the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, out of 491 central sector projects of more than Rs.100 crore at the end of March 2008, about 231 projects have witnessed delays in their execution due to varied reasons. The cost overrun of these projects has, though, come down from 51.8 per cent of the original cost in March 2004 to 13.9 per cent in March 2008, still it constitutes a significant share, which is to be reduced through implementation of the projects on schedule.

Government Guarantee: Generally, investors look for Government guarantee for their investments and their return before entering into a venture. Constant changes in the procedures for offering Government guarantees discourage the investment opportunities. Though, Government guarantee for private investment is not a preferred option in the fiscal angle, transparent policies and guidelines towards Government guarantee will provide clear perception and encouragement towards the PPP even in the risky areas of investment. But at the same time, the guarantee should not put the Government into pecuniary losses due to lack of clarity as in the case of Dabhol power.

Centre-State Disagreement: Execution of some of the projects like airport development, road, etc., are delayed due to disagreement between the Centre and the State Governments in various aspects, particularly locational choice, cost sharing structure, political disagreement, etc., which are to be avoided with appropriate policies, political will, cooperation, coordination, dedication and determination.

Regulatory Independence: In the infrastructure sector, regulatory bodies like Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, State Electricity Regulatory Commissions, Tariff Authority of Major Ports, National Highway Authority of India and Airport Authority of India have established as autonomous agencies to regulate the activities coming under their jurisdiction. Though regulatory independence is vital for speedy implementation of policies, there are instances of disagreements between the regulatory authorities. To reduce the risk of arbitrary and ad-hoc policy interventions due to disagreement between the authorities, principles on key issues need to be specified upfront in sufficient detail.

Corporate Governance: Good corporate governance will succeed in attracting a better deal of public interest because of its apparent importance for the economic health of corporates and society in general. The corporate governance framework should ensure that timely and accurate disclosure is made on all material matters. The corporate governance practices of the parties involving in the PPP have to match with the benchmarking corporate governance practices with the best in the rest of the world.

In addition, appropriate institutional framework is a prerequisite for the success of the PPP in the infrastructure development due to its size, investment requirements, structure and dimension. Foreign investment will freely flow into a country when there is sound, stable and predictable investment policy. Frequent changes in the policies will be an irritant to the investors, which is to be restricted in an emerging economy like India. Overall, in addition to sector-specific issues, the generic issues also need the attention of all concerned to make not only the PPP model a successful but also to attract more private participation to upgrade the Indian infrastructure into a world-class.

Section VIII

Concluding Observations

In India, infrastructure gaps exist in all most all the sectors, posing a serious threat to sustenance of the growth momentum. To augment the infrastructure facilities with private participation, the initiated policy measures have not met with significant success. Except for the telecom sector, which has witnessed a revolution and has been able to attract massive private investments, other sectors have faced with lacklustre response. Even in the telecom sector, though the overall tele-density has improved during the recent period, rural tele-density remains low, which needs to be dealt with appropriate policy measures.

The status of the PPP in the infrastructure development in India, both in the Central Government schemes as well as State sponsored schemes, is not encouraging. Stable macroeconomic framework, sound regulatory structure, investor friendly policies, sustainable project revenues, transparency and consistency of policies, effective regulation and liberalisation of labour laws, and good corporate governance are the basic requirements, which define the success of the PPP model. The PPP model in the road sector has experienced with enthusiastic response with the introduction of massive NHDP with structured MCA. However, many of the road projects are faced with cost and time overruns on account of prolonging disputes in land acquisition, hurdles in the material movements, law and order problems, etc.

Power shortage is a serious concern and the quality of the power supply is generally poor, especially in rural and semi-urban areas, which has affected the micro and small enterprises severely. Though the Planning Commission has put in place an ambitious plan to provide power for all by 2011-12 by adding more than 78,000 MW of generation capacity and also facilitate capacity additions in transmission and distribution networks during the 11th Plan period, slow progress in capacity addition needs to be speaded up with a policy thrust. Further, private sector participation in power generation is not forthcoming due to specific issues such as delays in finalising power purchase agreements, high aggregated technical and commercial losses, age-old transmission networks, shortage of fuel supply and policy and procedural barriers while exploring renewable energy sources.

The progress in the development of many of the port projects under private participation is at a sluggish pace, which requires conducive policy environment. Efficiency in cargo handling needs to be enhanced through modernisation of port facilities to facilitate the trade. The PPP model projects in the airport sector are in slow progress and also restricted to major airports. Modernisation of airports like Chennai and Kolkata is yet to take-off due to procedural hassles and land acquisition problems. This brings to the fore a need for constructive and stable policy environment towards land acquisition for public utilities. The urban infrastructure bottlenecks need to be addressed through a development strategy, which encompasses efficient planning and organisation of the project, balancing the public-private interest, reinvigoration of electricity, water supply and transportation system and integration of finance and technology.

International experience suggests that the success of PPP projects requires a single objective of better services for the public at a reasonable cost. This is achievable through realistic and reasonable risk transfer while addressing the public concerns. The Indian PPP model should adhere to such objectives and best practices to march forward on the success path. In this pursuit, easy availability of long-term private capital is an essential requirement. Fostering the greenfield investments in the public infrastructure with appropriate user charges, transparent revenue and risk sharing agreements would transform the international capital inflows into productive ventures. Above all, selection of right PPP model for a right project at a right time through realistic planning would go a long way in providing meaningful and hassle free infrastructure development, which ultimately would increase the infrastructure standards and thereby sustain the overall macroeconomic developments of the country.

Money Laundering –http://nagahistory.wordpress.com/

In response to mounting concern over money laundering, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) was established by the G-7 Summit that was held in Paris in 1989. Recognising the threat posed to the banking system and to financial institutions, the G-7 Heads of State or Government and President of the European Commission convened the Task Force from the G-7 member States, the European Commission and eight other countries.

The Task Force was given the responsibility of examining money laundering techniques and trends, reviewing the action which had already been taken at a national or international level, and setting out the measures that still needed to be taken to combat money laundering. In April 1990, less than one year after its creation, the FATF issued a report containing a set of Forty Recommendations, which provide a comprehensive plan of action needed to fight against money laundering

 
The Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) aimed at combating money laundering in India with three main objectives – to prevent and control money laundering, to confiscate and seize the property obtained from laundered money, and to deal with any other issue connected with money laundering in India, comes into force from tomorrow i.e., 1st July, 2005. The Act provides that whosoever directly or indirectly attempts to indulge or knowingly assists or knowingly is a party or is actually involved in any process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime and projecting it as untainted property, shall be guilty of offences of money-laundering. For the purpose of money-laundering, the PMLA identifies certain offences under the Indian Penal Code, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, the Arms Act, the Wild Life (Protection) Act, the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act, the proceeds of which would be covered under this Act.

To combat the menace of aforesaid offences of money laundering, the Government is entrusting the work relating to investigation, attachment of property/proceeds of crime relating to the scheduled offences under the Act and filing of complaints etc. to the Directorate of Enforcement, which currently deals with offences under the Foreign Exchange Management Act.

As per the provisions of the PMLA, every banking company, financial institution (which, inter alia, includes a chit fund company, a co-operative bank, a housing finance institution and a non-banking financial company) and intermediary (which includes a stock-broker, sub-broker, share transfer agent, banker to an issue, trustee to a trust deed, registrar to an issue, merchant banker, underwriter, portfolio manager, investment adviser and any other intermediary associated with securities market and registered under section 12 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992), shall have to maintain a record of all transactions, the nature and value of which is being prescribed in the Rules under the PMLA, which are concurrently being notified. Such transactions include all cash transactions of the value of more than rupees ten lakhs or its equivalent in foreign currency, all series of cash transactions integrally connected to each other which have been valued below rupees ten lakhs or its equivalent in foreign currency where such series of transactions have taken place within one calendar month and all suspicious transactions whether or not made in cash. Information of the afore-said transactions shall have to be furnished to the Director, Financial Intelligence Unit, India (FIU-IND).

The FIU-IND has been set up as a multi-disciplinary unit for establishing links between suspicious or unusual financial transactions and underlying criminal activities. It will coordinate and support efforts of national and international intelligence, investigation and enforcement agencies in pursuing the global efforts against money laundering and related crimes. The FIU-IND will be the central nodal agency responsible for receiving, processing, analyzing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions to these agencies who shall protect the information against misuse. Through its research and analysis functions, it will monitor and identify strategic key areas on money laundering trends, methods and developments.

The punishment for offences under the said Act is rigorous imprisonment for a term from three years to seven years and a fine which may extend to five lakh rupees. Where the money laundering offence relates to a drug offence under the NDPS Act, the penalty can extend to a maximum of 10 years.

The Act provides that every order of attachment of property involved in money-laundering, order of seizure of property/records etc. shall be forwarded along with a complaint or application to the Adjudicating Authority within a period of thirty days. Such order would require to be confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority within a certain time-limit. The Adjudicating Authority is being constituted separately. The appeal against the orders of the Director or the Adjudicating Authority can be filed before the Appellate Tribunal being set up under the PMLA.

India is committed to fight all forms of economic crime which also includes money laundering. To deal with such economic crimes, a number of special laws regulating customs, excise, taxes, foreign exchange, narcotic drugs, banking, insurance, trade and commerce relating to export and import have been enacted. These laws are enforced by the respective agencies in India.

The Government, in order to combat money laundering as also to meet international commitments, such as recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force – an inter-governmental body which sets standards and develops and promotes policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing – and the Political Declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly held in June, 1998, enacted the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) as an Act to prevent money-laundering and to provide for confiscation of property derived from, or involved in, money-laundering or for matters connected therewith. Although the Act received the assent of the President of India in January, 2003, it could not be brought into force due to certain lacunae in the Act. The Act was recently amended to remove these shortcomings.

DECEMBER 2013 current affairs

DECEMBER 2013

COMMUNAL VIOLENCE ::

Communal Violence and preservation of National Harmony

In the backdrop of India’s long history of communal violence, the country certainly needs a specific law with a strong focus on preventing clashes between the majority community and minorities and providing redressal mechanisms and compensation to the victims of such violence. The present revised draft of the Prevention of Communal Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill seeks to address some of the problems associated with communal violence in India, and put in place an institutional mechanism for redress.

Why is there a need for such a law? Most of the communal clashes are engineered and sustained by chauvinist and anti-social elements in both the majority and minority communities and these clashes are different from ordinary law and order issues.

It is also observed that, there are institutional bias against minorities and oppressed sections. For instance the Godhra riots which not only witnessed mass killings of a minority community, but also safeguarded many from the majority community which was involved in the heinous act. Hence a special legislation that takes into account the specific character and circumstances of communal violence is therefore vital and unquestionable.

Contentious provisions of the Bill: However, some of the provisions of the bill are too sweeping and general to address the real concerns that it intends to address. On these lines, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has argued that many of the provisions are worded vaguely, open to wide subjective interpretation, and hence can be misused. The bill is viewed as an attempt to encroach upon the jurisdiction of the state governments’ (law and order is a State subject) as a result this would be a threat to the federal structure of India.

The bill also proposes to target ‘hate propaganda’. Thus, anyone who disseminates any information “that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate an intention to promote or incite hatred” could attract the penal provisions of this law.

In the absence of specific phrasing, there is scope for misuse by subordinate law enforcers.

Way forward: What is actually required in preventing communal violence is ‘better policing and administrative precautions’ rather than just prosecuting people who indulge in propaganda with the intention to promote hatred.

While one cannot deny the fact that India needs special legislation to deal with communal violence, the current draft bill is unlikely to serve the purpose. The failure to eliminate the contentious provisions that are in any case too general and sweeping could endanger the passage of a potentially historic piece of legislation which in effect institutionalises a commitment on the part of government.

In this regard, it is better that the bill is redrafted to ensure a sharper focus on the specific issues of prevention of communal violence and provide proper redressal mechanism and a wider consultation among various stakeholders including the government, political parties, police and security agencies would not only uphold the democratic principles of our country but also help in preservation of national harmony.

TELANGANA

Cabinet finally gives approval for formation of ‘Telangana state’

The Union Cabinet has finally approved a bill for the creation of a Telangana state with 10 districts, paving the way for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to give birth to the country’s 29th state. The Cabinet has broadly approved most of the recommendations made by the Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted to consider the contentious issues.

Some of the highlights of the bill are: Telangana will have 10 districts and the rest of Andhra Pradesh will have 13 districts; Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation area will remain the common capital for both states for a period not exceeding 10 years;

An expert committee will identify the alternative capital for Telangana within 45 days of the gazette notification; a joint public service commission will be in place for the two States;

Both States will have special status under Article 371-D of the Constitution for equitable opportunities. The Governor of Telangana will have a special responsibility for security of life, liberty and property of all those who reside in the common capital area.

Both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana will get special economic packages for development of backward regions. All tax incentives will continue for the two states.

National-level institutions such as IITs and IIMs and an AIIMS will be set up in Andhra Pradesh to ensure that careers of students do not get affected. All educational facilities in Hyderabad will continue for another 10 years under existing system

Polavaram project will be declared a national project and will be financed and executed entirely by the Centre. There will be two separate boards for Krishna and Godavari rivers.

Polity related information (from Exam point of View):

Procedure for forming a ‘New State’ (taking Telangana as an example)

The constitutional framework for creating a new state might not have changed much since the days of the First State Reorganization Commission headed by Justice Fazal Ali, but logistical challenges and vote bank dynamics have certainly made the task more complex. Before Telangana sees the light of the day, there are a host of legal and administrative challenge.

The first step has to be taken by the Union Cabinet to approve the creation of India’s 29th state. The cabinet will form a Group of Ministers (GoM) to draft proposals detailing the bifurcation process which will be eventually drafted into a bill. Under Article 3(e) of the Constitution of India, the draft bill will be sent by the President to the legislature of the concerned state to seek its approval within a time frame “specified in the reference or within such further period as the President may allow.

Since the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP) has a bicameral legislature, both the legislative assembly and the legislative council will express their views on this draft bill. However, all this is a mere formality since the President is not obliged to consider the views of the AP legislature

Each house has to pass the bill by a simple majority, which in Parliamentary parlance is defined as half the members of each of the houses ‘present and voting’.

After passing muster in both houses of Parliament, the bill would go to Rashtrapati Bhavan for the President’s seal, specifying the date on which Telangana will be formed. This will be published in the respective gazettes of the Union government and the Andhra Pradesh government signifying the birth of Telangana

Four-step procedure Article 3 (Article 3 of Indian Constitution addresses the topic of ‘Formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States’) provides the following procedure:

Presidential reference is sent to State Assembly. After presidential reference, a resolution is tabled and passed in Assembly. Assembly has to pass a Bill creating the new State/States.

A separate Bill has to be ratified by Parliament.

Supreme Court sets aside Delhi HC verdict decriminalizing gay sex

In a major setback to gay rights activists, the Supreme Court has held that homosexuality or unnatural sex between two consenting adults under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is illegal and will continue to be an offence.

What does Section 377 say? Whoever voluntarily has “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal commits an unnatural offence” and can be punished with up to life term.

However, ‘Section 377, which holds same-sex relations unnatural, does not suffer from unconstitutionality’.

The Delhi High Court in 2009 had ruled that Section 377 was against constitutional values and human dignity, which clearly violates the Human Right’s of an individual.

But the SC has argued that, the Delhi HC has relied extensively upon the judgements of other foreign countries which cannot be applied blindfolded for deciding the constitutionality of Indian law.

And since LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) community constitute only a diminutive fraction of the population, the decision does not hold water. Now, it is upto the parliament to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting section 377 of IPC from the constitution or amend it.

Ruling regressive, say gay rights activists The Naz Foundation has said that, the decision has let down the constitutional vision of an equal and inclusive society and violated the fundamental tenets of the Constitution.

The 2.5-million LGBT community is categorised as a high-risk group by the Department of AIDS Control, as prevalence of HIV infection among them is close to 7 % as against less than 1% in others. India has cut down HIV infections by 57% through its inclusive public health schemes. With this decision HIV infected among LGBT community may no longer access public health facilities without risking harassment or arrest. The community would also face threats and intimidation or even blackmailing.

A retrograde decision: The Supreme Court’s is viewed as ‘retrograde’ as it has brought back medieval prejudice and has also curtailed liberal values and human rights. Through its path-breaking judgment in Naz Foundation, the Delhi High Court had amended Section 377 to decriminalise consensual sex among adults irrespective of gender. The Union government too was in favour of the High Court’s view, and had left it to the Supreme Court (SC) to decide on the penal provision.

The court has stepped in wherever the executive had failed and has not hesitated to read into the constitutionally enumerated fundamental rights to life and to equality an expansive set of human rights including the right to education, the right to work with dignity and the right of prisoners to humane treatment. That is all the more reason why it should not shy away from correcting a centuries-old law and an outdated mind-set that offend against basic rights and human dignity. Changes in law have come about both by legislation and through the judiciary’s constitutional interpretation.

With this decision, the judicial route to bringing the law in line with fundamental human right has been closed. It is strange that a decision involving a major constitutional issue and the hard-won rights of large sections of the socially oppressed should have been decided by a two-member bench rather than by a larger Constitutional Bench.

It is Parliament’s prerogative to amend Section 377 in tune with the social circumstances, declared the court in a show of restraint that is uncharacteristic of its attitude in recent times. However, the legislative route to decriminalising gay sex would seem to be problematic in this election season because the issue may not be accorded priority and also because it may be difficult to forge a political agreement.

If harassment by law enforcement agencies drives sections of the LGBT community underground and makes them terrified of disclosing their orientation, it would have serious public health consequences as well, particularly in the fight against AIDS. Above all, it is a test of humane values, fairness and dignity in a society. It is important that institutions of the state acknowledge the importance of these values. As India takes a step back, U.K. prepares to legalise gay marriage

The Indian Supreme Court has re-criminalized gay relationships based on a colonial law that the United Kingdom has long back done away with is an irony that has not gone unnoticed in the U.K., where a much-awaited government announcement promising a spring deadline for same- sex marriages has just been made.

CYBER-SECURITY::

India’s cyber security preparedness In view of its growing cyber security concerns, India has decided to challenge the U.S. government’s control over the Internet and ensure that the trio of the U.S., Russia and China does not ignore India’s concerns while developing an international regime for Internet governance. India will also push for storing all Internet data within the country, besides ensuring control and management of servers.

According to a note prepared by the Sub-Committee on International Cooperation on Cyber Security (under the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS)), the following were the concerns and issues discussed regarding cyber security challenges:

The control of Internet was in the hands of the U.S. government and the key levers relating to its management was dominated by its security agencies. Just mere location of root servers in India would not serve any purpose unless India was also allowed a role in their control and management. Also it should be insisted that data of all domain names originating from India should be stored in India. Similarly, all traffic originating/landing in India should be stored in India.

Notably, the key function of domain name system (DNS) management today is in the hands of the U.S. National Telecommunication and Information Administration and the Department of Commerce. Though after persistently putting pressure on companies, India has managed to get root servers installed in the country, it wants a say in management of these servers. India is also seeking a key role in policy making on Internet governance at the international level.

It was also important that management and control of the DNS should be supervised by a ‘Board’ consisting of technical experts nominated by governments and India should be represented on this Board. India should seek a larger determinate role for the GAC (Government Advisory Committee) in ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number) a U.S.-based non-profit organisation that coordinates global Internet systems in which India should be effectively represented.

India is also concerned about the proximity of the U.S., Russia and China while deciding on issue of Internet governance. There was a possibility that the U.S., Russia and China may work out an arrangement that met their concerns and this arrangement was thereafter forced upon other countries. So India needs to guard against this possibility and ensure that India’s concerns were also accommodated in whatever international regime for Internet governance that ultimately emerged. Notably, today India has the third largest Internet users in the world at over 15 crore, only after China (56 crore) and the U.S. (25 crore). India has also decided to favour a pre-dominantly multilateral approach on issues related to Internet governance rather than multi-stakeholder approach which is mainly being advocated by the West.

According to India, the very term multi-stakeholder was something of a ‘misnomer’. A small unrepresentative group of certain individuals, supported by vested interests, appear to have arrogated themselves the right to present certain views in discussions relating to Internet governance. It was not clear as to who they represent and whether who they claimed to represent had in fact nominated them. These persons undermine the positions of the government and were really spokespersons of certain Western interests.

Cyber-attacks on the rise

According to the latest report of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology there has been a major increase in attacks on Indian websites in recent months, the most vulnerable being those of critical government organisations like banking and finance, oil and gas and emergency services.

The most targeted websites included those having ‘.in’ domain, which is mostly used by government ministries and departments, besides some major private organisations.

Defacing of a website is an act of cyber terrorism, particularly when the target belonged to critical government infrastructure. Hackers have targeted these important websites to reduce public confidence in the security of a system and its trustworthiness for use for sensitive purposes.

Mind-Mapping:  What do you understand by ‘cyber-terrorism’? Its impact on the economy of India?

 Has India taken any steps to curtail the cyber threats?

 Do you think cyber terrorism needs to be tackled on a larger scale (international fora)? How can this be done?

 What do you think is the difference between NSA snooping and Cyber terrorism?

INDIA’S DIPLOMACY::

Need for change in India’s Diplomatic policy The two instances below makes us rethink on the existing diplomatic policy of India:

The arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the United States and the other regarding the arrest of sailors in July, 2013 (and released just recently).

In the later case, the two Indian sailors Sunil James and Vijayan were arrested by the Togo authorities. Reason- they had simply disembarked in Togo to report a pirate attack on their oil tanker. In an apparent instance of confusion, the Togo police charged them with the grave offence of aiding piracy. Criminal proceedings were initiated against both, and their families reliably informed that the trial would go on for an extended period of time. They were released after the Indian High Commissioner in neighbouring Ghana met the President of Togo to present their case. Given that the health of Mr. James and Mr. Vijayan had deteriorated, this diplomatic intervention by Indian and Togolese officials came not a moment too soon. Meanwhile, Mr. James’s son, all of 11 months old, died of illness earlier this month. By securing his release, the Indian government has ensured that the sailor gets to attend his son’s funeral. But it needs mention that the plight of the jailed men was taken up in earnest only after the death of Mr. James’s son came to the attention of the media and public. In this respect, a common thread runs through the arrests of Ms. Khobragade and the two sailors. Both cases indicate that Indian diplomacy has been too slow to respond to crises that were long in the making. Ms. Khobragade’s harsh treatment at the hands of U.S. authorities is a by-product of India’s inability to tackle a serious legal and humanitarian issue through diplomatic channels.

If there was a chance to negotiate a mutually accepted understanding of how U.S. visa rules and minimum wage laws would apply to domestic help employed by Indian diplomats in the country, India did not exercise it. Similarly, Mr. James and Mr. Vijayan were languishing in a Togo jail for six months before India took up their cases.

The zeal with which the Ministry of External Affairs has intervened in Ms. Khobragade’s case sits uncomfortably with its lax attempts to resolve the open-and-shut case involving the sailors. India’s diplomatic establishment needs to formulate a policy that deals with the concerns of Indians abroad not just of diplomats but of sailors, businesspersons, fishermen and others. As the global and business profile of India increases, it is only natural that more Indians find themselves in legal and diplomatic crosshairs around the world. Resolving their concerns effectively while deferring to the national laws of other states should be accorded a higher priority than has been in evidence.

RAILWAY SAFTEY::

Railways ‘safety’ high on alert Railway accidents in India is on the rise .Recently a three-tier air-conditioned coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express was engulfed in flames near Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh), claiming 26 lives in the early hours of December 28.Preliminary investigation has revealed that, an electrical short circuit in the coach may be the reason behind the tragedy.

Fires in running trains are not new to the Indian Railways, but the unfortunate fact is that when it happens in the dead of night and that too in an enclosed air-conditioned coach, the chances of survival are bleak.

Similarly, in July 2012, 47 passengers were killed when a coach of the Tamil Nadu Express caught fire near Nellore, also in Andhra Pradesh. Derailments, collisions, fire and accidents at unmanned level crossings account for the bulk of railway calamities in India.

This calamity can be overcome by use of non-combustible and non-inflammable materials in railway coaches. On these lines, the Railway Ministry had decided to make the shift, and coach production units were asked to go in for fire -retardant material. But the major drawback over here is- it’s a slow process and only ‘new coaches’ could be made with them. The problem persists with the old coaches still in use.

Also a major drive to check passengers carrying stoves or inflammable materials was launched, and to a certain extent this was successful. Two other major sources of fire incidents relate to overheating wheels and electrical short circuit. Now with advances in technology, it should be possible for the Indian Railways to detect such hazards in time to prevent a fire.

Smoke detectors and circuit breakers have become commonplace and can easily be installed in trains. Though fire extinguishers exist, it is seldom operational and it must be made sure that every railway station is equipped to fight fires.

Several inquiries and Commission reports have pointed to gaps in safety measures and suggested follow-up action. The ‘Kakodkar committee on safety’ in 2012 had pointed to an “implementation bug” and recommended a massive Rs.1 lakh crore programme over five years to ensure complete safety on the wheels. It had also suggested an allocation of Rs.20,000 crore a year, which can also be generated by means of a safety cess on passengers.

It is high time that more importance must be given to ‘safety’ of the passengers and funding the required measures. Preventive measure is anytime better than curative measures.

Mind-Mapping:

 What are the reasons for frequent railway accidents? Suggest some measures to overcome the mishaps.

 What are the steps taken by the govt. in this regard?

 Committee’s appointed by the govt. in order to improve the working of railways (for example: karkodar committee etc.- their recommendations)

 Should railways be privatized? Your views.

ROLE OF EMERGING ECONOMIES::

Middle-income countries key to future development

With Globalisation being the engine of emerging economies’(Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Mexico, Colombia etc.) growth, trade has increased exponentially, but the performance of these economies has slowed down in the last couple of years (since 2011).

About 1,500 covert protectionist measures’ have been introduced by G20 members since 2008 and amid stagnant wages, high unemployment, and anaemic growth, support for globalisation has been on the decline in advanced economies. Also there has been threat to sustainability across the globe – Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are now 46% higher than they were in 1990, and the International Energy Agency estimates that existing policies will result in long-term warming of between 3.6°C (38.5°F) and 5.3°C well into the zone where catastrophic climate tipping points could be triggered, potentially wiping out progress made on poverty reduction over the past 15 years.

Yet, decisive action(s) have not been taken to halt these trends due to frequent disagreements and concerns about competitiveness. Efforts to formulate new international development targets to succeed the millennium development goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015 are emerging as a key indicator of what the future holds.

Countries across the globe have agreed at 2013 U.N. general assembly that the post-2015 goals should be universal, targeting not only the 1 billion people living in absolute poverty, but all 7 billion of the world’s inhabitants.

But the reality is that, the new development agenda calls for important role of ‘middle-income’ countries, since they form the majority of the population and also they are much ‘less reliant’ on foreign assistance than they were when the MDGs were agreed upon. Of course, middle-income countries still face huge development challenges (with majority of poor people, illiteracy, health issues among others)

If global world is thinking of eliminating poverty by 2030 (the probable headline target of the post-2015 goals), limiting global warming to 2°C, or move to more sustainable and inclusive globalisation, then there is a strong urge for a new global partnership with middle-income countries fully on board.

Mind- mapping:

 Concept of ‘balance of power’ in the contemporary world.

 What are MDGs? Achievement of India in this regard.

 Bring out 3 major issues faced by the global world. What measures are taken to tackle these issues (by the developed and developing countries)? How successful have these measures been?

 Difference between ‘growth’ and ‘development’?

 Impact of globalisation on the developing countries (India in particular).

 Do you think post-2015 goals should be ‘universal’? Your views and suggestions.

OPEN DEFECATION ::

‘Open Defecation’ a bane to the Indian society & the economy as a whole According to a recent report released by WHO and UNICEF, over half of the India’s population defecate in the open. This has serious consequences on the health of the individual and ‘demographic dividend’ and the future growth prospects of India.

Though experts and political leaders have raised this issue and called for “more toilets than temples”, there is not much improvement in this regard.

India to its record has most number of people who defecate in the open and Bihar alone has a higher rate than any other country in the world to continue this practice indicates the seriousness of this issue.

Even neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal have done well in this regard. For instance by reducing open defecation from 32% to 4% during 1990-2011, Bangladesh has fared extremely well. The reduction has been about 50% in the case of Nepal (84 to 43%) and Pakistan (52 to 23%) during the same period( in India, the reduction is from 74% to only about 50% in 2011) Determined to resolve this issue, the Indian government has come up with its mission to completely eliminate this practice by 2022 and 50% of all gram panchayats by 2017. And had also taken certain measures like increasing the amount to be spent for household toilets in rural areas from Rs.4,600 to Rs.10,000 in 2012.

However, it must be realised here that, financial incentives alone cannot end or drastically reduce the percentage of people continuing with this practice. If other countries have achieved it, there is no reason why India cannot do it.

The need to aggressively address the issue cannot be overemphasised as open defecation affects children, especially those below five, the most. This practice causes diarrhoea, one of the most common communicable diseases in India and a number one killer of young children. Frequent diarrhoeal events result in under-nutrition. This is why nearly 50 % of under-five children in rural areas are stunted, wasted and underweight. Children weakened by this disease are in turn more prone to opportunistic infections such as pneumonia.

A recent report released by the World Bank reveals even more dangerous consequences- it has gone beyond the physical impact of this issue and has found a link between open defecation and reduced cognitive achievements. It’s high time that the government shows more pro-activeness and creates awareness on this issue.

Cabinet clears constitutional status for Judicial Appointments Commission

The Union Cabinet has given its nod for conferring constitutional status on the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) for appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary.

The government earlier accepted the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which recommended that the structure and functions of the JAC to replace the present collegium system be governed by a constitutional provision.

Provisions in the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013:

The Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013, provides for the setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission by inserting Article 124 (A) in the Constitution and amending Articles 124(2), 217(1) and 222(1). According to the proposal approved by the Cabinet, while new Article 124 A of the Constitution will define the composition of the JAC, Article 124 B will define its functions. The JAC Bill seeks to set up a six-member body under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of

India for recommending names to the President of individuals with outstanding legal acumen and impeccable integrity and credibility for judgeship in the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

It would also recommend transfer of judges of one High Court to another.

The structure and functions of the proposed commission are provided in the JAC Bill. Present issues & Recommendations of the Parliamentary Panel:

According to the parliamentary panel, the present process adopted by the collegium of judges is plagued with its own problem of opacity and non-accountability, besides excluding the Executive entirely in the collaborative and consultative exercise for appointment of judges.

Because of inherent deficiencies in the collegium, as many as 275 judge posts in various High Courts are lying vacant. This has a direct bearing on the justice delivery system and thereby affecting the judiciary.

The committee had recommended that, there should be three eminent persons in the commission, instead of two as provided for in the present Bill, and at least one out of them should be an SC/ST/OBC/woman/minority, preferably by rotation.

Considering the responsibility of the JAC to select 800-odd judges to 24 High Courts, and also the fact that constitutional and other functionaries are involved at the State-level in the process of appointment, it suggested State-level commissions also.

Mind-Mapping:

 What is the existing system of appointment of Judges of SC & HC in India? What are the issues with the present system? How do you think JAC would solve the issue?

 Constitution Amendment – procedure and conditions followed?

Union Government to have powers to resolve water-sharing disputes in new States

The Union Govt. will have the powers to decide the sharing of water resources and assets in the river basins (Krishna and Godavari) between Andhra Pradesh and proposed Telangana after the bifurcation, if the two are unable to do so through a mutual agreement within specified time. If the two States, after the bifurcation, are unable to resolve sharing of utilisable water in the river basins within one year, the Centre will be empowered to take the decision unilaterally by the end of the second year. In the case of projects running in these basins, the States would get two years to arrive at the sharing formula in consultation with the Centre failing which, again the Union government would step in to do so unilaterally in the third year after creation of the State (the sharing of water resources has been one of the most contentious points in the creation of the Telangana State.)

The Centre also proposed to set up a river management board. The board will be funded by the two State governments on the basis of a formula that would be decided on the benefit-sharing ratios. This board would regulate the implementation of the benefit-sharing agreement struck either between the States or by the Centre either on water supply or on power generated.

The board shall hold powers to regulate irrigation, water supply, hydro-power, navigation and terms of industrial use of river resources. In order to avoid any enduring battle between the two States over specific projects or critical water resources, the centre would have the veto in case dispute arises between the States on the powers of the board.

Way forward:

This would provide the way to resolve ownership and benefit-sharing issues that the Centre believes could emerge in case of large, controversial and on-going projects such as the multi-purpose Polavaram irrigation project.

Panel wants minimum wage linked to MGNREGA levels

A committee set up by the Ministry of Rural Development to revise wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has come up with suggestions that would likely provide solutions to the long-standing issues relating to disparity in earnings under the scheme.

Currently, MGNREGA wages are lower than the minimum wages in several States, including in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The committee was constituted to ‘suggest a proper index for revising the MGNREGA wage rates every year, by protecting the wages against inflation.’

Key Recommendations:

Any State which raises the minimum wages arbitrarily will have to bear the extra cost from its own resources. However, this increase will be taken into account once the base index is revised every five years. It would be better to link the wages to an established index rather than trying to create a new one.

The significant issue is to link the minimum wages in States to MGNREGA wages. This will even sort out the issues between the Centre and State governments

While the committee is yet to finalise whether to continue with Consumer Price Index (Agricultural Labourers(AL)) or pitch for Consumer Price Index (Rural (R)), or even CPI (Rural Labourers(RL)), it has recommended that the MGNREGA wages be made equivalent to minimum wages in States. Currently, wages under the rural job scheme are indexed to the CPI (AL), which has a larger share of the food component and reflects food inflation. The other option before the committee is to index wages to CPI (R).

Both CPI (AL) and CPI (RL) are estimated by the Labour Ministry and the Labour Bureau, while CPI (R) is calculated by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).

Minimum Wages Act

The Minimum Wages Act, 1948 is an Indian legislation enacted by the Parliament of India for statutory fixing of minimum wages to be paid to skilled and unskilled labours.

The Indian Constitution has defined a ‘living wage’ that is the level of income for a worker which will ensure a basic standard of living including good health, dignity, comfort, education and provide for any contingency.

MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National rural employment guarantee act)

The MGNREGA is designed to provide job guarantee for at least 100 days in rural parts of the country. Through this scheme, all the adult members (at least 18 years of age) of the any family in rural part of the country are given non-skilled work. The Mahatma Gandhi Nationwide Non-urban Career Assurance Act (MGNREGA) is an Indian job guarantee program, presented by regulation on Aug 25, 2005. The program provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of occupation in every financial year to mature associates of any rural family willing to do public work-related inexperienced guide perform at the legal lowest salary of 120 Rs per day last year prices.

Plan to give Juvenile Justice Boards more powers to try children draws flak

The Ministry of Women and Child Development’s plan to empower the Juvenile Justice Boards to try under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) children involved in heinous crimes, such as murder and rape, has come under criticism.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has said it was not taken into confidence before the plan was drafted. And according to Child rights organizations have the plan would lead to violating the right to life, liberty and equality of children.

At present, the Juvenile Justice Boards, which try children in conflict with law, can prescribe a maximum punishment of up to three years. But the draft of the proposal says children aged above 16 can be tried under the IPC if they are involved in heinous crimes. This can only be done by amending the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

Significance of the proposal:

The proposal is significant, given that the juvenile involved in the December 16 gang rape in New Delhi got away with a light punishment, even after the victim declared him the most gruesome among all perpetrators.

According to the plan, the Juvenile Justice Boards will not hand down death and life sentences; nor will the age of the juvenile be reduced to 16 years as was planned earlier. The Juvenile Justice Boards will decide on what falls under the category of heinous crimes the gravity of the crime or repeated offences. This has been done in keeping with India’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights (UNCRC), which defines a child as anyone aged less than 18 years. In July, 2013 the Supreme Court rejected petitions for lowering the age of juvenility from the existing 18 years. NCPCR’s argument is also on these lines that there should be no compromise on the age of a child as defined in the UNCRC, which India has ratified.

The Ministry too has retaliated that it has considered this clause and there was no move to lower the age of juveniles.

Earlier, the Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the criminal law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for those accused of sexual assault against women.

The Indian laws relating to children have evolved over several years and are the product of an extensive research and understanding of the issue, and therefore it is essential that any review of the child rights jurisprudence should take place only after an exhaustive deliberation on the pros and cons of the subject.

Power Grid to launch air patrolling of networks Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) is planning to introduce air-patrolling to keep a watch on some of its installations, located in remote or difficult destinations. The move will eventually help reduce power theft, tripping and unplanned outages. This would also enhance system efficiency and power trippings. The plan is to cover first the national capital region (NCR), followed by the West, the South and then the East.

The public sector PGCIL is India’s largest electric power transmission company, owning and operating over 90% of India’s inter-state transmission system. The 12th Five Year Plan aims to achieve a national power grid with inter-regional power transfer capacity of approximately 65,550 MW, which would primarily include PGCIL’s transmission system.

Communal violence Bill

The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011 was crafted by the National Advisory Council (NAC).

The bill aims at creating a framework for preventing pogroms such as the attacks on Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, and the provision of relief for victims of such violence. It has kicked up a storm with some people criticizing it as “draconian” and “anti-Hindu” and others dismissing it as “toothless and meaningless”.

Broadly, the bill targets acts that result in injury and were directed against persons because of their affiliation to any group. Such acts include sexual assault, hate propaganda, torture and organized communal violence.

The bill creates a National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice, and Reparation, charged with preventing acts of communal violence and monitoring investigations into incidents.

It also covers the punishment of officials who fail to discharge their duties in an unbiased manner during outbreaks of such violence.

According to the Bill, only violence against a minority community is considered communal violence. Hence critics argue why not violence against the majority community should not be considered as communal.

The bill’s attempt to correct institutional bias against religious and linguistic minorities has drawn fire from Hindu nationalists, who see it as evidence of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s appeasement of Muslims.

The Bill is viewed as a threat to India’s communal harmony

State Govt’s argue that ‘law and order’ and ‘public order’ are State subjects, and several provisions of this Bill encroach on the federal structure of the Constitution.

‘Politics’ has wrecked sports: Supreme Court The Supreme Court regretted that national game (Hockey) has fallen victim to private interest as businessmen headed these sports bodies. (India could not even qualify for the next Olympics). With regard to a petition filed by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) on a dispute with Hockey India (HI), it said that, sports officials were only interested in visiting foreign countries and not in promoting the game. This showed the sad state of affairs.

Background:

IHF had earlier appealed to restrain HI from participating in the proceedings of 3-member committee appointed by International Hockey Federation (FIH) to find out which body controlled hockey in India.

IHF’s plea for restraining HI to attend proceedings before the FIH’s 3-member committee was based on the fact that the Delhi High Court had ruled in its favour, thus making it (IHF) the sole body to represent Indian hockey in the international arena. HI had appealed against this order in apex court. (IHF is similar to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), a registered society which administers the game of cricket).

Union Govt. rejects demand for ILP in Meghalaya The Union Govt. has rejected the demand for introduction of Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in Meghalaya, saying the Constitution does not provide for expanding the special provision to new areas.

The centre justified its stand saying that it was bound by Article 19 (d) of the Constitution, according to which an Indian citizen has the freedom to move throughout the territory of the country. Moreover the Constitution does not allow introduction of ILP in any new area. In a communication to the Meghalaya government, the Union Home Ministry has conveyed that it was bound by Article 19 (d) of the Constitution which allows any Indian citizen to move freely throughout the territory of the country.

What is Inner Line Permit (ILP) system? ILP is an official travel document issued by an empowered State government to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those States to obtain permit for entering the protected State.

The document is an effort by the government to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international borders.

Currently, ILP is in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

Various organisations in Meghalaya have been demanding introduction of ILP claiming the demography of the State has been changed due to the unabated influx.

DoT making inventory of networks for switch to IPv6

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has started compiling an inventory of all computer networks used by government departments, State and Central public sector undertakings and banks across Tamil Nadu for finalising a plan for transition to the next generation Internet address, IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). The DoT’s road map envisaged complete migration to IPv6 by 2017-end as the address capacity of IPv4 had been exhausted.

What is an IP address?

An IP address is like a telephone number or a street address. When you connect to the Internet, your device (computer, smartphone, tablet) is assigned an IP address, and any site you visit has an IP address.

To send data from one computer to another through the web, a data packet must be transferred across the network containing the IP addresses of both devices.

Without IP addresses, computers would not be able to communicate and send data to each other. It’s essential to the infrastructure of the web.

IPv4 & IPv6

IPv4 stands for Internet Protocol version 4. It is the underlying technology that makes it possible for us to connect our devices to the web. Whenever a device access the Internet (whether it’s a PC, Mac, smartphone or other device), it is assigned a unique, numerical IP address such as 99.48.227.227.

IPv4 would be in future replaced with IPv6 (sixth revision )since the Internet is running out of available IPv4 address space (IPv4 uses 32 bits for its Internet addresses), and IPv6 provides an exponentially larger pool of IP addresses (IPv6 utilizes 128 bit addresses)

Advantages of migrating to IPv6: It frees up more space for more Internet users. The other benefits include better quality of service for consumers, support for high-end applications and better security features. IPv6 is designed to allow the Internet to grow steadily, both in terms of the number of hosts connected and the total amount of data traffic transmitted

Support land agreement with Bangladesh: Assam CM

Assam CM Tarun Gogoi has appealed to all political parties to extend their cooperation to ensure ratification of the land swap agreement between India and Bangladesh.

The land swap agreement will help solve the long-pending boundary issues with Bangladesh and will also lead to increase in volume of trade and commerce.

It would also ensure demarcation and erection of fencing on the unfenced 2.86-km stretch in the Lathitilla-Dumabari sector in Karimganj district along the border.

Of the total 665 acres under adverse possession of Bangladesh, Assam would regain 397.5 acres, while Bangladesh would get 267.5 acres. So there was no question of losing any land.

Role of NOTA in the recent State Elections

‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ is an option given to the voters for the 1 st time to reject all contestants.

Though there has been a difference in opinion on the impact and relevance of NOTA across the political group, in the tribal areas the actual impact of NOTA could be felt.

While in Chhattisgarh, 3.07% of the valid votes went to NOTA the highest among the four States in which elections were held; Delhi recorded 0.63 %. In Chhattisgarh even a marginal difference in vote share makes or mars government formation. This time, the difference is less than 0.75% between the winning BJP and the Congress.

Following the trend, it would be realized that the political parties should put up acceptable candidates and avoid dubious ones; though some may disagree, as it has made less impact on the outcome of the elections. For instance Delhi recorded a meager 0.63% and in Mizoram very few exercised the choice, with figures ranging from 36 to less than 200 hits.

According to a leader of a political party, “All NOTA has done is to give voters a right to exercise, which is a fundamental right; but there was neither clarity on what it meant nor its consequences.

However, going through the results for every State, it is obvious that in more than 60 % of the constituencies, the third highest number of votes went to NOTA. This suggests that the option attracted those who never go to vote, possibly out of disenchantment with the system and has provided voters with an opportunity to express themselves rather than abstaining.

Facts & Figures:

The NOTA’s figures in the Left Wing Extremists-dominated areas of Bastar may as well be an expression of disenchantment with electoral politics, as espoused by the Maoists, as it may be an individual voter’s dislike for the candidates in fray in places like Chitrakot, where more than 10,000 voters chose the option. In the Konta constituency in Chhattisgarh, where CPI candidate Manish Kunjam secured third position, the difference of votes was just 2,100, whereas 4,000 voters chose NOTA.

Interestingly, the percentage of NOTA voters was high in the tribal belts of Rajasthan, compared with urban areas. The total percentage of NOTA in the State was 1.92 %.

India’s mid-day meal scheme ranked 12th among lower-middle-income countries

A global report by the World Food Project (WFP) for 2013 on 169 countries has said that India has the largest school feeding programme in the world, catering to over 114 million children, but stands 12 th among 35 lower-middle-income countries covering 79% of its total number of school-going children.

The report “State of School Feeding Worldwide, 2013” draws from a global survey conducted by WFP in 2012.

The report lauds India’s mid-day meal scheme as a ‘good example of a mixed implementation approach’ with two procurement processes-for food grains, which are subsidized Centrally through the government-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI), and for other items like fresh fruits or vegetables, procured at the State level.

The report notes that gross primary enrolment grew between 2001-2002 and 2007-2008 in India, following the implementation of the mid-day meal programme, particularly among Scheduled Castes and Tribes.

However, the report adds an important rider – “school feeding can only help if the other major elements that are prerequisites for learning such as teachers, textbooks, curriculum and an environment conducive to learning are also in place.” It warns that care should be taken to avoid using teachers or education staff to prepare food, since this merely taxes the system that school-feeding programmes aim to enhance. The report also says that the nutritional impact of the programme is yet to be evaluated. The links with health and nutrition could be strengthened considerably by better coordination between sectors. Other weaknesses remain, such as insufficient allocation of budget for food transportation and infrastructure. Add to it, even late disbursement of government funds too has a negative impact.

In a significant recommendation, the report proposes linking the programme to the agriculture sector which ‘can potentially benefit the entire community as well as the children.’ Countries like Brazil, Chile and Scotland have demonstrated the effectiveness of purchasing school food locally in order to simultaneously “feed children better and stimulate the local economy.”

More about Mid-day meal Scheme:

The Mid Day Meal Scheme is a multi-faceted programme of the Government of India that, among other things, seeks to address issues of food security, lack of nutrition and access to education on a pan nation scale.

It involves provision for free lunch on working days for children in Primary and Upper Primary Classes in Government, Government Aided, Local Body, Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternate Innovative Education (AIE) Centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Schools run by Ministry of Labour.

The objectives of the mid-day meal scheme are: Improving the nutritional status of children in classes I-V in Government, Local Body and Government aided schools, and EGS and AIE centres.

Encouraging poor children, belonging to disadvantaged sections, to attend school more regularly and help them concentrate on classroom activities.

Providing nutritional support to children of primary stage in drought affected areas during summer vacation.

Military security, public interest ignored in Adarsh housing: PAC

In its report on the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Defence Ministry has said a group of select officials holding key posts have subverted rules and regulations, suppressed facts and took cover under welfare of servicemen and war widows and children in cornering prime public land in Mumbai.

What does the report say?

The committee, chaired by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, has deplored the “cavalier manner in which the serious issue of security was overlooked to the detriment of the security installation” by the Ministry. This despite the fact that the 31-storey Adarsh building has security imperatives as per its own admission. According to the PAC, the Ministry and military authorities ignored these aspects when the building was coming up. But they had admitted before the panel that there was a security issue as the ‘Adarsh building is the tallest one and facilitated observation of military vehicles and personnel moving into and out of the Colaba Military Station.

It criticised the Ministry for “non-cooperation with the audit” with a view to blocking parliamentary scrutiny.

Regarding NoC (no-objection certificate) that was given to the society, the Ministry said it was issued by local defence authorities because of mismanagement of defence land, poor record keeping and lack of mutation of land already in the possession of the armed forces.

The multiplicity of agencies managing defence land contributed to the maladministration, with no centralised information available on the holdings.

Terming this a ‘monumental failure at all levels of governance,’ the PAC lamented that the public servants entrusted with safeguarding the public trust had brazenly betrayed it by acting against all norms of the public interest and probity.

Some ‘advertisements’ promote patriarchal set-up, finds parliamentary panel

Endorsing the move to broaden the scope of the definition of the word “advertisement” to include the new forms of communication within the ambit of The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), a parliamentary standing committee has taken note of regressive advertising along with the indecent portrayal of women across various media platforms. Always a much-debated issue, indecent representation of women became a subject of much concern in the wake of the December 16, 2012 gang rape incident in Delhi which shook the nation. Incidentally, the Government moved a bill to amend the IRWA three days before the gang rape.

In its report on ‘The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2012’ that seeks to widen the scope of the 1986 legislation — the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD) has said that, some “advertisements promoted the patriarchal set-up by assigning traditional roles to women, thereby being regressive.”

Practical approach taken by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD:

Having raised this issue, the Committee has asserted that all forms of advertisements through any medium must be regulated to curb indecent representation of women. However, it has also taken on board the apprehension of some stakeholders that “what constituted as obscenity was highly subjective and interpretation of it may lead to unnecessary harassment at the hands of the police.”

In this regard, the Committee has suggested that police officers be trained properly to deal with cases of indecent representation of women so that there is no scope for subjective and personal interpretations of the term “indecent.” Further, the Bill could provide for seeking the opinion of senior police officers in such matters.

Besides it being a subjective matter, the Committee also acknowledged the fact that obscenity and indecent representation of women could vary in different places or different cultural contexts. Another reality factored in by the Committee is the changing perception in society on various issues.

More about Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 (IRWA)

The IRWA focuses on indecent representation of women and brings under its ambit references that are derogatory to the dignity of women. The IRWA, 1986 was enacted with the specific objective of prohibiting the indecent representation of women through advertisement, publication, writing, and painting or in any other manner.

The existing Act, in its present form, covers the print media. However, over the years, technological revolution has resulted in the development of newer forms of communication such as internet and satellite based communication, multi-media messaging, cable television etc.

It has, therefore, become imperative to widen the scope of the law so as to cover such forms of media, on one hand, and to strengthen the existing safeguards to prevent indecent representation of women through any such form.

Critical view over the ‘Role of Media in a Democratic country like India’

Despite the proliferation of media houses in India, what is actually missing is the ‘diversity of opinion.’

The media is not living upto it’s guiding principles of journalism- “comment is free, but facts are sacred” (as told by Scott, Editor of ‘The Guardian’). Over the news being aired these days, there are concerns over commercialisation and sensationalisation, besides the growing absence of objectivity in reportage; also there was a rise of fanaticism and intolerance. However, the social media has provided some relief from the ‘stark uniformity of print and television media.’ While freedom of the press is crucial, it should be used responsibly. ‘Quality Self-regulation’ is what is required for media to act as the fourth pillar of Democracy.

Speaker mentions notice for no-confidence motion For the second consecutive, both Houses of Parliament could not conduct proceedings as Opposition parties continued their protests on a variety of issues, even as LokSabha Speaker Meira Kumar mentioned about the notice for a “no-confidence motion” received by her. The Speaker was referring to the notices given separately by four Seemandhra Congress MPs, two MPs from the Telugu Desam Party and three from the YSR Congress for moving a “no-confidence motion” against the UPA government for its decision to carve a separate Telangana State out of Andhra Pradesh.

Earlier, question hour too could not be taken up due to the disruptions.

Unlike other motions which the Speaker decides whether to admit or not, it is the House which will have to approve the admissibility of a no-confidence/trust motion with at least 50 members (less than one-tenth of the total strength of the House) standing up to support it A political party leader alleged that his dissent note had been altered. Quoting Article 105 of the Constitution, he had the right to administer a note of dissent as a member of the panel.

(This news is related to ‘Polity’ – Read about Article 105, No-Confidence Motion, Powers of the Speaker & Parliamentary proceedings for better understanding)

Women’s reservation Bill

The long-pending Bill, which seeks to provide 33% reservation for women in Parliament and the State Assemblies has been listed on the LokSabha agenda for the ongoing session. It has already been passed by the RajyaSabha. The women’s organisations feel this is a golden opportunity to remedy the injustice meted out to women. The Bill was first introduced in 1996. Though it had been introduced in Parliament several times since then, the Bill could not be passed due to a so-called lack of political consensus.

Facts & Figures:

Recent elections show women’s entry into legislature is difficult without affirmative action. In Delhi, only 3 out of 70 elected members are women; situations were grim in other States too. 33.3 per cent seats in panchayat elections have already been reserved for women. In the gender-related development index (GDI) – India ranks 113 th among 177countries.

The average percentage of women’s representation in the Parliament, Assemblies and Council of Ministers taken together has been around 10%. (UNIFEM:2000)

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redress) Rules, 2013, notified

The Women and Child Development Ministry has notified rules for prevention of harassment at workplace. Following are the guidelines: Any malicious complaint of sexual harassment by a woman will attract the same punishment a man who has been found guilty of it at the workplace suffers.

The Ministry has recommend that action for sexual harassment/malicious complaint would include – a written apology; warning; reprimand or censure; withholding of promotion, pay rise or increments; termination from service; or undergoing counselling or doing community service. These will apply in cases where service rules do not exist.

Anyone who discloses the name or identity of the aggrieved woman or witnesses will be liable to pay a penalty of Rs 5,000.

On the inquiry procedure, internal complaints committee or local complaints committee can, on a written request, grant the complainant relief during the pendency of inquiry by restraining the accused from reporting on the work performance of the aggrieved woman or writing her confidential report, and, in case of an educational institution, by restraining the respondent from supervising any academic activity of the woman.

A complaint of sexual harassment can be filed by a relative or a friend, a co-worker or an officer of the National Commission for Women or the State Women’s Commission or any other person who has knowledge of the incident where the complainant is unable to do it herself because of physical incapacity. But this has to be done with her written consent.

Mind-mapping:  According to you what are the preventive measures to be taken in regard to sexual harassment at workplace? Also what are the measures/steps taken by the Government?

 Impact that it would have on women participation at work(organized, unorganized employment) and on Women Empowerment

 Does the clause of punishment for malicious complaint act as a deterrent for women coming forward to give complaint?

 Will law alone be suffice to prevent harassment of women, if not what r the additional steps to be taken?

To read: The article on ‘Judicial appointment, Rule of Law & independence of Judiciary’ (OPED page) The Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013, and the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013, seek to reform the appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges by establishing a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). This significant opportunity to reform a vital part of the Indian legal system must not be lost to misconceived rhetoric about the ‘independence of the judiciary’ and the ‘rule of law’ or the mistaken view that this measure simply pushes us back into past errors.

JAC that restores parity between the executive and judiciary in the judicial appointment process is constitutionally valid.

Rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary, necessarily means that the judiciary must have primacy among the constitutional institutions in the judicial appointment process.

Cabinet gives nod to Disabilities Bill The Union Cabinet has approved the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, a comprehensive measure that covers a whole spectrum of problems from physical disabilities to mental illness and multiple disabilities. It will replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995.

Provisions in the Bill:

The Bill provides for 5% reservation in public sector jobs and makes the private sector more accountable for creating a disabled-friendly environment. It provides incentives for the private sector to take such measures.

On political participation, the proposed law says every person with disability who fulfills eligibility requirements is entitled to be registered as a voter. He/she should not be disqualified from exercising the voting right on the grounds of disability, irrespective of any stipulation to the contrary in any law for the time being in force.

Any person who is unable to vote in person due to disability or because of admission to hospital for treatment is entitled to opt for postal ballot. It requires the Election Commission to ensure that all polling stations are accessible to persons with disabilities.

The proposed law also allows mentally unsound women the right to fertility and prescribes punishment for forced abortion or hysterectomy on them.

Mind-Mapping:  Why do we need such a Bill? What was missing in the Disability Act of 1995, which prompted for a new Bill?

 What are the steps taken by the Government of India (GOI) with regard to persons with disabilities? What is the role of civil society groups or citizens in this regard?

 How far as the government institutions or the private sectors have made their premises disabled-friendly?

 Also look out for examples –where disabled persons have faced embarrassment. For example: Recently a disabled woman was prevented from entering the flight (or airport) due to some security checks.  Who are the other persons who have the option for ‘postal ballot’? Why is this option given? –> { P.S : Currently the winter session of the Parliament is going on, so reading “parliament’’ Chapter (Polity) will help you understanding the key-terms – ‘Vote-On-Account’ , ‘Consolidated Fund of India’, ‘ Demands and Appropriation Bill’, ‘Question hour’ etc. }

Code of Conduct for Ministers revised In order to insulate the bureaucracy from political interference, the Union Cabinet has revised the Code of Conduct for Ministers (both Union and States) by adding a new provision as per which Ministers cannot force civil servants to take decisions that may be in conflict with their duties and responsibilities.

The revised Code of Conduct states that the “Minister shall uphold the political impartiality of

the civil services and not ask the civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the duties and responsibilities of the civil servants.” The revised code will take immediate effect in the case of the Union Council of Ministers. In the case of the States and the Union Territories, the revised code will be forwarded to the Chief Ministers for adoption.

Mind-Mapping:

Why do we need a code of conduct for Ministers? Do we have a similar code of conduct for bureaucrats, civil society groups, media? If so how effective are these codes really?

With the revision of code of conduct, how would it impact the governance of the country?

Code of conduct is also related to Ethics; Significance of Code of Conduct.

Advocacy on Pending Bills

The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) has sought the simultaneous passage of the Lokpal Bill, the Grievance Redress Bill and the Whistleblower Protection Bill, contending that these laws formed would contain inter-linked measures that constituted the much required accountability regime.

The rights of citizens for time-bound delivery of Goods & Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011

Highlights of the Bill: The Bill seeks to create a mechanism to ensure timely delivery of goods and services to citizens. Every public authority is required to publish a citizens charter within six months of the commencement of the Act. The Charter will detail the goods and services to be provided and their timelines for delivery.

A citizen may file a complaint regarding any grievance related to: (a) citizens charter; (b) functioning of a public authority; or (c) violation of a law, policy or scheme.

The Bill requires all public authorities to appoint officers to redress grievances. Grievances are to be redressed within 30 working days. The Bill also provides for the appointment of Central and State Public Grievance Redressal Commissions. A penalty of up to Rs 50,000 may be levied upon the responsible officer or the Grievance Redressal Officer for failure to render services.

The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011 Commonly known as the Whistleblower’s Bill, it seeks to establish a mechanism to register complaints on any allegations of corruption or willful misuse of power against a public servant. The Bill also provides safeguards against victimisation of the person who makes the complaint.

Highlights of the Bill:

The Bill seeks to protect whistleblowers, i.e. persons making a public interest disclosure related to an act of corruption, misuse of power, or criminal offence by a public servant.

Any public servant or any other person including a non-governmental organization may make such a disclosure to the Central or State Vigilance Commission.

Every complaint has to include the identity of the complainant.

The Vigilance Commission shall not disclose the identity of the complainant except to the head of the department if he deems it necessary. The Bill penalises any person who has disclosed the identity of the complainant. The Bill prescribes penalties for knowingly making false complaints.

Lokpal: institutional mechanism to curb corruption

In the newly amended Lokpal Bill, the Union government has dropped the provisions relating to establishing Lok Ayuktas at the State level; instead, the States would need to put in place their own institutions within one year. A composite law may be preferable from the people’s point of view, but the concession is in compliance to the need to federalise the anti-corruption domain. Contrary to what its critics say, the bill cannot be dismissed as weak; nor can it be seriously contended that the Lokpal does not have an independent investigative mechanism.

Regarding CBI:

The CBI has been placed at the disposal of the Lokpal, which will have superintendence over that agency in cases under its consideration. The need for sanction from the respective governments to initiate prosecution has been waived for cases cleared by the Lokpal. The CBI Director’s appointment will be on the basis of a statutory process, and the Lokpal will have its own inquiry and prosecution wings.

Way forward:

The movement for such a law initiated by Anna Hazare, along with the success of the Aam Aadmi Party based on the campaign for a Lokpal, has made fresh legislation unavoidable. The development is unlikely to end the debate over the adequacy, independence and effectiveness of the anti-graft institution the new law will put in place, but it will certainly be a milestone in the quest for an institutional mechanism to combat corruption.

The mere enactment of this Bill is not enough. The amendment to the Constitution needed to confer constitutional status to the Lokpal and Lok Ayuktas also needs to be passed. And so does the proposed law on the right of citizens to time-bound delivery of goods and services and to have their grievances redressed. Only this will fulfil the need for a strong institutional framework to curb corruption.

Mind –Mapping:

 What is Corruption? Types of Corruption? Impact of corruption on the society, economy? Also link it with Ethics and Integrity; Code of conduct.

 What are the steps taken by the govt in order to curb corruption? Role of Civil society?

 What are the existing mechanisms in India to curb corruption? How effective are these mechanisms?

 What according to you should be really done in this regard? Suggestions from your side.

 Is Lokpal a panacea for all problems? Provisions of Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2013 The Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2013 seeks to establish the institution of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the States which would provide a uniform vigilance and anti-corruption mechanism across the country.

Jurisdiction of Lokpal with respect to Prime Minister:

The jurisdiction of the Lokpal will ‘include’ the Prime Minister ‘except’ on allegations of corruption relating to international relations, security, the public order, atomic energy and space and unless a Full Bench of the Lokpal and at least two-thirds of members approve an inquiry. It will be held in-camera and if the Lokpal so desires, the records of the inquiry will not be published or made available to anyone.

With respect to Ministers, MP’s, Officials: The Lokpal will also have jurisdiction over Ministers and MPs but not in the matter of anything said in Parliament or a vote given there. Group A, B, C or D officers defined as such under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 will be covered under the Lokpal but any corruption complaint against Group A and B officers, after inquiry, will come to the Lokpal. However, in the case of Group C and D officers, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner will investigate and report to the Lokpal.

If the Lokpal decides to proceed on any complaint, it can order a preliminary inquiry against any public servant by its Inquiry Wing or any agency, including the CBI, to ascertain if there is a prima facie case, and the public servant will be given an opportunity of being heard.

The Lokpal will have powers of superintendence over cases referred by it to the CBI. Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal will not be transferred without its approval. The Centre will fund the CBI investigations into the matters referred to it by the Lokpal.

With regard to CBI:

There will be a Directorate of Prosecution under the CBI headed by a Director. The CBI Director will be appointed by a collegium comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India. The Prosecution Director will be appointed on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for a two-year tenure. Composition of Lokpal:

The Bill provides for the Lokpal comprising a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of whom 50% will be judicial members and the rest from amongst the SC, the ST, the OBCs, minorities and women. Apart from the Inquiry Wing, there will be an independent Prosecution Wing of the Lokpal.

Method of Appointment/Selection, term: The selection of the Lokpal will be done through a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or an apex court judge nominated by him and an eminent jurist as recommended by the chairperson and members to be nominated by the President. The Selection Committee will constitute a search panel of seven persons of eminence for assisting it. The term of the Lokpal will be five years or till the chairman and members turn 75.

The Bill does not provide for protection to whistle-blowers, for which a separate law shall be enacted. There will be separate laws on a Citizens’ Charter and Judicial Accountability.

Mind- Mapping:

 Should the Prime Minister come under the ambit of Lokpal? If no/yes, then what impact would it have?  Should the CBI be made an autonomous body? What is its present status?  What according to you is lacking in the present Lokpal Bill? Provide Suggestions/Solutions for the same.

 If the Lokpal Bill is implemented, what would be the roles of Lokpal, CVC, CBI?

 Do you think the lokpal is overburdened considering the fact that it inquires MPs and all the government servants from top to the lower level? Is lokpal a threat to the balance of power demarcated in our constitution?

Changes in MGNREGA program Significant changes has been made to the governments flagship MGNREGA programme seeking to ensure permanent and durable asset creation and an introduction of a penalty for delayed wage payments.

More specifically, the changes include Rs 10,000 (earlier it was 4500) for the construction of toilets for all job card holders (APL & BPL) and assistance for buildings for women self-help federations. Addressing the persistent issue of delay in distributing wage payment to MGNREGA workers, the government has announced compensation for them if it is delayed beyond 15 days and the amount would be deducted from officials responsible for it. Andhra Pradesh has already started to implement this. Additionally, wage payments will be made exclusively on the basis of measurement of work done instead of solely attendance

(Three objectives of NREGA. First to provide wage employment, second is to create durable community assets and third to empower gram panchayats.)

Contribution of MGNREGA:

In constructing houses for the poor in convergence with Indira Awas Yojana or any other state rural housing scheme, buildings for women self-help federations operating in village or block levels, community storage facilities at gram panchayat or women SHG levels for agriculture produce and centres for manufacturing building materials like bricks in gram panchayats.

Future prospects: The biggest contribution of NREGA for agriculture would be if small and marginalized farmers use the scheme to improve the quality and productivity of their farmland. This could lead to a potential “agricultural revolution”.

Mind-Mapping:

 What is the objective MGNREGA program? Has it achieved its objective? If not what are the reasons for its failure? Suggestions/ solutions to overcome such issues.

 What are the positive achievements of the program?

 Government is coming up with so many programs and schemes for the welfare of the people, there is bound to be overlap in some of the programs. DO you think such programs should be converged? If so which are the programs that needs to converged and why? Sahastra Seema Bal: Central Paramilitary force Nearly 6,000 personnel of the central paramilitary Sahastra Seema Bal (SSB) will soon be deployed for anti-Naxal operations duties in the Left wing extremism-affected areas of the country.

The SSB was withdrawn from these operations in 2011 when it used to be deployed in Chhattisgarh. Now three battalions are deployed in Bihar and Jharkhand alongside other central forces like CRPF, BSF and ITBP.

More about Sahastra Seema Bal (SSB): SSB is a Border Guarding Force (BGF) under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs. SSB was set up in early 1963 in the wake of the Indo-China conflict to inculcate feelings of national belonging in the border population and develop their capabilities for resistance through a continuous process of motivation, training, development, welfare programmes and activities in the then NEFA, North Assam, North Bengal, hills of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Ladakh. The scheme was later extended to Manipur, Tripura, Rajasthan and Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir etc.

Pursuant to the recommendations of the Group of Ministers on reforming the National Security System, SSB was declared as a border guarding force and lead intelligence agency (LIA) for Indo-Nepal border (January, 2001) and Indo-Bhutan border( March, 2004)

Role of Sahastra Seema Bal: To promote sense of security among the people living in the border area To Prevent trans border crimes and unauthorized entries into or exit from the territory of India

To prevent smuggling and other illegal activities

More about Central Paramilitary force According to the official definition adopted in 2011, “Paramilitary Forces” refers to three organisations which assist the Indian Armed Forces particularly closely and are led by officers of the Indian Army or Indian Navy. They are: Assam Rifles ; Special Frontier Force (SFF); Indian Coast Guard;

Whereas Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) ; Border Security Force (BSF) ; Indo Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) ; Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) are included under Central armed police force (CAPF) are led by Director General (all of whom are IPS officers).

Land Boundary Agreement Bill and its opposition The West Bengal CM has expressed strong reservation over the introduction of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) Bill in the Rajya Sabha and has said that the Bill was ‘forcefully introduced’ in Parliament without consulting the States involved in the boundary demarcation. (Other stakeholders – Assam, Tripura and parts of Northeastern States)

The West Bengal CM had also opposed the legislation in the past as well, stating that West Bengal would get only 7,000 acres of land and have to give away 17,000 acres of land to Bangladesh.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Nineteenth Amendment) Bill 2013 would give effect to the agreement between India and Bangladesh for demarcation of the land boundary and exchange of territories between the two countries. The Leader of Opposition has said that, ‘Parliament has no jurisdiction to alter the territory of India. The territory represents sovereignty and are both a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and thus, cannot be reduced or altered by an amendment to the Constitution.’

Continuation of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) Bill

After West Bengal, it is Opposition parties in Assam who have staged a State-wide protests against the tabling of the Constitutional amendment bill in the RajyaSabha to facilitate swapping of land enclaves with Bangladesh. Whereas, enclaves in north Bengal have welcomed tabling of LBA Bill:

Despite the opposition of West Bengal Chief Minister, the organisations working for the rights of residents of enclaves and local public representatives have shown positive reaction towards the Bill.

Reason for their support- tabling of the Bill would pave way for Parliament to debate about the enclave’s rights for the first time since Independence.

There are about 51,000 people living in Stateless condition in 162 enclaves in India and Bangladesh; the enclave-dwellers have been denied basic rights of health and education.

Mind-Mapping:  Role of state governments in determining India’s foreign policy.

 Booster for Indo-Bangla ties. Other measures initiated to improve border ties between India-Bangladesh (Like teesta water sharing, Integrated Check posts, Border haats etc). RTI Act: Parliamentary Standing Committee differs with AG’s opinion

The Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has differed with the opinion of the Attorney General G.E Vahanvati over the proposed amendment to The Right to Information (RTI) Act, to exclude political parties as ‘public authorities’ and has held that the government was right in proposing the amendment.

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013 seeks to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005 order to nullify the June order of the Central Information Commission that brought six national parties under the act’s ambit.

The Attorney General of India was apprehensive that this law would not sustain the test of judicial scrutiny as it was creating a class within a class without having any consideration to the principle of intelligible differentia having reasonable nexus with objective of the Act, whereas the Law Secretary was of the view that it was quite sustainable since Parliament has legislative competence to override the CIC decision. The Committee, however, subscribes to the opinion expressed by the Law Secretary.

The Attorney General has also said that, “Political Parties are foundation of democracy and need to be given sufficient protection from malicious and motivated application for which safeguards already exist under Section 8 of the Act.”

The parliamentary committee maintained that the aspects of transparency in financial matters of political parties were fully covered under existing laws and mechanisms. These include direction from Election Commission to the parties asking them to submit their accounts within 90 days after general election, inspection of accounts of candidate of political party and obtaining the same from the EC on payment of nominal charges, and declaration of assets and liabilities to the Ethics Committee of House by MPs.

There are apprehensions that, declaring political parties as public authority under RTI Act would hamper their smooth internal functioning as party rivals may misuse the provisions of RTI Act.

To know more about ‘Political parties under RTI’s ambit, refer our “Insights Current Events Magazine, OCTOBER 2013″

Green Tribunal’s powers to deal with wildlife cases challenged

The National Green Tribunal’s powers to take up cases about wildlife have been challenged. The question of the tribunal’s jurisdiction has cropped up in a petition filed by an iron ore miner in Kohlapur, Maharashtra, asking for renewing his right to mine in a piece of land the government has said is a tiger corridor.

The case pertains to a mine operating in a village that falls between the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve and Radhanagri Wildlife Sanctuary but the case could now take a greater significance, besides deciding the fate of the tract of land between the two tiger-bearing areas that the environment ministry said is a corridor used by tigers.

The mine owner who applied for renewal of his lease to mine iron could not secure the forest clearance as the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the apex body of the government in charge of tiger conservation, under the environment ministry said the lease fell in a wildlife corridor that needed protection. The NTCA said so on the basis of research conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India for demarcation of land corridors used by tigers in 2010. The Wildlife Institute of India, the government’s premier body on wildlife conservation science, had said in 2010 that, “The block (where the mining occurs) is in the crucial corridor link between the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve and the Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary. It is crucial for tiger movement in the Northern Western Ghat area in the State of Maharashtra. Small tiger populations in this area cannot be sustained without maintaining crucial connecting corridor links.”

The miner who was aggrieved, approached the National Green Tribunal claiming that his mine did not fall in the tiger corridor and the process of demarcating the corridor had not been legally carried out under the Wildlife Protection Act. Government’s defence:

In the latest affidavit filed by the environment ministry in the ongoing case, the government defended its decision. But it also went a step ahead, stating that the miner, if aggrieved about the creation of the tiger corridor under the Wildlife Protection Act, can approach the “competent authority” under the Wildlife Protection Act.

The green laws that the tribunal is empowered to adjudicate on does not cover the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, though the body is empowered to deal with issues pertaining to forest clearances under the Forest Conservation Act 1980, besides other regulations and legislations. More about National Green Tribunal (NGT): The National Green Tribunal has been established on 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.

The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.

The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same. Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible. New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal. Courtesy – http://www.greentribunal.gov.in/ To know more about Powers, Jurisdiction & Proceedings of the tribunal refer -http://www.greentribunal.gov.in/about-us.php?id=5 Western Ghats protection draft notification In the view of implementing the Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats, the Environment Ministry has come up with the draft notification for the Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) in six States.

In the backdrop of protests in Kerala, the Environment Ministry has made explicitly clear that plantations, agriculture and other routine activities in the ESA, declared under the Environment Protection Act, 1972, would not be restricted or impacted.

The High Level working group headed by Planning Commission member K. Kasturirangan had declared 37% of the area of Western Ghats ESA. Under Act, only activities explicitly mentioned in the formal notification of the ESA are banned, while others are permitted by default. Guidelines (Draft Notification):

The Ministry reiterated that any expansion of or new mining, quarrying and sand mining would be banned.

New thermal power plants, heavily polluting industries, building and construction projects of an area 20,000 sq. metre and above, and township and area development projects between 50 ha and above or with a built-up area of 1,50,000 sq. metres would also not be allowed.

All other projects that are not expressly banned under the government orders would be permitted only with the consent of gram sabhas. Only in mining would the existing projects be phased out within the next five years or at the expiry of the lease, whichever is earlier. In other cases, new projects and expansion of the existing ones and related activities would be banned. The existing projects would continue.

Mind-Mapping:

 What are the main objectives of Kasturirangan , Madhav Gadgil Reports? Difference between the two reports? Why was the Madhav Gadgil Committee formed?

 What do you mean by Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) and what is the issue? What kind of activities can be taken up in these areas-ESA?  Objections against the reports? Reasons for protests in Kerala?

 Do you think strict compliance to the reports and Environmental clearance will have an impact on development?

ESA notification on Western Ghats put on hold

The new Environment Minister Veerappa Moily’s decision to invite comments from six Chief Ministers on the High-Level Working Group on the Western Ghats has put the final notification of the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) covering over 59,940 square km of the hills under indefinite suspension.

The draft notification for declaring the ESA under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, would have brought to halt any new mining and other polluting industries from coming up in the natural habitats of hilly terrain in the six States.

Under the regulations, the Ministry is required to receive comments from stakeholders including the State governments within 60 days. Subsequently, the Centre would have been obligated to make amendments, if found necessary, and enforce the notification immediately.

The draft notification notes that in the areas listed in the annexure (comprising the ESA) “there shall be a complete ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining. All existing mines shall be phased out within five years from the date of issue of the final notification or with the expiry of the current mining lease, whichever is earlier.”

No new thermal power projects and expansion of the existing plants would be allowed in the ESA. “All new ‘Red’ category of industries and expansion of existing industries shall be banned.” The Red category refers to the types of industries listed by either the Centre or States as the most polluting in nature.

It also clarified that agricultural and livelihood practices in the ESA would not be altered or impacted by the notification.

AAP gets the status of a State party The Election Commission (EC) recognised the AamAadmi Party (AAP) as a State party after the party fulfilled the eligibility conditions set by the EC for granting the status. The party which took part for the 1 st time in the elections (Delhi) won 28 of the 70 seats securing about 30%. Conditions to get the status of ‘State Party’:

According to EC rules, to get the EC’s recognition as a ‘State party’ there are 2 conditions required: The State Party should secure atleast 6% of valid votes polled and the party should also win 1 seat for every 30 seats in the state.

Privilege of the Status (being a State Party): Among the privileges of being a “state party” are participation in all-party meetings convened by the EC/the State/Central governments, a permanent common symbol for all their contestants, and licence to address voters through All India Radio and Doordarshan during elections. The AAP, which was allotted “broom” as the election symbol by the Commission, will now have the choice of retaining the “broom” as its permanent election symbol or it can design its own poll symbol provided it fits within the rules and regulations of the Commission.

Mind – Mapping:

 What are the other benefits of being recognised as a state party? How is a national party recognised and what are its privileges?

 What are the laws that govern the parties (like representation of peoples act and its salient feature, code of conduct for parties).Some info on party finance, accountability etc.

Cabinet nod for FTA in trade and services with ASEAN

The Cabinet has approved a free trade agreement (FTA) in trade and services with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Agreement on Trade in Services is to be signed under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (CECA) between India and the ASEAN. The CECA between India and ASEAN was signed in 2003. The Cabinet had approved the Agreement on Trade Goods under the CECA with the ASEAN in 2009.

The FTA (approved recently- December, 2013) in trade and services is aimed at boosting the movement of Indian professionals in the 10-nation ASEAN. It would protect, promote and increase foreign investment flows into the country and would also remove trade barriers for the free movement of Goods and Services.

However, some critics pointed out that, FTAs were signed recklessly harming considerably the domestic industry, especially the manufacturing sector.

Mind – Mapping:  Positive and negative impact of FTAs on various sectors. India’s FTAs with other countries especially neighbourhood.

 Potential of ASEAN as a growth engine and its contribution to Indian growth in terms of connectivity, economic growth, infrastructure, people-people contact(social impact on demography) and its effects on national policies etc.

Union Govt. moves apex court for review of Section 377 ruling

Recently the Supreme Court (SC) had upheld Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), according to which homosexuality or unnatural sex between two consenting adults is illegal and an offence. With regard to this the Union Govt has moved the apex court seeking a review of its ruling.

Union Govt’s view:

According to the Union Govt., the SC’s ruling is contrary to the principles of equality and liberty which is mentioned under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.

Moreover, Section 377 which criminalises intercourse ‘against the order of nature’ is a reflection of outdated law of the United Kingdom which was transplanted into India in 1860. But now with passage of time it has become arbitrary and unreasonable.

Also the SC’s observation that only a miniscule had been penalised so far under the law was ‘irrelevant when it comes to deciding an issue of constitutionality.’

The Centre had filed a review petition inorder to avoid a grave miscarriage of justice to thousands of LGBT [lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender] persons, who have been aggrieved by the order and have been put at risk of prosecution and harassment, upon re-criminalisation of their sexual identities. Following the High Court judgment that decriminalised, adult consensual sexual acts in private, including homosexual acts, a considerable number of LGBT persons had come out in open about their sexual orientation and identity in their families, and at workplaces, educational institutions and public spaces. All these people would now suddenly become vulnerable to abuse and discrimination and require immediate relief. MPs paid well, but show less productivity: citizens’ report

According to the recent report of the National Social Watch’s “Citizens’ Report on Governance and Development 2013” India’s parliamentarians are one of the best paid legislators across the world but they lag when it comes to performing legislative business.

In terms of absolute amount, the value of Indian MPs’ pay and perks is higher than their counterparts in Singapore, Japan and Italy. It is four and a half times higher than that of Pakistan; and is about 68 times higher than the per capita income of the country. A three-fold rise in the basic salary, on August 20, 2010 was protested against by many MPs, who described this ‘low’ hike as an insult to the country’s legislators. Highlighting the low productivity of parliamentarians, the report points out that the nine sessions during 2010-12 saw the Lok Sabha working for an average of less than four hours of work a day during its 227 sittings in 852 hours, which is less than two-thirds of scheduled six hours per day. In the process, about 577 hours have been lost in disruptions and forced adjournments.

In 2010, the government had hiked the pay packet of an MP from Rs. 56,000 to Rs.1.40 lakh a month. The salary component was raised from Rs.16,000 a month to Rs.50,000, constituency allowance from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 45,000, and office allowance from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 45,000.

In terms of the ratio of the pay package to national per capita income, India ranks second after Kenya and pays almost double than the U.S. Political parties work less in Parliament to perform their designated functions as people’s representatives and legislators.

Highlighting another interesting point, the study says Rs. 5,799.3 crore and Rs.9 ,963.9 crore was allocated for about 2.5-lakh local governing bodies in 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively, which looks meagre compared to about Rs. 4,000 crore per annum allotted to about 800 MPs under the local area development programme.

Mind- Mapping:

 Though the government has hiked the pay packet of the MP’s, what do you think are the reasons for low productivity? Suggest remedial measures for the same.

 Do you think the quality of the debates happening is detiorating? What are the reasons behind it?

 Significance of Article 105. What are its merits and demerits?

Poorna Shakti Kendras to empower rural women To ensure the socio-economic development of women in rural areas, the National Mission for Empowerment of Women is promoting a model intervention project. The project is launched across 21 districts nationwide.

The women’s centre- Poorna Shakti Kendra, established in villages would offer services to women at the grassroots. The motto of the Kendra is “hum sunenge nari ki baat” (we will listen to women’s voices), where two women coordinators or Gram Samanvayaks in each Kendra will help women get pensions and voter identity and Aadhaar cards.

One of the important elements of the project is the stress on processes instrumental in bringing about women’s empowerment through convergence strategies on the ground. Similarly, to encourage universal social mobilisation through self-help groups under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), attention is being paid to women’s empowerment. The NRLM proposes to ensure universal financial inclusion by facilitating opening of savings accounts by all SHGs, while encouraging their thrift and credit activities and other financial services. Under the NRLM, there shall be one rural self-employment training institute in each district. Each will train at least 750 candidates of the below poverty level (BPL) category.

More about National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM):

Aajeevika – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) was launched by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India in June 2011. Aided in part through investment support by the World Bank, the Mission aims at creating efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor enabling them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services.

NRLM implementation is in a Mission Mode. This enables

shift from the present allocation based strategy to a demand driven strategy enabling the states to formulate their own livelihoods-based poverty reduction action plans, focus on targets, outcomes and time bound delivery, continuous capacity building, imparting requisite skills and creating linkages with livelihoods opportunities for the poor, including those emerging in the organized sector, and monitoring against targets of poverty outcomes. As NRLM follows a demand driven strategy, the States have the flexibility to develop their livelihoods-based perspective plans and annual action plans for poverty reduction. The overall plans would be within the allocation for the state based on inter-se poverty ratios.

NRLM Mission

“To reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, resulting in appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong grassroots institutions of the poor.”

Mind-Mapping:

 What do you understand by ‘women empowerment’? What are the steps taken by the Govt of India in order to empower women? What are the issues? Your suggestions.  Role of self-help group in empowering women?

Mahadayi water dispute: Karnataka & Goa The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal adjudicates the water dispute among the States of Goa and Karnataka. A 13-member tribunal team, headed by the former Supreme Court judge J.M. Panchal, had toured the northern areas of the Karnataka from December 18 to 22 (2013). Karnataka has decided to construct the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project which envisages diversion of 7.56 tmcft of water to the Malaprabha dam by constructing dams across the Kalasa and the Banduri nalas and diversion canals to provide drinking water to towns and villages in Belgaum, Dharwad, Bagalkot and Gadag districts. The Goa government is opposed to the project.

Mind-Mapping:

 Functions of Water Disputes Tribunals? Are the tribunals solving the problems faced by the neighbouring states? If not, what should be the remedial action taken in this regard?

 Disputes between the riparian states on sharing of river waters in post-Independence India are becoming increasing complex. Objectively analyze the major disputes in this connection, with special reference to the southern states.

Half of Odisha’s iron ore mines lack clearance: Shah Commission

According to the Justice M.B. Shah Commission report on illegal iron and manganese ore mining – 94 of the 192 iron ore mining leases in Odisha do not have the mandatory environmental clearances. And of the 96 that did have them, 75 have mined far beyond their permitted levels over the past several years.

The report reveals that, how the mines have continued to use a loophole in the law for years and atrociously violated environmental and other norms to pump out iron at a time when international prices of the metal are booming. The mining leases operated close to wildlife areas without adequate protection to wildlife. The mandatory forest clearances had not been obtained in several cases. Water bodies in and around the mines had been polluted. Water had depleted in natural streams in some cases and forestlands impacted adversely in several.

A mining project within 10 kilometre vicinity of a protected wildlife area requires mandatory clearance from the National Board of Wildlife, which too was not obtained in several cases. According to the Shah Commission both the Central government authorities and the Odisha government were responsible for the blatant and wide-ranging illegal mining that have continued unchecked for years. It has recommended that the entire extraction in all cases where leases operated without mandatory environmental clearances be treated as illegal and the market value domestic or export recovered from defaulting miners.

Mind-mapping:

 Impact of illegal mining on the environment, wildlife and economy of India (also on the health of the people). What are the measures taken by the govt in this regard?

 Amid a number of rules & regulations and laws formulated by the govt. there have been frequent violations. What do you think is the reason behind it? How can this be rectified? (link this with Goa, Karnataka mining scam)

 Why was Shah Commission set up?

National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) Survey

One-eighth of India’s urban population lives in slums: NSSO

According to the latest round of the National Sample Survey – just under 9 million households, or roughly one-eighth of India’s urban population, lives in a slum. The number is significantly lower than the 14 million slum households identified by the Census in 2011

NSSO, like the Census, has taken into account both slums notified as such by the State government or the local body, and non-notified slums. The NSSO definition of a non-notified slum was slightly more generous than that of the Census; any crowded settlement with poor sanitation and at least 20 households was considered a slum by the NSSO, while the Census required at least 60-70 households.

Maharashtra accounted for 23% of the total slum population according to the NSSO, followed by Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. Over half of the slum population lived in 53 million-plus cities. Survey finds better levels of access to drinking water

New data on the status of drinking water and sanitation released by NSSO i.e., the 69th round of the National Sample Survey has found significantly better levels of access to drinking water and toilets compared to 2011 census.

Over 46% of households in rural India and 77% of households in urban India had drinking water sources within their premises. Compared to the 2011 Census data which had just 35% of rural households and 71% of urban households had drinking water within the premises.

Among households in which people had to leave the house to get water, rural population had to spend 20 minutes on average, while for urban households, it took 15 minutes. Residents of Jharkhand had to spend the longest time in fetching water 40 minutes in both rural and urban areas.

Maternal mortality ratio comes down to 178 India inches closer to achieving millennium development goal of Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) 109 by year 2015. According to the recent data, released by the Registrar-General of India, the MMR (number of women who die of pregnancy-related causes per 1,00,000 live births) has come down to 178 from 212, an annual decline of 5.7%.

While Kerala has the lowest MMR at 66 as against 81 in 2007-2009 Sample Registration Survey figures, Assam tops the list in absolute numbers with 328 deaths per 1,00,000 live births, though the number has declined by 5.6 per cent from the previous figure of 390.

Tamil Nadu, which was at the second position in the last survey reporting only 97 deaths, has slipped to the third position with 90 deaths due to the better performance of Maharashtra, where the number of pregnancy-related deaths has come down to 87 from 104.

The eight Empowered Action Group (EAG) States (Rajasthan, Bihar/Jharkhand, U.P, Madhya Pradesh, Chahatisgarh etc), which traditionally had very bad health indicators, have shown remarkable achievements.

The star performers in that order are Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The lowest decline is in Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Punjab.

The Centre has launched several schemes under the NRHM for improving reproductive and child health, including Janani shishu Suraksha Karyakram, free transportation and focussing on adolescent health, whose full impact would be known only in the coming years. States have also taken measures to save mothers and infants. In Bihar, the government has provided caesarean facilities at 60 places which have helped save lives. Early detection of complications, provision of ambulances, enlarging the pool of anaesthetists by training MBBS doctors and providing good residential facilities for doctors have vastly improved the situation in the State.

More about Janani –Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK), 2011

JSSK would provide completely free and cashless services to pregnant women including normal deliveries and caesarean operations and sick new born (up to 30 days after birth) in Government health institutions in both rural and urban areas. The Free Entitlements under JSSK would include: Free and Cashless Delivery, Free C-Section, Free treatment of sick-new-born up to 30 days, Exemption from User Charges, Free Drugs and Consumables, Free Diagnostics, Free Diet during stay in the health institutions – 3 days in case of normal delivery and 7 days in case of caesarean section, Free Provision of Blood, Free Transport from Home to Health Institutions, Free Transport between facilities in case of referral as also Drop Back from Institutions to home after 48hrs stay. Free Entitlements for Sick newborns till 30 days after birth similarly include Free treatment, Free drugs and consumables, Free diagnostics, Free provision of blood, Exemption from user charges, Free Transport from Home to Health Institutions, Free Transport between facilities in case of referral and Free drop Back from Institutions to home. JSSK supplements the cash assistance given to a pregnant woman under Janani Suraksha Yojana and is aimed at mitigating the burden of out of pocket expenses incurred by pregnant women and sick newborns.

Besides it would be a major factor in enhancing access to public health institutions and help bring down the Maternal Mortality and Infant mortality rates.

Presently it is noted that, out of pocket expenses and user charges for transport, admission, diagnostic tests, medicines and consumables, caesarean operation are being incurred by pregnant women and their families even in the case of institutional deliveries.

National Commission for Women for a separate law to protect trafficked women

Concerned at feminisation of migration, which has often resulted in women being trafficked and becoming vulnerable to harm, including abuse at work, poor living conditions and health risks, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has recommended special laws to protect them. The panel has also demanded a national policy for domestic workers, and asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development to formulate a draft integrated plan of action to combat trafficking in women and children.

Taking ‘suo motu’ cognisance of media reports of women being trafficked for forced labour, the NCW has recommended that the Ministry of Home Affairs draft a special law to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The special law should include the definition of trafficking as per Article 3 of United Nations Convention 2000 and its Protocol, to include the term “abuse of position of vulnerability” (which is missing in Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code).

Trafficking in persons should mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, fraud, deception and abuse of power of position or even receiving or giving payments to achieve the consent of the person, resulting in exploitation.

Some other forms of exploitation are sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or similar practices, servitude or the removal of organs. This should be extended to offences committed outside India and women should be given provision for security and control of documents in order to ensure that travel or identity documents issued, especially to women, cannot be easily misused, readily falsified or unlawfully altered, replicated or issued. The NCW has suggested that cases of missing women be linked with investigations into trafficking. The NCW has recommended the Labour Ministry to draft legislation for the regulation of domestic work with a gender component and formulate a national policy for domestic workers, it says it should include a provision to inform domestic workers of their terms of employment in an appropriate, verifiable and easily understandable manner and, preferably, where possible, through written contracts in vernacular language. Pointing out that the fundamental right to freedom of movement is a woman’s right which must be distinguished from trafficking, which is coercive and violent. A frequently used method of deception by traffickers is luring vulnerable girls on the promise of ‘lucrative jobs’. According to the Commission, women migrate for multiple reasons, including displacement and dispossession, search for sustainable livelihoods, naxal activity, more fulfilling opportunities or an aspiration for a better life.

Prevention of trafficking in women requires not only examining the factors that contribute to the problem but also providing awareness among potential victims in order to reduce the traffickers abusing their position of vulnerability, suggesting that the need was to identify women who were at the risk of being trafficked, and provide them with the necessary tools to find work without putting them at risk.

Delimitation will be over in time: Election Commission

On the orders of the Supreme Court (SC), to change the status of some Lok Sabha/Assembly constituencies from the general category to reserved seats for SCs/STs and vice versa, the Delimitation Commission has started working on it in Uttar Pradesh.

Readjustment of reserved constituencies would be based on the notification issued by the Registrar-General of Census, with 2001 population figures as the base.

Though this was an all-India exercise, there would’nt be large changes, since de-reservation of constituencies and vice versa was being carried out only in places where there were significant changes in the SC/ST population or inclusion of new castes under the SC/ST.

However, as already decided by the Delimitation Commission, there would be no changes in the geographical limits/boundaries of the Lok Sabha/Assembly constituencies till 2026. Recently (a few months ago), the Law Ministry had issued a notification empowering the EC to do the duties of the Delimitation Commission so as to determine the change in composition of any constituency where the government had included in or excluded any caste from the SC/ST category between 2001 and 2012. (Earlier, the EC did not have the powers to alter the reserved seats and it could be done only through a nationwide delimitation exercise.)

With this, the EC can carry out a limited corrective exercise immediately rather than waiting for decades for the outcome of the next delimitation exercise to decide whether a particular constituency should be reserved for SC/ST candidates or thrown open for the general category.

More about Delimitation Commission: Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body. The job of delimitation is assigned to a high power

body. Such a body is known as Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission.

In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted 4 times in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.

Under Article 82 of the Constitution, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every census. After coming into force commencement of the Act, the Central Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission. This Delimitation Commission demarcates the boundaries of the Parliamentary Constituencies as per provisions of the Delimitation Act.

The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census figures under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002. Notwithstanding the above, the Constitution of India was specifically amended in 2002 not to have delimitation of constituencies till the first census after 2026. Thus, the present Constituencies carved out on the basis of 2001 census shall continue to be in operation till the first census after 2026.

Armed forces use disability programme to reach out in border areas

The Mission Ability beyond Disability, launched in 2005 by Anupama Singh, an accomplished painter, socialite and wife of former Army Chief General J. J. Singh, is being used by the armed forces to reach out to persons with disability (PwD) in far flung border districts of the country. As part of the mission, camps have been organised for distributing various devices to PwD in Kargil, the border regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Tamenglong in Manipur, and Tawang, Seppa and Zero in Arunachal Pradesh. The mission has also held a camp at the remote Little Andaman Island. Government develops strategy to create social capital

The government has developed an intensive strategy to ensure social inclusion through participatory identification of the poor and universal social mobilisation. The National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) is to support implementation of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in 12 high poverty States that account for 85% of the rural poor in the country. The aim is to create best practice sites and to develop them as local immersion locations that generate a pool of social capital for catalysing social mobilisation of the poor and building quality institutions.

The Rural Development Ministry has been facilitating 400 intensive blocks across the country under the NRLM Framework, out of which 100 blocks would be developed as resource blocks. The blocks that are taken up for implementation of the NRLM will be called ‘intensive blocks.’ In all 73 resource blocks are proposed to be implemented in the NRLP States for five years. According to official data, there are already a total of 47 resource blocks cutting across States including Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana, covering nearly 2,000 villages. In these States nearly 13,000 Self-Help Groups have been supported. The strategy aims to cover a significant 5 lakhs BPL households.

Significance of Resource Blocks:

The resource block strategy will cover a whole range of activities, including a trained professional staff at district, block and sub-block levels. The strategy also entails promotion of institutions of the poor SHGs and their primary federations which ultimately will create and strengthen a large base of social capital or community professionals.

Also, resource blocks ensure proof of concept and home-grown models in social mobilisation and institutional building, financial inclusion, bookkeeping and livelihoods. These resource pockets would create efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor enabling them to increase household incomes through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial and selected public services. The poor would be facilitated to achieve increased access to their rights, entitlements and public services, diversified risk and better social indicators of empowerment.

To know more NRHM refer our ‘Insights Current Events Analysis Magazine’ (NOVEMBER, 2013) Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe into ‘snoopgate’

The Centre Govt. has setup ‘judicial Commission of Inquiry’ to investigate charges of spying by the Gujarat government on a young woman in 2009(which is known as ‘snoopgate’). The report is expected to be submitted within three months. The Centre has rejected the Gujarat government’s contention that under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the Centre or the State government cannot appoint an inquiry commission into a matter on which one of the two governments has already set up such a panel – in this case the State government (Gujarat) has already set up a commission. However, Section 3 provides for the Centre to appoint a commission if it is of the opinion that the scope of the inquiry should be extended to two or more States.

Background:

Snoopgate broke over a month ago when two news portals released CDs of purported telephonic conversations, purportedly between August and September 2009, between the then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah and two State police officers relating to surveillance of a woman architect. Mr. Modi’s name does not occur in the conversations but there is reference to a “sahib” that the portals say is the Gujarat CM, at whose instance the snooping was done.

Guidelines soon to regulate campaign in social media

As social media has emerged as a powerful medium for political campaign, the Election Commission (EC) has proposed to evolve guidelines for regulating it during the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.

The emphasis was on the need for preventing ‘sectarian campaign and campaign based on caste and religion’. Also, if an individual campaigns for a candidate through social media it should not be added to expenses of the candidate.

Mind-mapping  Do you think Social media is a tool for Political empowerment? If so why and how?

 Should the Social media be regulated (not only from election point of view, but consider other aspects- on the economy, society, cultural values, religious sentiments..)?

 Impact of Social media on the society. More tribes demand formation of council on line of Lepchas

With the formation of the Lepcha Development Board by the West Bengal government, there has been a demand for formation of a council on similar lines by other tribes in Darjeeling Hills. They demanded a separate Limbu Tribal Development Council and inclusion of Limbu language in the schools of West Bengal.

Related Information:

Lepcha is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Sikkim, Darjeeling district in West Bengal in India, and in Nepal, and in several villages of Samtsi district in Bhutan. The tribal homeland of the Lepcha people is referred to as ‘hidden paradise’ or ‘land of eternal purity’. Most of the areas in which Lepcha is spoken today were once Sikkimese territory. The Lepcha are believed to be the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim. Today the Lepcha people constitute a minority of the population of modern Sikkim.

Mind-Mapping:  Why was Lepcha Development Board formed? Why are other tribes of West Bengal demanding for a similar board?

 What are the issues/problems that tribal people face? Also relate to the recent issue with the tribes of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

 What are the provisions available in the Constitution of India, inorder to protect or safeguard the interests of the tribal people?

 Significance of PESA Act in this regard?

Hornbill fete ends on a colourful note

Hornbill Festival, the biggest indigenous festival and the annual tourism promotional event of the Nagaland government, came to a colourful end with 17 Naga tribes performing the “Unity Dance”. The 10-day-long festival at the Naga Heritage Village, around 12 km south of the State capital, saw about two lakh visitors, including foreign, domestic and local tourists witnessing the performances of the tribes.

Significance of the Hornbill Festival: The Hornbill Festival is held in the first week of December every year, to encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote the cultural richness of Nagaland.

It is the coming together of all the elements that make up the total Nagaland. The Hornbill festival is a collaborative celebration of all Naga tribes at one venue and has been coined as “Festival of Festivals”.

The Festival is a tribute to the great “Hornbill” which is the most admired and revered bird for the Nagas, for its qualities of alertness and grandeur. The Majestic bird is closely identified with the social and cultural life of the Nagas, as reflected in various tribal folklores, dances and songs. The awe and admiration for the bird is symbolically displayed on almost all tribal traditional headgears worn during the festival and is indicative of the commonness of the Nagas. The Hornbill Festival of Nagaland is a cultural extravaganza to revive, protect and preserve the richness and uniqueness of the Naga heritage, while for the visitors to this event, its is a means for comprehensive understanding of the Naga People, their land and culture.

Since 2007, International cultural troupes have been taking part in it and it is slowly turning out to be an international event.

Anti-Superstition Bill passed in Maharashtra Council

The Maharashtra State Council has passed the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill, commonly known as the Anti-Superstition Bill.

IIMC to become institute of national importance The government has decided to upgrade the 48-year-old Indian Institute of Mass Communication

(IIMC) to a degree-awarding ‘Institute of National Importance’.

Significance:

These institutes will be able to design, develop and offer programs which they consider relevant and appropriate for the national needs.

After the upgrade, IIMC would award degrees, in addition to postgraduate diplomas it was now offering. The institute would also be able to award M.Phil and PhD degrees and carry out research to enhance its role as a think tank on communication and media as was originally envisaged by representatives of UNESCO and renowned mass communication specialists from India and abroad.

HEALTH

Positive signals in Indian research on HIV vaccine Indian researchers have claimed that they have got some positive early leads for developing a vaccine that will prevent people contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

A preliminary screening showed four ‘neutralising antibodies’ that can block HIV. Studies are on to ascertain whether any one of these or a combination of these can be used as a vaccine to protect against the Indian HIV subtype, Clade-C. The developments have taken place in the past three months, raising hopes of developing at least a therapeutic, if not preventive, vaccine. The researchers believe that, a world without AIDS now looks a possibility.

The isolation of the antibodies has led to establishment of a global project ‘Protocol G,’ and in India it was taken up by the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI). Vaccines prevent nearly three million deaths every year from infectious diseases, avert disease morbidity and enable more rapid economic and social development. Tuberculosis, HIV and malaria are the major diseases for which preventive vaccines are not available.

Despite global efforts, the scientific community is nowhere close to developing a vaccine to prevent HIV infection because HIV isolates are highly variable. There is lack of an ideal animal model for HIV to screen vaccines. HIV infects, suppresses and destroys key cells of the immune system. Importantly, natural immunity to HIV fails to completely control infection.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):

FSSAI was established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments.

FSSAI has been created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. The Act aims to establish a single reference point for all matters relating to food safety and standards, by moving from multi- level, multi-departmental control to a single line of command. To this effect, the Act establishes an independent statutory Authority – the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India with head office at Delhi. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the State Food Safety Authorities shall enforce various provisions of the Act.

Mind-Mapping:

 Significance of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Why is such an Act needed?

 What impact does the Food Safety and Standards Act has on the society and economy of India? (Also link this to malnutrition). { This is regard to “Indigenization of technology” (GS –III) }

Indigenous device that can detect early cervical cancer launched

The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has launched an indigenous device that can detect early cervical cancer and be used even by healthcare workers with basic training. AV Magnivisualizer, which was developed by the Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has 95% accuracy for detecting pre-cancerous lesions. Randomised clinical control trials have confirmed its efficacy in reducing incidence and mortality. It would also be available in remote rural areas.

This is a user-friendly device which costs about Rs 10,000 as against the present devices which cost between Rs 8 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh and are beyond the reach of most people.

The device can be operated on a 12- volt battery in rural and semi-urban areas where electric supply is not regular.

Now, the ICMR is initiating studies to assess its applicability even for oral pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions.

In the initial phase, the device would be available in the Community Health Centres (CHC); in the next phase it would be made available in the Primary Health Centres (PHC), where cervical cancer cases go undetected.

Cervical cancer is the most common malignancy among Indian women, particularly those who marry early. Current estimates indicate that approximately 1.32 lakh new cases are diagnosed and 74,000 deaths occur annually in India, accounting for nearly one-third of global cervical cancer deaths.

Cervical cancer takes about a decade to fully develop and is often detected when it has spread substantially. It starts from a pre-cancer stage called dysplasias and early detection and appropriate treatment at this stage can halt its progression, resulting in decreased incidence or mortality.

More about Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR):

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world.

The Council’s research priorities coincide with the National health priorities such as control and management of communicable diseases, fertility control, maternal and child health, control of nutritional disorders, developing alternative strategies for health care delivery, containment within safety limits of environmental and occupational health problems; research on major non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, blindness, diabetes and other metabolic and haematological disorders; mental health research and drug research (including traditional remedies). All these efforts are undertaken with a view to reduce the total burden of disease and to promote health and well-being of the population.

Mind-mapping:  Benefits of indigenization.  Issues with Clinical trials? Measures taken by the Government in this regard?  Functions and Significance of Primary health Centres? What are the issues with PHCs? Suggest some remedial measures.

[Indigenization: Health Sector] A cheaper kit to diagnose thalassemia India has launched a low-cost, indigenously-manufactured Thalassemia and Sickle Cell diagnostic kit that will simplify the identification of seven common beta-thalassemia mutations and two common abnormal haemoglobins common in India. This kit is tailor-made for the Indian population and can also be used for screening. The kit would cost approximately Rs 400 and would be made available in the public health facilities up to district levels. It is expected to bring down the prices of the test in the open market where it costs up to Rs 15,000. Mind-Mapping:

 What are the benefits of Indigenization in different sectors- education, health, technology, environment, defence etc.? What are the usual hurdles in the way to indigenization?

 Does India have the capability to produce more indigenized goods, which is qualitative as well as affordable?

Ruling on clinical trials is in national interest The recent Supreme Court ruling on, and stringent regulations for, clinical trials was a setback for drugs research in India. Not many pharmaceutical companies are coming forward for clinical trials now. There has been a 50% drop in clinical trials after stringent regulations were put in place, but they would pick up in the coming days. The changes were meant to protect the national interest and to do justice to those who participated in the trials.

The Ministry has laid down tough rules to make companies liable for the death of, or injury to, any drug trial subject. Even permission for such trials is given after a rigorous process. Simultaneously, the Supreme Court has suspended 157 previously approved trials pending review by new committees. This slowed down new trials, especially those by foreign companies or those being lined up with foreign collaboration. The court’s order came in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, which said trials in India had exploited poor patients who were not even aware that the drugs were still being tested. India made sweeping changes to the rules of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which governs clinical trials, making it mandatory for the principal investigator of the pharmaceutical company to reveal the contract between the subject and the company to the Drugs Controller-General of India. Earlier, the informed consent of the persons on which the trials had been conducted was often manipulated by the companies to the disadvantage of the subjects. Videography of the process of informed consent, with the full knowledge of the participant, had been made mandatory, and any death during a trial would have to be reported to the DCGI within 24 hours. The Drug Testing Advisory Board was the only body for granting permission for trials. To know more about Clinical trials refer our ‘Insights Current Events Analysis Magazine’

AIDS control

Over the recent order of the Supreme Court, stating gay sex is illegal, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry has expressed its concerns saying that- this would prevent vulnerable communities from accessing health facilities for fear of discrimination and stigma.

The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) is defined as a high-risk group by the National AIDS Control Organisation(NACO; now Dept. of AIDS Control )with HIV infection prevalence among men having sex with men (MSM) being the highest, between 6.5 and 7.2 %. This is the second most vulnerable community after injection drug users.

According to the NACO 2010-11 annual report, India had an estimated 40 lakh persons in the MSM community, of whom 10% were at risk of contracting HIV infection.

The Department of AIDS Control provides inclusive healthcare service for gay men and transgenders primarily for checking HIV infections, and the service was being accessed by a large number of the LGBT community following the 2009 Delhi High Court judgement that had struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised “unnatural sex.”

The HIV Estimation of 2012 suggests an overall reduction of 57% in the annual new HIV infections (among adult population) from 2.74 lakh in 2000 to 1.16 lakh in 2011, reflecting the impact of various interventions and scaled-up prevention strategies.

Based on these outcomes, the Department of AIDS Control designed the fourth phase of NACP (2012-17) to accelerate the process of reversal and further strengthen the epidemic response. The main objectives of NACP are reducing new infections and providing comprehensive care and support to all People Living with HIV and treatment services for all those who require them. While HIV prevalence shows declining trends among female sex workers, MSM, injecting drug users and single male migrants are emerging as important risk groups.

Reaction across the globe regarding ‘same-sex’ marriage:

‘Don’t discriminate against LGBT’ U.N. chief, the Secretary-General has re-affirmed that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and stressed the need to recommit ourselves to building a world of freedom and equality for all. While UK has supported gay marriage, Australia’s top court has overruled gay marriage ruling that Parliament must decide on same-sex unions The Marriage Act of Australia does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same-sex couples.

India’s Response to HIV/AIDS: Shortly after reporting the first AIDS case in 1986, the Government of India established a National AIDS Control Program (NACP) which has now become the Department of AIDS under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

In 1991, the scope of NACP was expanded to focus on blood safety, prevention among high risk populations, raising awareness in the general population, and improving surveillance. A semi‐autonomous body, the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), was established under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to implement this program. This “first phase” of the National AIDS Control Program lasted from 1992-1999. It focused on initiating a national commitment, increasing awareness and addressing blood safety.

The second phase of the NACP began in 1999 and ended in March 2006. Under this phase, India continued to expand the program at the state level. Greater emphasis was placed on targeted interventions for the most at risk populations, preventive interventions among the general population, and involvement of NGOs and other sectors and line departments, such as education, transport and police.

The Third Phase of NACP (NACP 3) program has dramatically scaling up targeted interventions in order to achieve a very high coverage of the most at risk groups. Under this phase, surveillance and strategic information management also receive a big boost. Partnerships with civil society organizations was at paramount in the implementation of the program with special focus on involvement of community in the program planning and implementation.

NACP IV -The focus of this phase will be primarily on scaling up prevention through NGOs and sustaining the efforts and results gained in last 3 phases and integration with the health systems response to the epidemic e.g. through provision of ART, STI services, and treatment of opportunistic infections through the National Rural Health Mission.

Mind-Mapping:  What are the causes of HIV, how is it spread and its impact, preventive measures, treatment once contacted? What are the steps taken by the Govt. in Prevention of AIDS?

 What impact would the recent SC ruling have on the LGBT community?

 Laws in other foreign countries, regarding ‘same-sex’ marriage?

 Impact of same sex marriage on our culture and society as a whole. Are we losing our traditions by being too liberal? Or are we still a conservative society, considering the fact that we are still talking of legality of gay sex while some western nations have moved forward and recognised same sex marriage on par with a heterosexual marriage?

INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE

On Ministerial eve, India stands alone in Bali India stands isolated at the Bali Ministerial (the three-day Ministerial would begin from 3 rd December) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in its efforts to seek safeguards for subsidies poor countries give to their farmers for food security purposes.

Of the key G33 countries, China, an exports-led economy, has not lent vocal support to India’s position for a Bali package as its interests lie with the G20 proposal on trade facilitation. Pakistan has opposed India’s proposal for subsidies to poor farmers on the grounds that they distort trade in rice.

However, India has asserted that it exports only basmati for which MSP is not given to farmers. Some support for India has come only from Indonesia.

India has blamed the rich countries led by the U.S. for stalling the negotiations for a Bali package and also accused the rich countries of double standards on the issue of subsidies for farmers. Even though the G33 has shown flexibility by agreeing to discuss an interim solution, there were efforts to make the solution redundant through elaborate procedural formalities in the name of safeguards against trade distortion and transparency.

The rich countries are pressing the G33 countries to agree to their preferred treaty for trade facilitation.

Negotiations are on though without much progress between the rich countries on the one hand and India-led G33 on the other. The negotiators haven’t so far settled, for the three main issues:

A new trade facilitation treaty; Changes in agriculture rules relevant to food security;

Benefits for least developed countries. India’s stand prevails in Bali meet Finally at the 9th Ministerial of the WTO, the draft Ministerial Decision put up for endorsement to the member-countries safeguards India’s position on both food security and trade facilitation.

However, Cuba and Venezuela are delaying the adoption of the Ministerial draft for due to some issues concerned with the respective countries. The draft proposes an interim mechanism to safeguard minimum support prices (MSP) to farmers against WTO caps till a permanent solution is adopted.

Adoption of the draft would be the first major decision of the century on global trade after the WTO came into being.

Conclusion of the Bali meet

World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministers in Bali finally adopted the historic five-draft decision declaration and the 10-document full Bali Package that addresses the Doha Development Agenda. There had been apprehensions that if Bali didn’t come through, the Doha Round and with it the WTO would become lifeless.

Post-Bali, the negotiators in Geneva will focus on the long-stalled issues of the Doha Development Round in a work programme they committed themselves to completing within 12 months. It is said that, The Bali Declaration is the stepping stone for the completion of the Doha Round. The declaration takes care of India’s concerns on food security and trade facilitation; it was what actually India wanted.

The declaration has been hailed across all quarters, as WTO has come alive and it has done what it should have been doing all these years – negotiating, dynamic, working hard to get an agreement and innovative solutions, willing to engage and compromise, seeking common ground and inclusiveness.

The focus was on national interests and common good, and the right of the developing countries to give food security to billions of the world’s poorest people was upheld and through trade facilitation it has opened up the potential of injecting up $1 trillion into the global economy.

Reaction of the civil society groups: However, the civil society groups were extremely disappointed about India accepting a ‘peace clause’ with conditionality on its food and farm subsidies at the Bali meet with no assured mechanism for finding a permanent solution.

India has opened up its farm and domestic food policies, programmes and mechanisms to international scrutiny with large data and reporting mechanisms to be put into place, thus losing sovereign control over decision-making on food grains stocks and procurement.

Expressing deep disappointment with the hype over ‘India’s win’, the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture has said that “India has lost a historical opportunity” of correcting deep-seated problems with the WTO on trade and agriculture rules that were tilted against the developing countries.

According to the Right to Food Campaign, India has wilted under pressure from the U.S. and agreed to accept conditionality to the Peace Clause that was not part of the G-33 proposal. Some section have criticised that, India had fell into the trap of discussing subsidy limits and minimum support price (MSP) in agriculture when it should have argued on the basis of hunger and malnutrition in India and that any attempt by the Indian government to act on it cannot possibly be placed within the purview of WTO sanctions. And also allowing ‘trade facilitation’ means that post-Bali, India should expect an influx of heavily subsidised agricultural produce from outside. According to Vandana Shiva of Navdanya, India should have insisted that an audit of free trade be done, instead of accepting further trade liberalisation, and giving in to the “peace clause”, which postpones putting food security and food sovereignty at the centre of trade in agriculture. Our World Is Not For Sale (OWINFS), a global network of NGOs, reacted to the developments sarcastically saying ‘avoiding a total meltdown of the WTO is being touted as a breakthrough, which just shows how de-legitimate the corporate-led model of trade liberalisation, embodied by the WTO, has become.’

Transaction costs will improve once WTO pact is operational: EEPC

The WTO agreement on trade facilitation will make life much easier for Indian exporters since the pact will ensure uniform, transparent and efficient transactions at the customs and port operations across the world.

The agreement that promises to dismantle barriers at the ports and customs would prove a turning point. The efficiency and transaction costs will improve by leaps and bounds, once the agreement comes into operation.

Indian exports suffer largely at the hands of customs and ports not only within the country but in several parts of the world.

Besides, the agreement will make it difficult for some countries which tend to slap non-tariff barriers against exports from the developing countries.

INDIA & ITS NEIGHBOURS INIDIA-CHINA

Chinese troops apprehend Indians in Chumar Chinese troops have apprehended five Indian nationals in the Chumar area of Ladakh, well inside the Indian territory, and took them to their side of the border perhaps the first incident of this kind along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in an apparent bid to stake their claim on the area. The five nationals were handed over to the Indian side by the PLA troops, after some efforts were made in this regard under the existing border mechanisms between the two countries.

The incident has taken place after PM Manmohan Singh had signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) with China in October, 2013 seeking to prevent any flare-ups between the armies of the two countries on the LAC. The Defence Minister A.K. Antony recently had warned that the new border pact does not guarantee that nothing would happen in these areas in the future.

Transgressions by the Chinese troops have taken place often in Chumar, the only place along the Indo-China border where the Chinese do not have any direct access to the LAC.

Mind-Mapping:  Border issue between India and China since Independence – Aksai Chin & Arunachal Pradesh. Reasons for it. What are the measures/steps taken by Government of India (GOI) in this regard? What was the outcome of such measures? What is LAC?

 What was the objective with which BDCA was signed?

 How do the recent transgressions of the Chinese troops effect/impact India-Chinese Relationship? How can this issue be solved? For more about India-China relationship & Border Agreements refer our Insights Current Events Analysis,

China launches moon rover

China has launched its first moon rover mission (Chang’e-3 rocket), the latest step in an ambitious space programme seen as a symbol of its rising global stature.

The probe is due to land on the moon in mid-December to explore its surface and look for natural resources.

It is the world’s third lunar rover mission following those by the United States and former Soviet Union decades earlier.

China hopes for ‘conducive’ India-Japan ties China has hoped for conducive India-Japan bilateral ties that would help in regional peace and stability, against the backdrop of rising tensions between China and Japan and a high-profile visit by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to India.

The ongoing week-long and rare visit to India by the Japanese royal couple has underlined the deepening ties between the two countries. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, had stated that Japan’s relationship with India would not only boost economic ties and investment, but also expand the strategic relationship.

The Japan’s keenness to push ties with India comes amid renewed tensions with China over the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. In recent days, China’s move to set up an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) that includes the disputed islands has further strained ties.

China had strongly defended its move on setting up an ADIZ, pointing out that several countries, such as the U.S and Japan, had established such areas beyond their territorial airspace to track aircraft. And according to China, Japanese ADIZ, established in the 1969 illegally included the Diaoyu islands, and China firmly opposes this. ADIZ areas are not territorial claims, but defined zones in international airspace within which countries monitor aircraft heading towards their territorial airspace, which extends 12 nautical miles from coastlines.

It is said that, China was willing to increase dialogue and communication to safeguard flights in overlapping areas of the two countries’ defence zones, but Japan has refused any dialogue, which has created frictions and has undermined regional stability.

Whereas, Japan on the other hand, has warned that China’s unilateral move to set up an ADIZ over disputed areas could trigger ‘unexpected incidents.’

China’s ADIZ announcement has also caused concern among several countries in the region, including Japan and South Korea, as the air defence zone stretches over strategically important areas in the East China Sea. Both countries, as well as the U.S., have made it clear that their air patrols will not follow Chinese demands of filing flight plans in advance.

Now, South Korea is contemplating on widening its air defence zone to include the Leodo reef, which is under South Korea’s control but falls within both the Japanese and newly set up Chinese air defence zones.

Taiwan too has opposed this move saying that it would also not comply with the rules. Amid tensions, South Korea and Japan hold East China Sea drills

South Korea and Japan have carried out a naval drill in the East China Sea, deploying destroyers and maritime helicopters in a region where both countries are involved in a dispute with China. A biennial naval drill took place in a part of the sea that lies within China’s newly established Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

The drill has signaled that both the countries will not follow China’s regulations by deploying helicopters without filing flight plans with China. The drill took place near the Leodo reef, which is controlled by South Korea but lies within the exclusive economic zones of China and South Korea. The area also falls within both Chinese and South Korean air defence zones (which are not territorial claims but a defined airspace within which countries track aircraft heading towards their territory.)

China has reiterated that its move was ‘just, reasonable and complying with international practices’. While China has hit out at Japan’s criticism of the zone, pointing out that Japan had established a bigger ADIZ in 1969, it has taken a more measured reaction to South Korean concerns.

China has said it would deploy ‘emergency’ defensive measures if aircraft entered the zone without filing plans. Civilian and other aircraft that were not seen as posing a threat would merely be ‘identified’ and ‘tracked’.

Mind-mapping:

 Relations of the 3 nations among themselves; importance of the region for each of them; historical evolution of the relations.

 Indian relations with the 3 nations, Indian concerns in the region in terms of transit, energy, strategic importance etc.

 What are the steps taken by India in recent times to balance the conflicting interests of the 3 Countries?

China offers freebie in strategic push China has shown its willingness to offer its neighbouring countries, use of its home-grown satellite navigation system free of charge. The strategic move, has already garnered interest from a number of countries including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand.

The Chinese officials had intended to widen use of the Beidou satellite network, which already has 16

satellites serving the Asia-Pacific and has been promoted as an alternative to the American Global Positioning System (GPS). The focus will be on countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and particularly in South and Southeast Asia, where the satellites offered the highest accuracy. China has already agreed deals with Pakistan and Thailand on use of the Beidou network. Also it had consultations with Sri Lanka, for which it has already launched a satellite, and Bangladesh, over cooperation on satellite use. While China was open to any country using the system, so far there was no specific cooperation between the Indian and Chinese governments.

China’s deepening cooperation with these countries prompted the Indian government, earlier in 2013, to push ISRO in being more active in providing technological assistance to countries in the neighbourhood in launching satellites. The system, which was first launched in 2011 for use only by the government and military, has over the past year begun to be widely deployed for civilian uses domestically with 80% of passenger buses and trucks in China using the system. For China, granting use of its 16-satellite Beidou network which would be expanded to 35 satellites by 2020 to provide global coverage offers an added advantage.

Mind-Mapping:

 What implications would this strategic move have on India? What steps should be taken by the Indian Govt & ISRO in this regard?

 Navigation system used in India?

 Do you think India should also align with other countries and make use of the China’s navigation system?

BCIM corridor gets push after first official-level talks in China

India and China have taken the first step towards pushing forward an ambitious corridor linking the two countries with Bangladesh and Myanmar, as representatives from the four nations held the first ever official-level discussions about the project recently.

For the first time the four nations have come up with a schedule/timeline on taking the plan forward.

The corridor would run from Kunming (Chinese city which borders Myanmar) to Kolkata, linking Mandalay in Myanmar as well as Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh.

The plan would “advance multi-modal connectivity, harness the economic interests, promote investment and trade and facilitate people-to-people contacts.

The recent talks saw the four countries come up with an ambitious proposal that included developing multi-modal transport, such as road, rail, waterways and airways, joint power projects and telecommunication networks.

The BCIM project was also discussed during the Chinese Premier Li’s meet to India recently. The corridor would not only boost strategic ties with India, but also as a means to inject vitality into its landlocked south-western provinces, which have the highest poverty rates in China.

Way forward: As a first step, the four countries will identify realistic and achievable infrastructure projects to boost physical connectivity. Over the next six months, each country will come up with a joint study report proposing concrete projects and financing modalities, before the next meeting of the four nations in June 2014, hosted by Bangladesh.

The hope is that before the holding of the third joint study meeting, in India towards the end of 2014, the four countries would have agreed upon a cooperation framework including modalities of ‘financing projects’ that will pave the way for the actual implementation.

Mind-Mapping:

Why was BCIM corridor mooted? What are the advantages of this project to India?

China defends nuclear cooperation with Pakistan China would continue to provide support for civilian nuclear energy projects in Pakistan, despite concerns voiced by some countries that recent agreements have violated international guidelines governing nuclear trade.

China has argued that, the nuclear power projects would help Pakistan alleviate power shortage and serve the interests of local people.

In November, 2013 Pakistan had formally inaugurated two 1,100 MW projects at the second and third phases of the Karachi nuclear power project. The deals follow Chinese support to the nuclear complex at Chashma, where two reactors have been constructed with China’s assistance. The agreements for third and fourth reactors in Chashma, signed in 2009, triggered controversy as they were the first deals signed by China following its joining of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The nuclear trade body forbids members from transferring technology to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). India obtained a waiver from the body only after undertaking various commitments. However, the Chinese have defended the deal saying that it was for peaceful purpose and it meets their respective international obligations and is subject to the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

More about International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

The IAEA is the world’s center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

The IAEA Secretariat is headquartered at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria. IAEA Mission & Programmes

The IAEA’s mission is guided by the interests and needs of Member States, strategic plans and the vision embodied in the IAEA Statute. Three main pillars – or areas of work – underpin the IAEA’s mission: Safety and Security; Science and Technology; and Safeguards and Verification.

Relationship with United Nations

As an independent international organization related to the United Nations system, the IAEA´s relationship with the UN is regulated by special agreement . In terms of its Statute, the IAEA reports annually to the UN General Assembly and, when appropriate, to the Security Council regarding non-compliance by States with their safeguards obligations as well as on matters relating to international peace and security.

Mind-Mapping:  With closer nuclear cooperation between China and Pakistan- what are the concerns raised by the international fora and especially with respect to India? Do you think such a co-operation would de-stabilize Asia?

 What are the objectives of NSG and NPT? How did India get a waiver with regard to nuclear trade, though India not being a member of NPT? Why is India reluctant to get into the agreement? To know more NSG, NPT refer our ‘Insights Current Events Analysis Magazine’ (OCTOBER, 2013)

INDIA- PAKISTAN

Call for demilitarization of Siachen (India-Pakistan) Pakistan has said India should pull out its troops from the Siachen Glacier as waste disposal by Indian soldiers was threatening the glacier (which it claims is one of its largest sources of water) and posed a serious environmental threat. The implications of water scarcity were grave in view of climate change.

The issue of demilitarising Siachen has often been discussed and both India and Pakistan have debated the question of troops’ pullout but in vain.

Civil society groups too have been debating the issue and there are demands to declare Siachen a protected area.

The Siachen issue

The Siachen Conflict is a military conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed Siachen Glacier region in Kashmir. A cease-fire went into effect in 2003. The conflict began in 1984 with India’s successful Operation Meghdoot during which it gained control of the Siachen Glacier (unoccupied and not demarcated area).

India has established control over all of the 70 kilometres long Siachen Glacier and all of its tributary glaciers, as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier—Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La. Pakistan controls the glacial valleys immediately west of the Saltoro Ridge.

Both countries maintain permanent military presence in the region at a height of over 6,000 metres

(20,000 ft). More than 2000 people have died in this inhospitable terrain, mostly due to weather extremes and the natural hazards of mountain warfare.

The conflict in Siachen stems from the incompletely demarcated territory on the map beyond the map coordinate known as NJ9842. The 1972 Simla Agreement did not clearly mention who controlled the glacier, merely stating that from the NJ9842 location the boundary would proceed “thence north to the glaciers.” UN officials presumed there would be no dispute between India and Pakistan over such a cold and barren region.

Former India, Pakistan spy chiefs call for direct channel for RAW, ISI

Former Indian and Pakistani intelligence officials have called for greater contact between the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to prevent regional crisis and push forward new thinking on the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir It is said that, what covert services can achieve is not at times even conceivable in political or diplomatic channels. RAW & ISI help to guard against panic reactions. The two services are also capable of preventing another incident of the kind which occurred in Mumbai in November, 2008. More about Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Research and Analysis Wing (RAW or R&AW) was formed in 1968; It is the primary external intelligence agency of India.

Its creation was necessitated post the Sino-Indian War 1962 and Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 which posed various gaps in intelligence gathering undertaken by Intelligence Bureau (which then handled both internal and external intelligence).

Function:

The primary function of RAW is collection of external intelligence and counter-terrorism. In addition, it is responsible for obtaining and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations and persons to advise Indian policymakers.

R&AW is an effective and one of the primary instrument of India’s national power. It is also involved in the security of India’s nuclear programme.

Mind –Mapping:

 Role of RAW  Its significance in guarding India’s strategic interests with its neighbouring countries and especially with Pakistan?

India, Pak DGMOs to meet on Dec. 24, 2013 The Director-General Military Operations (DGMO) of Pakistan has invited his Indian counterpart for a meeting to strengthen the mechanism to ensure ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC)

This would reduce tensions on the LoC, which had seen repeated violations.

Mind-Mapping:

 Significance of the DGMOs meet? Reasons for ceasefire violations?

 What are the other measures taken by the two countries to reduce tensions on the LoC ((say by improving trade, celebrating festivals, integrated check posts etc)? What are your views, how can this issue be solved?  Pakistan military’s role in establishing friendly relations with India. Role of U.S in pacifying Indo-Pak relations.

India, Pakistan resolve to protect Line of Control truce

The Directors-General of Military Operations (DGMO) s of India and Pakistan have reiterated the resolve and commitment of both sides to continue efforts for ensuring ceasefire, peace and tranquility on the Line of Control (LoC).

At the meeting, the first between the DGMOs in 14 years, the two sides have resolved to work towards improved communications between the two by re-energising the existing mechanisms including their hotline contact. Consensus was developed to make hotline Contact between the two DGMOs more effective and result oriented. The talks between the two military officials, held at Wagah in Pakistan, came at the end of a year of extraordinary tensions along the LoC threatening the 10-year-old ceasefire. The last DGMOs meeting was in 1999 after the Kargil war.

Consensus was developed to make hotline contact between the two DGMOs more effective and result oriented.

The two sides will also hold two Brigade Commander-level flag meetings in the near future, most likely at Uri and Poonch on the LoC. The two sides also agreed to inform each other if any innocent civilian inadvertently crosses LoC to ensure his or her early return.

Also there were discussions to check on infiltration, since in 2013 alone there have been 267 attempted infiltrations of the LoC. In January, 2013 two Indian soldiers were killed, one of whom was beheaded. In August, an ambush from the Pakistani side killed five soldiers in the Poonch area.

There were also discussions regarding issues concerning the 15 brigades deployed by the Indian Army on its side of the border. India had earlier refused to get drawn into Pakistan’s attempts to include international third parties in the meeting and to discuss a greater role for United Nations observers in ensuring peace along the border or LoC.

Mind Mapping:  What do you understand by hotline? Significance of hotline.

 Why was the DGMO meeting also these years (nearly for 14 years)? With the DGMO meeting convened recently, what are the future prospects for both India and Pakistan?

 Importance of LoC. Border issues between the two countries?

INDIA-NEPAL Stringent checks on India-Nepal border After the launch of the “return and rehabilitation scheme” by the Jammu & Kashmir government in 2010, there has been a spurt in the number of people returning from Pakistan via the Nepal border. The defence authorities, however, are worried that terrorists may cross over along with former militants, using the Sunauli border in Uttar Pradesh to cross over from Nepal. The authorities are, therefore, pressing for stringent checks at the India-Nepal border.

Border crossing has not been taking place through the four routes designated by the Union Home Ministry. People coming into India from Pakistan could do so via the IGI Airport in Delhi or the Wagah-Attari border in Amritsar with their Pakistani passports and visas, or through the Poonch-Rawlakote and the Uri-Muzaffarabad border points on the Line of Control with permits approved by the authorities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)

But instead of taking these legal routes, a large number of individuals and their families are crossing over from Nepal.

India, Nepal to check illegal border trade At the Inter-Governmental Committee meeting between the India and Nepal, the two countries have agreed to address each other’s concerns on commerce and transit, including reduction of tariff barriers and checking illegal trade along the porous border between the two countries.

It was in direction to step up efforts to check unauthorised trade and control trade in fake Indian currency.

The two sides have agreed on a 14-point agenda to enhance trade, promote cooperation and address concerns of the private sector of both sides. Other concerns over which the two countries have agreed on:

With increasing demand from Nepal for milk and dairy products, the Indian side has agreed to provide 10,000 cows. Nepal has agreed to adjust the 5% agriculture reforms charge it has been charging on Indian exports. While India has agreed to resolve difficulties related to export of Nepali books and newspapers.

The two sides agreed to make institutional arrangements to facilitate third country import and export to build infrastructure in newly identified customs points.

India would provide technical assistance that can enhance the competitiveness of Nepalese exports; basically India would be looking forward to enhancing the capacity building in areas required by the government of Nepal.

Nepal’s abundant natural resources, like its hydropower potential, can be tapped for the prosperity of the country and surplus power exported to India and other countries. The government of India has unilaterally made this possible by moving power trading or power export-import into India from a restricted category to the open general category. This would permit power generated in Nepal to be supplied to the entire subcontinent.

Mind-Mapping:

 India-Nepal’s historic relationship.  What are the issues between the two countries? What are the steps taken by the Indian side to resolve these issues. Recent agreements between the two countries.  Strategic importance of Nepal to India. Nepal impasse comes to an end as political parties reach accord

Nepal’s political parties, whose differences on the way ahead had led to a deadlock, reached a four- point agreement paving the way for the dissenters to join the Constituent Assembly (CA). The parties have agreed to constitute a parliamentary committee to “investigate and submit suggestions on the questions raised about the CA election.” This was a concession to the UCPN (Maoist) and other dissenting parties which had been demanding a high-level commission outside Parliament to probe election-related questions as one of the conditions to join the CA. The UCPN (Maoist), the largest party in the first CA, had initially welcomed the successful conduct of the second CA election. However, it alleged systematic fraud after the trend showed it was set to lose heavily.

The parties also agreed to prepare the draft of the new constitution as per the spirit of the ‘12-point agreement’, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution within six months and promulgate it in a year. They have decided to form a high-level political mechanism with top leaders of major parties as its members in order to complete the remaining tasks of the peace process and help write the constitution. The convenor of the mechanism would be appointed from within the CA.

There was also accord on forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and a Commission on Enforced Disappearances. Both of these commissions have been long overdue. The parties pledged to form them on numerous occasions but never acted on their promise. The leaders of eight political parties – the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML, the CPN (Maoist), the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Democratic), the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Nepal, Sadbhawana Party and the Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party – signed the agreement. They endorsed the draft of the agreement that was decided by the NC, the UML and the UCPN (M) at an earlier meeting. The agreement was possible after the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML persuaded the UCPN (Maoist) to soften its stance on joining the CA. The two largest parties – the NC and the UML – had stood firm in the face of demands from the UCPN (M) which subsequently backed down from its position. The Maoists had initially put forth five conditions, including forming of a commission to investigate ‘election fraud’, its chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda as permanent convener of the political mechanism, amendment to the Interim Constitution to take decisions only by consensus, and hold a new election within a year after promulgating the constitution. There was no disagreement over its suggestion of moving forward as per the 12-point agreement, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution. The parties also decided to request the Election Commission yet again to extend the deadline to submit the names of the elected candidates under the proportional representation (PR) electoral system for five more days. The EC has already extended the deadline twice. The election to the Constituent Assembly (CA) was held on November 19, 2013. The deadline extension would further delay the convening of the first meeting of the CA.

INDIA- SRILANKA

Despite strains, India, Sri Lanka deepen naval ties India and Sri Lanka have agreed to a slew of naval cooperation measures to target pirates and terrorist groups operating in the Indian Ocean. The meeting, as well as separate dialogues with Indian naval commanders, took place amidst tensions in diplomatic relations between the countries. The Indian PM had stayed away from a recent Commonwealth Heads of Government

summit in Colombo, amidst criticism of Sri Lanka’s human rights record. The meeting focused on pushing ahead military-to-military cooperation to secure both countries’ common security interests.

The two countries, along with the Maldives, had signed a security cooperation agreement in July, 2012 designed to make operations by the three navies seamless.

India’s military-to-military relationship with Sri Lanka has grown despite political tensions. The Sri Lankan navy has ordered two modern offshore patrol vessels from the public-sector Goa Shipyards. It already operates the 101-metre offshore patrol vessel Sayura, sold by India in 2000.

The training has continued despite protests from Tamil Nadu CM, who had expressed dismay over the Indian Navy’s offer of further training cooperation to Sri Lanka.

INDIA- AFGHANISTAN

India feels SCO can play a bigger role in Afghanistan

India has called for a greater role by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in rebuilding and stabilizing Afghanistan. Since bulk of the SCO’s members and observers are Afghanistan’s neighbours.

However, Iran’s opposition of the West and the SCO’s tendency of trying not to annoy the West led to the organisation playing a more subdued role in Afghanistan.

SCO could also play a useful role in promoting trade connectivity in the region and countering terrorism.

From India’s point of view, it would be looking to enter into an energy and minerals partnership with Uzbekistan especially in the area of uranium. India has been an observer country in the SCO since 2005. India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia have expressed their readiness to join Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan as its full members.

More about Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It also has Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers, and Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey as dialogue partners.

It has also initiated a new security concept that is based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation.

The SCO, which is an observer of the UN General Assembly, is the only regional inter-governmental organization founded in China.

U.N. monitors say Taliban sanctions failing The United Nations team monitoring the Security Council sanctions against the Taliban has warned that the international community is ill-placed to contain a surge of extortion-related funding the jihadist group is expected to raise in the run -up to next year’s (2014) elections in Afghanistan. In 2014, Afghanistan there would be significant spike in international spending to finance the large-scale logistical operations necessary for the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan.

Illicit business activities and investments play a key role in the financial structure of the Taliban and its affiliates. Taliban continues to raise millions from drugs, extortion, in build-up to 2014 elections

Taliban’s continued ability to raise funds is critical to both its military and political influence in Afghanistan. According to the report, the Taliban is estimated to have raised $155 million from narcotics-related operations in 2012. The Taliban in Helmand province, a key hub for the jihadist group, had raised $8 million from the narcotics trade from January to May, 2013 alone, and an additional $400,000 a month through levies on local transport operators.

Also 90 to 99% of all gemstones mined in Afghanistan are illegally smuggled out of the country. The Taliban has targeted specifically gemstone and mining operations. On these lines the Monitoring Team has recommended that the member-states be asked to submit any relevant information on Taliban bank accounts, hawalas and financial facilitators. According to the Monitoring Team’s view, there appears to be little ground for optimism that violence could be defused by a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government. But there are no evidence yet.

India supports Afghan over its row with U.S India has expressed its disagreement over the U.S. pressure on Afghanistan to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which will limit the number of western troops in the war-torn country after 2014.

India and Afghanistan both see the BSA as important for the security and stability of Afghanistan. The Indian approach was not to pressurise, it would refrain from being intrusive and judgemental on the issue.

Issue:Over the timing of signing the BSA – The Afghan President wants the agreement to be signed by his successor after 2014 elections, in which he will not be eligible to contest, while the U.S. has threatened to walk out if it is not done immediately.

Apart from security issues, the other part of Mr. Karzai’s visit to India is economic. India is planning a major game-changing project in Afghanistan which will start taking shape once its Parliament approves new mining laws. Mr. Karzai has urged Indian businessmen to come forward and invest. The major investment planned by India is in Hajigak mines, said to be Asia’s biggest untapped deposits of iron ore.

The Afghan President’s focus is on three issues – the state of play on the BSA, the peace process and then the transition process.

Mind-mapping:

 Relationship among the three countries – India, U.S., Afghanistan.

 India’s geo-political & geo-strategic interests with respect to Afghanistan

 How will the withdrawal of U.S forces from Afghan impact the future prospects of Afghan and the other stakeholders vying for stability of Afghan?

 Significance of India’s support to Afghanistan (amidst U.S pressure)? Does this move indicates India’s rise in the International fora, as a country which can take independent decision? Is India a soft- State?

INDIA-MALDIVES India-Maldives relationship on the right track again

Following 2 years of testing times, India and Maldives are all set to restore their friendly relationship, with the upcoming visit of the newly elected President, Abdulla Yameen, from December 23 to 25, 2013.

On further strengthening of the ties between the two countries, India would formally hand over an indigenously made helicopter for surveillance and domain awareness operations in northern Maldives.

India has already gifted Maldives an advanced light helicopter (ALH) for its southernmost island Addu. This ALH will be for the northern most inhabited island.

Also both sides would be signing a package of measures to resume projects that had been stalled after Mohd Nasheed was ousted as President in February, 2012.

These include the construction of a national police academy, refurbishing of the Indira Gandhi Hospital in Male and setting up a faculty for teaching tourism and hospitality.

Also there are other issues – cancellation of a contract given to GMR, said to be the single biggest foreign investment proposal in Maldives, Tata Housing’s real estate project and Tattva Global’s contract for waste management, which needs to be looked into for better diplomatic relationships between the two countires.

India- Maldives strategic interest In the direction of furthering the relationship between the two countries, India has promised a second Advanced Light Helicopter, Dhruv (indigenously-built), to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

Earlier in 2010, India had donated an ALH to Maldives.

India and the Maldives have maintained close ties over the years and Indian naval ships and aircraft were deployed for surveillance of the Maldivian exclusive economic zone at their request. Over the years, the Indian Navy has trained Mauritian naval pilots; extended training support to several nations, including Vietnam, conducted coordinated joint patrols, and supplied military hardware (including surveillance aircraft) to countries like Myanmar.

This is a part of the geostrategic measures undertaken by India to support friendly nations in the Indian Ocean rim to augment capacity. Initiatives such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a geographical grouping of 35 Indian Ocean littorals, and biennial naval exercise ‘Milan’ went a long way in reaffirming the confidence nations in the region had in India. Related Information:

Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) IONS is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues and, in the process, endeavors to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly agreements on the way ahead.

The inclusiveness of this forum means that all the principal maritime agencies of states in the IOR are members, unless they desire otherwise, thereby involving participation by almost all the littorals in the region to address cooperative maritime issues.

Milan basically is a biennial conglomeration of Asia-Pacific maritime navies, hosted by the Indian Navy, to foster bonds of ‘friendship across the seas’, boost interoperability and share views on common maritime issues.

Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) IORA was established in 1997 to promote cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. It seeks to expand mutually beneficial cooperation through a consensus-based, evolutionary and non-intrusive approach. IORA is the only regional forum linking most countries on the Indian Ocean rim through an annual Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

In 2011 six priority areas of cooperation were identified for IORA. These include: Maritime Safety and Security, Trade and Investment Facilitation, Fisheries Management, Disaster Risk Management, Academic and Science & Technology Cooperation, and Tourism and Cultural Exchanges.

Mind-Mapping:  Historical relationship between India & Maldives. India’s Strategic interests with

Cropping Pattern (Agricultural and Horticultural) in India

Cropping Pattern (Agricultural and Horticultural) in India

1. INTRODUCTION

Cropping systems of a region are decided by and large, by a number of soil and climatic parameters at farmers’ level, potential productivity and monetary benefits act as guiding principles while opting for a particular crop/cropping system. These decisions with respect to choice of crops and cropping systems are further narrowed down under influence of several other forces related to infrastructure facilities, socio-economic factors and technological developments, all operating interactively at micro-level.

These are:

Infrastructure facilities: Irrigation, transport, storage, trade and marketing, post-harvest handling and processing etc.

Socio-economic factors: Financial resource base, land ownership, size and type of land holding, household needs of food, fodder, fuel, fibre and finance, labour availability etc.

 

Technological factors: Improved varieties, cultural requirements, mechanization, plant protection, access to information, etc.

 

2. PREVALENT CROPPING SYSTEMS

Multiplicity of cropping systems has been one of the main features of Indian agriculture. This may be attributed to following two major factors:

• Rainfed agriculture still accounts for over 92.8 million hectare or 65 per cent of cropped area. A large diversity of cropping systems exists under rainfed and dry land areas with an over riding practice of intercropping, due to greater risks involved in cultivating larger area under a particular crop.

• Due to prevailing socio-economic situations (such as; dependency of large population on agriculture, small land-holding size, very high population pressure on land resource etc.), improving household food security has been an issue of supreme importance to many million farmers of India, who constitute 56.15 Million marginal small semi-medium farm holdings, making together 90 per cent of 97.15 million operational holdings. An important consequence of this has been that crop production in India remained a subsistence rather than commercial activity.

One of the typical characteristics of subsistence farming is that most of the farmers resort to grow a number of crops on their farm holdings, primarily to fulfill their household needs and follow the practice of rotating a particular crop combination over a period of 3-4 years interchangeably on different farm fields.

Under influence of all above factors, cropping systems remain dynamic in time and space, making it difficult to precisely determine their spread using conventional methods, over a large territory. However, it has been estimated that more than 250 double cropping systems are followed through out the country. Based on rationale of spread of crops in each district in the country, 30 important cropping systems have been identified. These are; rice-wheat, rice-rice, rice-gram, rice-mustard, rice-groundnut, rice-sorghum, pearlmillet-gram,pearlmillet-mustard, pearl millet-sorghum, cotton-wheat, cotton-gram, cotton-sorghum, cotton-safflower, cotton groundnut, maize-wheat maize-gram, sugarcane-wheat, soybean-wheat, sorghum-sorghum, groundnut-wheat, sorghum-groundnut, groundnut-rice, sorghum-wheat, sorghum-gram, pigeon pea-sorghum, groundnut groundnut, sorghum-rice, groundnut-sorghum and soybean-gram.

 

3. CROPPING SYSTEMS OF IRRIGATED ECOSYSTEM

Depending upon the natural water resources, two distinct irrigated ecosystems emerge. One is Indo-Gangetic Plain region comprising the states of Punjab, Haryana, plains of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and plains of Jammu & Kashmir. The other ecosystem may be carved out of coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. At present 51 million hectare net-cropped area is irrigated by different sources, which constitutes about 35 per cent of net cultivated area. Estimates indicate that more than 56 per cent of total food grain comes from irrigated ecosystem while progress has been considerably sluggish in rain fed agriculture which still accounts for 92.8 million hectare or 65 per cent of net area sown and contributes only 44 per cent to national food grain production.

The principal crops having sizeable percentage of area under irrigation in the country are; sugar cane (87.9%), wheat (84.3%), barley (60.8%), rapeseed and mustard (57.5%), rice (46.8%), tobacco (41.2%), cotton (33.2%), chickpea (21.9%), maize (21.8%) and groundnut (19.2%). Among the states, Punjab ranks first with 94.6 per cent cropped area under irrigation followed by Haryana (76.4%) and Uttar Pradesh (62.3%).

4. ISSUES IN IRRIGATED CROPPING SYSTEMS

The major issues emerging in the irrigated cropping systems may be categorized into two groups; i.e., general and system specific.

General Issues

Resource characterization- Adequate information is lacking on site-specific characterization of land and water resources and climatic parameters, which is crucial for efficient land use planning and resource deployment.

 

Farmer’s Participation-

To develop and improve upon existing agro technologies, involvement of farmers in conceptualization and extension of technologies is of paramount importance.

But in the past, a critical lacuna in agricultural research approach has been inadequate effort or lack of mechanisms to build up research programmes that take into account the experience and knowledge base that exists within the farming community.

5. CROPPING SYSTEMS ORIENTED PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY

The past approach for agricultural research and development had been component based. It is indeed due to this piecemeal approach, that farmers have to

encounter increasingly acute problems in managing and protecting natural resources and the environment. It has been hardly realized that field problems to which solutions are sought are rarely amenable to solutions through a single component/discipline oriented research. System oriented production research is needed to be strengthened as it is essential for maximizing land productivity by harnessing synergies generated through various interactions in soil-crop systems. Cropping  system approach of resource management has been showing immense potential in enhancing resource use efficiencies and pest management.

Low Water Use Efficiency

Despite the fact that water is a precious and scarce resource, its application and use efficiencies have been quite low. Low water use efficiency is apparently attributable to:

i. Excessive use of water due to – – improper leveling of fields coupled with improper application methods, even in agriculturally advanced areas, and

– faulty pricing policy for electricity and canal water

leading to over irrigation.

ii. Non-adoption of appropriate cropping systems. For example –

– extensive cultivation of rice in sandy soils of Punjab, and

– advancement of rice transplanting to April/May in Punjab and Haryana.

Land Degradation Problem

 

Soil salinity hazards due to ground water rise and impeded natural drainage in certain canal command areas are well known.

Indiscriminate Exploitation of Ground Water The excessive pumping of ground water for irrigation purposes in intensively cultivated areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh has caused lowering down of the ground water table in certain pockets. Declining water tables not only raise production costs due to higher energy requirements for pumping water from greater depths but such rapid rates of decline spark serious questions about the long-term sustainability of rice-wheat system itself in these areas. Contrary to this, the vast potential of ground water in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and adjoining areas remains untapped.

In-efficientLand Use Diversion of highly productive irrigated land to nonagricultural uses; such as industry, housing etc., specially at rural-urban interface needs to be viewed seriously.

Decline in Factor Productivity

Due to imbalance in fertilizer use, widespread deficiencies of secondary and micro-nutrients and reduced organic matter contents of cultivated lands, a declining trend for responses to nutrients, specially to nitrogen, in major cropping systems is being observed on farmers’ fields. That is, to sustain earlier yield levels farmers need to apply higher fertilizer doses.

Imbalance in Fertilizer Use

The problem of imbalance in fertilizer use has been accentuated on three accounts With intensive cropping, nutrient removal by crops from soil has far exceeded replenishment through fertilizers and manures. This is causing negative balance of nutrients in soil. And if this trend continues, a serious threat persists for sustainability of the major cropping systems of irrigated areas.

Due to continuous cereal-cereal cropping in most of the irrigated fertile lands during post green revolution period, multiple nutrient deficiencies have emerged. The long term experiments have clearly shown a decline in organic carbon, nitrogen and P in cereal-cereal intensive cropping.

Farmers have developed tendencies to use higher doses of nitrogenous fertilizers, may be because N is comparatively cheaper than P and K. This, therefore, has resulted in widening ratios of N:P and N:K to undesirable levels.

Build up of Diseases/Pests

With crop intensification under high input use, serious threats of occurrence and build up of some obnoxious pests and diseases have crept in. This factor again hinders the vertical growth and questions are being raised about the sustainability of the environment under intensive input use, which is otherwise needed for maximizing crop yields. Heavy infestation of Phalaris minor in continuous rice-wheat cropping system in north western plains is a glaring example.

Inadequate Considerations for Environmental Quality

With a pressing need for producing more and more from less and less land resource, a serious threat is lurking upon the environmental quality. A potential danger may be envisioned in the form of pollution of natural water bodies and underground aquifers due to nitrate leaching and phosphates causing irreparable harm to natural ecosystems under high fertilizer use without improving their use efficiencies.

 

6. SPECIFIC ISSUES RELATING TO SOME IMPORTANT CROPPING SYSTEMS

Rice-Wheat

Rice-Wheat system is the most widely adopted cropping system in the country and has become mainstay of cereal production. The states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh are now the heart land of rice-wheat cropping system with an estimated area of 10.5 million hectares. Despite enormous growth of this cropping system in the country during the past few years, reports of stagnation in the productivity of these crops, with possible decline in production in future, have raised doubts on its sustainability. Important issues emerging as a threat to the sustainability of rice-wheat system are:

• Over mining of nutrients from soil,

• Disturbed soil aggregates due to puddling in rice

• Decreasing response to nutrients

• Declining ground water table

• Build up of diseases/pests

• Build up of Phalaris minor

• Low input use efficiency in north western plains

• Low use of fertilizer in eastern and central India

• Lack of appropriate varietal combination.

• Shortage of labour during optimum period for transplanting paddy in Punjab

Rice-Rice

Rice-rice is the popular cropping system in irrigated lands in humid and coastal ecosystems of Orissa, TamilNadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala and it is spread over an area of six million hectares. The major issues in sustaining productivity of rice-rice system are:

i. Deterioration in soil physical conditions.

ii. Micronutrient deficiency.

iii. Poor efficiency of nitrogen use.

iv. Imbalance in use of nutrients.

v. Non-availability of appropriate transplanter to mitigate labour shortage during critical period of transplanting.

vi. Build up of obnoxious weeds such as Echinochloa crusgalli and non-availability of suitable control measures.

In Kerala, reduction in area is mainly attributable to the conversion of paddy lands to more profitable and less labour intensive plantation estates. In Assam, low productivity under prevailing soil and climatic situations, poor drainage in submerged areas, low nutrient use and iron toxicity are some of the issues of concern. The other general issues of low productivity are build up of pests, diseases and weeds year after year and deterioration of soil health to a large extent.

Rice-Mustard

From a view point of food security and national economy, rice-rapeseed/mustard may be considered as an important cropping system. In this cropping system, the yield of Rice is satisfactory in all ecosystems, however, wide variations in yield of mustard were recorded from one ecosystem to another. Nevertheless, adoption of appropriate high yielding rice and mustard varieties, adequately supported by improved production technology, ensures desired productivity of the system.

Observed gaps suggest that scope exists for at least two fold increase in yields of rice and mustard in the system. In general, with a medium or short duration high

yielding rice variety, a successful mustard crop is possible. The mustard crop remains in field upto march and thereafter summer season can be best utilized by

another crop to increase the productivity of the system.

Rice-Groundnut

Groundnut is basically a Kharif crop grown under rain fed environment, however, Rabi/summer groundnut is emerging as an important high value crop under

assured irrigation environments. The productivity of Rabi/Summer groundnut is almost double of the yield obtained in Kharif season. It has become possible to

grow groundnut on well drained low lying fertile lands after harvest of preceding rice crop under assured irrigation.

Rabi/summer groundnut is grown in Periyar, Chengalpattu, Salem, Thanjavur, Coimbatore, Madurai, Arcot and Tiruchirapalli distts. of Tamil Nadu; Nalgonda, Nellore, Chittor, Kurnool, Mehaboobnagar, Anantpur, Warangal, Prakasham of Andhra Pradesh and Krishna districts of Karnataka; Cuttack and Puri districts of Orissa; coastal districts of Konkan, Marathwada region, Satara, Sangli, Pune, Ahmednagar districts of Maharashtra and Junagarh district of Gujarat.

The area under summer groundnut in general and rice groundnut sequence in particular is increasing fast in most of the west and east coastal districts of the country. Besides this, spread of groundnut in rice fallows would make rice-groundnut cropping system more sustainable and remunerative.

Diagnostic surveys carried out for regional yield gap analysis revealed that a yield gap of about 0.5 to 1.5 t/ ha exists between average yield of the region and yield obtained under improved practices for Rabi/Summer groundnut cultivation. Rainfall during September, soil type, selection of suitable early maturing varieties for rice and groundnut and agro-technologies developed to suit local conditions for rice-groundnut systems are important factors in achieving potential yield and to bridge the regional yield gaps in rice-groundnut sequence.

Excess rainfall received during September/October creates water-logging problems in medium and low lying fertile rice fields and affects groundnut yield adversely.

Non release of irrigation water in time through canal system delays land preparation and sowing of groundnut after rice during Rabi season. Non-availability of adequate quantity of quality seeds of improved short duration bunch type groundnut varieties in time and high cost of seed are other factors, greatly limiting expansion of Rabi/summer groundnut area in rice growing tracts

 

Rice-Pulses

Rice-Pulses cropping system is a dominant crop rotation in Chhattisgarh, Orissa and parts of Bihar. The higher productivity of rice, the base crop in the system, is possible and also imperative for this region if suitable varieties of paddy and pulses along with proper management are considered.

 

Factors limiting productivity of this cropping system in the region are as follows:-

A.Physical factors

– Droughts and erratic distribution of rainfall.

– Small area under assured irrigation.

– High percolation, resulting in heavy nitrogen losses in red sandy-loam soils, particularly Bhata soils.

 

B. Input related factors

– Delayed and prolonged biasi/transplanting.

– Low coverage under high yielding varieties (HYVs).

– Little attention to timely weed control.

– Inadequate supply of quality seed.

– Little attention to disease/pest control.

C. Social factors

– Low literacy.

– Large proportion of marginal and tribal farmers.

– Practices of animal grazing on agricultural lands.

– Low risk bearing capacity of farmers of the region.

 

Pearl millet-Wheat

The pearl millet-wheat is one of the most important cropping systems of the country and spreads over (i) arid eco-region comprising, western plain, Kachch and part of Kathiawar Peninsula having desert and saline soils and representing Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana;

(ii) semi-arid eco-region comprising northern plains of Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh (Agra region) and central highlands including Aravallis, Banswara, Jaipur and Tonk districts of Rajasthan with alluvium derived soil and Gujarat plains and Kathiawar Peninsula – Gujarat state, having medium and deep black soil.

Following issues are some of the concerns of sustainability:

1. Over mining of nutrients

2. Depleting soil fertility

3. Imbalance in fertilizer use

4. Decreasing response to nutrients

5. Lowering groundwater table

6. Build up of diseases/pests and weeds.

In pearl millet-wheat system, farmers are now realizing the need to replace pearl millet with more remunerative crops. Therefore, diversification may prove to be of paramount importance in several farming situations, not only in mitigating problems of soil health, but also from economics point of view.

Pearl millet – Mustard

Pearl millet during Kharif and rapeseed during Rabi have been the most important crops of dryland and/or areas with limited water availability under marginal land condition of north-west, west and central parts of India.

In several parts of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where mono-cropping of pearl millet and mustard was most common, increase in irrigation facilities has made it possible to grow these crops in sequence. Although, exact statistics is not available but the area under pearl millet-mustard crop sequence is increasing year after year. Following are some of the concerns related to pearl millet-mustard sequential cropping system:-

1. Delayed sowing of mustard after harvesting pearl millet in October

2. Pearl millet in an exhaustive cereal crop and it depletes soil of essential nutrients

3. Non-application of sulphur in this area by farmers.

4. Shortage of farm machinery by the farmers in this area.

5. Build up of diseases by continuous cultivation of pearl millet – mustard sequence.

Maize-Wheat

Among maize-wheat growing areas, maize is the principal crop of Kharif season in northern hills of the country but plains of northern states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar also have sizeable acreage under this crop.

Results of national demonstrations and lab to land demonstrations clearly revealed that this system has a potential to produce 8-10 t/ha per year. However, experimental findings from various research stations revealed that a productivity of more than 10.5 t/ha per year (6.0 t+ 4.5t) may be realized under sub-montane conditions of Jammu. Likewise, a productivity of 7-8 t/ ha per year at Palampur, 6.28 t/ha per year (2.00 + 4.28 t) at Indore and more than 7 t/ha per year at Ludhiana has been recorded in maize-wheat system. Maximum yield research in maize-wheat sequence at Palampur has shown a potential of 14.21 t/ha per year by optimization of various resources like plant population, manures and fertilizers.

Poor maize-wheat yield has been reported from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tripura, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. There are number of reasons for poor yield but the most significant are:

1. Sowing time

2. Poor plant population

3. Poor weed management

4. Poor use of organic and inorganic fertilizers.

5. Large area under rain fed.

As most of the area in maize-wheat system is in rain fed conditions when uncertainty of rainfall is a major limitation. This also acts as a deterrent to farmers to adopt intensive input use, leading to deterioration of soil health and depletion of major plant nutrients from soil. Farmers in general, tend to grow low yielding traditional varieties. Maize is a widely spaced crop and its cultivation on slopping fields leads to soil erosion, especially when sowing is not done across the slope, maize in very sensitive to water logging and drought. Any delay in weed control in maize can reduce the yield of the system significantly.

Declining yield trends in maize-wheat system under long term experiments have indicated that the system suffers due to emerging deficiencies of multiple nutrients. Continuously over-mining of nutrients from soil and imbalance on use of fertilizers in maize-wheat system are some of the many reasons for such decline.

Sorghum-Wheat

Sorghum-wheat is one of the most prevalent cropping system in Western regions of the Country, comprising eastern parts of Rajasthan, western and central parts of Madhya Pradesh, Western Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra, Sourthern Gujarat, Northern parts of Karnataka and Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.

Out of the two component crops of the system, productivity of sorghum faces wide fluctuations due to some problems. Stiga, a parasitic weed is one of such problems hampering the productivity of sorghum. Top shoot borer and shoot fly are major insects affecting plant population and reducing yield levels considerably. Fluctuating market prices, usually discourage the sorghum growers, however, sorghum cultivation is indispensable as it is the most important source of fodder for cattle in this area.

Sugarcane-Wheat

Sugarcane is grown in about 3.4 million hectare. In north India (Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Bihar), hich account for 68 per cent of the total area under

sugarcane, sugarcane-ratoon-wheat is the most important rop sequence. The system is also gaining importance n Jorhat, Sibsagar and Sonitpur districts of Assam; hmedanagar and Kolhapur district of Maharashtra and elgaum district of Karnataka. The other states where he system covers considerable area under sugarcanewheat re Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Problems in sugarcane-wheat system are:

i. Late planting of sugarcane as well as wheat.

ii. Imbalance and inadequate use of nutrients. Since ajority of farmers apply only N in sugar cane nd the use of P and K is limited. The emerging efficiencies of P, K, S and micro-nutrients are limiting system productivity directly and through interactions with other nutrients.

iii. Poor nitrogen use efficiency in sugarcane.

iv. Low productivity of ration due to poor sprouting f winter harvested sugarcane in north India.

v. Build up of Trianthema partulacastrum and Cyprus rotundas in sugarcane.

vi. Stubble of sugarcane pose tillage problem for succeeding crops and need to be managed properly.

Cotton-Wheat

Cotton is widely grown in alluvial soils of north India Punjab, Mariana, Rajasthan and Western Uttar Pradesh) and black cotton soils of central India (Andhra Pradesh, tamil Nadu and Karnataka). With the availability of horti duration varieties of cotton, cotton-wheat cropping system has become dominant in North. About 70-80 per cent area of cotton is covered under this system. In central region also, wherever irrigation is available, cotton-wheat is practiced. The major issues of concern n cotton-wheat cropping system are:

I. Delayed planting of succeeding wheat after harvest f cotton.

ii. Stubbles of cotton create problem of tillage preperations and poor tilth for wheat.

iii. Susceptibility of high yielding varieties of cotton o boll worm and white fly and consequently high ost on their control leading to unsustainability.

iv. Poor nitrogen use efficiency in cotton results in grows productivity of the system.

v. Appropriate technology for intercropping in widely paced cotton is needed to be developed.

Soybean – Wheat

Soybean-wheat cropping system has emerged as an important cropping system only after 1980 with the introduction of soybean as a Kharif crop in wheat rowing areas of the country particularly under irrigated ecosystem.

Constraints limiting the soybean production and   productivity viz. a relatively recent introduction of soybean as a crop, limited genetic diversity, short rowing period available in Indian latitudes, hindered agronomy/availability of inputs at farm level, rain fed nature of crop and water scarcity at critical stage of plant growth, insect pests and diseases, quality improvement problems, inadequate mechanization and partial adoption of technology by farmers have been identified that the nation-wide average realized yield obtained by adopting improved technology is about 2 t/ha in soybean s against one t/ha obtained under farmers’ practices. It s, however, to be noted that yield level of 3 to 3.5 t/ha n individual farmer’s fields is not so uncommon in southern Maharashtra, Malwa plateau and some areas f Rajasthan.

7. LEGUME BASED CROPPING SYSTEMS

Legume crops (pulses and oilseeds) are popular for heir suitability in different cropping systems. Recent advances in the development of large number of varieties

of pulse and oilseed crops, varying largely for maturity duration, have made it possible to include them in irrigated crop sequences. The popular cropping systems re pigeon pea-wheat in Madhya Pradesh and groundnut heat n Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and nut-sorghum in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The major issues in legume based cropping systems are:

i. No technological breakthrough has been achieved o far in respect of yield barriers, particularly in legumes.

ii. Susceptibility of the pulses to aberrant weather conditions especially water logging and adverse oils making them highly unstable in performance.

iii. High susceptibility to diseases and pests.

iv. Low harvest index, flower drop, indeterminate growth habit and very poor response to fertilizers and water in most of the grain legumes.

v. Nutrient needs of the system have to be worked at considering N-fixation capacity of legume crops.

 

8. HORTICULTURAL CROPS

India has made a good place for itself on the horticulture Map of the World with a total annual production of horticultural crops touching over 1490 million tones during 1999-00. The horticultural crops over about 9 per cent of the total area contributing about 4.5 per cent of the gross agricultural output in the country. However, the productivity of fruits and vegetables grown in the country is low as compared to developed countries.

The information with regard to cropping pattern in horticultural crops particularly vegetables and tuber crops s not compiled and readily available. However,

the constraints in production in these crops and zones/ states of cultivation of these crops is given briefly.

I. Vegetable Crops

Vegetable crops in India are grown from the sea level o the snowline. The entire country can broadly be divided into six vegetable growing zones:- cultivation in India as farm yields of most of the vegetables in India are much lower than the average yield of world and developed countries. The productivity gap is more conspicuous in tomato, cabbage, onion, chiliad peas. Preponderance of hybrid varieties and protected cultivation are mainly responsible for high productivity in the developed countries

 

Constraints in vegetables production:-

1. Lack of planning in Production

2. Non-availability of seeds of improved varieties.

3. High cost of basic production elements

4. Inadequate plant protection measures and non availabilityof resistant varieties.

5. Weak marketing facilities

6. Transportation limits

7. Post harvest losses

8. Abiotic stresses.

 

II. Tuber Crops

Tuber crops have good potential as secondary staple

food, vegetable and industrial raw material. Many of

the crops find favour with tribals as a rich source of

carbohydrates. Many promising varieties of important

tuber crops have been recommended and suitable agrotechniques

and plant protection measures have been

standardized. The important crops are Potato, Sweet

potato, Colocasia, Cassava and Lesser yam.

These crops except potato are grown in poor soils

with less inputs and even under drought and

unfavourable conditions.

1. Potato

For getting high production, the potato crop is required to be planted at optimum time using proper cultural, manorial and irrigational practices.

Remunerative potato based cropping systems are also required to be developed to ensure stability of crop area and production and good returns to the farmers. The

major potato producing belts are as follows:

• Himachal Pradesh (Shimla, Lahaul spiti & Mandi).

• Punjab (Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana &Patiala) and Haryana (Ambala, Kurukshetra, Hisar,Karnal).

• Uttar Pradesh (Farrukhabad, Etawah, Mainpuri,Barabanki, Allahabad, Badaun, Moradabad, Agra,Aligarh, Mathura, Faizabad).

• Madhya Pradesh (Sidhi, Satana, Rewa, Sarguja,Rajgarh, Sagar, Tikamgarh).

• Gujarat (Khera, Dissa, Banaskantha, Jamnagar,Baroda, Mehsana).

• Orissa (Cuttack, Dhenkamal, Puri & Sambalpur)and West Bengal.

• Maharashtra (Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Nasik).

• Karnataka (Belgaum, Dharwad, Hassan andKolar).

• Andhra Pradesh (Medak and Chitture).

• Tamil Nadu (Dhindigulanna, The Nilgiris).

The information relating to remunerative crop

Future Thrusts

Due to diminishing availability of land resources, theincrease in area under potato that occurred in the past isnot expected to continue. The possibility of some Increase in Kharif potato areas in the plateau regions ofBihar, Maharashtra and Karnataka exists provided suitable production technologies are available.

Increasing the cropping intensity by identifying suitable, companion crops with potato and the development of remunerative potato based cropping systems can also add to the area under Rabi potato.

For increasing the production levels from the present15.2 million tones to 30 million tones and the productivity from 16.2t/ha to 20 t/ha in the country there’s need to pay special attention to the problems of potato growing areas like eastern UP, North Eastern Bihar and the states of Assam and Karnataka which have largeAreas under the potato crop but their productivity levels are low.

LAND REFORMS: PROGRAMME AND PERFORMANCE AFTER 1970

LAND REFORMS: PROGRAMME AND PERFORMANCE AFTER 1970

INTRODUCTION

In Unit 3, we have already discussed the first round of land reforms during the 1950s
and 1960s. In this Unit, we will discuss the land reform measures undertaken since
the 1970s. The failure of the first round of land reforms to remove the unequal power
structure in the villages caused a lot of discontent among the poor. Besides, the green
revolution in the late 1960s further widened the income gap between the haves and
the have nots. In fact, the growing discontent led to land conflicts, including naxalite
movement in West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of the country.
These developments forced the government to revise the ceiling laws in the early
1970s. In addition, some state governments amended their tenancy laws. Further, a
need for proper maintenance and updating of land records was felt.

Various measures of land reforms undertaken since 1970 can be discussed under the
following heads:
i) Lowering the ceiling limits and thrusts on effective redistribution of ceiling surplus
land
ii) Amendments in tenancy laws
iii) Computerisation and updating of land records
iv) Changes in the agrarian structure
v) Changes in the status of consolidation of holdings, and
vi) Perspective of land reforms in the wake of economic liberalisation
4.2 EFFECTIVE REDISTRIBUTION OF CEILING SURPLUS LAND

The Union Government in consultation with state governments prepared national
guidelines for more or less uniform ceiling laws. Following the guidelines all the state
governments lowered the ceiling limits and inter-state variations in the levels of
ceilings as well as exemptions granted to various categories of land were reduced.
Besides, there emerged a uniform pattern of ceiling legislation in the country; the
family being now the unit of application in all the states.

 

 

The ceiling limits in various states was about 4 hectares of irrigated land capable of
producing at least two crops in a year and its equivalent of other categories of land.
The ceiling laws enacted in the 1970s were an improvement over the ones adopted
in the 1950s and 1960s.

However, certain categories of land continued to be exempted from ceiling which left
scope for law evasion through the device of shifting lands to the exempted categories.
These included mainly the following categories of land:

i) Land held by religious, charitable and educational institutions,
ii) Land for special cultivation of tea,
iii) Land held by a co-operative farming society for feeding a sugar factory (Assam)
iv) Land under plantations and private forest (Kerala)
v) Land belonging to primary co-operative societies (Himachal Predesh)
vi) Land possessed by commercial undertakings (Tamil Nadu)
Moreover, although family is now the unit of application for the purpose of determining
the ceiling, the term ‘family’ has been defined very broadly in many states and the
majors have been granted separate units in almost all the states. In other words, even
the new ceiling laws did not attack the various sources of law evasion and the
question of proper ceiling legislation and its implementation has not yet been solved.

 

According to an estimate by the Planning Commission, the new ceiling laws should
have resulted in surplus land for redistribution. According to Rajkrishna, this should
have provided at least 90 per cent of the area required to give any/every landless
family a minimum basic holdings. Unfortunately, till September 1998, only about 7.4
million acres of land were declared surplus under the ceiling laws of various states
and only about 5.3 million acres have been redistributed among 5.5 million beneficiaries.
Nearly 50 per cent of the beneficiaries were members of schedule castes and schedule
tribes. Table 4.2 shows the state-wise distribution of ceiling surplus land. It may be
seen from the table that of the total ceiling surplus land distributed, about one-fifth
was in the state of West Bengal. Other larger states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and
Madhya Pradesh have redistributed relatively smaller area. In short, if a small state
of West Bengal could redistribute 10.3 lakh hectares of ceiling surplus land, there is
no reason for a bigger state like Uttar Pradesh to have distributed only 4 lakh hectares
of ceiling surplus land.

The ceiling laws enacted by various states are often not properly defined and therefore,
there is either law evasion or delay in the implementation of the law. For example,
the existing laws (i) do not specifically provide for suo-motto action on benami
transfer of land, (ii) do not ensure correct record of land owners about ceiling, (iii)
do not ensure punishment for the law evaders, and (iv) do not take possession of the
wasteland for redistribution. In many cases implementation of ceiling laws has been
poor because the ceiling laws came into conflict with the law of inheritance. For
example, before the ceiling law was implemented the land was distributed among
minor sons, daughters and grandsons and granddaughters which is permitted by the
law of inheritance. The available data suggest that large number of cases related to
ceiling surplus land are pending in courts because of delay in judicial decisions. There
are a lot of court cases pending. Moreover, due to (i) influence of landlords, (ii) lack
of organisation of potential beneficiaries, (iii) lack of up-to-date land records, and (iv)
manipulative changes in the classification of land, the implementation of ceiling laws
has been very slow. Furthermore, a large part of the ceiling surplus land acquired by
the government is of inferior quality. The allotees of such land need to invest substantially
on land reclamation for bringing such land under cultivation. Although there is a
centrally sponsored scheme for reclamation of such lands, in most states, the scheme
has not been operationalised because the state governments has to provide equal
matching grant.
AMENDMENTS IN TENANCY LAWS

During the 1970s several state governments amended their tenancy laws. In Andhra
region of Andhra Pradesh, the amendment of 1974 to tenancy laws conferred continuous
right of resumption on land owners. The right of resumption has ceased in the case
of all leases subsisting at the commencement of the amending act of 1974, but it
continues in respect of future leases. In Gujarat, the tenancy act was amended
according to which tenants who were evicted between 1957 and 1992 were entitled
to restoration. In Jammu & Kashmir, the J&K Agrarian Act of 1976 declared that
all rights, titles and interests in land of any person not cultivated personally after 1971
shall be vested in the state free from all encumberances with effect from 1973. The
Act provided for conferment of right of tenant after allowing the resident land owner
to resume land for personal cultivation provided his annual income does not exceed
Rs. 500 per month and the tenant is left with no less than 2 standard acres of land.
The Government of Karnataka amended the Land Reform Act 1961 in 1973, which
provided for fixity of tenure subject to landlords right to resume half the leased area.
In 1979 the tenancy law was further amended which banned leasing-out except by
soldiers and seaman and conferred ownership right on a large number of tenants. In
Uttar Pradesh an amendment to the tenancy law was made in 1977. According to
this, Sirdars excepting those settled on vacant land were declared as Bhumidars with
transferable rights. In West Bengal, the law on acquisition and settlement of homestead
land (amendment act 1972) provided that tenants of homestead lands would be given
full right provided an application was made up to August 1974. Besides, the government
of West Bengal launched ‘Operation Barga’ for recording the share cropping tenancy
in 1978. It has been estimated that about 14 lakh share-croppers were conferred with
permanent heritable right.
In fact, the impact of such special campaign for recognizing and recording the land
rights of share croppers is said to have yielded positive impact on agricultural
productivity and poverty reduction in the state.

CHANGES IN THE AGRARIAN STRUCTURE

After implementation of land reforms, it was expected that there will be a remarkable
change in the agrarian structure in terms of reduction in the concentration of land
holdings and improvement in the economic conditions of poor tenants. However, the
available data indicate that inequality in the ownership of land holdings has not declined
much over time. During 1971 to 1992 the Gini ratio of inequality remained constant
at 0.71. In a number of states including Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu &Kashmir,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Rajasthan there was an increase in the
concentration ratio of land holdings which indicates that the land reform measures
have been mostly ineffective in reducing the level of rural inequality.
The proportion of landless households increased from 9.6 % in 1971 to 11.3% in 1992
(NSSO 48
th
Round, Report No. 399). During the same period the proportion of leased-in area declined from 11.6% in 1971 to 8.3% in 1992. However, in many states since
tenancy is legally banned concealed tenancy exists. In the state of Bihar, for example,
the incidence of tenancy is reported to be above 30%. Thus, the agrarian structure
seems to be as unequal and unproductive as before.
UPDATING OF LAND RECORDS

The maintenance of up-to-date land records is important not only for effective
implementation of land records, but also for harmonizing the process of overall rural
transformation. During the Seventh Five Year Plan a centrally sponsored scheme
was launched for computerization of land records. During the Eighth Five Year Plan
nearly 48 crores of rupees were allocated for this purpose. By 1997-98 about 470
tahsils were covered under this programme. However, the progress made so far is
poor due to lack of adequate infrastructural and training support at the local level.
Besides, there is a need to take steps to bring about transparency in the administration
of land records.
CONSOLIDATION OF HOLDINGS

Since 1971 there has not been much progress in the consolidation of holdings. The
area under consolidation increased from 500 lakh hectares to 641 lakh hectares only.
In several states, the consolidation programme has not made any progress what so
ever due to lack of compulsory provisions in the law. In Bihar, the consolidation
programme has been discontinued since July 1992. The Government of Karnataka
repealed the consolidation act in 1991. The state of Maharashtra also suspended the
implementation of consolidation programme with effect from 1993 (Table 4.3).

 
In view of the overall beneficial effects of the consolidation programme, state
governments should give priority to it. Besides, the state governments should ensure
that interest of small and marginal farmers and tenants are protected during the
process of consolidation through appropriate and up-to-date land records and proper
valuation of their lands. It is interesting to note that the central government has
constituted a high level committee to suggest measures for implementation of
consolidation of holdings in future.
LAND RIGHTS OF WOMEN

Land reform policy in the past did not address the question of land rights of women.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Zamindari abolition act banned a female child from inheritance
of agricultural land. In some states, women cannot even buy agricultural land. In the
absence of recorded land rights, they cannot prove that they are agriculturists. In 1992
the revenue ministers’ conference recommended that in matters of distribution of
ceiling surplus land and other public lands, women should be given equal opportunities.
The land should be alloted jointly in the name of husband and wife. In practice,
however, women are generally ignored as land ownership is given in the name of a
male member of the benefited family. It is thus desirable that law should specifically
provide women with equal access to benefits of land reforms.
NEW ECONOMIC POLICY AND LAND REFORMS

In the wake of economic reforms, land reforms appear to have taken a back seat in
India. Sometimes even the philosophy of redistribution of land through land reforms
is questioned. It is often argued that the existing land reforms laws restrict the growth
of capitalistic/contract farming which is necessary for market-led growth. In recent
years some state governments even proposed for relaxation of ceiling and tenancy
laws for revitalizing the land market. The Government of Maharashtra has already
proposed for upward revision of land ceiling for horticultural purposes. The state of
Karnataka also has prepared an agricultural policy which mentions about the need for
librealisation of tenancy and upward revision of ceiling. However, the Government of
India has not so far agreed to such proposals.

In fact, the argument that land reform stands in the way of market-led growth
appears to be misplaced. The experience of countries like Japan and Korea shows
that land reforms can help in the faster and more sustainable development of capitalistic
agriculture, without creating much pain for the rural population. But market-led economic
reforms, not accompanied by land reforms, could be painful for the rural poor and
may not be sustainable in the long run. An a matter of fact land reforms should
precede market reforms as a means of rapid and balanced economic development.
GOVERNMENT POLICY

The government policy on land reforms has been more or less consistent since the
1970s. All the Five Year Plans from Fifth Plan onwards have emphasised the need
for effective implementation of land reforms for agricultural growth and equity. The
Ninth Five Year Plan also clearly mentioned that land reforms would continue to be
an important policy instrument for alleviating rural poverty. Proper implementation of
land laws and policies would lead to restructuring of the agrarian economy in a way
conducive to higher growth rates of agricultural sector but with greater equity in the
distribution of gains from it. The main focus of the Ninth Five Year Plan on land
reforms is on the following few critical areas:

i) Efforts should be made to detect and redistribute the ceiling surplus land and to
enforce the ceiling law strictly.
ii) Tenancy reforms should be taken up specifically in the states characterized by
semi-feudal modes of production.
iii) The rights of tenants and share croppers need to be recorded and security of
tenure provided to them.
iv) The poor should be given access to common property resources and government
wastelands.
v) The land rights of women must be ensured through amendment of the existing
land laws.
vi) Updating of land records should be expedited as this is a necessary pre-requisite
of any land reforms policy.
vii) A massive programme of organizing the rural poors for participation in and
implementation of land reforms and poverty alleviation programmes should be
undertaken with the help of voluntary groups.
However, the political will on the part of various state governments to enforce land
reforms effectively appears to be doubtful.

 

 

LAND REFORMS DURING 1947-70

LAND REFORMS DURING 1947-70

INTRODUCTION

In the previous two Units we discussed the agrarian structure prevalent before Independence, particularly during the Mughal and British periods. The main characteristics of the agrarian structure which independent India inherited were a) absentee land ownership; b) exploitation of tenants through high rents and insecurity of tenure; c) unequal distribution of land; d) tiny and fragmented holdings; and e) lack of adequate institutional finance to agriculture.

On this agrarian structure was imposed a situation in which bulk of the cultivators were short of fixedas well as working capital.This resulted in low investments and thereby low yields in agriculture.

Agrarian structure, as you know, is a broad concept comprising land tenure system as well as credit, marketing, etc. Thus agrarian reforms would imply corrective measures in land tenure system, credit and marketing. On the other hand, the concept ‘land reforms’ is somewhat narrower than the above and relates to the corrective measures in prevalent land tenure system. Credit and marketing are quite important for agricultural development. However, we will take up these two issues later in Block 5. In this Unit, and the next one, we will consider the land reforms measures undertaken after Independence. In the present Unit we will discuss the measures taken during 1947-70 while the reforms measures after 1970 will be taken up in Unit 4.

NEED FOR LAND REFORMS

As we noticed above, land ownership was highly unequal at the time of Independence. There was a parasitic class of intermediaries who played no role in production. On the other hand, the vast majority of actual cultivators were either tenants or sub-tenants, without any security of tenure. According to the National Commission on Agriculture (1976), this was the root cause of the state of chronic crisis in which Indian agricultural economy was enmeshed before the attainment of Independence. Before Independence, there were three major systems of land tenure, namely Zamindari System, Mahalwari System and Ryotwari System. The Zamindari system was introduced by Lord Cornwalis in 1793 through permanent settlement that fixed the land rights of zamindars in perpetuity without any provision for fixed rents or occupancy rights for actual cultivators. Under the permanent settlement, zamindars were found to be more interested in higher rent than in agricultural improvement. During the early nineteenth century, efforts were made to undo the adverse effects of permanent settlement and to provide for temporary settlement as a matter of policy. Regulation VII of 1822 Act provided for temporary settlement with provision for periodic settlement in parts of the United Provinces. In the provinces of Madras and Bombay, ryotwari system was prevalent. Each ryot was recognised by law as the proprietor with the right to transfer or mortgage or sub-let his land. Moreover, in parts of United Provinces and Punjab, Regulation VII of 1822 Act and Regulation IX of 1833 Act provided for Mahalwari Settlement with the entire village community. This required each peasant of the village to contribute to total revenue demand of the village on the basis of the size of holding. In 1885, the Bengal Tenancy Act was passed with a view to conferring occupancy rights upon ryots who were in continuous possession of land for 12 years. The tenant could not be evicted by the landlord, except by a decree of court. Similarly, the Bihar Tenancy Act of 1885 and Orissa Tenancy Act of 1914 granted occupancy rights to tenants. Besides, the Madras Tenancy Act of 1908 provided for protection of ryots from eviction as long as they paid the rents. Nevertheless, since majority of actual cultivators were unrecorded tenants-at-will, these legal measures could not bring much relief to the tiller of the soil.

Although the adverse effect of landlordism on agricultural production was most profound in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa, other states that were under Ryotwari and Mahalwari Systems also witnessed the growth of a large number of intermediaries with all its adverse impact. The leased-in area constituted nearly 35 per cent of the total operated area in 1950-51. Most of the leases were unwritten and tenants did not have legal security of tenure. The rents varied from 50 per cent to 70 per cent of gross produce. In addition, tenants were often asked to provide free labour to landlords. After Independence therefore, it became necessary to undertake some land reforms measures for removing the feudal character of the agrarian economy and paving the way for rapid agricultural growth with social justice.

Broadly speaking, the objectives of agrarian reforms are as follows: i) To change the unequal and unproductive agrarian structure; ii) To remove exploitative agrarian relations, often known as patron-client relationship in agriculture, iii) To promote agriculture growth with social justice.

LAND REFORMS MEASURES

After Independence, the Indian National Congress appointed the Agrarian Reforms Committee under the Chairmanship of J.C. Kumarapppa, for making an in-depth study of the agrarian relations prevailing in the country. The committee submitted its report in 1949 which had a considerable impact on the evolution of agrarian reforms policy in the post-independence period. The committee recommended that all intermediaries between the state and the tiller should be eliminated and the land must belong to the tiller subject to certain conditions.

Let us now examine the various agrarian reform measures undertaken after independence. As already mentioned, the term ‘land reforms’ refers to reforms undertaken in the land tenure system. The steps include (i) abolition of intermediaries, (ii) fixation of ceilings on land holdings and (iii) redistribution of surplus land among landless or semi-landless peasants. Besides, any special measures adopted to prevent alienation of tribal land and consolidate fragmented holdings come within the broad definition of agrarian reforms.

Abolition of Intermediaries

Following the recommendation of Kumarappa Committee, all the states in India enacted legislation for the abolition of intermediary tenures in the 1950s, although the nature and effects of such legislation varied from state to state. In West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir, legislation for abolishing intermediary tenures was accompanied by simultaneous imposition of ceilings on land holdings. In other states, intermediaries were allowed to retain possession of lands under their personal cultivation without limit being set, as the ceiling laws were passed only in the1960s. As a result, there was enough time left for the intermediaries to make legal or illegal transfers of land. Besides, in some states, the law applied only to tenant interests like sairati mahals etc. and not to agricultural holdings. Therefore, many large intermediaries continued to exist even after formal abolition of zamindari. Nevertheless, it has been estimated that consequent upon the legal abolition of intermediaries between 1950 and 1960, nearly 20 million cultivators in the country were brought into direct contact with the Government.

Tenancy Reforms

The Agrarian Reforms Committee recommended against any system of cultivation by tenants and maintained that leasing of land should be prohibited except in the case of widows, minors and disabled persons. This viewpoint received further strength subsequently in various Five Year Plans. According to the Second Five Year Plan, abolition of intermediary tenures and bringing the tenants into direct relations with the state would give the tiller of the soil his rightful place in the agrarian system and provide him with full incentives for increasing agricultural production. Immediately after Independence, although the major emphasis was on the abolition of intermediaries, certain amendments to the existing tenancy laws were made with a view to providing security to the tenants of ex-intermediaries. But these legal measures provoked the landlords to secure mass eviction of tenants, sub-tenants and share-croppers through various legal and extra-legal devices. The highly defective land records, the prevalence of oral leases, absence of rent receipts, non-recognition in law of share- croppers as tenants and various punitive provisions of the tenancy laws were utilized by the landlords to secure eviction of all types of tenants. To counteract such a tendency, therefore, it became necessary on the part of the State Governments to enact or amend the laws in the subsequent years and provide for adequate safeguards against illegal eviction and ensure security of tenure for the tenants-at-will. Broadly speaking, tenancy reforms undertaken by various states followed four distinct patterns. First, the tenancy laws of several states including Andhra Pradesh (Telengana region), Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh banned leasing out of agricultural land except by certain disabled categories of landowners, so as to vest the ownership of land with the actual tillers. But concealed tenancy continued to exist in all these states.

Second, the state of Kerala banned agricultural tenancy altogether without having any exception. Third, States like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Haryana did not ban tenancy as such. But tenants after continuous possession of land for certain specified years, acquired the right of purchase of the land they cultivated. However, in all these states, leasing out by both large and small farmers continued. In fact, a tendency towards reverse tenancy in which large farmers leased-in land from marginal farmers was set in since the advent of green revolution in the mid-sixties.

Fourth, states like West Bengal, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Andhra area of Andhra Pradesh did not ban leasing-out of agricultural land. But share-croppers were not recognised as tenants. The State of West Bengal recognised share-croppers as tenants only with effect from 1979, with the launching of ‘Operation Barga”.

Almost all State Governments provided for the regulation of rent, excepting Kerala where leasing out was completely prohibited. The regulated or fair rent ranged between 1/4 th to 1/6 th of the produce. But actual rent remained always higher than the regulated or fair rent. In many places where small and marginal farmers leased-in land from large or absentee landowners, the situation continued to be exploitative, thereby discouraging the actual tillers to cultivate the land efficiently.

Ceilings on Land Holding

The term ‘ceiling on land holdings’ refers to the legally stipulated maximum size beyond which no individual farmer or farm household can hold any land. Like all other land reforms measures, the objective of such ceiling is to promote economic growth with social justice. It has been duly recognised by India’s planners and policy makers that beyond a point any large scale farming in Indian situation becomes not only uneconomic, but also unjust. Small farms tend to increase economic efficiency of resource use and improve social equity through employment creation and more equitable income distribution. According to C.H. Hunumantha Rao, small farms offer more opportunities for employment compared to large farms. Hence, even if large farms produce relatively more output per unit of area, they cannot be considered more efficient in a situation of widespread unemployment and under-employment prevalent in this country.

In 1959, Indian National Congress (Nagpur Resolution) resolved that agrarian legislation to cover restrictions on the size of land holdings must be implemented in all states by the end of 1959. Accordingly, all the State Governments excepting north-eastern region imposed ceilings on land holdings in the 1960s. The states of West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir had already imposed ceilings on land holdings along with the laws for abolition of intermediaries in the early 1950s. However, the Nagpur Resolution of 1959 had significant impact as various State Governments immediately took to the ratification of ceiling legislation. The Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling Act, 1960; The Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960; The Orissa Land Reforms Act, 1969, The Uttar Pradesh Imposition of Ceilings on Land Holdings Act, 1960; The Bihar Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling Area and Acquition of Surplus Land Act, 1961; The Karnataka Land Reforms Act1961; The Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1960; The Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling Land) Act, 1961 and The Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 were some of the results of the Nagpur Resolution on Land Reform. However, as the ceiling laws were not ratified simultaneously with abolition of zamindari, except in West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir as stated before, several nami and benami transfer of land took place. This reduced the potential ceiling surplus land that could be available for redistribution. Besides, several states including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal followed individuals as the unit of application for ceiling, while family as the unit of application was adopted in Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. We present the ceiling limits fixed by various states in Table 3.1.

It may be seen from Table 3.1 that ceilings were quite high in several states. In addition, the following categories of land were exempted from the ceiling laws: 1) Land under Tea, Coffee, Rubber, Coco and Cardamum Plantations 2) Land used for cultivation of Palm, Kesra, Bela, Chameli or rose when such land holders have no land for any other cultivation (U.P.) 3) Sugarcane Farms 4) Co-operative Gardens, Colonies 5) Tank Fisheries 6) Area under orchard up to 4 hectares (Punjab and Haryana) 7) Land held by co-operative farming and other co-operative societies, including land mortgage bank 8) Land held by religious, charitable and educational institutions 9) Land awarded for gallantry 10) Land held by sugarcane factories 11) Land held by state or Central Government 12) Land held by a public sector or industrial or commercial undertaking 13) Land vested in Gram Sabha, Bhoodan or Gramdan Committee 14) Land situated in any area which is specified as being reserved for non-agricultural or industrial development under the relevant tenancy law (Gujarat) 15) Specified farms engaged in cattle breeding, dairying or wool raising 16) Several categories of other land including those held by public sector or commercial undertakings, research farms, etc. or even private forests. These exemptions as provided in the ceiling laws gave rise to problems of law evasion by manipulating the classification of land. Also the size of the ceiling surplus land available for redistribution was consequently reduced.

Bhoodan and Gramdan

The Bhoodan movement was launched in 1951, immediately after the peasant uprising in Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh, and after some years, another movement known as Gramdan came into being in 1957. The objective was to persuade landowners and leaseholders in each concerned village to renounce their land rights, after which all the lands would become the property of a village association for the egalitarian redistribution and for purpose of joint cultivation. Vinoba Bhave hoped to eliminate private ownership of land through Bhoodan and Gramdan and maintained that the movement would go a long way to ensure the just redistribution of land, the consolidation of holding and their joint cultivation.

However, the movement failed to achieve its targetted objectives and the degree of success in respect of both land acquisition and land distribution was very limited. Of the total land of about 42.6 lakh acres, received through Bhoodan, more than 17.3 lakh acres were rejected as they were found unfit for cultivation. About 11.9 lakh acres were distributed and 13.4 lakh acres remained to be distributed. In most cases, the village landlords donated only those pieces of land which were either unfit for cultivation or were in dispute with tenants or government. In fact, the landlords preferred to part away with their disputed lands as a compromise formula for there was little hope under the existing law, of being able to keep this land with them. Besides, in return for such land donation, the landlords also received input subsidies and other facilities, which was no less an inducement to part away with the land unfit for cultivation. Furthermore, while it was provided under the Gramdan movement that private ownership in land is to cease, only the landholders right to sell land was restricted (though not banned), leaving intact the right of inheritance on such lands by the children.

Protection of Tribal Land

All the concerned states ratified laws for prevention of alienation of the tribals from land. In all the scheduled areas, land transfer from tribal to non-tribal population was prohibited by law. But due to various legal loopholes and administrative lapses, alienation of the tribals from their land continued on a large scale. In fact, mortgaging of land to moneylenders due to indebtedness, poverty and acquisition of tribal land for irrigation, dams and other public purposes were largely responsible for alienation of tribal land. Since land is the main source of livelihood for the tribal people and they do not have much upward mobility, indiscriminate acquisition of tribal land for public purposes should be avoided.

Consolidation of Holdings

The term ‘Consolidation of holdings’ refers to amalgamation and redistribution of the fragmented land with a view to bringing together all plots of land of a cultivator in one compact block. Due to growing pressure of population on land and the limited opportunities for work in the non-agricultural sector, there is an increasing trend towards sub-division and fragmentation of land holdings. This makes the task of irrigation management, land improvement and personal supervision of different plots very difficult.

After independence, almost all states excepting Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and parts of Andhra Pradesh enacted laws for consolidation of holdings. But the nature of legislation and the degree of success achieved varied widely. While in Punjab (including Haryana) it was made compulsory, in other states law provided for consolidation on voluntary basis, if majority of the land owners agreed. Generally speaking, the consolidation acts provided for (i) prohibition of fragmentation below standard area, (ii) fixation of minimum standard area for regulating transfers, (iii) schemes of Consolidation by exchange of holdings, (iv) reservation of land for common areas, (v) procedure for payment of compensation to persons allotted holdings of less market value in exchange, (vi) administrative machinery for carrying consolidation schemes, and (viii) filing of objections, appeals and penalties.

However, due to lack of adequate political and administrative support, the progress made in terms of consolidation of holding was not very satisfactory, excepting in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh where the task of consolidation was accomplished. But in these states, there is a need for reconsolidation again due to subsequent fragmentation of holdings under the population pressure.

CHOICE OF APPROPRIATE FORM OF FARM ORGANISATION

After Independence there was also a debate on the choice of farm organisation. The Kumarappa Committee (1949) expressed the view that peasant farming would be the most suitable form of cultivation although small farmers should be pooled under a scheme of cooperative or joint farming. Besides, collective farming and state farming was for the development of reclaimed wasteland where landless agricultural workers could be settled. According to the First Five Year Plan, the formation of co-operative farming associations by small holders would ensure efficient cultivation. The Second Five Year Plan asserted that a step should be taken for the development of co-operative farming, so that a substantial proportion of land is cultivated on co-operative lines. The Third Five Year Plan agreed to this proposal, but maintained that with the implementation of the programme of land reforms, the majority of cultivators in India would consist of peasant proprietorship. They should be encouraged and assisted in organizing themselves on voluntary basis for credit, marketing, processing, distribution and also for production.

CHANGES IN AGRARIAN STRUCTURE

After Independence, a number of land reform measures were undertaken in the 1950s and 1960s which were quite revolutionary in nature and impact. As a result of abolition of zamindari, the feudal mode of production came to an end. Also the proportion of area under tenancy declined.

However, tenancy reforms failed to yield much positive impact, as a large number of tenants-at-will were evicted from land. Also the benefits of consolidation of holdings remained confined to Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

Thus, the first phase of post-independence land reforms in the 1950s and 1960s yielded a mixed result. It could be termed successful in the sense that all intermediaries were abolished which provided the basis for improvement in agricultural productivity. Nevertheless, the unequal agrarian structure remained in place. In 1953-54 nearly 8 per cent of the ownership holdings accounted for about 51 per cent of the total area, while in 1971, about 10 per cent of the holdings accounted for 54 per cent of the total land. While at the all India level, the Gini coefficient of concentration ratio marginally declined during the 1960s, in several states including Bihar, Punjab and Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, it increased. In other words, there was an increasing tendency towards unequal power structure in terms of land ownership (Table 3.2). Although the average size of holdings declined from 2.39 hectares in 1953-54 to 2.21 hectares in 1971, in several states, the average size of large farms increased.

PATTERN OF LANDHOLDINGS

The earliest comprehensive picture of the distribution of total owned area by size classes of ownership holdings has been presented by the National Sample Survey (8th Round) pertaining to the year 1953-54.

In a discussion of the pattern of landholdings we include here the size distributions of ownership holdings as well as of cultivation or operational holdings (farms). By ownership holding is meant the area owned by a single household. And by cultivation or operational holding is meant the area cultivated or operated by a single household. (Operational Holding = Ownership Holding — Land Leased out + Land Leased in) Ownership holdings as well as cultivation holdings may be held either as a single plot of land or as several plots scattered at different places. When a holding is held in several scattered plots, it is called a ‘fragmented holding’ and the process creating such holdings is termed ‘fragmentation’. An attempt also has been made here to give a picture of the extent of fragmentation in the agricultural holdings in India. Our purpose is to focus attention on the distribution of holdings in the Indian agricultural sector at one or more points of time between 1947-48 and 1961-62, for such a distribution is not only an important aspect of the structure of Indian agricultural economy but may also explain the structure of other inputs, in so far as the use of other inputs is itself influenced by the pattern of landholdings.

Pattern of Ownership Holdings

Concentrating now on the pattern of ownership holdings, it may be noticed that nearly 310 million acres of land were estimated to be owned by rural households in 1953-54. This was nearly 38.4 per cent of the total geographical area and 61 per cent of the topographically usable land. A certain proportion of land in the rural areas, no doubt, was owned by urban households. The owned area of 310 million acres was held by 66 million households.

The average size of ownership holdings in the rural areas was thus only 4.72 acres. But when we look at the size-distribution of holdings, the situation is found to be far worse.

Nearly 22 per cent of the households in the rural areas did not hold any land. These households would be largely of agricultural labourers who did not own any land, and particularly of cultivating small tenants. The next 24.9 per cent of the households together held only 1.4 per cent of the land and each of these held an area less than 1 acre in size. Thus, nearly 47 per cent of the households either held no land or held land of area less than one acre. At the other extreme, less than 1 per cent of the households owned among themselves nearly 16 per cent of the owned area, and the size of each of these holdings was 50 acres and above. If we add the immediate lower groups also, then nearly 3.4 per cent of the households held among themselves 34 per cent of the total area. In the lowest size group (0.01 to 0.99 acres) the average size per holding was only about 0.26 acre, while in the size-group over 50 acres the average was about 87.4 acres. It indicates that the disparity in ownership of landholdings was very high.

The disparity in the distribution of ownership holdings seems to have been the highest in South India, where the concentration ratio was 0.74 and the lowest in North India and West India, where the concentration ratios were 0.64. The average size of holding was the lowest in South India (about 3.42 acres), while it was the highest in Central India (about 8.29 acres).

How far does such extreme inequality in the distribution of ownership holdings affect the agricultural economy is a question that naturally follows. It may be pointed out that, the efficiency of cultivation which depends on appropriate combination of other factors of production with land could, at least in theory, be free from the pattern of ownership.

Pattern of Operational Holdings

The concept more appropraite to efficiency of agricultural operation is the concept of “operational” or “cultivation” holding. This will be considered in this section. Theoretically, even with a very adverse distribution of ownership, through a process of leasing in and leasing out, it is possible to have a pattern of operational holdings, less inconsistent with the dictates of efficient technology, or with the requirements of the laws of returns, or of returns to scale. As a matter of fact, if there was a very little of leasing out of land by large owners and very little leasing in by small owners, the pattern of operational holdings would look much the same as that of ownership; and if that were the pattern of operational holdings, there would be too many tiny farms (operational holdings) and some farms too large for efficient cultivation. Table 3.3 shows that, although a small decline in concentration of land took place after land reform legislation, land distribution remained highly skewed. In 1953-54, the bottom 60 per cent of holdings operated 15.5 per cent of area while in 1960-61 the bottom 62 per cent of holdings operated 19 per cent of area. At the other end, in 1953-54 the top 5.8 per cent of holdings operated 36.6 per cent of area while in 1960-61 the top 4.5 per cent operated 29 per cent of area.

LET US SUM UP

Despite large efforts made in the direction of agrarian reforms in the 1950s and 1960s, the situation relating to the agrarian structure remained highly unsatisfactory. According to the Planning Commission’s Task Force on Agrarian Relations, although the laws for the abolition of intermediary tenures were implemented fairly efficiently, the tenancy reforms and tenancy legislation fell short of proclaimed policy. Highly exploitative tenancy in the form of crop sharing still prevailed in large parts of the country. Such tenancy arrangements not only perpetuated the social and economic injustice, but also acted as a constraint to agricultural modernisation. Besides, in the wake of the green revolution, while the rich farmers’ condition improved, those of the agricultural labourers and the poor tenants remained more or less unchanged. In fact these failures led to land related conflicts including naxalite movement in several places.

KEY WORDS

Bhoodan and Gramdan : These refer to the land management launched by late shri Vinoba Bhave in 1951. This was to persuade land owners in each village to renounce their land rights after which all the lands would become the property of a village organisation for either equal redistribution or joint cultivation. Ceilings on Land Holdings : It relates to the fixation of maximum limit beyond which nobody can hold any land. Consolidation of Holdings : It refers to bringing together all plots of land of a cultivator in one compact block.

Land to the Tiller : It refers to the system of land tenure in which actual tillers or cultivators also have the ownership or occupancy right. Mahalwari System : Relates to the system of land tenure in which land rights were settled with the entire village under Regulation IX of 1833 Act. This required each peasant of the village to contribute to total revenue demand of the village on the basis of the size of the land he cultivated. This was prevalent in Punjab and parts of United Provinces.

Patron-Client Relationship : It refers to exploitative agrarian relations in which landlords exploit the tenants or workers and yet there is so much dependence on landlords that the tenants or actual workers cannot severe the relationship. Ryotwari System : It refers to the system of land tenure in which each ryot was recognised by law as the proprietor with the right to transfer or mortgage or sublet the land. This was provided under Regulation VII of 1822 Act mainly in the provinces of Bombay and Madras. Zamindari System : Refers to the system of land tenure in which land rights of intermediaries were confirmed through permanent settlement in 1793 by Lord Cornwalis and continued subsequently even under temporary settlement scheme.

FOOD SECURITY — TPDS http://nagahistory.wordpress.com/

FOOD SECURITY — TPDS

INTRODUCTION

During the first two decades after independence, India had to import large quanta of food grains to meet the shortfall in domestic production. Then came the period of the green revolution and the country emerged virtually self-sufficient in the production of food grains. Being a large country of continental dimensions, India cannot afford to depend on large-scale import of food grains to meet domestic requirements. The country, therefore, has to plan for a system of food security. The model of food security outlined here consists of the following essential elements:

1) Increase in the domestic production of food grains. 2) A limited presence in the international trade in food grains. 3) Ensuring regional food security within the country. 4) Stabilization of the prices of food grains by maintaining a buffer stock. 5) Providing subsidized food grains to the poor through the PDS. In this unit we deal with the important theme of Food Security, which is a vital element in the process of poverty eradication.

INCREASING THE DOMESTIC PRODUCTION OF FOOD-GRAINS

You are perhaps aware of the fact that the Domestic production of food grains plays an important role in providing food security. We can better understand this if we have a look at the post-independence scenario. Table 5.1 shows the historical trend in the production of food grains in India since independence. Total production of food-grains in the country increased from 50.82 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 196.81 million tonnes in 2000-01. Today, the country is virtually self-sufficient in the production of food-grains. Despite the fact that the country experienced rapid growth of population at the rate of about 2 per cent per annum, we could maintain the production rate of food-grains at a level above the rate of population growth and thus ensured increase in per capita production of food-grains.

You will observe some interesting trends in the production of food-grains from the above table. While total food-grain production increased almost four fold between 1950-51 and 2000-01, the production of wheat increased 10 fold during this period. Production of rice increased four fold during this 50-year period while that of coarse cereals doubled during the same period. Increase in the production of pulses, however, has been less impressive.

Let us now turn to per capita net availability of food-grains. Table 5.2 shows the data on per capita net availability of food-grains in India during the period, 1950-2001. The table shows that per capita net availability of rice increased by 20 per cent during the period while in the case of wheat it has doubled. There was, however, a consistent decline in the net per capita availability of coarse cereals and pulses during the period.

Increasing the production of food-grains in the country continues to be a major element of our agricultural strategy. In the past surplus production was realized primarily in Punjab, Haryana and Western UP. In future, we cannot depend entirely on this region for surplus production. Already, there is a tendency among farmers in this region to diversify towards crops other than food-grains. Moreover, further increases in the productivity of food-grains in this region will be difficult to realize.

The main vehicle through which the Government encourages farmers to increase agricultural production is through its food procurement operations at the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) announced from time to time. The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) recommends prices for various agricultural commodities. In its recommendations the CACP takes into account not only a comprehensive overview of the entire structure of the economy and details relating to a particular commodity but also a number of other important factors. This is reflected in the list of factors that go into the determination of support prices—cost of production, changes in input-output prices, open market prices, demand and supply, inter-crop price parity, effect on industrial cost structure, general price level, cost of living and the international price situation. Based on the recommendations made by the CACP the Government announces the minimum support prices. The objectives of the pricing policy are two fold – (i) to assure the producer that the price of his/her produce will not be allowed to fall below a certain minimum level, and (ii) to protect the consumer against an excessive rise in prices. The region, in the country, which has the maximum potential of increasing the production of food-grains, particularly rice, is the eastern region. The next stage of green revolution in the country has to come about in the eastern region. Extending the green revolution to the eastern region will also result in the expansion of employment and income earning opportunities in this region and will result in substantial fall in the levels of poverty.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN FOOD-GRAINS

We will now discuss India’s potential in the international market for food-grains. Along with the expansion in the production of food-grains, it is necessary that India should establish a limited presence in the international market for food-grains. We cannot enter the international market for food-grains in any substantial way. This is because world trade in food-grains is only a fraction of India’s own production. Table 5.3 gives the percentage share of various countries in the total world production of paddy and wheat. In the case of paddy, India’s share in world output is 22.1 per cent and in the case of wheat it is 12.0 per cent. In both cases, India emerges as a major producer in the world.

International trade in rice is only about 10 per cent of India’s own domestic production. So, if India decides to enter the world food market with exports or imports of rice equivalent to about 10 per cent of its domestic production, it would create major upheavals in the international market and India will not be able to realize substantial gains from such trade. Any news of India’s decision to export will bring down prices and vise versa in the international food-grains market. Thus, we can at best maintain a limited presence in the world food-grains market as a part of our objective in relation to the operation of buffer stocks and the maintenance of stability in food-grain prices.

ENSURING REGIONAL FOOD SECURITY

In India, we also need to maintain food security at the regional level. An essential element of this strategy should be the removal of all restrictions on the movement of food-grains from one part of the country to the other. While the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been a major instrument for facilitating the movement of food- grains from one region to the other, the role of private trade in this regard also needs to be strengthened.

At this stage, it is important to remember that limited international trade and unrestricted domestic trade together would help in bringing desirable features like transparency and efficiency in allocations into the Indian food-grains market. This can also help in reducing governmental intervention in the domestic market to the minimum, i.e. only to the extent it is necessary to serve a perceived social goal such as building a minimum buffer stock to meet any exceptional and severe situation of shortage in the domestic market.

An important factor in maintaining regional food security is the extent of costs involved. It is well known, for instance, that the northwestern region is a major surplus producing area and the state most chronically in deficit is Kerala. Such regional concentrations make transport costs and bottlenecks very crucial in the operation of food-grains trade in the country.

It has been observed that the benefits of operating the PDS have been concentrated within a few states like Kerala that have a strong infrastructure for the PDS. With respect to Kerala, it has been observed that this state, which accounts for about 3 per cent of the country’s population, enjoyed a share of about 12 per cent of food-grains distributed through the PDS. In this connection, it has to be pointed out that the major beneficiaries of the PDS are not only the major food deficit states but also the major food surplus states. While the PDS helps achieve the objective of food security in food deficit states, it also creates a ready demand for the supplies generated in surplus producing states. In this context, it can be noted that Bihar is one of the states that benefits least from the operation of the PDS, as this state benefits neither from the procurement operations nor from the distribution operations to any reasonable extent.

The MSP Scheme served the country well in the past four decades. In the recent years, however, it has started encountering certain problems. This is mainly because the scenario of agricultural production has undergone significant changes over the past few years. Surpluses of several agricultural commodities have started appearing in several states and this trend is likely to continue in the coming years as well. Former deficit regions like Bihar, Assam and Eastern UP have started generating surpluses of certain cereals, and logically the FCI should procure from these areas also. As of now, however, the procurement operations of the FCI are largely confined to Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

One way of dealing with this issue is to promote the scheme of decentralised procurement, so that the State Governments themselves carry out their own procurement operations with the financial support of the Central Government. Most of the states, however, have not shown any eagerness to participate in this programme and decentralized procurement is today confined to the states of West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. To encourage the states to accept the system of decentralized procurement, some of the FCI godowns may be handed over to the states. The storage capacity in these regions may also have to be enhanced through construction of godowns under the plan schemes operated by the Food Corporation of India and the Central/ State Warehousing Corporations. There is also a need to reduce FCI manpower in a phased manner in Punjab and Haryana and redeploy the same in the Central and the Eastern parts of the country to ensure better protection for farmers in the region. There are, however, limitations to extending the coverage of the system of decentralized procurement. The operation of food procurement and maintenance of a buffer stock is best undertaken by a centralized agency. This is necessary to ensure prompt transfer of food grains from regions of excess production to the deficit regions. Moreover, the cost of operating a buffer stock will be less if it is centralized rather than if each state tries to maintain its own buffer stock.

STABILISING FOOD-GRAIN PRICES

We have examined in some detail the first three elements of maintaining food security in India. Now we shall turn to the fourth element namely, the stabilization of food prices. The stabilization of prices for food-grains in India is sought to be achieved by maintaining a buffer stock. Crucial elements involved in the operation of a buffer stock in India are the following:

i) Fixation of procurement prices by the Government based on the recommendations of the CACP. ii) Procurement, storage and distribution operations, which are carried out primarily by FCI. iii) Fixation of issue prices of food-grains by the Government. iv) Distribution of food-grains to the public through the PDS outlets.

While the provision of food subsidy is an important element of the food security system in India, an equally important role is played by food procurement and buffer stock operations. Since agricultural production is subject to fluctuations due to climatic factors, it is necessary to maintain an adequate level of buffer stocks to bring about stability in food grain prices in the country.

The FCI can maintain a minimum level of buffer stocks and then undertake open market operations within a prescribed price band. It can conduct open market operations by releasing stocks in the open market when shortages are prevalent and prices are high. The FCI can also purchase food-grains from the open market when there is excess supply and prices are depressed. Its objective, however, should not be to procure all that is offered by the farmers, but only to maintain an optimum level of buffer stocks. Recognising the fact that a high level of buffer stocks can itself be a factor contributing to inflation, it is reasonable for the FCI to limit its role in the future to more manageable and optimum levels.

The FCI could also play a role in the international market for food-grains by resorting to imports when stock levels are low and exporting food grains when there is a surplus stock. The private sector and the farmers must also be allowed a role in the export and import of food-grains.

TARGETED PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM (TPDS)

You know that rationing was first introduced in India in 1939 in Bombay by the British Government as a measure to ensure equitable distribution of food-grains to the urban consumers in the face of rising prices due to increased demand from the armed forces. In 1943, the First Food-grain Policy Committee set up by the Government recommended continuation of rationing, maintenance of reserve stocks and extension of rationing to rural areas also. The recommendations were, no doubt, based on the experience of the fall of Burma, which was a major supplier of rice, and the Great Bengal Famine in the preceding year. Rationing in India, however, continued largely as an urban-oriented programme. Immediately after independence, rationing was abolished by the Government only to be reintroduced in 1950 as shortages led to higher food-grain prices.

From the first phase of rationing of food-grains in short supply, the system evolved into the present day Public Distribution System (PDS) in the mid 1960s as the Government envisaged an elaborate PDS as a necessary part of its strategy to boost agricultural production in selected areas through infrastructural investment, technological inputs and price incentives to farmers through government intervention in the food-grain markets

This second phase, characterized by near self-sufficiency in food-grains production, holding of huge buffer stocks of food-grains by the government and rapid expansion of the network of distribution outlets deep into the rural areas of the country has continued till the present day. During the past four decades, the Public Distribution System has measured up very well in reducing the year-to-year and inter-regional variations in the availability of food-grains. It has also been largely successful in realizing its other objectives of reducing inter-regional and inter-seasonal variations in prices of food grains, even in the face of severe drought situations due to failure of the monsoon during some years during this period.

The Public Distribution System, however, has failed in translating the macro-level self-sufficiency in food-grains achieved by the country into micro-level household food security for the poor in the country. In a system that allows access to all, the rich and the poor alike, the quantum supplied by the PDS to each household forms only a small portion of the family’s total requirement. Increases in the Minimum Support Price over the years, considered necessary by the Government to keep up agricultural production, has led to corresponding increases in consumer prices in the PDS, adversely affecting the economic access of the poor to the PDS food-grains. The holding of huge buffer stocks through a highly centralized Food Corporation of India has led to enormous costs of storage and transportation, which have to be borne by the Government.

As mentioned earlier, the importance of an effective Public Distribution System that ensures availability of food at affordable prices at the household level for the poor can hardly be over emphasised. The PDS as it stood earlier, however, was widely criticised for its failure to serve the population below the poverty line, its urban bias, negligible coverage in the States with the highest concentration of the rural poor and the lack of transparent and accountable arrangements for delivery. Realising this, the Government streamlined the PDS by issuing special cards to families Below Poverty Line (BPL) and selling food-grains under the PDS to them at specially subsidized prices with effect from June 1997.

Under this new scheme, viz., the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), each poor family was originally entitled to 10 kgs of food-grains per month at specially subsidized prices and this was likely to benefit about 6 crore (i.e. 60 million) poor families. The identification of the poor is done by the States as per the state-wise poverty estimates of the Planning Commission. These estimates regarding the proportion and the number of the poor in each state are based on the methodology developed by the ‘Expert Group’ chaired by late Prof. Lakadwala. The policy thrust is to include only the really poor and vulnerable sections of the society, such as the landless agricultural labourers, marginal farmers, rural artisans/craftsmen such as potters, tapers, weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters, etc., in the rural areas and slum dwellers and persons earning their livelihood on a daily basis in the informal sector like porters, rickshaw pullers and hand cart pullers, fruit and flower sellers on the pavements, etc. in the urban areas.

Keeping in view the consensus on increasing the allocation of food-grains to BPL category and to better target the food subsidy, the Government of India increased the allocation to BPL families from 10 kgs. to 20 kgs. of food-grains per family per month on April 1, 2000. The allocation for the Above Poverty Line (APL) population was retained at the earlier level.

The number of BPL families was increased in the official records with effect from December 1, 2000, by shifting the base from the earlier population projection of 1995 to the population projections of the Registrar General as on March 1, 2000. This change has resulted in raising the number of BPL families to 652.03 lakhs as against 596.23 lakhs originally estimated when the TPDS was introduced in June 1997. The increased level of allocation of food-grains for BPL category is about 147 lakh tonnes per annum

In order to reduce the excess stocks lying with the Food Corporation of India, the Government initiated the following measures under the TPDS with effect from July 12, 2001:

• The BPL allocation of food grains was increased from 20 kgs. to 25 kgs. per family per month with effect from July 2001 and the issue price for BPL families was fixed at Rs. 4.15 per kg. of wheat and Rs. 5.65 per kg. of rice. • The Government decided to allocate food-grains to APL families at a discounted rate. For the APL families, the issue price of wheat was reduced to Rs. 610 per quintal from the earlier Rs. 830 per quintal, and the issue price of rice was reduced to Rs. 830 per quintal from the earlier Rs. 1130 per quintal.

Further, under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, 25 kgs. of food-grains are being provided to the poorest of the poor families at a highly subsidized rate of Rs. 2 per kg. of wheat and Rs. 3 per kg. of rice. In a decision taken on March 3, 2002, the Government increased the issue quantity of food-grains to 35 kgs per month for all the APL, the BPL and the Antyodaya households. It needs to be mentioned that the Public Distribution System (Control) Order 2001 was also promulgated. It seeks to plug the loopholes in the PDS and make it more efficient and effective.

It would not be prudent on the part of the Government to depend entirely on the Public Distribution System (PDS) outlets to make food-grains available to the poor. Further expansion of the PDS network can be achieved only at a tremendous cost in the form of food subsidy and increasing unit costs in the operation of the system. It is high time the Government took measures to strengthen private trade in food-grains all over the country. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in an atmosphere of mistrust when comes to the involvement of private traders in the management of food-grains in India. The predatory behaviour of traders in conditions of scarcity has earned them this distrust. Private traders, however, can be an efficient means of providing food to all those who have the purchasing power, as today food-grains are available abundantly and the risk of unsocial trade practices has reduced considerably.

FOOD SUBSIDY

All is not well with the operation of the PDS in India. The annual food subsidy involved in maintaining the system is huge (see Table IV). For the year 2004-05 an amount of Rs. 25800 crore is proposed to be spent on food subsidy according to the budget estimates. This volume of food subsidy accounts for 5.40 per cent of the total budgeted expenditure of the Central Government. A close look at Table IV would show that the level of food subsidy in India as a proportion of the total government expenditure has gone up from a level of about 2.5 per cent or less during the beginning of the 1990s to more than 5 per cent today.

DIVERSION FROM THE PDS

A study was conducted by the Tata Economic Consultancy Services to ascertain the extent of diversion of commodities (from the distribution system) supplied under the PDS. At the national level, it is assessed that there is 36% diversion of wheat, 31% diversion of rice and 23% diversion of sugar. These are most likely the estimates of diversion based on the sample survey conducted. It was also found that diversion is more in the Northern, Eastern and North Eastern regions. Diversion is comparatively less in the Southern and Western regions. Several State Governments, as brought out in the report, have disputed the huge extent of leakages. A view has also been expressed that the sample size used in the study was small and therefore was not truly representative. It is significant to note that diversion estimated in the case of sugar is less than that in the case of rice and wheat. In this connection, it has to be noted that sugar is a commodity that is bought from the PDS outlets even by the well-to-do sections. Greater diversion in the case of rice and wheat (not generally purchased by the well-to-do sections from the PDS outlets) is perhaps an indication that a large amount of the quota meant to be distributed among the well to do is actually diverted to the open market. This again strengthens the argument for excluding the population above the poverty line from the PDS

RESTRUCTURING OF THE PDS

The Tenth Five Year Plan Working Group on the Public Distribution System and Food Security made the following recommendations for restructuring the Public Distribution System:

1) The coverage of TPDS and food subsidy should be restricted to the population below the poverty line. For the people above the poverty line who have the purchasing power to buy food the requirement is only to ensure availability of food-grains at a stable price in the market. There is no need to extend the coverage of food subsidy to this population. Stability in food-grain prices should be ensured through the maintenance of a buffer stock and open market operations of the FCI.

2) Items other than rice and wheat need to be excluded from the purview of TPDS. The main objective of providing food subsidy to the poor is to ensure food security. Rice and wheat are the two commodities, which are eagerly sought after as basic necessities by the poor in India. Provision of food subsidies should be restricted to these two commodities.

3) Items such as sugar should be kept outside the purview of the PDS. Sugar should be decontrolled and the system of levy on sugar should be discontinued.

4) There are difficulties in supplying coarse cereals through the PDS and bringing them under the cover of food subsidy. The average shelf life of coarse grains is limited making them unsuitable for long-term storage and distribution under the PDS. Inclusion of coarse cereals under the PDS cannot be taken up as a national level program since there is no standard variety of coarse grains. But initiatives from the side of the State Governments are possible for catering to the needs of specific localities.

5) All further attempts to include more and more commodities under the coverage of food subsidy should be resisted.

6) At the same time the FPS should be permitted to sell all commodities (other than rice and wheat) at full market prices through the PDS outlets so as to ensure their economic viability.

7) With the liberalization of the external sector, the operation of the buffer stocks can be supplemented by timely exports and imports. In effect, this means that the buffer stocks required will be smaller in size.

8) Ration cards should not be used by the administration as an identification card for various purposes. This role should be assigned to multi-purpose identity cards in the future. Many people get ration cards issued only to establish their identity for administrative purposes.

9) There are several plan schemes in operation, which are in the nature of welfare or income transfer schemes where the distribution of food-grains is involved. Such schemes, all serving the same purpose, could

LET US SUM UP

Being a large country of continental dimensions, India cannot afford to depend on large-scale import of food-grains to meet domestic requirements. While on the one hand, there is a need to produce adequate food-grains domestically, which can be supplemented by imports in times of need, there is also the requirement to have an efficient distribution network on the other. The Public Distribution System (PDS) in the country facilitates transfer of the food-grains produced in the country to the poor and needy in various geographical regions. In the light of the growing food subsidy and food stocks many doubts have been raised about the cost-effectiveness of the PDS. We need to restructure the Public Distribution System to eliminate hunger and make food available in a cost-effective manner to the poor wherever they may be

Role of Information Technology in Agriculture and its Scope in India

Role of Information Technology in Agriculture and its Scope in India

Information Technology and its Components

Induction of IT as a strategic tool for agricultural development and welfare of rural India requires that the necessary IT infrastructure is in place. The rapid changes and downward trend in prices in various components of IT makes it feasible to target at a large scale IT penetration into rural India. Some of the broad factors to be noted with respect to various components of IT are listed below :

1. Input devices : Radical improvements are witnessed with respect to the means of communication by human beings with computers such as key boards, mouse devices, scanners. The advent of touch screen monitors that allow users to give input to computers by touching on the appropriate location of the monitor has made it possible to develop user-friendly interface for farmers which is easy, intuitive, circumvents language barrier and at the same time provides a relaxed environment to the users. The present day digital cameras make it possible to capture and store good quality graphics and large video clips. The small size and low weight of these digital cameras, which are increasingly becoming affordable, open up the possibilities of providing computer based demonstration clips to educate the farmers. The digital cameras can also be used to upload plant stress related images, movie clips which can facilitate an expert residing at a far of location to quickly recommend a solution.

2. Output devices : Monitor screens, printers & plotters, data projectors support high resolution and good quality output. The quality of these output devices have the potential of generating renewed interest in the farmers in using IT based services. The light weight portable data projectors can be easily carried by the agricultural extension personnel for serving larger audience. Similarly, speakers can also be attached to the computers to incorporate voice based trainings for farmers.

3. Processors : The processing speeds of computers have gone up. At present, Intel P-IV based processors @ 1.5 Ghz are available in the PC range which makes it possible to undertake substantial processing of data at the client side.

4. Storage Devices : 40GB and even higher hard disk drives have become common in PC range of computers. This makes it possible to store substantial information at the local level which facilitates faster access. Similarly, high capacity floppy disk drives, CDs make it possible to transfer large volumes of data to locations which can not be connected to networks immediately. These storage devices are also used for backup of crucial data. As a precaution, many corporates store their backups at locations away from the place of work.

5. Software : Various operating systems are available which act as interface between the user and the machine. The graphic user interface (GUI) has become an accepted prerequisite for end users. Microsoft’s ‘Windows’ continues to be a favourite in India. Application softwares which can support complex user requirements are available. Of the shelf solutions for office automation packages, groupware applications, complex database solutions, communication products, solutions based on remote sensing & geographical information systems are available. In addition, solutions based on some or all of these are also readily available. The present downward trend in the IT industry provides an opportunity get customised application for any specific task developed at an affordable price. Rapid Application Development and Deployment (RADD) is a popular model for quick development and deployment of applications. Development environment itself is simplified with tools that quicken the pace of software specialists. Project management and monitoring software are available that facilitate efficient execution of large and complex applications that are required for rural India

6. Networking devices : The capacity of modems, used to convert the data from digital to analog and vice versa, which are popularly employed to use telephone lines have increased. Internal modems are available integrated into the computer so that they are not exposed to outside environment. The capacities of other networking devices such as routers have also gone up which makes it possible to create large networks with smooth data transmission.

7. Transmission Media : The media through which the data transfer takes place has also undergone revolutionary change. Telephone lines are still the popular source in India although the reliability and low bandwidth are still major issues. High capacity cables, optical fibre, radio, wireless local loops, satellite transmission and various solutions based on a combination of these are already being used in many parts of the country.

8. Other accessesories : Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) devices are crucial to ensure the longetivity of the IT equipment as well as provide backup mechanisms. The potential of solar power packs to provide a feasible solution to shortage of power in the rural areas needs to be exploited.

Role of IT in Agriculture

In the context of agriculture, the potential of information technology (IT) can be assessed broadly under two heads : (a) as a tool for direct contribution to agricultural productivity and (b) as an indirect tool for empowering farmers to take informed and quality decisions which will have positive impact on the way agriculture and allied activities are conducted.

Precision farming, popular in developed countries, extensively uses IT to make direct contribution to agricultural productivity. The techniques of remote sensing using satellite technologies, geographical information systems, agronomy and soil sciences are used to increase the agricultural output. This approach is capital intensive and useful where large tracts of land are involved. Consequently it is more suitable for farming taken up on corporate lines. The indirect benefits of IT in empowering Indian farmer are significant and remains to be exploited. The Indian farmer urgently requires timely and reliable sources of information inputs for taking decisions. At present, the farmer depends on trickling down of decision inputs from conventional sources which are slow and unreliable. The changing environment faced by Indian farmers makes information not merely useful, but necessary to remain competitive.

Changing Pattern of Needs – Post WTO

While relevant information of the required quality always had the potential of improving efficiency in all spheres of activity of Indian farmer, the emerging scenario of a deregulated agriculture, thanks to WTO, has brought in a ‘need’ and urgency to make it an integral part of decision making.Consequently, deploying IT as a strategic tool for the benefit of rural India has assumed importance.Since information needs of the Indian farmers in general are documented extensively, it is more pertinent to focus on the theme in the context of challenges raised by WTO.

The broad information inputs required by farmers in the new scenario can be classified as (i) Awareness Databases – those that facilitate proper understanding of the implications of the WTO on Indian agriculture, (ii) Decision Support Systems – information that facilitates farmers to make a proper SWOT analysis to take appropriate decisions, (iii) systems that facilitate Indian farmers to forge appropriate alliances for collective benefit, (iv) information on new opportunities (iv) monitoring systems for corrective measures.

(i) Awareness Databases

First and foremost, it is essential to provide unambiguous interpretation and implications of WTO for ordinary people. The jargon and the language under various articles of WTO require to be distilled by experts and their implications are clearly to be spelled out for all the segments of Indian agriculture and allied activities. The implications for all the stake holders and the time frames are to be spelt out. This is a priority item which is to be addressed immediately. The mandatory changes in government policies on tariffs, imports, yearwise phasing of the same, the impact on various subsidy schemes would be of concern to people An area of immediate concern to farmers is to get an analytical input on how his/her life is going to be affected. Since removal of restrictions throw open Indian agricultural markets, the macro economic situation related to foreign exchange, inflation, the current tariff structure within and outside the country etc. and their likely impact on Indian agriculture will have a direct bearing on the decisions of segments of Indian agriculture.

(ii) Decision Support Systems for farmers

Indian farmer is cautious and usually tends to avoid risk. It is suggested that the provisions of WTO stipulating reductions in export subsidies on farm products will make Indian exports more competitive. It is estimated that the export potential may touch $ 1.5 billion by 2005. In order to take advantage of the emerging order, the enterprising Indian farmer needs to be equipped with information that facilitates undertaking a proper SWOT analysis and compare it with conventional wisdom and satisfy himself on an appropriate course of action. The data on cost of cultivation, efficient agricultural practices and availability of inputs will facilitate in assessing the strengths of indigenous products vis a visthe imports. Availability of information on the weaknesses as evident from the adverse affect of WTO on any specific agricultural product will help in taking the necessary corrective measures. In the emerging scenario, competitive advantage is required to be fully exploited to improve export potential.India is believed to have competitive advantage in areas like fruits, oil seeds, cotton, milk products. Special thrust may be accorded to these sectors to meet international standards. Opportunities for specialisation may lead to better export potential. Similarly, forecasts on threats in terms of information related to cheaper imports, macro-economic conditions of other countries are also required.

(iii) Systems that facilitate Indian farmers to forge appropriate alliances for collective benefit The size of land holdings is a major barrier in exploiting any export potential. In order to remain competitive and derive better price realisations, it will be imperative for the farmers to come together through cooperative alliances. It is possible to relieve the farmers of geographical barriers by facilitating farmers to come together online and facilitate disposal of their produce at attractive prices. Online bidding can be introduced for various agricultural product categories. This will require development of complicated IT systems which are to be supported by proper bricks and mortar infrastructure and post harvest technologies, storage, etc.

(iv) Opportinities in the new order It is necessary to equip Indian farmers to come together for value additions to their agricultural output. This will get them better returns from their produce and at the same time generate new employment opportunities in the rural sector. This will require systems to provide information to farmers on agro processing industries, aqua culture units, animal husbandry, floriculture, etc. The opportunities for setting up such units, procedures related to exports, the quality norms to be adopted, packaging, etc. Are to be made available.

(iv) Monitoring Since the domestic agricultural scene is exposed to international fluctuations, it is necessary to be vigilant to external shocks. Systems to monitor international market status, international supply – demand scenario, macro economic factors, political disruptions are required to be developed. Advance warning systems to alert the farmers are required to be developed. It is necessary to promote monitoring cells in all major institutions related to agriculture and allied activities to maintain data, provide periodic analytical reports and raise advance alerts.

IT and Indian Agriculture in the Future

Technologically it is possible to develop suitable systems, as outlined in the previous sections, to cater to the information needs of Indian farmer. User friendly systems, particularly with content in local languages, can generate interest in the farmers and others working at the grassroots. It is possible to create dedicated networks or harness the power of Internet to make these services are available to all parts of the country.

The task of creating application packages and databases to cater to complete spectrum of Indian agriculture is a giant task. The Long Term Agriculture Policy provides an exhaustive list of all the areas that are to be covered. This can be taken as a guiding list to evolve design and develop suitable systems catering to each of the specified areas. Our country has the advantage of having a large number of specialised institutions in place catering to various aspects of Indian agriculture. These institutions can play a crucial role in designing the necessary applications & databases and services.This will facilitate modularisation of the task, better control and help in achieving quick results. As it is, several institutions have already developed systems related to their area of specialisation.

For quick results, it may be useful to get the applications outsourced to software companies in India. This will facilitate quick deployment of applications and provide boost to the software industry in India. In order to avoid duplication of efforts, it may be useful to consider promoting a coordinating agency which will have an advisory role to play in evolving standard interface for users, broad design and monitoring of the progress.

In the post WTO regime, it is suggested that it is useful to focus more on some agricultural products to maintain an unquestionable competitive advantage for exports. This will call for urgent measures to introduce state of the art technologies such as remote sensing, geographical information systems (GIS), bio-engineering, etc. India has made rapid strides in satellite technologies. It is possible to effectively monitor agricultural performance using remote sensing and GIS applications. This will not only help in planning, advising and monitoring the status of the crops but also will help in responding quickly to crop stress conditions and natural calamities. Challenges of crop stress, soil problems, natural disasters can be tackled effectively through these technologies. A beginning in precision farming can be encouraged in larger tracts of land in which export potential can be tilted in our country’s favour.

While developing these systems it is necessary to appreciate that major audience that is targeted is not comfortable with computers. This places premium on user friendliness and it may be useful to consider touch screen technologies to improve user comfort levels. It is often observed that touch screen kiosks, with their intuitive approach, provide a means for quick learning and higher participation. It is also necessary to provide as much content as possible in local languages.

Once the required application packages & databases are in place, a major challenge is with respect to dissemination of the information. The Krishi Vigyan Kendras, NGOs and cooperative societies may be used to set up information kiosks. Private enterprise is also required to be drawn into these activities. These kiosks should provide information on other areas of interest such as education, information for which people have to travel distances such as those related to the government, courts, etc. Facilities for email, raising queries to experts, uploading digital clips to draw the attention of experts to location specific problems can be envisaged.

Constraints and Remedies for Effective Dissemination

Some of the major constraints delaying the spread of e-revolution to rural India are listed below :

1. Haphazard development: It is observed that some initiatives have already been made to provide IT based services to rural community. However, duplication of efforts are witnessed as most of the services revolve around limited subjects. Keeping in view the giant task involved, it is necessary to form a coordination mechanism to strive for a concerted effort to support farming community in the country. Such a coordination agency may only have advisory powers such as user interface, broad design, delivery mechanism of the content, standards for setting up kiosks.

2. User friendliness: The success of this strategy depends on the ease with which rural population can use the content. This will require intuitive graphics based presentation. Touch screen kiosks are required to be set up to encourage greater participation

3. Local languages: Regional language fonts and mechanisms for synchronisation of the content provides a challenge that needs to be met with careful planning.

4. Restrictions :Information content based on remote sensing and geographical information systems can provide timely alerts to the farmers and also improve the efficiency of administration. These applications can have a major impact on the farmers and help them to appreciate the potential of information technology. However, government’smap restriction policiesoften threaten to stifle the optimal utilisation of these tools.

5. Power Supply: In most of the rural India, power supply is not available for long hours. This will reduce the usefulness of the intended services. Since almost entire country receives sunshine for most part of the year, it is useful to explore solar power packs for UPS as well as for supply of power.The Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources may pay special attention in this area which can be a major contributor to the growth of IT in villages

6. Connectivity: Despite the phenomenal progress made in the recent years, the connectivity to rural areas still requires to be improved . Reliable connectivity is a prerequisite for a successful penetration of IT into rural areas. Many private ISPs are setting up large networks connecting many major towns and cities. Since some of these networks pass through rural areas, it is possible to provide connectivity to a large number of villages. Several technologies exist that can be utilised for connecting rural areas. Cable network is a possible medium for providing the last mile connectivity to villages.

7. Bandwidth: Even in areas where telephone and other communication services exist, the available bandwidth is a major constraint. Since internet based rural services require substantial use of graphics, low bandwidth is one of the major limitations in providing effective e-services to farmers. As already stated, networks with high bandwidth are being set up by several companies passing through rural segments which can be utilised. Until this materialises, a two pronged strategy of storing static information at the kiosks and providing dynamic information from remote locationscan be examined. The graphic oriented content which does not change frequently, such as, demonstration clips for farmers, can be stored on the local drives at the kiosks and arrange for periodic updation of this information over the network during non-peak hours. The dynamic information which changes more frequently can be accessed from remote locations to obtain the latest status.

8. Dissemination Points: Mass deployment of information kiosks is critical for effective use of the Internet based content and services.In order to ensure that the information kiosks are economically feasible, it is necessary to make the proposition sustainable and viable. This requires a major focus on a viable revenue model for such kiosks.In the new information era, the kiosks should be designed to become electronic super markets that can, in addition to being information sources, handle other services of use to the people living in rural areas. The revenue available through such sources can make a kiosk attractive for prospective investors. The Government can provide finance facilities to unemployed rural agricultural graduates who can be expected to have greater commitment and at the same time act as an efficient interface for less educated rural visitors. The objective should be to transform rural information kiosks into ‘clicks and mortar’ gateway to rural India for ‘Bricks and mortar’ industry.Some of the sources that can generate revenue for rural kiosks are :

a) Distance education – A large number of people travel substantial distances to attend educational courses. It is possible to set up virtual class rooms right in their villages

b) Training – People living in rural areas require training and a means for upgrading their skills in their area of work. It is possible to provide quality education right at their door steps with facilities for online interaction with experts. For example, a village teacher or a paramedical staff can keep abreast latest developments without disturbing his/her routine. Similarly, training can be imparted on various aspects of agriculture such as correct practices, irrigation practices, efficient utilisation of tools used in farming such as tractors.

c) Insurance : The advent of private players into insurance has brought about advanced IT systems that can render services over networks. The kiosks can be insurance agents for insurance firms which, in turn, can compensate the kiosk operators for online transactions for new business as well as maintaining the old.

d) Local Agent : Many companies have difficulty in working out logistics for their supplies to rural outlets. A rural kiosk can act as conduit for such ‘bricks and mortar’ companies. This has the potential of transforming a rural kiosk into a profitable venture.

e) Rural Post Office : The kiosks can facilitate sending and receiving emails, facilitate ‘chats’ with experts. Several successful rural kiosks are already available in many states which run essentially on this model.

f) e-Governance : Rural kiosks are the stepping stones for effective implementation of e-governance. Details related to central / state / local governments, formats and procedures, status verification such as case listings in courts, filing of applications in electronic format where admissible, etc. are some of the areas where kiosks can be of major use.

g) Online examinations : Online certification examinations are ‘in things’ with many organisations and certification agencies. Many people are forced to stay at metros to take the examinations. Eventuallyit should be possible to conduct these examinations through the rural kiosks.

9. Who should take up the task ?: At present, several initiatives have been taken in the form of websites / portals targeting rural India. These are at best sketchy information sources catering to pockets of rural India. It is to be noted that strong interlinkages exist within entire rural India and concerted and coordinated effort is required for carrying the benefits of IT to rural India. The magnitude of the task is such that no single institution or organisation can accomplish it. It is necessary for stake holders in rural India, such as fertiliser industry, to come together to provide adequate thrust to the effort initially.The fertiliser industry distributes more than 15 million tonnes of nutrients per annum in the country involving complex production, logistics and storage operations. A small savings made possible through better management of information upto the point of delivery to farmers can mean significant savings. The success of e-powering Indian agriculture is high if fertiliser industry makes a concerted and coordinated effort to set up Business to Business (B-B) market place with dealer / cooperative networks. The consumer industry also benefits from efficient operations in rural India. The corporate India may be willing to participate in a joint effort that proves beneficial to them as well as the rural India. The Government of India may, as outlined above, initiate a coordinating agency where various stake holders can join hands to spread e-culture to rural India and at the same time benefit from efficient operations.

Conclusion

The Indian farmer and those who are working for their welfare need to be e-powered to face the emerging scenario of complete or partial deregulation & reduction in government protection, opening up of agricultural markets, fluctuations in agricultural environment and to exploit possible opportunities for exports. The quality of rural life can also be improved by quality information inputs which provide better decision making abilities. IT can play a major role in facilitating the process of transformation of rural India to meet these challenges and to remove the fast growing digital devide

The Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution

The Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution

Introduction

The debate on the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution, lying somnolent in the archives of India’s constitutional history during the last decade of the 20 th century, has reappeared in the public realm.

While setting up the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (the Commission), the National Democratic Alliance government (formed by a coalition of 24 national and regional level parties) stated that the basic structure of the Constitution would not be tampered with. Justice M.N. Venkatachalaiah, Chairman of the Commission, has emphasised on several occasions that an inquiry into the basic structure of the Constitution lay beyond the scope of the Commission’s work.

Several political parties — notably the Congress (I) and the two Communist parties which are in the opposition — have made it clear that the review exercise was the government’s ploy to seek legitimacy for its design to adopt radical constitutional reforms thus destroying the basic structure of the document.

Much of the public debate has been a victim of partial amnesia as even literate circles of urban India are unsure of the ramifications of this concept, which was hotly debated during the 1970s and 1980s. The following discussion is an attempt to chart the waters of that period rendered turbulent by the power struggle between the legislative and the judicial arms of the State.

According to the Constitution, Parliament and the state legislatures in India have the power to make laws within their respective jurisdictions. This power is not absolute in nature. The Constitution vests in the judiciary, the power to adjudicate upon the constitutional validity of all laws. If a law made by Parliament or the state legislatures violates any provision of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the power to declare such a law invalid or ultra vires. This check notwithstanding, the founding fathers wanted the Constitution to be an adaptable document rather than a rigid framework for governance. Hence Parliament was invested with the power to amend the Constitution. Article 368 of the Constitution gives the impression that Parliament’s amending powers are absolute and encompass all parts of the document. But the Supreme Court has acted as a brake to the legislative enthusiasm of Parliament ever since independence. With the intention of preserving the original ideals envisioned by the constitution-makers, the apex court pronounced that Parliament could not distort, damage or alter the basic features of the Constitution under the pretext of amending it. The phrase ‘basic structure’ itself cannot be found in the Constitution. The Supreme Court recognised this concept for the first time in the historic Kesavananda Bharaticase in 1973.

1 Ever since the Supreme Court has been the interpreter of the Constitution and the arbiter of all amendments made by Parliament.

The pre-Kesavanadaposition Parliament’s authority to amend the Constitution, particularly the chapter on the fundamental rights of citizens, was challenged as early as in 1951. After independence, several laws were enacted in the states with the aim of reforming land ownership and tenancy structures. This was in keeping with the ruling Congress party’s electoral promise of implementing the socialistic goals of the Constitution [contained in Article 39(b) and (c) of the Directive Principles of State Policy] that required equitable distribution of resources of production among all citizens and prevention of concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. Property owners — adversely affected by these laws — petitioned the courts. The courts struck down the land reforms laws saying that they transgressed the fundamental rightto property guaranteed by the Constitution. Piqued by the unfavourable judgements, Parliamentplaced these laws in the Ninth Scheduleof 2 the Constitution through the First and Fourth amendments (1951 and 1952 respectively), thereby effectively removing them from the scope of judicial review.

[Parliament added the Ninth Scheduleto the Constitution through the very first amendment in 1951 as a means of immunising certain laws against judicial review. Under the provisions of Article 31, which themselves were amended several times later, laws placed in the Ninth Schedule — pertaining to acquisition of private property and compensation payable for such acquisition — cannot be challenged in a court of law on the ground that theyviolated the fundamental rights of citizens. This protective umbrella covers more than 250 laws passed by state legislatures with the aim of regulating the size of land holdings and abolishing various tenancy systems. The Ninth Schedulewas created with the primary objective of preventing the judiciary – which upheld the citizens’ right to property on several occasions – from derailing the Congressparty led government’s agenda for a social revolution. 3 ] Property owners again challenged the constitutional amendments which placed land reforms laws in the Ninth Schedulebefore the Supreme Court, saying that they violated Article 13(2) of the Constitution.

Article 13 (2)provides for the protection of the fundamental rights of the citizen. 4 Parliament and the state legislatures are clearly prohibited from making laws that may take away or abridge the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizen. Theyargued that any amendment to the Constitution had the status of a law as understood by Article 13 (2). In 1952 (Sankari Prasad Singh Deo v. Union of India 5 ) and 1955 (Sajjan Singh v. Rajasthan 6 ), the Supreme Court rejected both arguments and upheld the power of Parliament to amend any part of the Constitution including that which affects the fundamental rights of citizens. Significantly though, two dissenting judges in Sajjan Singh v. Rajasthancase raised doubts whether the fundamental rights of citizens could become a plaything of the majority party in Parliament.

The Golaknathverdict

In 1967 an eleven-judge bench of the Supreme Court reversed its position. Delivering its 6:5 majority judgement in the Golaknath v. State of Punjabcase 7 , Chief Justice Subba Raoput forth the curious position that Article 368, that contained provisions related to the amendment of the Constitution, merely laid down the amending procedure. Article 368 did not confer upon Parliament the power to amend the Constitution. The amending power (constituent power) of Parliament arose from other provisions contained in the Constitution (Articles 245, 246, 248) which gave it the power to make laws (plenary legislative power).Thus, the apex court held that the amending power and legislative powers of Parliament were essentially the same. Therefore, any amendment of the Constitution must be deemed law as understood in Article 13 (2).

2 The majority judgement invoked the concept of implied limitations on Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution. This view held that the Constitution gives a place of permanence to the fundamental freedoms of the citizen. In giving the Constitution to themselves, the people had reserved the fundamental rights for themselves. Article 13, according to the majority view, expressed this limitation on the powers ofParliament. Parliament could not modify, restrict or impair fundamental freedoms due to this very scheme of the Constitution and the nature of the freedoms granted under it. The judges stated that the fundamental rights were so sacrosanct and transcendental in importance that they could not be restricted even if such a move were to receive unanimous approval of both houses of Parliament. They observed that a Constituent Assembly might be summoned by Parliament for the purpose of amending the fundamental rights if necessary. In other words, the apex court held that some features of the Constitution lay at its core and required much more than the usual procedures to change them.

The phrase ‘basic structure’was introduced for the first time by M.K. Nambiar and other counsels while arguing for the petitioners in the Golaknath case, but it was only in 1973 that the concept surfaced in the text of the apex court’s verdict.

Nationalisation of Banks and Abolition of Privy Purses

Within a few weeks of the Golaknathverdict the Congress party suffered heavy losses in the parliamentary elections and lost power in several states. Though a private member’s bill – tabled by Barrister Nath Pai – seeking to restore the supremacy of Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution was introduced and debated both on the floor of the house and in the Select Committee, it could not be passed due to political compulsions of the time. But the opportunity to test parliamentary supremacy presented itself once again when Parliamentintroduced laws to provide greater access to bank credit for the agricultural sector and ensureequitable distribution of wealth and resources of production and by:

a) nationalising banks and

b) derecognising erstwhile princes in a bid to takeaway their Privy purses, which were promised in perpetuity – as a sop to accede to the Union – at the time of India’s independence. Parliament reasoned that it was implementing the Directive Principles of State Policybut the Supreme Court struck down both moves. By now, it was clear that the Supreme Court and Parliament were at loggerheads over the relative position of the fundamental rightsvis-à-vis the Directive Principles of State Policy. At one level, the battle was about the supremacy of Parliament vis-à-vis the power of the courts to interpret and uphold the Constitution.

At another level the contention was over the sanctity of property as a fundamental right jealously guarded by an affluent class much smaller than thatof the large impoverished masses for whose benefit the Congress government claimed to implement its socialist development programme. Less than two weeks after the Supreme Court struckdown the President’s order derecognising the princes, in a quick move to secure the mandate ofthe people and to bolster her own stature Prime Minister Indira Gandhi dissolved the Lok Sabha and called a snap poll. For the first time, the Constitution itself became the electoral issue in India. Eight of the ten manifestos in the 1971 elections called for changes in the Constitution in order to restore the supremacy of Parliament. A.K. Gopalan of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) went to the extent of saying that the Constitution be done away with lock stock and barrel and be replaced with one that enshrined the real sovereignty of the people

8 . The Congress party returned to power with a two-thirds majority. The electorate had endorsed the Congress party’s socialist agenda, which among other things spoke of making basic changes to the Constitution in order to restore Parliament’s supremacy. Through a spate of amendments made between July1971 and June 1972 Parliament sought to regain lost ground. It restored for itself the absolute power to amend any part of the Constitution including Part III, dealing with fundamental rights.

9 Even the President was made duty bound to give his assent to any amendment bill passed by both houses of Parliament. Several curbs on the right propertywere passed into law. The right to equality before the law and equal protection of the laws (Article 14) and the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under Article 19 10 were made subordinate to Article 39 (b) & (c) in the Directive Principles of State Policy.

11 Privy purses of erstwhile princes were abolished and an entire category of legislation dealing with land reforms was placed in the Ninth Schedulebeyond the scope of judicial review. 12

Emergence of the Basic Structure Concept- the Kesavanadamilestone Inevitably, the constitutional validity of these amendments was challenged before a full bench of the Supreme Court (thirteen judges). Their verdict can be found in eleven separate judgements. 13 Nine judges signed a summary statement which records the most important conclusions reached by them in this case. Granville Austin notes that there are several discrepancies between the points contained in the summary signed by the judges and the opinions expressed by them in their separate judgements. 14 Nevertheless, the seminal concept of ‘basic structure’of the Constitution gained recognition in the majority verdict. All judges upheld the validity of the Twenty-fourthamendment saying that Parliament had the power to amend any or all provisions of the Constitution.All signatories to the summary held that the Golaknathcase had been decided wrongly and that Article 368 contained both the power and the procedure for amending the Constitution.

However they were clear that an amendment to the Constitution was not the same as a law as understood by Article 13 (2).

[It is necessary to point out the subtle difference that exists betweentwo kinds of functions performed by the Indian Parliament: a) it can make laws for the country by exercising its legislative power 15

and b) it can amend the Constitution by exercising its constituent power. Constituent power is superior to ordinary legislative power. Unlike the British Parliament which is a sovereign body (in the absence of a written constitution), the powers and functions of the Indian Parliament and State legislatures are subject to limitations laid down in the Constitution. The Constitution does not contain all the laws that govern the country. Parliament and the state legislatures make laws from time to time on various subjects, within their respective jurisdictions. The general framework for making these laws is provided by the Constitution. Parliament alone is given

the power to make changes to this framework under Article 368 16

. Unlike ordinary laws, amendments to constitutional provisions requirea special majority vote in Parliament. Another illustration is useful to demonstrate the difference between Parliament’s constituent power and law making powers. According to Article 21of the Constitution, no person in the country may be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. The Constitution does not lay down the details of the procedure as that responsibility is vested with the legislatures and the executive. Parliament and the state legislatures make the necessary laws identifying offensive activities for which a person may be imprisoned or sentenced to death. The executive lays down the procedure of implementing these laws and the accused person is tried in a court of law. Changes to these laws may be incorporated by a simple majority vote in the concerned state legislature. There is no need to amend the Constitution in order to incorporate changes to these laws. However, if there is a demand to convert Article 21into the fundamental right to life by abolishing death penalty, the Constitution may have to be suitably amended by Parliament using its constituent power.

Most importantly seven of the thirteen judges in the Kesavananda Bharaticase, including Chief Justice Sikriwho signed the summary statement, declared that Parliament’s constituent power was subject to inherent limitations. Parliament could not use its amending powers under Article 368to ‘damage’, ’emasculate’, ‘destroy’, ‘abrogate’, ‘change’ or ‘alter’ the ‘basic structure’ or framework of the Constitution.

Basic Features of the Constitution according to the Kesavanada verdict Each judge laid out separately, what he thought were the basic or essential features of the Constitution. There was no unanimity of opinion within the majority view either.

Sikri, C.J. explained that the concept ofbasic structure included:

•supremacy of the Constitution •republican and democratic form of government •secular character of the Constitution •separation of powers between the legislature, executive and the judiciary •federal character of the Constitution Shelat, J.and Grover, J. added two more basic features to this list: •the mandate to build a welfare state contained inthe Directive Principles of State Policy •unity and integrity of the nation Hegde, J. and Mukherjea, J. identified a separate and shorter list of basic features: •sovereignty of India •democratic character of the polity •unity of the country •essential features of the individual freedoms secured to the citizens •mandate to build a welfare state Jaganmohan Reddy, J. stated that elements of the basic features were to be found in the Preamble of the Constitution and the provisions into which they translated such as: •sovereign democratic republic •parliamentary democracy •three organs of the State

He said that the Constitution would not be itself without the fundamental freedoms and the directive principles. 17 Only six judges on the bench (therefore a minority view) agreed that the fundamental rights of the citizen belonged to the basic structure and Parliament could not amend it.

The minority view

The minority view delivered by Justice A.N. Ray(whose appointment to the position of Chief Justice over and above the heads of three senior judges, soon after the pronunciation of the Kesavananda verdict, was widely considered tobe politically motivated), Justice M.H. Beg, Justice K.K. Mathew and Justice S.N. Dwivedi also agreed that Golaknathhad been decided wrongly. They upheld the validity of all three amendments challenged before the court. Ray, J. held that all parts of the Constitution were essential and no distinction could be made between its essential and non-essential parts. All of them agreed that Parliament could make fundamental changes in the Constitution by exercising its power under Article 368.

In summary the majority verdict in Kesavananda Bharatirecognised the power of Parliament to amend any or all provisions of the Constitutionprovided such an act did not destroy its basic structure.But there was no unanimity of opinion about whatappoints to that basic structure. Though the Supreme Court very nearly returned to the position of Sankari Prasad(1952) by restoring the supremacy of Parliament’s amending power, in effect it strengthened the power of judicial review much more.

18 Basic Structure concept reaffirmed- the Indira Gandhi Election case In 1975, The Supreme Court again had the opportunityto pronounce on the basic structure of the Constitution. A challenge to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s election victory was upheld by the Allahabad High Court on grounds of electoral malpractice in 1975. Pending appeal, the vacation judge- Justice Krishna Iyer, granted a stay that allowed Smt. Indira Gandhi to function as Prime Minister on the condition that she should not draw a salary and speak or vote in Parliament until the case was decided. Meanwhile, Parliament passed the Thirty-ninth amendment to the Constitution which removed the authority of the Supreme Court toadjudicate petitions regarding elections of the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Instead, a body constituted by Parliament would be vested with the power to resolve such election disputes. Section 4 of the Amendment Bill effectively thwarted any attempt to challenge the election of an incumbent, occupying any of the above offices in a court of law. This was clearly a pre-emptive action designed to benefit Smt. Indira Gandhi whose election was the object of the ongoing dispute.

Amendments were also made to the Representation of Peoples Actsof 1951 and 1974 and placed in the Ninth Schedulealong with the Election Laws Amendment Act, 1975 in order to save the Prime Minister from embarassment if the apex court delivered an unfavourable verdict. The malafide intention of the government was proved by the haste in which the Thirty-ninth amendment was passed. The bill was introduced on August 7, 1975 and passed bythe Lok Sabha the same day. The Rajya Sabha (Upper House or House of Elders) passed it the next day and the President gave his assent two days later. The amendment was ratified by the state legislatures in special Saturday sessions. It was gazetted on August 10. When the Supreme Court opened the case for hearing the next day, the Attorney General asked the Court tothrow out the case in the light of the new amendment.

Counsel for Raj Narain who was the political opponent challenging Mrs. Gandhi’s election argued that the amendment was against the basic structure of the Constitution as it affected the conduct of free and fair elections and the power of judicial review. Counsel also argued that Parliament was not competent to use its constituent power for validating an election that was declared void by the High Court.

Four out of five judges on the bench upheld the Thirty-ninth amendment, but only after striking down that part which sought to curb the power of the judiciary to adjudicate in the current election dispute. 19 One judge, Beg,J. upheld the amendment in its entirety. Mrs. Gandhi’s election was declared valid on the basis of the amended election laws. The judges grudgingly accepted Parliament’s power to pass laws that have a retrospective effect.

Basic Features of the Constitution according to the Election case verdict

Again, each judge expressed views about what amounts to the basic structure of the Constitution: According to Justice H.R. Khanna, democracy is a basic feature of the Constitution and includes free and fair elections.

Justice K.K. Thomasheld that the power of judicial review is an essential feature. Justice Y.V. Chandrachudlisted four basic features which he considered unamendable: •sovereign democratic republic status •equality of status and opportunity of an individual •secularism and freedom of conscience and religion •’government of laws and not of men’ i.e. the rule of law According to Chief Justice A.N. Ray, the constituent power of Parliament was above the Constitution itself and therefore not bound by the principle of separation of powers. Parliament could therefore exclude laws relating election disputes from judicial review. He opined, strangely, that democracy was a basic feature but not free and fair elections. Ray, C.J.held that ordinary legislation was not within the scope of basic features.

Justice K.K. Mathew agreed with Ray, C.J.that ordinary laws did not fall within the purview of basic structure. But he held that democracy was an essential feature and that election disputes must be decided on the basis of law and facts by the judiciary.

Justice M.H. Beg disagreed with Ray, C.J. on the grounds that it would be unnecessary to have a Constitution if Parliament’s constituent power were said to be above it. 20 Judicial powers were vested in the Supreme Court and the High Courts and Parliament could not perform them. He contended that supremacy of the Constitution and separation of powerswere basic features as understood by the majority in the Kesavananda Bharaticase. Beg, J. emphasised that the doctrine of basic structure included within its scope ordinary legislation also. Despite the disagreement between the judges on what constituted the basic structure of the Constitution, the idea that the Constitution had a core content which was sacrosanct was upheld by the majority view.

The Kesavananda Review Bench

Within three days of the decision on the Election case Ray, C.J. convened a thirteen judge bench to review the Kesavanada verdict on the pretext of hearing a number of petitions relating to land ceiling laws which had been languishing in high courts. The petitions contended thatthe application of land ceiling laws violated the basic structure of the Constitution. In effect the Review bench was to decide whether or not the basic structure doctrine restricted Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution. The decision in the Bank Nationalisation case was also up for review. Meanwhile Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in a speech in Parliament, refused to accept the dogma of basic structure. 21

It must be remembered that no specificpetition seeking a review of the Kesavananda verdict filed before the apex court- a fact noted with much chagrin by several members of the bench. N.N. Palkhivala appearing for on behalf of a coal mining company eloquently argued against the move to review the Kesavananda decision. Ultimately, Ray, C.J.dissolved the bench after two days of hearings. Many people have suspected the government’s indirect involvement in this episode seeking to undo an unfavourable judicial precedent set by the Kesavanandadecision. However no concerted efforts were made to pursue the case.

The declaration of a National Emergency in June 1975 and the consequent suspension of fundamental freedoms, including the right to move courts against preventive detention, diverted the attention of the country from this issue.

Sardar Swaran Singh Committee and the Forty-second amendment

Soon after the declaration of National Emergency, the Congress party constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of Sardar Swaran Singh to study the question of amending the Constitution in the light of past experiences. Based on its recommendations, the government incorporated several changes to the Constitution including the Preamble, through the Forty-second amendment(passed in 1976 and came into effect on January 3, 1977). Among other things the amendment: a) gave the Directive Principles of State Policy precedence over the Fundamental Rights contained in Article 14 (right to equality before the law and equal protection of the laws), Article 19(various freedoms like freedom of speech and expression, right to assemble peacefully, right to form associations and unions, right to move about and reside freely in any part of the country and the right to pursue any trade or profession) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty). Article 31C was amended to prohibit any challenge to laws made under any of the Directive Principles of State Policy;

22 b) laid down that amendments to the Constitution made in the past or those likely to be made in future could not be questioned in any court on any ground;

c) removed all amendments to fundamental rights from the scope of judicial review and

d) removed all limits on Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution under Article 368.

Basic structure doctrine reaffirmed- the Minerva Mills and Waman Raocases Within less than two years of the restoration of Parliament’s amending powers to near absolute terms, the Forty-second amendment was challenged before the Supreme Court by the owners of Minerva Mills(Bangalore) a sick industrial firm which was nationalised by the government in 1974. 23 Mr. N.A. Palkhivala, renowned constitutional lawyer and counsel for the petitioners, chose not to challenge the government’s action merely in terms of an infringement of the fundamental right to property. Instead, he framed the challenge in terms of Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution. Mr. Palkhivala argued that Section 55 of the amendment 24 had placed unlimited amending power in the hands of Parliament. The attempt to immunise constitutional amendments against judicial review violated the doctrine of basic structure which hadbeen recognised by the Supreme Court in the Kesavananda Bharati and Indira Gandhi Election Cases. Hefurther contended that the amended Article 31C was constitutionally bad as it violated the Preamble of the Constitution and the fundamental rights of citizens. It also took away the power of judicial review.

Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, delivering the majority judgement (4:1), upheld both contentions. The majority view upheld the power of judicial review of constitutional amendments. They maintained that clauses (4) and (5) of Article 368 conferred unlimited power on Parliament to amend the Constitution. They said that this deprived courts of the ability toquestion the amendment even if it damaged or destroyed the Constitution’s basic structure.

The judges, who concurred with Chandrachud, C.J. ruledthat a limited amending power itself is a basic feature of the Constitution.

Bhagwati, J.the dissenting judge also agreed with this view stating that no authority howsoever lofty, could claim to be the sole judge of its power and actions under the Constitution. 25 The majority held the amendment to Article 31C unconstitutional as it destroyed the harmony and balance between fundamental rights and directive principles which is an essential or basic feature of the Constitution. 26 The amendment to Article 31Cremains a dead letter as it has not been repealed or deleted by Parliament. Nevertheless cases under it are decided as it existed prior to the Forty-second amendment. In another case relating to a similar dispute involving agricultural property the apex court, held that all constitutional amendments made after the date of the Kesavananda Bharatijudgement were open to judicial review. 27 All laws placed in the Ninth Scheduleafter the date of the Kesavananda Bharati judgement were also open to review in the courts. They can be challenged on the ground that they are beyond Parliament’s constituentpower or that they have damaged the basic structure of the Constitution. In essence, the Supreme Court struck a balance between its authority to interpret the Constitution and Parliament’s power to amend it.

Summary

It may be said that the final word on the issue of the basic structure of the Constitution has not been pronounced by the Supreme Court- a scenario that is unlikely to change in the near future. While the idea that there is such a thing as a basic structure to the Constitution is well established its contents cannot be completely determined with any measure of finality until a judgement of the Supreme Court spells it out. Nevertheless the sovereign, democratic and secular character of the polity, rule of law, independence of the judiciary, fundamentalrights of citizens etc. are some of the essential features of the Constitution that haveappeared time and again in the apex court’s pronouncements. One certainty that emerged out of this tussle between Parliament and the judiciary is that all laws and constitutional amendments are now subject to judicial review and laws that transgress the basic structure are likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court. In essence Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution is not absolute and the Supreme Court is the final arbiter over and interpreter of all constitutional amendments.

agricultural pricing policies

BACKGROUND

The agricultural pricing policies and allied institutional mechanisms evolved in India in the
context of shortages in the availability and excessdemand for food grains during 1960s
(Kahlon, 1983). A system of procurement and distribution of major food grains was introduced
and statutory minimum prices were set, though not strictly enforced. India’s agricultural price
policy includes three main types of administered prices: support, procurement, and issue price.
The support price is generally announced at sowing time, and the government agrees to buy all
grain offered for sale at this price. These prices guarantee to the farmer that, in the event of
excessive production leading to over supply in the market, prices of his produce will not fall
below the support price. Support prices generally affect farmers’ decisions indirectly, regarding
land allocation to crops. The areas to be sown, however, depend upon the actual prices farmers
realized for the previous crop and their expectations for the coming season.

The quantity to be procured is determined by the government’s needs for disbursements under
the public distribution system. In recent years, however, the actual quantities procured have
depended upon the grain offered for sale by farmersat prices fixed by the government. These
prices are generally higher than the support pricesbut lower than the free market prices in
normal years. In a good crop year, in surplus states, free market prices would have been lower
but for government purchases; after the surplus is mopped up, market prices tend to run higher
than procurement prices. The government recognizes the importance of assuring reasonable
prices to farmers to motivate them to adopt improved technology and to promote investment by
them in farm enterprises for increasing agricultural production. The basic objective of
agricultural pricing policy in India is to evolve abalanced and stable price structure to meet the
overall needs of the economy while protecting, in particular, the interests of the producers’ and
the consumers’’. The policy is aimed towards facilitating the desirable path of attaining the
objectives of growth and equity in the process of economic development.
Extension of MSP: Fiscal and Welfare Implications
Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe) 2
Incentive prices in the form of minimum support prices are essential to the success of
agricultural production programs based on high-yielding-varieties technology. At the same
time, undue reliance cannot be placed on environment of high prices alone as an incentive for
increasing production of food grains. Effective implementation of price support policies
requires adequate institutional arrangements for the purchase of quantities offered for sale at
that price.

1.2 Role of FCI (Food Corporation of India)

The broad objective of food policy in India has been to make food available to the people at
reasonable prices. Specific objectives include providing remunerative prices to cultivators;
supplying food at subsidized prices to the undernourished; controlling inflationary pressures;
stabilizing prices for consumers’ and producers; reducing fluctuations in food availability and
achieving self sufficiency in food grains production.

On behalf of the Central Government, Food Corporation of India (FCI) along with State
Governments and their agencies procure a sizeable quantity, of the total grain that is harvested in
a season. Since production is concentrated in a fewstates of India, there is a large regional
mismatch between supply and demand of food grains, which is relieved by the transfer of grains
from surplus to deficit states.

In order to facilitate the farmers to bring their produce to the procuring agencies, purchase
Centers (Mandies) are supposed to be opened in all corners of the country. However
procurement of wheat and rice are usually being done in selected states only. The FCI/
Government Agencies purchase all the grains offeredat the minimum support price (MSP). The
main areas for procurement of wheat and rice are the surplus states like Punjab, Haryana, and
some parts of Uttar Pradesh for both crops and Andhra Pradesh for rice.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) was set up under the Food Corporations Act of 1964 to be
the nodal central government agency responsible forthe purchase, storage, inter- state
movement, transport, distribution and sale of food grain and other food items. In short, the FCI is
responsible for implementing central government policies on procurement, storage, and
distribution. In certain operations such as the maintenance of national buffer stocks, the FCI has
sole responsibility whereas in certain other operations such as procurement, the FCI has to work
with State government organizations (such as State marketing federations) and within the
purview of State government policies.

The role of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) hasevolved over time, from being an agency
to procure food grains and distribute to states forthe operation of the public distribution system
(PDS), in recent years it has become a device of maintaining the Minimum Support Prices by
procuring whatever is offered. FCI’s procurement operations are concentrated in only a few
states. This has led to problems of two kinds, one,growing buffer stock with FCI as the MSPs
have been set above the market clearing price. In the year 2001 buffer stock accumulated in
FCI’s go-down had toughed to the historical high. There was a huge debate going at that time
among policy maker’s academician and planners aboutthe proper utilization of this buffer
stock. Irony of the situation was that our go-down was reporting overflowing stocks of food
grains, but, at the same time some parts of the country reported death due to starvation. This
shows inefficiency of distribution system in delivering food grains to needy. This buffer stock
situation continues till recent past. But now the situation has changed rather than having over
flowing buffer stocks countries has resorted to import of food grains. Second farmers of those
states where FCI price support operations are not well organized do not fully get the benefit of
the support price.

1.3.1 Minimum Support Price and its Supply Response

Even prior to mid sixties, it was recognized that for the acceleration of agricultural growth,
farmers need to be motivated to adopt better technology and to invest more in their farm
enterprises. This evidently was difficult without assuring reasonable prices to the farmers. The
Government constituted a committee to suggest pricepolicy for food grains for the 1964-65 and
to suggest the terms of references for an organization which would be set up to advice the
government on price policy on a long term basis. The recommendations of the committee led to
the establishment of the Agricultural Price Commission in 1965 which was later renamed as
Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP)in March 1985. Simultaneously, the
development strategy for agricultural sector was also remodeled. Remodeling of strategy
included application of modern inputs like high yielding varieties of seed (HYV), chemical
fertilizers and mechanization of certain agricultural operations. Thus, main emphasis in this
development was on finding methods of increasing land productivity through the use of modern
input and improved methods of production in the potential regions of the country. This
development strategy in turn required that price policy should encourage farmers to make
greater investments in farm operations so as to enable them to shift on to higher production
possibility curves. Thus the minimum support price was aimed to:

(i) Assure remunerative and relatively stable price environment for the farmers by inducing
them to increase production and thereby augment theavailability of food grains.

(ii) Improve economic access of food to people.
(iii) Evolve a production pattern which is in line with overall needs of the economy.

Therefore, the provision of Minimum Support Prices (MSP) was initiated during the mid-1960s
to create a favorable environment for the producersof major food crops, which were seen to
possess vast potential for raising grain production. Presently, 24 major crops are covered under
the minimum support price program (paddy rice, wheat, five coarse grains, four pulses, eight
oilseeds, cotton, jute, tobacco and sugar cane). With the price support policy favoring food
grains, there is very little incentive for the farmer to move away from the food grains to the
production of other crop. The price support policy has been a major deterrent to crop
diversification. In determining minimum support prices, the CACP has taken into account cost
of production as well as domestic and global marketconditions. MSP is determined by the
principle of full cost of production that includes the rental value of land, an imputed value of
family labor and returns to management (indiabudget.nic.in).

This policy has proved to be helpful in several ways. From a situation of massive shortages,
India has emerged as a grain surplus country with self reliance in food grains, and this inherent
process of self sufficiency subsumed the in built proposition of attaining food security at the
national level. A strong base has been created for grain production and for meeting grain
demand in the medium term (Tyagi.1990, Acharya, 1999; Connell, Hirad and Jahan, 2004).
The policy has had a favorable impact on farm income and has led to an economic
transformation in the well-endowed, mainly irrigated regions. The other purpose of MSP was to
maintain price stability in the food grain market.

However, the adverse effects can also be recognizedas the food policy has been highly
asymmetric and skewed mainly towards the productionof rice and wheat at the cost of
cultivation of pulses, oilseeds and other crops. This has created serious imbalances in demand
and supply of principal crops in the country. Similarly, the country has been facing large
shortages of pulses and edible oils and now has to meet about one-tenth of its demand for
pulses and close to half of the demand for edible oil from imports. These imports are in turn
having an adverse impact on producers in the unfavorable dry-land areas These changes
necessitate a fresh look at the role and relevance of the Minimum Support Price system in the
country.

The implementation of Minimum Support Prices (MSP) in the high potential regions of the
country has played an important role in meeting theultimate goal of improving the agricultural
production and the welfare of the agricultural community. A study Conducted by Deshpande
and Naika (2002), examine the impact of MSP on agricultural growth by analyzing its
relevance and effectiveness in certain crops. This study indicates that wheat and rice got the
best out of price policy through MSP but unintentionally this worked as an externality to
discourage coarse cereal and pulses. Therefore, thepolicy is biased against certain crops which
are grown in agriculturally backward regions and mostly by resource poor farmers. There are
certain factors influencing the effectiveness of MSP e.g. the manner of implementation of the
policy, undue dependence on the state for intervention lack of required information at
appropriate time etc. It was also experienced that there are a number of institutions involved in
procurement process and there is inadequate coordination between them.

IT and Indian Agriculture in the Future

IT and Indian Agriculture in the Future

Technologically it is possible to develop suitable systems, as outlined in the previous sections, to cater to the information needs of Indian farmer. User friendly systems, particularly with content in local languages, can generate interest in the farmers and others working at the grassroots. It is possible to create dedicated networks or harness the power of Internet to make these services are available to all parts of the country.

The task of creating application packages and databases to cater to complete spectrum of Indian agriculture is a giant task. The Long Term Agriculture Policy provides an exhaustive list of all the areas that are to be covered. This can be taken as a guiding list to evolve design and develop suitable systems catering to each of the specified areas. Our country has the advantage of having a large number of specialised institutions in place catering to various aspects of Indian agriculture. These institutions can play a crucial role in designing the necessary applications & databases and services.This will facilitate modularisation of the task, better control and help in achieving quick results. As it is, several institutions have already developed systems related to their area of specialisation.

For quick results, it may be useful to get the applications outsourced to software companies in India. This will facilitate quick deployment of applications and provide boost to the software industry in India. In order to avoid duplication of efforts, it may be useful to consider promoting a coordinating agency which will have an advisory role to play in evolving standard interface for users, broad design and monitoring of the progress.

In the post WTO regime, it is suggested that it is useful to focus more on some agricultural products to maintain an unquestionable competitive advantage for exports. This will call for urgent measures to introduce state of the art technologies such as remote sensing, geographical information systems (GIS), bio-engineering, etc. India has made rapid strides in satellite technologies. It is possible to effectively monitor agricultural performance using remote sensing and GIS applications. This will not only help in planning, advising and monitoring the status of the crops but also will help in responding quickly to crop stress conditions and natural calamities. Challenges of crop stress, soil problems, natural disasters can be tackled effectively through these technologies. A beginning in precision farming can be encouraged in larger tracts of land in which export potential can be tilted in our country’s favour.

While developing these systems it is necessary to appreciate that major audience that is targeted is not comfortable with computers. This places premium on user friendliness and it may be useful to consider touch screen technologies to improve user comfort levels. It is often observed that touch screen kiosks, with their intuitive approach, provide a means for quick learning and higher participation. It is also necessary to provide as much content as possible in local languages.

Once the required application packages & databases are in place, a major challenge is with respect to dissemination of the information. The Krishi Vigyan Kendras, NGOs and cooperative societies may be used to set up information kiosks. Private enterprise is also required to be drawn into these activities. These kiosks should provide information on other areas of interest such as education, information for which people have to travel distances such as those related to the government, courts, etc. Facilities for email, raising queries to experts, uploading digital clips to draw the attention of experts to location specific problems can be envisaged.

Constraints and Remedies for Effective Dissemination

Some of the major constraints delaying the spread of e-revolution to rural India are listed below :

1. Haphazard development: It is observed that some initiatives have already been made to provide IT based services to rural community. However, duplication of efforts are witnessed as most of the services revolve around limited subjects. Keeping in view the giant task involved, it is necessary to form a coordination mechanism to strive for a concerted effort to support farming community in the country. Such a coordination agency may only have advisory powers such as user interface, broad design, delivery mechanism of the content, standards for setting up kiosks.

2. User friendliness: The success of this strategy depends on the ease with which rural population can use the content. This will require intuitive graphics based presentation. Touch screen kiosks are required to be set up to encourage greater participation

3. Local languages: Regional language fonts and mechanisms for synchronisation of the content provides a challenge that needs to be met with careful planning.

4. Restrictions :Information content based on remote sensing and geographical information systems can provide timely alerts to the farmers and also improve the efficiency of administration. These applications can have a major impact on the farmers and help them to appreciate the potential of information technology. However, government’smap restriction policiesoften threaten to stifle the optimal utilisation of these tools.

5. Power Supply: In most of the rural India, power supply is not available for long hours. This will reduce the usefulness of the intended services. Since almost entire country receives sunshine for most part of the year, it is useful to explore solar power packs for UPS as well as for supply of power.The Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources may pay special attention in this area which can be a major contributor to the growth of IT in villages.

6. Connectivity: Despite the phenomenal progress made in the recent years, the connectivity to rural areas still requires to be improved . Reliable connectivity is a prerequisite for a successful penetration of IT into rural areas. Many private ISPs are setting up large networks connecting many major towns and cities. Since some of these networks pass through rural areas, it is possible to provide connectivity to a large number of villages. Several technologies exist that can be utilised for connecting rural areas. Cable network is a possible medium for providing the last mile connectivity to villages.

7. Bandwidth: Even in areas where telephone and other communication services exist, the available bandwidth is a major constraint. Since internet based rural services require substantial use of graphics, low bandwidth is one of the major limitations in providing effective e-services to farmers. As already stated, networks with high bandwidth are being set up by several companies passing through rural segments which can be utilised. Until this materialises, a two pronged strategy of storing static information at the kiosks and providing dynamic information from remote locationscan be examined. The graphic oriented content which does not change frequently, such as, demonstration clips for farmers, can be stored on the local drives at the kiosks and arrange for periodic updation of this information over the network during non-peak hours. The dynamic information which changes more frequently can be accessed from remote locations to obtain the latest status.

8. Dissemination Points: Mass deployment of information kiosks is critical for effective use of the Internet based content and services.In order to ensure that the information kiosks are economically feasible, it is necessary to make the proposition sustainable and viable. This requires a major focus on a viable revenue model for such kiosks.In the new information era, the kiosks should be designed to become electronic super markets that can, in addition to being information sources, handle other services of use to the people living in rural areas. The revenue available through such sources can make a kiosk attractive for prospective investors. The Government can provide finance facilities to unemployed rural agricultural graduates who can be expected to have greater commitment and at the same time act as an efficient interface for less educated rural visitors. The objective should be to transform rural information kiosks into ‘clicks and mortar’ gateway to rural India for ‘Bricks and mortar’ industry.Some of the sources that can generate revenue for rural kiosks are : a) Distance education – A large number of people travel substantial distances to attend educational courses. It is possible to set up virtual class rooms right in their villages

b) Training – People living in rural areas require training and a means for upgrading their skills in their area of work. It is possible to provide quality education right at their door steps with facilities for online interaction with experts. For example, a village teacher or a paramedical staff can keep abreast latest developments without disturbing his/her routine. Similarly, training can be imparted on various aspects of agriculture such as correct practices, irrigation practices, efficient utilisation of tools used in farming such as tractors.

c) Insurance : The advent of private players into insurance has brought about advanced IT systems that can render services over networks. The kiosks can be insurance agents for insurance firms which, in turn, can compensate the kiosk operators for online transactions for new business as well as maintaining the old.

d) Local Agent : Many companies have difficulty in working out logistics for their supplies to rural outlets. A rural kiosk can act as conduit for such ‘bricks and mortar’ companies. This has the potential of transforming a rural kiosk into a profitable venture.

e) Rural Post Office : The kiosks can facilitate sending and receiving emails, facilitate ‘chats’ with experts. Several successful rural kiosks are already available in many states which run essentially on this model.

f) e-Governance : Rural kiosks are the stepping stones for effective implementation of e-governance. Details related to central / state / local governments, formats and procedures, status verification such as case listings in courts, filing of applications in electronic format where admissible, etc. are some of the areas where kiosks can be of major use.

g) Online examinations : Online certification examinations are ‘in things’ with many organisations and certification agencies. Many people are forced to stay at metros to take the examinations. Eventuallyit should be possible to conduct these examinations through the rural kiosks.

9. Who should take up the task ?: At present, several initiatives have been taken in the form of websites / portals targeting rural India. These are at best sketchy information sources catering to pockets of rural India. It is to be noted that strong interlinkages exist within entire rural India and concerted and coordinated effort is required for carrying the benefits of IT to rural India. The magnitude of the task is such that no single institution or organisation can accomplish it. It is necessary for stake holders in rural India, such as fertiliser industry, to come together to provide adequate thrust to the effort initially.The fertiliser industry distributes more than 15 million tonnes of nutrients per annum in the country involving complex production, logistics and storage operations. A small savings made possible through better management of information upto the point of delivery to farmers can mean significant savings. The success of e-powering Indian agriculture is high if fertiliser industry makes a concerted and coordinated effort to set up Business to Business (B-B) market place with dealer / cooperative networks. The consumer industry also benefits from efficient operations in rural India. The corporate India may be willing to participate in a joint effort that proves beneficial to them as well as the rural India. The Government of India may, as outlined above, initiate a coordinating agency where various stake holders can join hands to spread e-culture to rural India and at the same time benefit from efficient operations.

Conclusion

The Indian farmer and those who are working for their welfare need to be e-powered to face the emerging scenario of complete or partial deregulation & reduction in government protection, opening up of agricultural markets, fluctuations in agricultural environment and to exploit possible opportunities for exports. The quality of rural life can also be improved by quality information inputs which provide better decision making abilities. IT can play a major role in facilitating the process of transformation of rural India to meet these challenges and to remove the fast growing digital devide.

The rapid changes in the field of information technology makes it possible to develop and disseminate required electronic services to rural India. The existing bottlenecks in undertaking the tasks need to be addressed immediately. A national strategy needs to be drawn for spearheading IT penetration to rural India. A national coordinating agency with an advisory role can act as a catalyst in the process.

No single institution or organisation alone can succeed in the task of e-powering
 farmers and rural India. At the same time, scattered and half hearted attempts can not be
 successful in meeting the objective. Industries with major stake in villages, such as fertiliser
 sector, should come together to provide the initial impetus.

The success of any IT based service to rural India hinges on evolving a proper
revenue model for the dissemination points. The ‘clicks & mortar’ rural kiosks should be
integrated with the ‘bricks & mortar’ industry to make them sustainable ventures by making
them a business gateway to rural India.The information kiosks can draw revenue from the
industry by providing and disseminating required services. Once these dissemination points
prove to be economically viable, the IT revolution in rural India will require no crusaders

LEGACY OF NATIONAL MOVEMENT WITH REFERENCE TO DEVELOPMENT, RIGHTS AND PARTICIPATION

UNIT 1

LEGACY OF NATIONAL MOVEMENT WITH REFERENCE TO DEVELOPMENT, RIGHTS AND PARTICIPATION

Structure

1.1 Introduction 1.2 Foundation of the Indian National Congress 1.3 Gandhi’s Contribution 1.3.1 Gandhi’s “Substance of Swaraj” 1.4 The Karachi Resolution of the Congress 1.5 The Idea of Socialism 1.5.1 The Idea of Planning 1.6 The Nature of Gandhian Economics 1.7 The Gandhian Social Philosophy 1.8 The Consensus 1.9 Summary 1.10 Exercises

1.1 INTRODUCTION

The developmental aspirations of the people of India unfolded themselves through the various stages of the freedom movement. The violent resistance of the Indian people to the British rule in 1857 and the subsequent tribal upsurges were defensive movements against foreign rule. They were almost totally political. But the peasant struggles that occurred since the late nineteenth century had a clear economic perspective. They were against the oppressive land revenue system that came along with foreign rule even though the peasants were not always aware of the colonial mechanism and they often turned their wrath on the intermediate landowners like the zamindars and mouzadars.

After the consolidation of the British rule in 1858, new organisations and movements of the people came to the fore choosing ‘constitutionalist’ strategies. Landlords formed their own organisations to demand reduction of Government revenue claims. Simultaneously nationalist leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, M.G. Ranade and R.C. Dutt started critiquing the colonial economic exploitation. They argued that the main reason of poverty in India was the colonial exploitation. The end of colonial rule was necessary for the alleviation poverty in India.

1.2 FOUNDATION OF THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

In 1885 the educated elite formed the Indian National Congress as an umbrella organisation of all sections of the Indian people beginning with the demand for adequate representation of the Indians in the senior Government services and the legislative bodies created by the Indian Councils Act of 1861. Indeed, initially they did not take up the cause of the workers and peasants considering them as ‘local issues.’ But individual nationalists were engaged in ‘philanthropic works’ among the workers and the peasants.

The Indian National Congress was founded with a modest constitutionalist outlook and chose the strategy of petitions and persuasion rather than pressure and agitation. The earliest plea that it made to the Government was for the facilitation of the Indians’ access to the Indian civil service which indeed was an elitist demand. On the other hand, the organisation declined to take up the issue of the condition of plantation and industrial labour which appeared to it to be ‘local’ issues even though philanthropists and labour leaders were given platform. In 1893 the Congress demanded the uniform introduction of permanent settlement of land to save the landholders from harassment by the Government.

As early as 1895 Dr Annie Besant, founder of the Indian Home Rule League and a leader of the Indian National Congress, drafted a Constitution of India Bill envisaging a Constitution that guaranteed to every citizen freedom of expression, inviolability of one’s house, right to property, equality before the law and in regard to admission to public offices, right to present claims, petition and complaints and the right to personal property. At a special session at Bombay in 1918 on the Montague-Chelmsford Report, the Congress demanded that the new Government of India Act contain a declaration of the rights of the Indians containing, among other things, equality before the law, protection in respect of liberty, life and property, freedom of speech and press and right of association.

In 1925 a sub-committee set up by the All-Parties Conference chaired by M.K. Gandhi prepared a Commonwealth of India Bill that demanded self-government for Indians from the village upwards – the village, the taluka, the district, the province and India. It also demanded the rights to liberty, security of dwelling and property, freedom of conscience and to profess and practise religion, freedom to express opinion, to assemble peacefully and without arms and to form associations or unions, free elementary education, use of roads, public places, courts of justice and the like, equality before the law irrespective of nationality and freedom of the sexes.

The Motilal Nehru Committee Report of 1928 incorporated all these demands and added the right of all citizens to the writ of habeas corpus’protection in respect of punishment under ex post facto laws, non-discrimination against any person on grounds of race, religion or creed in the matter of public employment, office of power or honour and in the exercise of any trade or calling, equal access of all citizens to public road, public wells and places of public resort, freedom of combination and association for the maintenance and improvement of labour and economic conditions and the right to keep arms in accordance with regulations. It will be seen that, although the above demands had certain economic implications, the demands were essentially political and elitist. It was not until the appearance in the scene of Gandhi that the socio-economic problems of the common people came to focus. Gandhi brought the common people into national politics. He had to reflect their aspirations.

1.3 GANDHI’S CONTRIBUTION

Among the earliest Gandhian activities in the socio-economic field were his visit to Champaran in Bihar to save the peasants from the exploitation of the British indigo planters, his initiation of peasant satyagrahaat Khaira in Gujarat against high revenue demands of the Government and his intervention in the labour dispute in the Sarabhai textile mills at Ahmedabad. The first two moves related to the agrarian economy of the country in which about 95% of the Indian people were involved in the second decade of the twentieth century and clearly had an anti-imperialist edge. The third related to industrial relation within an Indian-owned undertaking. Gandhi’s mediation and moral pressure resulted in a happy ending of the dispute. The three episodes in the early life of Gandhi suggest that, whereas Gandhi took a clear anti-imperialist position, he was in favour of solving class conflict within the Indian society through persuasion. He was not in favour of class struggle within the Indian society. In fact the Ahmedabad experience seems to have led him to pronounce his famous ‘theory of trusteeship’ that advised the owning class to behave as the trustees of the national wealth in the interest of the working class. In fact, it was probably due to his influence that the Ahmedabad Textile Workers’ Union kept away from the All-India Trade Union Congress when it was set up in 1920. Even the Congress leaders did not join it until the party’s Gaya conference in 1922. While the Congress fought for the interest of the peasants and farmers many of whom actively participated in its satyagrahasit was not until about the end of the freedom movement that it raised the demand for land reform, that is, abolition of zamindari and other intermediary rights in land and grant of ownership to tillers of land. In fact, as early as 1893 the Indian National Congress had demanded permanent settlement of land (as in Bengal) in order to protect the landlords against harassing extortions of the landlords in the ryotwari areas.

1.3.1 Gandhi’s ‘Substance of Swaraj’

On January 26, 1930 Congressmen all over the country took the pledge of complete independence as demanded in the Lahore Resolution of December 1929. On January 30, 1930 in Young India Gandhi laid down his perception of the ‘substance of independence’ as follows:

1) Total prohibition. 2) Reduction of pound-rupee exchange ratio from 1 shilling 6 pence to 1 shilling 4 pence. 3) Reduction of land revenue by at least 50% and making it subject to legislative control. 4) Abolition of salt tax 5) Reduction of military expenditure by at least 50% to begin with. 6) Reduction of salaries of the highest grade services by half or less, so as to suit the reduced revenue. 7) Protective tariff on foreign cloth. 8) Passage of the Coastal Traffic Reservation Bill. 9) Discharge of all political prisoners save those condemned for murder

or attempt to murder, or trial by ordinary judicial tribunals, and withdrawal of all political prosecutions. 10) Abolition of the C.I.D. or its popular control. 11) Issue of licenses to use fire arms for self-defence, subject to popular control. The demands, it can be seen, watered down the concept of complete independence envisaged by the Lahore resolution of the Congress. On the other hand, all of them, except the first, had an anti-imperialist edge. Further, except for the 9 th and 10 th demand, all of them had an economic bearing.

1.4 THE KARACHI RESOLUTION OF THE CONGRESS

The resolution of the Karachi session of the All-India Congress Committee that was passed in 1931 was the first clear statement of the socio-economic contents of the freedom movement. It laid down that the organisation of economic life must conform to the principle of justice, to the end that it must secure a decent standard of living. The state would safeguard the interests of the workers and secure for them, by suitable legislation and in other ways, a living wage, healthy conditions of work, limited hours of labour, suitable machinery for settling industrial disputes and social insurance. Liberation of agricultural labour from conditions of serfdom and protection of interest of women workers were promised. Child labour in factories and mines was to be banned. Peasants and workers would be free to form unions. The system of land tenure would be reformed. Peasants were promised an equitable adjustment of the burden on agricultural land, immediate relief to the small peasantry through substantial reduction of rent and revenue, exemption in the cases of uneconomic holding and imposition of graded agricultural income tax. Death duties at a graduated rate over property above a limit were envisaged. Relief of agricultural indebtedness and control of usury – direct and indirect – were promised. Military expenditure would be reduced. The state would also provide military training to its citizens. The ceiling of the civil servants’ salary would be Rs 500. The state would protect indigenous cloth against foreign cloth. The other indigenous industries would be likewise protected against foreign competition. Intoxicating drinks and drugs would be totally prohibited. Currency and exchange would be regulated in the national interest. The state would own or control key industries and services, mineral resources, railways, waterways, shipping and other means of public transport. When the Congress party came to power in several provinces in 1937, they tried to deliver on some of the promises. But they held power for a little over two years. Besides, there were pressures from European and native vested interests. The promises were only partially fulfilled. About twenty years after Karachi session, the Indian Constitution largely enshrined the promises made in 1931.

1.5 THE IDEA OF SOCIALISM

The Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917 created an interest in socialism in India and small socialist groups emerged in the urban centres.

Completion of the first five-year plan by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1934 created an enthusiasm for planning in India. In 1934 M. Visvesvaraya, a great engineer, published a book entitled Planned Economy in India in April 1936. The Visvesvaraya Plan could, however, be by no means called a socialist plan. In 1934 the Congress Socialist Party was formed within the Congress and Gandhi resigned from the Congress citing it as one of the reasons and alleging Jawaharlal’s open sympathy for the group. In 1935 the Communist Party of India was formed and immediately banned by the British Government. Most of the communists started working within the Congress Socialist party. Jawaharlal Nehru, who had shown great admiration for socialism as early as 1928, delivered his presidential address to the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress announcing his conviction that ‘the only solution of the world’s problems and of India’s problems lies in socialism’. This statement created an ideological rift within the top leadership of the Congress and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel issued a statement to the effect that he had ideological differences with Nehru on matters like the nature of capitalism. Patel wanted to contest Nehru for the presidency of the Congress in the next session at Faizpur. Nehru recounted his position stating that socialism was not his ideological plank for the Presidential election and Patel withdrew from the contest. In his Presidential speech at Faizpur, Nehru called for the building up of a powerful joint front of all the anti-imperialist forces in the country including the organised workers and peasants. In the backdrop of the general (provincial) elections in British India this ideological debate is significant.

1.5.1 The Idea of Planning

It has been seen that the idea of planning had acquired popularity in 1934. Jawaharlal Nehru was succeeded as Congress President by another radical young man, Subhas Chandra Bose. He set up a National Planning Committee with Jawaharlal Nehru as chairman and Professor K.T. Shah as secretary. The ideological tension that was brewing in the Congress resulted in Bose resigning its Presidentship in the next year. Still another year later the Congress Governments in Provinces resigned on the issue of the declaration of British India’s participation in World War II. The work of the National Planning Committee was interrupted but a number of subcommittees of the National Planning Committee prepared their reports. In 1940 a group of industrialists led by G.D. Birla, prepared what is known as the Bombay Plan. The Plan envisaged the doubling of per capita income and trebling of national income in 15 years. It divided industries into basic and consumption goods industries and admitted the necessity of reducing inequalities of wealth. Among the measures suggested toward this purpose were imposition of death duties, reform of the system of land tenure and provision of the fullest scope for small and cottage industries as well as state control of the economy accompanied by state ownership of public utilities and basic industries. Economic control, however, was more important than ownership or management by the state., argued the Bombay Plan.

Towards the end of World War II, M.N. Roy, a leader of the Indian Communist movement and now a radical humanist, published a People’s Plan. Unlike the Bombay Plan it primarily emphasised agriculture and advocated nationalisation of land and liquidation of rural indebtedness. Future industrialisation would have to be primarily financed and controlled by 6 the state. Expansion of production would have to be accompanied by changes in distribution in favour of the common people permitting an expansion of the total consumption by the community. Surplus production should be reinvested for raising employment and standard of living.

1.6 THE NATURE OF GANDHIAN ECONOMICS

It will be wrong to see the 1930 ‘substance of Independence’ statement of Gandhi as either the whole or the core of Gandhi’s economic ideas. Gandhi’s economic ideas cannot be fully discussed in the present unit. Suffice it to say that it was dynamic and evolved from his pamphlet on Hind Swaraj written in 1907 through a long course of his leadership of the Indian national movement.

Initially he opposed machines as instruments of imperialist exploitation and deprivation of the common masses of the people. Later he watered down his opposition to machines. All through his life, however, he insisted upon the spinning wheel which could give the poorest Indian villager, particularly women, a means of independent earning.

Initially he opposed class contradiction by means of his theory of trusteeship and change of heart of the owners to solve the problem of exploitation. Toward the end of his life he appears to have grown disillusioned about the prospect of change of heart. He even ceased to emphasise the need for revival of the idyllic self-sufficient village community. But he never ignored the common man and went on stressing the need for revival of the small-scale and cottage industry. It is interesting to note that the National Planning Committee’s sub-committee on agriculture headed by a Gandhian, J.C. Kumarappa, recommended an integrated policy of land reform beginning with abolition of zamindari and other intermediate rights and proceeding to grant of tenancy to the cultivator and imposition of ceiling on agricultural land holding.

1.7 THE GANDHIAN SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY

It is necessary to remember that Gandhi’s economic thinking was a part of his broader social vision of sarvodaya (upliftment of all), that was originally conceived as antyodaya(unto the last). Towards this aim he devoted a major part of his ‘constructive programme’ towards the abolition of untouchability and the upliftment of the people he called ‘the Harijans’ (now called ‘dalits’). Though he did not present a separate economic programme for them, his Puna Pact with Dr B.R. Ambedkar gave them a political status in British India’s electoral system that was retained in independent India. It has been already mentioned that the spinning wheel gave the women an amount of economic independence through their own labour. It should also be mentioned that it was Gandhi’s satyagraha that brought the women into the arena of politics and liberated them from their domestic bondages.

1.8 THE CONSENSUS

The Indian national movement was, above anything else, a movement for political independence. It had to mobilise different groups and interests. It was necessary to avoid contentious issues that might divide the people and alienate sections of them. Yet no politics is without economics and, to mobilise the largest section of the people, it was necessary to reflect their socio-economic aspirations. Thus there appears to have crystallised three broad aspirations about the economy of an independent India: (1) a capitalist dream of an industrialised India under minimal state control and state support; (2) a Gandhian view of basically rural and self-sufficient economy with minimal state control and large industry; and (3) a socialist view of an industrialised India under strong state control and leadership. As a result of the ideological debates evolved a basic minimum consensus on the course of economic development of India. i) There could be no development without political freedom. ii) A certain amount of state control was necessary for the economy. iii) Basic natural resources should be nationalised.

iv) There was also an overwhelming opinion that zamindari and other intermediary rights in agricultural land should be abolished.

This basic consensus was, somewhat inadequately, reflected in the Congress manifesto on the eve of the provincial assemblies elections in early 1946. We call it ‘inadequate’ because the 1946 elections were held on the basis of a franchise determined by property qualifications to only 15% of the British Indian population and did not have to reflect the aspirations of the poorer sections of the people that comprised 85% of the population. However, the Congress swept the elections in all the non-Muslim-majority provinces and even the Muslim-majority province of the North-West Frontier Province.

In that manifesto the party promised to encourage, modernise and rapidly extend industry, agriculture, social services and public utilities. ‘For this purpose,’ the manifesto said, ‘it will be necessary to plan and co-ordinate social advance in all its many fields, to prevent the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of individuals and groups, to prevent vested interests inimical to society from growing, and to have social control of the mineral resources, means of transport and the principal means of production and distribution in land, industry and in other departments of national activity.’ The state must, therefore, own or control key and basic industries and services, mineral resources, railways, waterways, shipping and other means of public transport. Currency and exchange, banking and insurance must be regulated in the national interest.

Thus the foundation of state capitalism in India was laid. Somehow, this kind of economic thinking came to be considered by many as socialism.

1.9 SUMMARY

The Indian national movement had a legacy of political and economic protest. This in turn became a legacy for the Independent India. In the latter half of the 19th century, the nationalist leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, M.G. Ranade and R.C. Dutt gave a critique of the colonial exploitation. Initially the Congress was concerned with the problems of the elite like representation of Indians to the senior government services and legislative bodies. But with the appearance of M.K. Gandhi on the political scenario, it took up the cause of the ordinary people – the peasantry and workers. Some concepts and ideas which evolved during the Indian national movement became the legacy for the policy initiatives in the post-independence India. These were mainly Swaraj, political and economic rights, socialism, planning and consensus.

1.10 EXERCISES a) Was there an economic perspective of the early national movement in India? b) What was Gandhi’s contribution to the economic thinking in the Indian national movement? c) Discuss the evolution of socialist thinking in the Indian national movement. d) How did the economic thinking in the Indian national movement crystallise at the end?

Economy-QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM INSIGHTS

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM INSIGHTS WEBSITE ON GENERAL STUDIES PAPER – 3 (ECONOMY)

Economy 1)

Comment on the financial relations between the Union and the states in India. Has post-1991 liberalization in any was affected it? (250 Words)3 The constitution gives primacy to Union vis-a-vis States in terms of Financial powers. It mandates, the distribution of resources to the Finance Commission, to be appointed by the President periodically. The spirit of delineation sought by Constitution, however has come under tension and due to certain bypassing institutions, laws and schemes, being favoured by the Union, and burdening the state governments along with containing their financial autonomy. Institutional setups like Planning Commission, a non statutory body, has circumscribed the role of Finance Commission, giving more discretionary powers to Union. Centrally Sponsored Schemes, made on the State List Subjects, have been imposed on State Governments, without financing them completely and even insufficient consultation is carried out by Union. The practice of directly transferring the funds to Local bodies has further eroded the accountability and autonomy of States with respect to functions assigned to them by Constitution.

In the post 1991-liberalization era, where market borrowings, short term loans have gained significance and new taxes such as service tax, GST, VAT etc have been brought forth by the Union, the states still feel dependent on Union. In wake of implementing Global conventions such as Climate Change, MDG’s etc, Central government expects state governments to fulfil their obligations, but does not compensate them with adequate resources. Such trend can also be found in royalty earned in mineral extraction, spectrum allocation etc.

On the other hand, periodic obligations such as rising incomes of employees so as conform with Pay commissions, and restricting expenditure to comply with FRBM Act , has proven more contentious to states vis-a-vis union. Therefore, a more holistic, rational and democratic financial distribution needs to be done, with proper consultation and in accordance with federal character of the Indian polity

2) “ The talk of financial inclusion and inclusive growth is meaningless in the absence of a mass movement for economic democracy.” Critically comment. (200 Words)1 prior to nationalization of banks in India, financial sector was largely controlled by the small & big commercial private banks. Most of these banks worked under the discretionary power of owners and used to support the corporate & industrial interests .Such practices led to the exclusion of majority of the population. Political leaders of India identified the need to nationalize the bank so that credit could be made available for the larger population.

Intention was to increase the flow of credit to rural & semi urban areas and low & middle class people. But scheme such as Priority sector lending benefitted the rich farmers at the cost of poor farmers. Influence of business houses grew in India and elite emerged as the main beneficiaries of such banks. PS lending has become a costly obligation for the banks. Most of the banks prefer to invest in shares, debentures and issues guarantees to elite to sustain their business. To further improve financial inclusion, GOI has decided to allow industrial houses to participate in banking sectors that was once restricted due to well-known reasons. Industrial banks will eye only the growing middle class customers of the country. Such reforms will also result in the control of banking sector in hands of few elite group .Majority of the population will have no say in financial sectors and continue to remain deprived of financial inclusion in real sense in absence of economic democracy.

3) ”A decentralist form of market socialism is different from mixed economy and has become a prominent feature of some countries post communism.” Examine.(20 Words)3

Mixed economy, comprises of both capitalistic i.e. free markets, entrepreneurship, and socialistic character such as welfare and equality principles. Post Communism era, after fall of Berlin Wall, the disintegration of USSR, saw the emergence of Market Socialism, different from mixed economy. It emphasised on ownership and management of enterprises , absent in the latter type. Here, instead of allowing ,private ownership of means of production, public or social ownership of means of production are encouraged. Cooperatives, social enterprises, which promote authority to the workers and it’s their consensus which decides about their supervisors, decision making process, working hours, remunerations, shares, profits/losses etc. This type of workplace democracy or economic democracy to workers is the cornerstone of Market Socialism. Just like mixed economy, free markets are there, limited government intervention in means of procurement of goods and working of enterprises are present. The difference is, Market socialistic economies are complete and self-regulating. Mixed economies, aim at achieving stability through welfare schemes, taxes, subsidies , but in contrast, Market socialism aims at them, through changing patterns of enterprise ownership and management.

Hence, overall concern remains for socialistic democratic principles, but in market socialism, people are made managers of their enterprises and taking own decisions. Therefore it is different from mixed economies, where such authority is not given to the workers of enterprises.

Analyze the employment trends in India as revealed by NSSO’s 68th round survey.

1. The Employment and Unemployment surveys of National sample Survey (NSS) are primary sources of data on various indicators of labour force at National and State levels. These are used for planning, policy formulation, decision support and as input for further statistical exercises by various Government organizations, academicians, researchers and scholars.Three reference periods used in NSS surveys are (i) one year (ii) one week and (iii) each day. About 40 per cent of population belonged to the labour force 41 per cent in rural areas and 37 per cent in urban areas. males was nearly 56 per cent and it was 23 per cent for females. Worker Population Ratio 39 per cent at the all India level 40 per cent in rural areas and 36 per cent Wage Rates of Regular Wage This was Rs. 299 in the rural areas and Rs. 450 in the urban unemployment rate was 9per for entire country.

4) while economic growth is an important boon for enhancing living conditions, its reach depends greatly on what we do with the fruits of growth.” Comment. (250 Words)3

Economic growth generates more revenue which translates to more disposable income available with private & public entities. Additional income can be helpful to improve the living standards considering it is utilized in right way.

Due to economic growth, Indian government could afford to implement several program such as MNREGA, NRHM, food security bill etc. for the upliftment of living standards among poor & vulnerable. Economic growth accompanied by the job creation has brought millions of poor out of poverty in last 2 decades. But India ability in utilizing the full potential of economic growth to enhance living conditions remains doubtful when compared with other countries. For ex: Bangladesh per capita GDP and economic growth has remained lesser than India, but their performance in improving the living standards has been far better than India. Bangladesh ranks better than India in several aspects of living standard such as Life expectancy, maternal & infant mortality etc.

In India, combined central & state expenditure in social sector is near 7 % as compare to average 14 % in several developed countries. Inadequate investment accompanied by underutilization due to institutional & procedural bottlenecks have deprived several poor of the benefits of higher economic growth. Economic growth of India has benefitted the smaller segment of Indian middle class. Economic growth led by the service sector which employs a miniscule population has led to concentration of wealth in hands of a very small segment. Economic growth of India is also been termed as job less growth as service driven growth creates lesser jobs than labor intensive manufacturing sector. Inadequate public expenditure & unequal income distribution has further undermined the significance of economic growth in enhancing living standards in context of India.

5) Do you agree with the assessment that the state capitalism, a form of capitalism practiced by emerging market economies, in recent years has gained the upper hand over the liberal capitalism of the west? Analyze. (250 Words)3

State capitalism is a form if economy where state plays a role not only in fiscal management but actively engages in production process through state owned enterprise and protecting local private enterprises by creating conducive environment. Therefore it is different from lassies fair economy. The debate of State and Liberal Capitalism gained momentum recently as the emerging countries practicing state capitalism were able to sustain high growth rate in event of global economic crisis. Therefore it is projected as a more stable. On the other hand liberal capitalism has as inherent tendency of following cyclic process of boom and slowdown. Therefore it is considered unstable.

The stable owned enterprises of Russia, India and Brazil have global presence and these engage in business with MNCs and are profitable. These are no more managed by bureaucrats and politician but managed by efficient managers. The government support gives them stability and broadened investor base promotes efficient management. However State Capitalism must be viewed in the context of its evolution, either from Socialism or Welfare State. Therefore it has changed the nature of State in these countries. Political intervention and inefficient use of state resources for furthering private interest by the political class are the flaws of State Capitalism. Also State enterprises are allowed lesser freedom and not suitable for innovations and creativity.

Therefore even though State Capitalism is presently preferred form of economy in emerging markets, the importance of private sector in growth cannot be neglected

6) “Broad economic stability, competitive markets, and public investment in physical and social infrastructure are widely recognized as important requirements for achieving sustained economic growth and a reduction in rural poverty.” Critically analyze. (250 Words)

Sustained economic growth and a reduction in rural poverty are the soul for the envisioned Inclusive development of the country. Broad economic stability, competitive markets, and public investments are some of the parameters which should be ensured to achieve the twin goals. India also have focussed on them, although different approaches , initially through firm state control and later through a more liberal public-private partnership. Macro-economic stability is essential for the overall

development of economy. Inflation, directly bites the individuals of the society irrespective of their status has to be regulated. Even after social welfare schemes by government, high inflation can keep large essential services out of the reach of many due to high prices. Other concerns such as fiscal deficit, CAD, Exchange rate, public debt etc should be stable and be efficiently regulated by the state. In the highly globalised world, when foreign investments and foreign exchange required to complement domestic needs can be hampered if these factors are not stable. Such events can lead to burdening government , taking the focus away from welfare and further burdening of citizens through taxes and interconnected economic ills. Competitive markets ensure that there is variety of choices for people, controlled prices, no monopoly, and efficient delivery of services. Various competitors ensure such standards thus benefitting consumers. Similarly, in countries where unemployment and poverty are towering concerns, Public investments are extremely crucial. In the era of LPG, both the private and public sector has to contribute towards these deficiencies, which can be either through infrastructure, welfare schemes, free educational and health centres, Corporate social responsibility etc. All these are pre-requisite, although not the end of work, for the emancipation of poor through a sustained economic growth and forward path to development of the country.

7) To date, India has issued compulsory licenses or revoked patents for eight advanced pharmaceuticals. Do you think these measures will affect investors and undermine research into the innovative cures of tomorrow? Critically comment. (250 Words)3

IPR are given to recognize the effort of the patent holder for its research and innovation. But lately, it has been observed that such rights have been abused by their holders, leading to uncompetitive environments thus impeding public welfare. ‘With a right, there comes a duty also’ and compulsory licensing tries to live up to this notion, and provides a remedy for such abuse. Although they might affect investors and innovative research, hence a fine balance between IPR and competition has to be maintained.

Compulsory licensing in case of pharmaceuticals was much called for , as essential drugs , for instance Nexawar, patented in cancer drugs, was available to only 2% of the cancer patients in India, owing to its exorbitant prices. Thus such patenting is exploitative, harms the wider public welfare and needs to be curbed. Now the drug is available for just 6% of its earlier cost, thus allowing much wider public affordability. Similar trend can be seen in other areas such as seeds, technology etc where patent holders usually tend to practice activities so as build their unhealthy monopolies.

As far as the interest of investors is concerned, then no doubt such steps will affect them, hence they need to be taken as the last resort only when national interest, or wider people’s interest in underlying. Royalty fee earned by patent holder will provide some relief for its efforts and will not completely discourage them to carry out research. Even surety of their IPR should be given, but with certain conditions and obligations.

Hence Compulsory licensing is much called for in cases of patent abuse and even mandated by different countries and organisation around the globe. 8) “The promise of more effective global economic governance aftermath the 2008 Financial crisis remains unfulfilled.” Critically comment on the steps taken by the key global institutions in the light of the given statement. (250 Words)3

With shackling of the invincibility of high claims made by towering companies and banks, leading to a financial crisis in 2008, more effective global economic governance was declared. Provisions such as strengthening IMF and World Bank apart from easing more money to non developed countries was promised. Regulatory mechanisms in the form of Financial Stability Board came into existence. More capital adequacy by banks through Basel-3 norms were desired. But still these measures seem spineless and hollow.

IMF’s most resources and decision making power is still concentrated in Europe, although the contribution of BRIC nations to the NABs(New Arrangements to Borrow) share has increased significantly. Countries like Portugal , Greece, Italy have taken much of the resources in form of bailouts, leaving dismal security for other nations. World Bank, the backbone behind every crisis solution, has not been enriched with sufficient resources. Although Development banks for Asia, Africa, Inter-America regions have been strengthened, but IDA(International Development Association), the poor feeding arm of WB, was given only a moderate, inadequate increase. Further the powerful trustees of WB have put constraints on it over the lending, making the resources for poor nations even more restricted.

Financial Stability Board, promising a more regulatory environment, remains weak. Devoid of any legal mandate or enforcement powers, it also lacks universal access, although deemed to be a global bank. Intensive financial lobbying, by effected parties have even , crippled the powerful nations to take decision. Even the Basel-3 norms have been diluted. Hence, although taking much hype, these provisions demand much more resources, will power and binding decisions to enforce a much better economic governance.

9) Evaluate the track record of land reform in India in its various aspects, bringing out inter state differences. How would you interpret this record? (250 Words)3

Immediately after Independence, Indian government realized the importance of land reform in improving the agriculture development & bringing in social justice in the country. Land reforms were aimed to abolish Zamindari, distribution of excess land by imposing ceiling, protection of tenants and consolidation of land holdings. Land being a state subject, reform laws were passed by all the state government in 1950s. Even after 67 years of independence ,land reforms implementation has been far from satisfactory.

Tenancy reform laws have been a failure in most of the states. Tenancy reforms led to massive eviction of tenants or passive contract between Tenants and land owners. Tenancy reforms and redistribution of land has been the most successful land reforms in West Bengal, Kerala & Tripura.

As far as consolidation of holding is concerned State of UP, Punjab, Haryana have achieved a good success. Land ceiling difference is quite high between the states. States such as Haryana, Punjab had land ceiling limit at least twice of Haryana, Punjab. Liberal definition of family was largely misused by land owners to get exemption from the law. Land ceiling reforms have been disappointing throughout the country except for J&K and WB. West Bengal alone contributes 40 % of the beneficiaries of ceiling laws. Redistribution of government land benefitted the large upper caste land owners while the SC/ST landless laborers allocation has remained only on paper. In Several regions, SC/STs have been prevented from taking possession. Across all the states, land laws have been implemented with gender bias that has deprived women of their property & tenure rights.

Current status is that 60% of the country’s population has rights over only 5% of the country’s land while 10% of the population has control over 55% of the land. Over all Impact of land reform have been negative due to the half hearted implementation of Land reforms.

10) What do you think has been the impact of Targeted Public Distribution System in India on food security for the poor? Justify your answer.(200 Words)3

Targeted Public distribution system was implemented in year 1997.Main aim behind the TPDS was to transfer the benefits to needy and restrict the food subsidies within control. TPDS was designed to transfer food grains 20 Kg at subsidized rate to poor households and task of identification of poor was left on the state agencies. State government issues the BPL cards to identified beneficiaries and the food grains are distributed through fair price shops. Though the intent of moving away from universal PDS to targeted PDS was right but the implementation of TPDS suffering from ghost cards, targeting issue and corruption have failed the objective.

Some of the states have issued more cards than the households in their states. States such as Karnataka, Gujrat, Bihar etc. have issued more BPL cards than households. States such as Karntaka, AP, Tamilandu where more than 40 % of the card have been issued to the above poverty line households. States such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Orrisa, UP have nearly 1/3rd of their poor excluded from any sort of identification. Over all estimates says that only 40 % of the intended food subsidy reach the real beneficiaries. Most of the Fair price shop’s business model is unviable and they rely of siphoning off food grain to maintain their profitability. More than 40 % of BPL households still remain untargeted due to TPDS. Not to mention the inefficiency in whole supply chain where government need to spend 1 rupees to send the subsidy worth of 30 Paise to households. TPDS has fell short of its promise to make India a food secure nation.

11) Analyze the impact of MGNREGA on rural and urban wages and rural migration. (200 Words)3

NREGA was implemented in 2005 to give adult members of each household a right to seek at least 100 days of guaranteed wage if he agrees to do unskilled manual work. NREGA also has provisions for SC/ST & women empowerment with rule that 1/3 rd of beneficiaries should be SC/St and women. Guaranteed wage under NREGA has set the base price for laborers in rural areas. NREGA has improved the bargaining power of rural laborers and that has resulted in rise in unskilled and temporary labor cost. Agriculture dependent states such Haryana, Punjab have more visible wage hike in rural areas. There are certain sectors such as construction, unorganized sectors etc. that compete with agriculture for labor forces. NREGA has compelled these sectors to increase the minimum rate to maintain the pull for rural migrants to urban areas.

NREGA has been successful to stop the distress migration but overall NREGA has failed to play an effective role in checking rural to urban migration. Women form a major chunk of employees under NREGA scheme who were considered unproductive earlier. In most of the states, average wages paid are below the stipulated minimum price and sometime wage are delayed or denied. Male members from family still need to migrate to earn sustainable living due to poor implementation of the scheme.

12) Critically examine the impact of New Industrial policy initiated in 1991 in India. (150 Words)3

The New Industrial policy impacted India primarily economically but also socially, culturally and ecologically. The positive impact was rise in GDP by 2% points for the coming decades, mainly by the services sector. It created much-needed employment and allowed the space for private sector to grow. Globalisation eroded conservative values to an extent and made the society less stratified. India leveraged global economic growth. In fact, exports and imports today constitute 40% of our GDP. Technology transfer, investments and managerial efficiency were other benefits. However, on the other side, the values of consumerism and commodification have been on the rise. This has contributed to ecological degradation and decay in traditional values. On the economic front, growth has mainly been driven by less labour intensive sectors like Services, not helping the problem of rampant unemployment much. The Indian economy has become vulnerable to both global shocks and recovery, mainly from the west. Stiff competition from domestic giants and MNCs have stifled the growth of MSMEs hindering entrepreneurship. Thus, the policy has impacted us both positively and negatively.

13) Distinguish between cooperative, contractual and corporate farming. Which of these is best suited for India and why? (250 Words)

Cooperative farming is a system whereby farmers contribute resources and labour as a group for crop production, to ultimately share it equitably. This leverages collectivism and is suited for a group of small and marginal farmers. For they own small tracts of land and are short of technical inputs. Contractual farming is based on an agreement between the farmers and the corporate to tailor farmer’s output suiting the corporates. The later provides both technical and non-technical inputs. It may be contracted with a group or an individual. Whereas, in corporate farming, the corporate themselves undertake crop production by employing labour. They own everything unlike cooperative and contractual farming.

India is home to 74% small and marginal farmers, those owning less than 1 & 2 hectares of land respectively. It is clear that corporates rely on big producers, as evidence suggests, and not on many small producers. Thus, cooperative farming is suited for these farmers.

Whereas, other farmers (about 10%) own large tracts of land and are technologically capable and aware enough to deal with the corporates. They can not be exploited unlike the small and marginal farmers. Therefore, contractual farming provides them an avenue to enhance their income and productivity. Corporate farming is suited for those areas where the farmers do not own any land,i.e. for agricultural and landless labourers. However, government’s intervention would be required to enforce the work contract and prevent exploitation.

Thus, all three approaches are suitable for India depending on the farmer’s socio-economic status.

14) How are non-banking financial institutions important in Indian economy? Analyze. (200 Words)

NBFC are the institutions that provide banking services such as loan & credit service, retirement plans, acquisition of shares, hire purchase, insurance services etc. NBFC have been classified in to hire-purchase Company, infrastructure financing company, loan and investment companies. Effective & efficient functioning of financial system is must to improve & sustain the economic growth NBFC plays a complementary role in the economy .NBFC segment serve the customers who are not served by the banks. For example: most of the micro, small and medium enterprises are not served by the banks and NBFC fund this segment to get access to machinery & equipment.

NBFC plays a complementary role in mobilization of savings. NBFC can provide more attractive return than the bank deposits. Their participation improves the money flow in the economy. Specially the middle class segment prefer to invest in NBFC offered products otherwise their money otherwise would have been put in to unproductive investment such as gold. NBFC are capable to produce innovative products that are in sync with customer needs .They work in proximity of the customers and they have better understanding of customer need than the traditional banks. Retail finance segment such as commercial vehicles, housing loans, Car financing or personal loan in India is dominated by the NBFC.NBFC create a competitive environment and challenges the traditional banks to innovate and improve quality and efficiency of their delivery

15) “During the Eleventh Plan period, India slipped from 127th rank to 134 rank in the HDI rankings despite the ‘inclusive growth’ strategy adopted during the period. ” Critically comment. (250 Words)3

Now the reasons for this slip in rank can be analysed. The three components of HDI are income, health and education. Now, in terms of health, as India had a remarkable growth rate, score on this section was comfortably high. In terms of health and education, therefore lies the lacunae.

Health spending in this plan period was not sufficient enough to make any noticeable change. Even though schemes and programmes like ASHA, ANM, JSSY, routine immunization, setting of primary and secondary health cares etc were introduced and strengthened under NRHM, these were not implemented with full efficiency as one would have expected. Focus on rural health alone and neglect of urban areas again was not helping the cause. Sanitation programmes are yet to find their objective, thereby not able to mitigate the spread of diseases among children, which adds and deepens the malnourishment problem in the country. In education sector, RTE was enacted and upheld by Supreme court in this period. But the fruits of this act will take some time to be achieved. The delay and unwillingness of the some school managements coupled with the gaps in accountability aggravates the issue.

But despite all these issues, there is a silver lining. Government has increased the health spending considerably in the 12th plan period, an Urban Health Mission is proposed and RTE, RMSA and SSA are set to be implemented with more vigour. 16) “The Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development places the mobilization of domestic financial resources for development at the centre of the pursuit of economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development.” Examine the role of banks in resource mobilization in India. (250 Words)3 In Indian economy, resource mobilisation plays a key role in financing development programmes, projects. Banks as financial intermediaries take the responsibility of mobilisation and financing.

Banks mobilise resource in a variety of ways like deposits from household sectors, corporate sector, borrowing from capital market. Various factors helps in this. These include the decentralised working of banks as HQ-branch model, inadequate economic literacy of people to participate in capital market, dominance of PSU banks ( which gives confidence to rural people ). They also mobilise resources through domestic and foreign borrowings. RBI as the regulator, from time to time forms the rules, guidelines. The interest rates were deregulated which helped in competition, thus increasing the deposits.

On financing side, banks mainly finance short term development projects. These include SMSE, self-employment programmes of GoI, agriculture loans, loans to entrepreneurs. There are aimed at employment generation, economic growth and reducing poverty.

RBI formulated the policy of “priority sector lending”. The purpose is to route the resource towards the key sectors, which are otherwise not served, due to low profit. These include education loans, SMSE, SHG, petty vendors, housing loans.

Despite their key role and evolution, banking sector has limitations. These are preference of depositors in hedging inflation. People are preferring to invest money in physical assets like land, gold, which is unproductive for economy. RBI announced the introduction of inflation indexed savings instruments by Nov 2013. Absence of large banks when compared with international standards are severely restrict the ability of long term finance to infrastructure projects. The strategy formulated was mergers and acquisitions. 17) “Resort to PPPs in the social sector often raises concerns about the commercialization of services that are normally expected to be provided free or highly subsidized.” Comment. (250 Words)

Government budgetary allocation to social sector has been far below the actual requirement. Government encourages PPPs to fill this gap so that basic services could be provided to majority of population. For ex: Number of government schools fall short of meeting the country’s requirement. Government has thus encouraged private entities to operate the educational institution as non-profit organizations.

Government has encouraged the private sector participation in institution of higher learning. PPP model has been successful to improve the enrolment ratio at primary level but has been that successful at higher education level. ‘Well to do’ section of society has benefitted the most out of services provided by private institutions in technical & management fields. Such institution remains outside the reach of poor due to higher fees. Government colleges have lesser seats and sometime available courses are not in synch with the market demands. Due to lack of government funding, poor are still deprived of quality higher education.

PPP model in healthcare is of utmost importance. Government budgetary allocation to healthcare (below 1% of GDP) is far below the actual requirement. Private participation in health care has definitely filled the infrastructure gap in terms of number of clinics, beds, pharmacy shops etc. PPP model has complemented the government efforts in providing basic health care services. In absence of government support, people at BPL line are at higher risk to slipping back to poor category in case of medical emergency. Specialized health care services remains outside the reach of poor in absence of government support.

PPP model have served India very well in infrastructure projects like road, transport, telecommunication etc. But social sectors like education, healthcare are still not financially sustainable for private entities and require adequate government support for quality service. 18) How does depreciating Rupee affect the CAD and Fiscal deficit? Explain. (250 Words)3 CAD and Fiscal deficit are twin concerns of Indian economy as the former deals with difference between import and export of goods, services and transfers while the latter deals with borrowing of the government to bridge the gap between expenditure and revenue.

Rupee depreciation has both negative as well as positive impact on Current account deficit. It increases the cost of imports like crude oil, gold and goods and services. It makes the overseas tour costlier and students studying abroad face the brunt of rupee depreciation due to higher cost of living.It increases yield on NRI accounts. On the positive front, it makes the export competitive in the global market and increase the foreign tourism footfall. It also helps in the generation of more revenue of IT cos through BPO to India. However, as Indian imports are mainly of subsistence nature and they overweighs positive effect of rupee depreciation on exports, it leads to negative consequences. On fiscal front, imports of fuel due supply side inflation leads to escalation of prices thereby requiring the government to increase subsidies on crude oil, fertilizers etc. It leads to burgeoning of non plan expenditure. Further, heavy investment in gold and other non productive revenue in a hedge against rupee depreciation decrease the saving base thereby decreasing investment which ultimately lead to slowdown and impact capital expenditure. It forces govt. to increase expenditure in order to spur demand. It also increases interest payment on liability of government on loans and increases debt service ratio. Therefore both CAD and FD are inextricably linked with rupee depreciation and the latter has cascading effect on both.

19) “The Liberty Reserve case shows that data thefts, hacking attacks and online scams are replacing the traditional crimes and the digital currency is now at the center of the money laundering operations.” Do you think measures taken by the Indian government and RBI are effective in preventing cases like Liberty Reserve in India? Give your opinion. (250 Words)`3

Liberty Reserve case shows yet another example of increasing of digitization of money laundering and associated crimes. The question that it poses is in light of technological developments across the world, can money laundering be tamed specially in developing countries like India?

Indian government and RBI has taken a slew of measures to tackle the menace. The government recently amended prevention of money laundering act which not only enhance the definition of money laundering, it also provided for stringent punishments and fast tracking of cases. RBI has strengthened the KYC norms and better oversight on the system is being maintained. So much so even the Financial action task force has acknowledged Indian efforts in this regard.

However still much needs to be covered as recent controvery regarding overlooking of KYC norms for various market instruments and even for wealth management services. The regulatory framework for this sector needs to be overhauled and comprehensive enforcement of laws to check benami transactions, further strengthening of KYC norms, core banking solutions , professional analysis of Data mining don by IT dept, addressing infrastructural problems, clamping down shell companies, making PAN numbers mandatory for high end transactions etc. Thus in conclusion it can be said that the situation is not so bleak regarding tackling of money laundering however the pace should be increased as money laundering in itself poses great risk to the country. In the era of strong interlink ages, money laundering if not checked would have ramifications in the political and socio cultural sphere also besides the economic one.

20) Write a note on National Mission on Micro Irrigation (150 Words)3

National Water Policy 2002 laid emphasis on the introduction of micro irrigation system to the maximum possible extent to achieve the food security.Consequently, the implementation of the existing Micro Irrigation Scheme (MIS) was approved as the National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI) during the Eleventh Plan period.

NMMI is expected to boost converge of micro irrigation activities under major government programmes such as National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil palm & Maize (ISOPOM), Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC) etc. for increasing water use efficiency, crop productivity and farmers income. The new guidelines would enhance water use efficiency, productivity in crops, and provide answer to water salinity and water logging issues.

The salient features of the scheme are: * Small & marginal farmers would get subsidy of 60 per cent and for other beneficiaries, 50 per cent for an area up to 5 hectare under the Government of India share. * Introduction of new components with advanced technologies on micro irrigation like semi permanent sprinkler system, fertigation system, sand filter, different types of valves etc. * Release of Central share to the State Implementing Agencies instead of districts. The scheme also has an effective delivery mechanism that calls for close coordination among the beneficiaries, the PRIs, the State Implementing Agencies and the registered system suppliers for the increased area under gross cultivation.

21) Do local bodies enjoy autonomy in performing their role in the field of economic development and social justice? Comment. (200 Words)3

Local bodies are the institutions of self-governance .They govern the areas of relatively smaller size such as village, towns, cities etc.73rd & 74th amendment of constitution of India has provision to establish the local bodies in rural & urban areas of the country. Local bodies have been successful to empower the weaker section of the societies through the mandatory reservation policy and improve the community participation in local development programs. But Local bodies don’t have any specific list of subject where they can exercise their power or authority. They hardly have any say in the regulatory environment of the states. Their power remains heavily dependent on the discretion of state governments and Unclarity of power/functions limites their capability to deliver social justice.

Constitutional amendments have ensured the creation of local bodies in different region of country but local bodies have failed to evolve as institutions of local governance due to several constraints. Local bodies do not even have any administrative control on the members who serves the Panchayat. These members are only responsible to the state government. Local bodies do not have adequate financial resource and manpower to carry out economic development program. Local bodies are dependent on taxes and state government transfer to carry out their development activities. Revenue from state government is major chunk of their financial resources. Wide variation in financial autonomy can be observed in different states of India. Local bodies lack financial and administrative autonomy that limits their role in economic and social development. 22) “The increasing trend of Western countries moving their manufacturing functions to low-cost countries, and the likely prospect of India emerging as a manufacturing outsourcing hub, is expected to contribute to the growth of the country’s marine industry” – Has Indian marine industry lived up to the expectation? Critically examine the problems and recent regulatory and policy measures taken by the government to develop this sector. (250 Words)3

The low cost benefits available in the developing countries are luring the western countries to outsource their manufacturing functions. India, one of the fastest emerging economies, needs to take a lead as favourite destination for outsourcers. The entry of any trade in any country is through the channel of ports i.e. marine industry. The Marine Agenda 2010-20 and the Port Regulatory Authority Bill are the evidences of foresighted growth required, by Indian Government, in the marine industry.

The marine industry, growing robustly in last decade , as 5 major ports completing their first phase in 2011, which would add to the existing tally of 13 major ports and 200 minor ports. The PPP model has been successful and many private initiatives have been taken both domestically and foreign. The government allows 100% FDI in port development along with tax exemptions and other concessions. All these signify the sensitivity of the industry for the required growth. However, various institutional, systematic, environmental, financial, land, logistics, storage, and other infrastructural impediments have acted a speed breaker in the growth process. Various stringent tariff laws, large no. of clearances required, inadequate work force, lack of technology and automatisation of ports, implementation problems etc have added to Woo’s. All these show the other side of the coin. The Agenda replacing incumbent NMDP and the regulatory bill are positive steps. Although the desired regulatory authority which seeks to monitor performance also, has given some stomach aches to private partners , but still it would harness better efficiency, standards, competitiveness and fertile environment for growth of Marine Industry in India

23) “In India, the fragmented and unreliable supply chain corrodes the profitability of food processing sector and makes it unattractive for large investments.” Critically comment. (250 Words)3

The food processing sector has a tremendous growth opportunities in India, owing to high production and consumer base . The food processing sector would can be attractive section for investment due to minimal competition present, high agricultural base in India, cheap availability of labour, positive prediction of consumer demand growth in future. But some barriers such as fragmented and unreliable supply chain takes the shine of the good prospect in the food processing industry.

The disintegrated logistics in India, multi window clearances, lack of infrastructure such as cold storages or warehouses, unfavourable location of industries adding to the stresses for further development. Lack of complementarity between rail, road, airways impede the chance of quality delivery of food in given time. Lack of Cold storages and warehouses add to the wastages. Inefficient tax structure lead to unfavourable location of industries. Deficient work force required for an effective supply chain. Non availability of multi-logistic hubs and single window system for clearances required for development of supply chain etc ,all add to the woos of fragmented supply chain in India.

An efficient supply chain apart from reducing wastages and increasing productivity would also provide value addition, eliminating unnecessary middlemen, cost effectiveness, and reliability. All these are a pre-requisite for the culmination of food processing industry. No Walmart can rely on the contractors present today and taking around 40% wastage. This neither provides a security nor is profitable. Lack of technology in supply impedes value addition. Hence government needs to provide tax holidays, incentives, single window clearance system to attract infrastructure development in supply chain. This would act as bridge in allowing the food processing industry to prosper.

24) Write a critical note on recently approved proposals for brownfield FDI in the pharmaceutical sector. (150 Words)3

During 1970-2005, several domestic pharmaceutical companies were established in the country. Domestic Indian companies went on to achieve phenomenal success by providing drugs at affordable prices. Government allowed the 100 % FDI in pharmaceuticals sector in 2002.Majority of FDI investment has come as brownfield investment where many of major domestic firms have been gobbled by the foreign companies. Domestic capital has just been replaced by the foreign capital with no major R&D development.

DIPP had been pushing for long to put the restriction on FDI in brownfield projects. On the DIPP insistence foreign investment promotion board has put the US based pharmaceuticals firm Mylan proposal to acquire Indian generic drug company Agila specialties. DIPP later softened its stance mentioning that it would favour FDI in brownfield if the target domestic company’s market share is below a particular threshold. Later based on discussion with inter-ministerial group, FIPB has approved all the pending proposals. Recent acquisition is the third largest FDI in pharmaceuticals sectors. Recent approval has opened opportunities for more acquisitions. Government might approve the brownfield investment with additional conditions. For ex: the foreign companies will have to maintain the R&D expenditure equivalent to the R&D expenditure by target company in last 3 years.

Under the mounting pressure of current account deficit, ministerial group had taken the decision to allow the FDI in brown field investments. Considering the high impact of pharmaceutical sector on the public health, government needs to extra cautious while approving the FDI. Monopoly of foreign firms may lead to high cost of medicines. Considering the poor public expenditure on health, the affordable medicines prices is the bare minimum thing that people expect from the government.

25) “The APMC Act, designed to protect farmers from the vagaries of the market, has been turned on its head to enrich traders and harm farmers.” Critically comment. (250 Words)3

Indian economy is primarily agrarian and serves as bedrock for industrial growth and employment generation. Agriculture, a state subject, is amenable to legislation by state government only. APMC Act, legislated to alleviate the plight of farmers has paradoxically turned out to be the bane for farmers currently.

Agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) Acts, in general, allows traders and buyers to participate in purchasing in notified commodities APMC Mandis by paying a small fee. The traders, as envisaged in legislated, would have ensured fair price for farmers on account of competition unleashed between them.

Further, post-harvest losses would, in absence of cold-storage infrastructure, have also been reduced – particularly in perishable produces – as the onus of marketing produce shifts to traders. Inefficiency in supply chain also pushes the retail prices stroking retail inflation. However, APMC Acts have emerged to be coercive apparatus in the hands of Mandi traders. Frequent cartelization between traders in Mandis is rampant which eliminates competition and reduces remunerative prices for farmers.

Further, the element of coercion is compounded by prohibiting farmers to sell the notified committee outside APMC Mandis. Direct selling to customers or to MNCs by contract farming are expressly prohibited. Thus, the situation calls for urgent reforms. FDI in multi-brand retail, approved recently, is likely to bring long term capital to augment managerial and technical capabilities and increase efficiency in supply chain.

Contract Framing and direct selling of produce outside Mandis should be allowed by suitably amending APMC Acts. Farmers should be free to sell the produce where maximum remunerative price is given.

Famer income security is paramount for food security of a 1.2 billion strong nation. State governments should be taken on board by central government to remedy the situation. Alternatively, Framework law under Article 252 of constitution can be brought which can be progressively adopted by state

26) Domestic resource mobilization, though central to the process of Indian economic growth, is characterized by various constraints. Explain. (CSE 2012/150 words)3

Natural resources such as land, coal, water etc; human and financial resources are domestic resources that are required for economic growth. Mobilization of land is constrained by problems related to land acquisition such as development displacement; protests; consequent rehabilitation and resettlement; lack of clear policies etc.

Besides, with increasing industrialization land and water have become highly polluted. The problem is compounded by their scarcity owing to higher economic growth and rising population. Other than these, coal supplies to power plants are marred for lack of Fuel Supply Agreements(FSA), other issues and scams related to mining. They include environmental degradation; tribal displacement; mining bans by the Supreme Court etc. Much more important than these are human resources. But, India is suffering from a paradox of high unemployment and shortage of skilled workers. Archaic education system; low levels of penetration of higher education etc. are responsible for this. Besides, low levels of financial inclusion; bad business climate and decreasing domestic savings hamper mobilization of financial and other resources.

27) Explain the various population problems of India and suggest as to how this large human-resource can be made useful in the economic development of the country. (250 Words)

Population health & education profile in India is worrisome. More than 40 % of the children are undernourished, maternal mortality rates in India are higher than some of the least developed countries. Enrolment in primary education has improved but the participation ratio in secondary & higher education is far lesser.

Nearly 400 Million plus population does not have access to electricity. More than 60 % of the population does not have access to toilets. Majority of population residing in rural area lacks access to safe drinking water while the cities have converted in to slums supporting the urban poor.

Majority of the population is below poverty line and dependent on government run welfare schemes and program to sustain its living. Increasing population is putting more pressure on the existing natural resources. India economic growth has not been able to create the jobs in sync with the population growth. Majority of the population is unemployed or underemployed.

Overall ,quality of life has only deteriorated with the growth in population. Better healthcare and education programs are the most important to convert this vast human resource into human capital. Government should provide the universal health care with special attention to women & children health care. Government should provide safe drinking water & sanitation facilities to poor as these are major reason for poor health profile among poor. India cannot aspire to become an economic power with malnourished children.

Quality education is key to inclusive development and reap the benefits of demographic dividend India currently has. Education among women has direct impact on the fertility rate and children health. Community awareness program are needed to make the marginalized section women, SC/ST etc. a party in to mainstream development of India. 28) Analyze the functioning of PDS in India and bring out its limitations.

The PDS was institutionalized in the country in the 60s to achieve multiple objectives including ensuring stability of prices, rationing of essential commodities in case of deficit in supplies, ensuring availability of basic commodities to the poor and needy and to check the practice of hoarding and black marketing. But it failed to deal malnutrition and death due to starvation. PDS failed to translate the macro level self sufficiency in food grains achieved through green revolution by the country into household level food security to the poor. Quantum of PDS to family is low than requirement. PDS failed to serve poor in the poorer states.

To address all this limitations TPDS was introduced in 1997 under which two PDS issue prices is granted for BPL at 50% of economic cost and APL families at economic cost. This is for the first time drastic increase in prices. PDS instead of insulating poor from rising open market prices it has become an instrument for pushing up prices. This act narrowed the difference between the free market and PDS price. In some cases PDS price of APL was more than Market

Decentralization of PDS took place in 2001-02 where centre instead of giving subsidized food grains financial assistance is given to states to procure and distribute to BPL. Most of the states opposed this pointing out lack of necessary infrastructure and financial resources at the beginning.

PDS is also suffering out of leakages and diversion. This is due to inclusion of people who are not eligible, ghost cards,and shadow ownership. Recent surveys showed BPL received 84 % of PDS entitlements, where as APL quota suffering out of leakages this is due to dumping out of excess food grain stocks. Recent amendments to Food security bill helps PDS to resolve errors, leakages of APL and wastage of public resources. when the bill comes to force abolishes APL quota and gives entitlements to 75% of rural and 50% 0f urban. Despite of benefits bill has problem like per capita entitlements 29) 2)“In the Indian context, sustainable development and urbanization are antithetical to each other”. Comment.3

Sustainable development is a mode of human development which do not compromise with the social, natural and environmental cost. The concept gains importance in the light of fast depleting resources, threatened biodiversity and acceleration of urbanization and human needs. There has been a spurt in the process of urbanization in the past 2 decades because of increased industrial activities in major towns and cities which is percolating to other small towns as well. Migration of large chunk of population towards these towns for employment has led to sustainability crunch because of mushrooming of slums, non availability of low cost housing, sanitation, lack of infrastructure and public transport facility and absence of services like drinking water and electricity etc. All these factors have been overlooked by the government in search of growth and lack of awareness on the part of civil society organization. The ever increasing population with ever increasing demands for better services is poised to become a challenge to the growth of environmentally sustainable and productive cities. The lack of coordination on the part of the government, municipal corporations and CSO led to rise of unplanned development, unorganized growth and unfeasible infrastructure.

The report published by UN ranking India’s metros as low on prosperous list hold testimony to the fact that despite tall claims by the government in the form of JNNURM , nothing substantial has been achieved. Most of the cities lack viable environment and absence of even threshold investment in areas which define the standard of living like services and inclusive growth.

30) In India, despite consistent economic planning and robust economic growth in recent years, there is a consistent increase in economic inequality. Explain why?3

The LPG reforms introduced way back in 1991 has contributed to the prosperity with country clocking a growth of more than 8% in the time when the world in reeling under recession but the rich have become richer faster than the poor improved. That is; even while poverty levels reduced impressively, inequality has grown too.

The reasons for steep inequality are multifarious: 1. Income growth is concentrated in certain urban centres leading to urban rural divide. It has created islands of prosperity in the ocean of poverty. 2. More than 50% of the population still rely on agriculture and allied sector with a mere contribution of around 12% in GDP. Obsolete and outdated technology coupled with lack of technology transfer and research and development in agriculture has led to perpetuation of poverty 3. Low education standards damaging the long term prospect as it restricts the no. of person who can join market

4. Dismal health indicators and low public investment in the primary health care infrastructure leading to out of pocket expenses of poor. 5. Most of the growth was the result of services sector with stagnation in manufacturing and industrial base. Lack of labour intensive growth and lackadaisical approach towards MSME with low skill and training capacity has created wide income gaps. 31) Highlight the nature of the land reforms still needed in the country.(250 Words)3

Land reforms was a major political agenda of Congress to be implemented after independence. The unjust agrarian structure imposed by British caused great loss to agriculture. Although, the reforms implemented had some success like abolition of intermediaries, promotion of self cultivation, a large number of objectives remained unfulfilled. One of them was implementing ceiling on the land and distributing the surpluses to the landless peasants. The loopholes in Ceiling Act need to be fixed and the process for distributing surpluses needs to be sped up.

Another area is the co-operativization of land holdings. majority of farmers in India have small land holdings which are not viable for increased production using modern technological inputs. The strength of co-operatives has not been exploited fully in India so far.

Also, with growing industrialization and urbanization, land has gained huge importance. However, archaic laws which don’t consider the rehabilitation and adequate compensatory aspects have created a lot of controversy in the recent years. Therefore a legislation is required in this area. Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill works towards that direction.

In addition to these institutional reforms, there is a growing need to extend the technological reforms to other parts of country. bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) is a step in this regard. Thus the land reforms which started with great enthusiasm but lost energy mid way need to be revived again. With about 55% population dependent on agriculture and pressing need of “Food Security”, this matter requires urgent attention. As Planning Commision has noted that the failure of Land Reforms was not the failure of laws but effective implementation. Hence a strong will is required to achieve success in land reforms.

32) How is agricultural price policy is determined in India? Does the process take note of agricultural subsidies? (200 Words)3 Agriculture price policy comes in wake of food grain crisis, drought and price fluctuation in 1960-70s. Policy focus on the availability of food grains at affordable prices, minimum support price(MSP) for procurement, minimize fluctuation in prices, increase agricultural productivity which will provide food security and enhance export of agri-products. Agricultural price commission established in 1960s followed by Food Corporation of India and Commission for Agricultural Consts and Prices are responsible for policy. To set up MSP for different agri-product, above agencies consider the buffer stock of food grains, requirements under PDS system, inflation (Mainly CPI related), domestic and international market intervention and contain the fluctuations in the prices, enhance technology. Main focus of policy is to make availability of food grains to PDS at reasonable prices to achieve this, it constantly checks its buffer stocks and according take decision to export or import of food grains. It try to bridge gap between regional agri-production, prices, availability at pan-India level. It will focus on demand supply balance for various agri-commodity. Some times it promote discretionary policy for certain crops to increase yield of such commodity ex. pulses, oil etc. This has to take note of the agricultural subsidies since on the recommendation of CACP, government set up MPS for different agri-product. It also need to consider PDS availability of food grain at subsidized rate. MSP is something which should be viable for farmers hence CACP need to consider what all subsidy farmer gets to come up with MSP for different crops ex. cotton, wheat, rice, sugercane. It also promote certain crops which is subsidized to attract farmers to grow and increase production.

Agricultural price policy makes sure consumers and producers are getting benefit. It aims that food should be available to weaker section of the society through PDS. In this goal achievement it need to consider subsidy. 33) Examine the causes of fiscal deficit in India. (150 Words)3

Fiscal deficit is the difference between the expenditure and receipts of the government. This deficit is generally financed by the borrowings, loans, and non tax receipts of the government. The various causes are:

1. High spending of various subsidies including food, fertilizer, kerosene, diesel, electricity etc. 2. Inefficient tax structure, policies , collection and compliance leading to insufficient receipts. 3. Huge social expenditure on schemes and flagship programmes like MGNREGS, MDM, JNNURM etc.

4. Inefficient management of resources leading to wastages in food, power, water etc along with corrupt practices prevalent in the society. 5. Highly politically motivated subsidised rates on various services like power, water, travel expenses etc. 6. Inadequate technologies and resources to efficiently use the present inventory of the country leading to reduced production and productivity. Although the developing countries in theory have a deficit financing but a large deficit may cause problems like inflation. Hence it should remain within acceptable limits.

India’s public distribution system to some extent has helped in reduction of rural poverty. Evaluate the performance of PDS and analyze what ails it. (250 Words) PDS in India has been the main delivery arm of the governmental social promises to the poverty stricken citizens. PDS is delivering food to the BPL people in the country along with the poorest of the poor under Antyodaya Anna Yojana. With allocations to the tune of 35kg per household at subsidized rates, it has ensured the minimum nutritional requirements of the population. The PDS supplies have also ensured the delivery of food to Children through Mid day meal schemes thus enabling greater nutritional support and also higher school attendance. Further, it has also ensured food to the adolescent girls in the country who are vulnerable to malnutrition. The nutritional component of SABLA scheme ensures this. Similarly, for pregnant and lactating mothers too, it is only through PDS delivered food that the special dietary needs are met. In these and other efforts, role of PDS is commendable.

However, there are certain lacunae. Throughout the supply chain, there are leakages to the tune of even 40-50%. It dilutes the efforts and further constricts the limited resources for the poor. Moreover, there is a nexus prevailing between the fair-price shops and the officials leading to diversion of foodgrains in the market thus denying the rights of the beneficiaries. Further, the beneficiaries are often not properly identified leading to exclusion of large number of people. Also, the corruption in such delivery system and lack of political will for meaningful reforms further strengthens the ills.

Owing to these issues, there have been efforts to ensure proper inclusion – the buzzword of India’s 21st century development story. The recently enacted Direct benefit transfer scheme too is a step in the same direction to minimize human interactions in the supply chain and thus cap leakages. Through such and other efforts, hopefully, a better functioning PDS can be created.

“The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision not to prohibit corporate/industrial houses from applying (unlike in 1994 and 2001) for banking licences threatens to take us back to the days before bank nationalisation.” What is the ‘threat’ involved in giving new bank licences to corporate/industrial houses? Comment. (200 Words)

The decision of RBI to not prohibit the industrail houses in banking sector will led the industrial houses to broaden their base in banking industry.In 1969 banks were nationalised on the cause that the private sector is profit seeker and will devote its effort to that only.At that time most of the Indian populace was poor and rural thus vast masses were almost no where in scheme for private sector.Banks got concentrated in few pockets and servicing the privileged class.Thus masses were excluded.

With its aim towards making the banking services accessible to poor,the government decided to nationalise the banks.But still much a part of population remains outside the banking reach.The decision of RBI looks a retro-step whereby the industrial houses are suspected not to be diverted towards the poor and rural areas where the costs would be higher but rewards not such.Again the 1970s problem would loom.

But there is other side also.As the middle class is expanding and rural classes are also changing their tastes,industrial houses would be attracted towards the rural and remote areas.Further RBI has certain compulsory branch policy directed towards remote areas.Also even if they remained more inclined towards the urban populace,it will provide a chance for nationalised banks to cater to the needs of masses.Hence if directed positively it may work out a success.

“There is probably no other example in the history of world development of an economy[India] growing so fast for so long with such limited results in terms of broad-based social progress.” Do you agree with this view? Explain Why? (250 words)

Liberalization privatization and globalization helped India to achieve faster economic growth along with agriculture and industrial based five year plans, resulted vast changes including growth in GDP and replacing its maximum contributor agriculture sector by service sector. But the economy raised was not distributed evenly and no desired contribution seen in broad based social progress. Reasons include; Disturbance aroused mainly due to failure in generation of employment with social security so unskilled people as large number employed in labour work , lagging in infrastructure development constrains to development, population growth burden on budget increased subsidies, faster urbanization developed slums, regional politics developed disintegration of nation, corruption led more scams, migration from other countries started sharing welfare schemes, growth is not inclusive as elites were dominated at upper position, policies with short vision, agriculture practice without scientific principles, education system no trained human resource production, poor health practices so declining periods of working times, poor incentives to develop industries and de-motivated through high taxes etc

Life expectancy, literacy rates, mortality rates, social status of women, happiness, standards of living, poverty lines, skilled human resources etc are the factors which denote social progress of a country. But due to above prescribed failures we lagged in all these traits. Adding to this, internal and external security problems creating much more strains to social progress. Policies schemes programmers should concentrate on development of skilled human resource with secured employment having supportive infrastructural, educational, healthy, etc facilities. Thus broad based social progress is seen only on implementing plans which meets to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth Analyze how can countries like India address the challenges and benefit from the opportunities in the domestic and the global cyber security market? (250 Words)

Cyber space, comprising computers and mobiles all connected via internet, depicts the world as “Global Village”.It is growing by leaps and bounds as 40% of world populace has been entered into this virtual nexus of global community.

India, among the the fastest growing internet user space, has reached the level of 12% from 7% in last 5-6 years.The e-governance is penetrating deeper into the social and economic spheres of people like

Banking,Telecom directly and in other fields like Transport,Retail indirectly. But, this border less communication is facing challenges of Security domestically and globally.Globally, national security has been under persistent threat of cyber attack which can not be forecast, making the situation more appalling. In India, infrastructure for ICT is major challenge along with security as most of the internet protocol are open to cracked .The involvement of state and non state actors in domestics violence is evident.Rising Smart phones has been imposing Application level threat. New cloud computing revolution can face severe blow in terms of data and application infiltration.

However, India has started its mission of cyber security in the form of National Cyber policy 2013 and implementation of Adhar using bio metric data is positive omen.Further, Indian govt should have stake in privately owned ICT infrastructure which can make it more resilient from non-state players. Moreover, such threats can be seen as opportunities for IT firms in developing better OS, providing secure application with multiple layer identification. Better identification cracking software by IT firms can check hacking of govt or banking portal. In coming, 68th UN general assembly is expected to address this issue globally and if so, would be a sound to make Cyber space bullet proof……

Infrastructure is India’s biggest supply chain challenge.” Comment

1.India is one the largest country in the Asia and having a surplus population of 1.2billion and building up the infrastructure is a huge task for the govt and infrastructure plays a crucial role in investment and building up the manufacture sector and it also fuels for the GDP growth in India. India allotted 65lac crores in 12th 5year plan to build up the infrastructure and it also went into a joint venture with Japan to build up DMIC(Delhi Mumbai infrastructure corridor) project to create a Industrial hub in this sector and India is also building up the dedicated railway corridor project along the east and west coast to improve the fright movement in India. Recently India went into PPP(Private and Public partnership) with companies like GMR to improve the infrastructure along the Roadways. India decided to build up the Green Field Airport with PPP along several tier2 in India. Along also developed several SEZ(Special economic zone) to improve the export India had issued new Land Reform Law which make to acquire the land to build up infrastructure in a faster way. India is lagging behind the skilled workers to build up the Infrastructure and India also enhancing to improve its major port and Infrastructure is much needed for the manufacturing sector which creates millions of job in India What, in your view, are the causes for the continual fluctuations/fall in the value of the

India Rupee in Dollar terms in recent times?

Suggest possible mitigation strategies. (200 Words)

In the recent times Indian rupee fluctuated in the value in terms of dollar affected its growth and which was caused due to global economy crisis due to which protective measures adopted by developed countries, lack of infrastructure increasing production cost and low productivity so unable to compete with export sector, Dollarization of economy: rise in economic growth led to a greater rise in imports than in exports as the investments in the economy could not match the rising consumption rate, leading to a trade deficit. No improvement in the productivity of export oriented industries failed to curb falling rupee, Oil imports, Gold imports affected the rupee as it decreases the savings which plays important role as investment in building infrastructure and curb inflation and Twin deficit affecting economic growth which initiates the cycle of depreciation Precautions include reducing imports especially gold, shifting focus to reducing current account deficit. Stable economy growth is possible only through improving structural factors which curbs inflation through productivity and makes external sector without FD and CAD. All this helps to India to have sustainable economic growth.

Critically assess the role of FDI in insurance and pension funds. (250 Words)

Government insurance amendment bill which increases FDI limits from 26% to 49% and also passed pension fund bill which makes not statutory authority into statutory which have powers to punish on violations. The bill correlates pension fund FDI limits with that of insurance sector. These step helps improves long term capital investments which are required for expanding and its growth and also provides funds for infrastructure development, innovation in product offering, more foreign exchange, better global practice and reduce premium for most.

Such decision also has some demerits include global companies may hike premium to make profits, may come up with complex products beyond to the knowledge of layman, and they may take back money at any circumstances as they are here to make profits. Despite of demerits FDI in insurance and pension fund can improve our economic growth and falling rupee. So government should take optimistic measures to utilize benefits and minimize demerits “The continuing tragedy is that the Indian system is not able to deliver the ‘surplus’ food grain to the hungry.” Comment

With Green Revolution India moved shed “ship to mouth” cynicism. Today, India is self sufficient and ensured food security for one billion population. However, this increase in production has not led to increase in accessibility of food grains to all sections of population.Child malnutrition, cases of anemia among women, Infant mortality rate ,MMR are a testimony to it.

The GoI through FCI procures the foodgrains to ensure adequate stock of food grains are available in case of “unforeseen” situations. It also functions as procuring agency for the grains that would be available for various social sector food distribution schemes- AAY, MDM, PDS distribution. Time and again the SC has issued orders to release the excessive (more than required) food grains stocked , unscientific storage leading to wastage, shortage of storage capacity. These practices have been accused for food inflation too.

PDS , which was decentralised in 1998 has failed to perform in to the potential. The states with political like Chattisgarh and Tamil Nadu have performed where have northern states which have low HDI have even failed to uplift the minimum stocks from the FCI. Even after initiatives like digitization of PDS, end to end use of GPS ,the Targeted- PDS has loopholes of unscientific management of grains, lack of storage facilities at District level, elimination of the bogus card holders, pilferage, corruption, adulteration have led to the failure of the scheme in letter and spirit. The use of AADHAR, Direct cash benifit transfer along with NFSA are expected to make food distribution more efficient . Thus, subsequently improving the accessibility of food grains for the needy and the HDI.

Examine how ‘smart grids’ can be a solution to India’s power woes.

Smart grids are sophisticated digitally enhanced power systems involving communication, IT and power technologies allows much greater robustness efficiency and flexibility than today’s power system. It has a smart metering system which helps costumers to have knowledge about amount of consumption based on time and price for the consumed power. This brings awareness among the people. By their direct involvement helps in reduction of power consumption levels causing energy efficiency and also improves the quality of life in society.

Smart grids enable electricity industry to flourish. It makes the power infrastructure robust, self healing, adaptive, interactive and cost effective. Currently in puduchery first smart grid is generated. Power is crucial for development and growth of Indian economy. Smart grid saves at least 10-15% of energy. In that lines smart grids helps in curbing power problems through modern technology and innovative ways to conserve energy. As a result it reduces the usage of non renewable energy which releases green house gases leading to climate change. Therefore it is efficient in supporting inclusive and sustainable growth of India. Science and technology

1) 1)Comment on the role of ISRO in making India a space power and briefly explain on its proposed initiatives for the future.

ISRO is the pioneering space research institution of the modern India which shoulders the responsibility of design, production and development of launch vehicles, propulsion systems and satellites. It has been instrumental in bringing India on par with industrialized arena in the space arena through its PSLV and GSLV models and successful missions. Its success can be gauged from the fact that it recently launched the 100th satellite mission in a short period of about 40 years.

The success story lies with the growing attractiveness of India as a satellite launching junction with more countries looking forward to join hand in different areas. It had developed and launched many significant satellites from remote sensing which helped in data collection to providing services such as telecommunication, broadcasting etc through its geosynchronous base. It also launched mission to moon to collect data about the origin and evolution of moon. Its propulsion system is in advanced stage of development. The recent launching of Indian regional navigation system has brought it to elite group of nations. The success of re entry vehicle will provide India with much needed manned missions. The ISRO had many operations in pipeline with much awaited Chandrayaan II mission to moon and Mars orbital in near future. Further it is planning to launch the 6 more regional navigation satellites which will make India capable of indigenous navigation and increase its defense capability. In addition to that, ADITYA which is poised to study Sun; an exclusive satellite navy is in conduit. It has been working on producing its 3 stage cryogenic propulsion system that will reduce India’s dependence on other country for heavy satellites. Other missions include ASTROSAT, GAGAN payloads etc

The success of ISRO is both historic and contemporary and its future missions will bring India as sense of security, pride and scientific advantage in this competitive world. 2) 2)Critically comment on the extent, scope and implications of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in India.3

Non communicable Diseases cannot transmit from one person to another through any medium like air, water etc. Some examples of NCDs include cancer, asthma, diabetes, heart problems etc. According to WHO, there has been a shift in health burden of NCDs in India due to growing culture of consumerism and lack of adequate health facilities. This led to an increase in the number of people infected by the chronic yet deadly diseases.

The extent of NCDs lies in the changing behavioral pattern of the Indian society with economic prosperity and rise of income which led to marked shift in eating habits. The unhealthy diet pattern, tobacco and alcohol use, insufficient physical activities coupled with urbanization and increased pollution have enormously contributed for loaded numbers.

The NCDs have infested to every social group whether rich or poor. The stressed social life leading to hypertensions has increased the death, diseases, disability to the people. The limited scope due to insufficient hospitals data and political will to enforce rules regulating sale of harmful substances have added to the woes of the government. In addition to that, lack of better and affordable health care infrastructure and human expertise with lack of awareness about the diseases have made India a rising global disease hub.

The prevalence of NCDs results in a higher burden with low productive labor having high mortality and morbidity. It leads to high out of pocket expanses resulting in extreme poverty accelerating a vicious cycle. It has social costs in the form of lack of education facilities to children, lack of employment opportunities etc.

India needs a practical approach for establishment state of art facilities for early diagnosis and treatment coupled with proper legal measure for containing the sale of tobacco products and creating awareness about healthy dietary fibrous food.

3) 1)Briefly explain how fast breeder reactors differ from regular nuclear power plants? Comment briefly on their significance for India’s nuclear energy programme.3

Regular nuclear power plants use U-235 as its fuel to generate electricity whereas fast breeder reactors use natural uranium (U-238), bombard it with fast neutrons to convert it into reactor grade neutron (U-235). Need for a fast breeder reactor arises because U-238 is abundant in nature but not U-235. So, in order to generate electricity, it is required to enrich U-238 with U-235. Not only uranium, but thorium & plutonium can also be used to generate nuclear fuel. India’s nuclear energy program is in a developing stage. The 3 stage nuclear energy program, as was proposed by Mr. bhabha, has reached upto its second stage. While in first stage, he proposed generation of electricity using natural uranium. In second stage, he had proposed generation of nuclear fuel using Thorium & plutomium through FBR. In last stage, we will generate electricity using thorium as a fuel. The huge importance given to thorium is due to large reserves found in monazite sands of southern states of TN etc. India will be self sufficient in the field of nuclear energy as there will be no need of nuclear fuel imports. In fact, by exporting thorium as a fuel, India can gain a lot of foreign reserve in future.

Apart from this, breeder reactors use the spent up fuel of regular nuclear reactor to further generate fuel which can again generate power. This is a huge relief in the worry of disposal of nuclear waste as the waste will get reduced with reusal of fuel. Future prospects are very bright if we are able to use thorium as a fuel. Then, It can be used in our space programs too as the fuel will be abundant. Lesser geopoltical pressure will enable government to establish more & more nuclear power plants in the country that will eventually pull the country out of energy crisis.

4) What is BEE rating? What is it used for? (100 Words)3

BEE is an institution that works under the ministry of power in India. BEE main objective is to promote energy efficient consumption and adopt measures to conserve the energy. BEE has come out with a scheme that rate the appliances such as AC, refrigerators, TV, Geysers etc. and other products of industrial use on the basis of their energy efficiency. Appliances are labeled (with stars) accordingly to highlight their energy efficiency. BEE rating helps to raise the awareness among the public and make people to buy the products with higher rating. BEE rating influenced buying behavior can result in conservation of huge saving inform of electricity usage.

5) 3 “ GSLV launch is dubbed as a game changer given the critical urgency of its success for future Indian space odysseys.” Comment. (250 Words)3

While India’s PSLV, dubbed as ISRO’s workhorse, has consisitenly demonstrated India’s prowess in field of satellite launching, yet Indian capablities are restricted due to inability to develop a heavy satellite (>2 tonnes) launcher, the GSLV. Early development and deployment of an indigenous GSLV is, therefore, imperative to India for the following reasons: 1. For launch of its sensitive defence-related satellites, India cannot depend upon foreign powers for security/strategic reasons.

2. It would save huge revenues for the country that India currently pays for launch from foreign platforms.

3. With international space-launch industry expected to grow fast over coming decades, it would secure a larger consumer-base for India and thus ensuing economic dividends.

4. With special focus on its yet- underdeveloped neighbours who are making their forays into the space India would be able to use it from a strategic point of view to reduce the neighbours’ dependability on China for space launches and thereby contain China’s sphere of influence.

5. It would demonstrate India’s status as a developed technological-power to the world and thereby improve its manuevrability in world affairs.

6) Explain in layman’s terms how nanotechnology promises to make computers faster, efficient and robust in future. (200 Words)

Nanotechnology is the science of particles at a scale of 1 nm (10-9m) to 100 nm and using these to develop applications of human use. Moore’s law states that the number of transistors on a single chip will double every 18 months to 2 years, thus doubling the speed of the computer. However, in recent years, chip manufacturers have been facing ever greater difficulties in living upto the law. However, with the scales at which nanoparticles operate, the Moore’s law can be more than satisfied once again. The nanotechnology frontier is led by carbon nanotubes that allow development of single atom transistors that increase computing speeds exponentially. Further, the field of photonics in nanotechnology promises data transfer at a higher INSIGHTS Q&A GENERAL STUDIES 3 http://insightsonindia.com INSIGHTS Page 16 bandwidth with lower energy consumption and heat production, thus increasing computing efficiency. Latest research in quantum computing, which is the cutting edge of nanotechnology, has revealed a whole new paradigm in computing. The quantum mechanical phenomena of superposition and entanglement allow for data operations unheralded before. The quantum bits (qubits) will allow simultaneous multiple calculations that would make today’s super computers look like children’s toys. The recent research in nanotechnology has proven onc e again that human capabilities are limited only by our ability to think.

7) “The winner in the GOP’s effort to defund or delay implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was the Act itself.” Comment. (200 Words)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Act, also more famously called as ‘ObamaCare’ is a flagship welfare programme introduced for the American citizens as a social security initiative in health. This was rebuked by the Republicans, the GOP, right from the beginning. They say that, this initiative would be very costly and cannot be implemented as the government wouldn’t afford it. But, the Democrats, under President Obama wouldn’t budge, so they brought out the legislation to the Congress. But, since the Republicans were in majority in the lower house, they voted against it, stalling the budget in the process. This has caused the American federal government to shutdown, as the budget was not legally passed.

So, in the process of delaying or defunding the Act, the whole government was shutdown. Now, both the Democrats and the Republicans are in a fix. They have to resolve this issue amicably. They should put all their differences aside and must sort out this problem diplomatically. So, if a compromise is made, the Act HAS to pass.

Hence, by voting against Obamacare, the GOP now has to come for a compromise, making the winner of this debacle, the Act itself. 8) According to Michale Sandel of Harvard University, although screening for disease is ethical, using DNA to select other (desired) characteristics edges close to eugenics. Do you think it is unethical to use new tools of genomics to choose a desired offspring? What are the criticisms of eugenics? Critically comment. (250 Words)3

Eugenics, a technique to implant preferable genes in the offspring, so as eliminate potent diseases and acquire best possible traits like intelligence, health and looks. Using DNA to select other characteristics is somewhat, anomalous to Eugenics and come under severe criticisms. Infallible confirmation of gene inheritance, subjectivity in desirable traits, complications of gene transfer, threat to biodiversity and most importantly it being an ethically questioned technique need to be enquired.

A bird fly with a ‘ white eye’ from the ‘red eye’ bird-fly family has raised questions on the completely affirmed inheritance of genes by the offspring. Moreover, the traits like intelligence, looks, health etc are very much subjective and cannot be asserted along any one voice.

Secondly, the gene transfer to avoid a disease or mutation , can also be detrimental. For instance, sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis provide immunity against malaria, so if they are taken care of, then a person devoid of them would be very much prone to malaria, in areas such as Africa and other equatorial regions. Furthermore, some genetic disease like haemochromatocis , can be extremely detrimental for the offspring’s future health.

Then, Eugenics if done, would lead to a particular homogenous society, thus a huge blow towards the nature’s gifted biodiversity to us. The different races, ethnicities, features would not be present, making the world highly monotonous and uncalled for. Finally, the ethical question, i.e. the decision of majority group will always prevail over a minority in deciding the least intelligent person, which would eventually be from the latter, will be highly unethical and harsh. Therefore, eugenics, needs to be scrutinised more , and a consensus should be arrived at before allowing such activities to any companies and sections.

Comment on the EIA process for nuclear facilities in India with an example.

Environmental impact assessment is the process of identifying and assessing the social and environmental impact of the proposed and committed project before it is given approval by the environment ministry. In doing so, MOEF derives its powers from various acts concerning water and air pollution and mainly the environment protection act, 1986. When it comes to the setting up of nuclear power plants, which Indian government is keen to do owing to achieve the required energy security the EIA has become much more important post Fukushima disaster.

The EIA has to consider the geography, eco system impact, population impact, marine ecology, forest cover presence, pollution of the water bodies, fuel waste management etc in determining the effect of a proposed nuclear power plant. To reach an honest assessment, the EIA has to be prepared by an independent third party apart from the NPCIL which operates all nuclear power plants India. If the assessors are also the government companies or agencies, then it is hard to believe that a fair judgment was made.

For example, the jaitapur nuclear plant EIA was done by NEERI(national environment energy research institute ) attracted criticism for not considering all factors. The mirthivirdi nuclear plant, EIA was done by EIL(engineers india limited ) whose report lacked critical assessment about the rock strata beneath the reactor structure , impact of the kaplasar dam due for construction in the gulf of cambay which is at a throw away distance from the plant wall , impact on the fisheries , fuel waste management etc. these dilemmas are further assisted by the lack of sufficient and reliable environment data and over enthusiasm of the

government in going ahead due to international obligations.

Environment

1) In the light of WGEEP report and HLWG report on Western Ghats, discuss the major recommendations and their implications – if implemented – on the stakeholders of the region.3

The conservation of one of the richest biodiversity hotstops of the world promted Ministry of Environment and forests[MOEF] to constitute Madav gadgil headed panel -WGEEP.The main recommendations include-* entire western ghats to be ecologically sensitive zone(ESZ) with highly sensitive ESZ 1 forming 60% of the area.

* participation of local communities in environmental Protection

* complete moratorium on new mining licenses in ESZ1 and ESZ 2.In zone 1 all existing mines to be phased out and in zone 2 mining to be carried under strict regulation and social audit.

* polluting industies,thermal power projects ,large scale dams not allowed in zone1 and 2.

However in the wake of severe opposition to the radical recommendations of Gadgil committe by states and industries,new panel under Kasturirangan was formed.This panel reduced the ESZ to only 37% of the western ghats and did not oppose hydel power projects.Also it proposed financial incentives for promoting green growth in remaining 63% on non-ESZ regions.Also it didnot involve local communities in decision making reg environment conservation Major implications of Gadgil report if implemented:

* For the first time in history ,local communities will play a leading part in protection ,which till now was the exclusive privilage of central and state bureaucracy heavy bodies

* Banning of mining and polluting industries will protect delicate ecosystem * Social audit of all activities will ensure fruits of development will be shared by all. * prevent deforestation * lead to greater research on biodiversity and commerialization of the research rather than plundering minerals.i.e more value addition and less pollution

* Minor employment loss due to prohibition of mining and industries

Major implication of Kasturirangan report: * Big hydel projects will come which may lead to Uttarkand like scenario. * large scale deforestation * no role of local communities.

* this unrestrained exploitation without benefits to local people may encourage extremism which is till now a latent force. 2) ”Global warming and a race for resources could spark a new ‘cold war’ in the Arctic”. Critically analyze3.

The rising temperature due to global warming has resulted into the melting of ice in the arctic region. This has opened up avenues for new trade route and exploitation of region for the extraction of mineral resources and hydrocarbons.

Every littoral state of arctic region is claiming an upper hand for harnessing the economic potential of the region. This had led to a standoff which resulted in the formation of arctic council for a coordinated approach in the region. If the shipping routes through the Arctic become more dense, the countries that lie astride these routes, will gain in importance.

The exploitation of the rich resources of the region will add to the wealth and economic significance of the already affluent U.S., Canada and northern European countries.

Russia may be the most prominent beneficiary of this shift, not only because it occupies the largest part of the Arctic, but also because it has the most experience in dealing with the harsh conditions that will continue to prevail in the region. The geopolitical centre of gravity may well swing back from the Asia-Pacific to the trans-Atlantic. It is ironic that while on the one hand the world is grappling with global warming triggered by climate change, the world’s major powers are scrambling to profit from its consequences in the fragile Arctic zone.

However the creation of arctic council is a right mechanism to avert any confrontation between the states. Further, what is required is an all inclusive approach like that of Antarctic template in which every country has a stake and the region should not be monopolized for getting economic benefit. 3) 1)Discuss the causes and consequences of desertification in India.3

Desertification as defined by UNEP in 1992 and adopted by UNCCD is a process of land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub humid areas from various factors including climatic various factors including climatic variations and human activities. According to the recent report submitted by ministry of environment to UN one fourth of Indian geographical area is undergoing desertification despite of combat measures.

The causes of desertification are: change in frequency and amount of rainfall, reduction in vegetal cover, wrong agricultural management practices, cultivation on marginal lands, over-exploitation of the natural resources, excessive grazing, incorrect irrigation practices causing build up of salt in soil etc.

Environmental consequences:

Soils in arid and semi-arid regions tend to be fragile, with topsoil relatively thin compared with regions with more rainfall. Loss of topsoil is both a cause and a consequence of desertification. While over-farming removes organic matter from the soil, removing tree cover and overgrazing reduce the amount of organic matter that gets returned to the soil. As soil becomes depleted, it becomes more prone to erosion. Desertification also leads to increased flooding during heavy rains, as land fails to absorb water, further

increasing erosion problems. Erosion in turn threatens remaining plant life.

Human consequences:

Desertification tends to occur in areas with high levels of poverty. As land becomes less productive, human societies experience higher levels of poverty, food insecurity, water scarcity and disease. As agricultural yields drop or water becomes more scarce, poor communities often react by increasing the over-exploitation of remaining resources. As environmental degradation progresses and human communities become more desperate, crises can develop, including famine, wars and mass migrations. Steps to combat include controlling wind erosion, sand dune stabilization, shelter belt plantation, management of permanent pastures and range lands etc.

4) “The rise of Environmental Crimes in spite of Environmental Legislations is due to absence of adequate punitive methods of sentencing.” Discuss. (200 Words)3 Government of India enacted first environment protection law in 1986.Under which, environment Impact assessment was made mandatory for the range of industries to obtain the clearance. In actual, EIAs are done by independent agencies hired by project proponents .EIA reports has been frequently blamed for being biased or ignoring the facts. Industries easily bypass the laws due to flawed implementation. In 1995, India established National environment tribunal to impose the liabilities for the damages caused by the inappropriate handling of the hazardous substances. But the act has not been implemented in its true spirit.

National environment appellate authority was established to hear the project clearance issued by the state and center government. NEAA has off late been chaired by former bureaucrats who are sometimes accused of favoring the government agencies over the public interest. State & central undertakes maximum of environment projects and generally escape any punitive measures.

In 2010, India established National green tribunal to expedite the disposal of environment related cases and giving adequate compensation for the damages. Some of the provisions of acts are objectionable. As act fails to establish who will be liable to pay the damage in case of an accident and people can claim the damage only within first five years of inception of problem. Several environment damages latent in nature for long period of time and 5 years clause is totally not in sync with realities. Industries can also appeal to the tribunal in case they don’t get the environmental clearance that raised the doubt on intent of setting up such tribunal.

Environment laws suffer from content & coverage shortcomings and their implementation has remained more a paper work than of a strict regulator. 5) IPCC’s summary document of Fifth Assessment Report for policymakers, which was released recently, did not evoke public, media and political interest as much as it had evoked in 2008. In fact, Apathy, lack of interest and even outright denial are more widespread than they were in 2008. Why in your opinion, the rational arguments of science and economics are failing to win the public and policymakers’ attention? (250 Words)3 IPCC’s recent report did not evoke much public and political interest owing to the lack of correct strategy pursued by the Green messengers like IPCC. Their scientific and economic figures no longer mobilize the policymakers , rather counter arguments start pouring in, leading to dirty politics of authentication. Thus, there is a need to follow the values and interests of the people and policy makers which would be self sustained in contributing towards the cause.

The arguments such as decrease in ice cover or increase in some mm’s of sea level no longer affects anyone. Depletion of ozone cover, pollution, extreme climates etc even though the increase in diseases like asthma, cancer and frequent disasters also do not make the people pro-active, rather they remain reactive only. Business lobbying, Political decisions, International Relations, Nuclear supremacy etc are proving to be much stronger than the appeals of such science and economics.

Policy decisions such as emission cuts, land acquisition, avoiding deforestation etc seem to not shaking the will of decision makers, although superficially desiring sustainable development. Hence , the values of people such as desiring a beautiful local environment should propagated for mobilizing them. Energy security and long term returns if resorted to greener norms , could mobilize industries and governments to follow such paths. Traditional values, such as in India, should be propagated widely, which would bring more sensitisation of people towards them. Good values such as fairness, avoiding wastefulness and consciousness of duties should be promoted rather than just depending upon science.

Such an approach of values leading to science will be more productive and bring public perception in day to day life. Else annual reports and long term conventions neither interest people nor their bulky figures and arguments inspire them. Such value based awareness would sensitize people and eventually through them would also sensitise political decision makers as well.

Disaster management 1) Which parts of India have been identified as Drought-prone? Mention the norms for such identification3. (150 words)3

India is a vast country with about 20% of its area under threat to drought. This is due to scant precipitation over a long period of time in certain pockets of country like Western Haryana, Gujarat, and Rajasthan due to variation in monsoon rainfall pattern and arid conditions. The rain shadow area in the peninsula is also responsive for drought like conditions culminating into disasters in areas of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and Odissa. Though variation in rainfall pattern in the main

reason, Central water commission suggested some broad criteria based on identification of taluqdars rather than district, according to agriculture irrigation commission recommendation. It considers an area drought prone if it receives less than 70% of the rainfall over 20% period in a year. Other criteria include when the net sown area under the cultivable land is less than 80%. Others provisions involve water balance technique which involves precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture. It also defines certain index like Aridity Index and Standard precipitation index for better implementation of drought control programs.

Drought is a region of rainfall deficiency. In India, at sub-divisional level, Drought is defined as condition where deficiency of rainfall is 25 % or more than long term average of rainfall of a particular sub-division. Drought prone area is the region where probability of occurrence of drought year is more than 20 %.If the probability of occurrence is more than 40 %,such are classified as chronically drought prone area. Nearly 16 % of India’s geographical area falls under drought prone area. Majority of this area falls under arid-semi arid region, sub humid region. Regions of Gujarat & Rajasthan, western U.P., western M.P. are drought prone where the annual rain fall is less than 75 cm.

Rain shadow zone situated east of Western Ghats is also drought prone area. It consists of South Telangana, Rayalaseema region of A.P, Interior regions of Karnataka & parts of Tamil nadu. Apart from this Drought prone areas are also found in patches spread across the country. Western Gujarat & Rajasthan region falls under category of chronically desert prone areas. Such areas are characterized by lowest rainfall and major variability in rainfall. 2) Why do rivers flood? State the areas of occurrence of floods in India. (150 Words)3

The seaonal floods in major river basins are a continuing disaster in India. The recent trends and changes in climate pattern further make this complicated.

In India, nearly 75% of rainfall occurred during the monsson season of July and October. This much of amount of rain within short span can’t be evacuated by the river channel. There is no comprehensive mapping and montoring of galciers and lakes in Himalayas. The floods in Brahmaputra, Ganga, Kosi basin comes under this. The terrian of north India is flat, hence large dams can’t be built. But, with the building of major dams on major rivers this pheonomeon could have reduced in south India. Even then, the floods ramained as a recurrent phenonmenon. The central water commission receives the data from state government over the rain from catchment areas and give flood warnings and management of water flow at major dams. The data collected for this purpose is inadequate and insufficient to determine the flood situation. Hence, the floods in the southern river basins kept occuring. The recent changes in Monsoon phenomenon due to Climate Change makes the predictions unviable. The monsoon in this year 2013, is prolonged for 1 month. The Uttarakand floods is another example. The occupation of flood plains for housing and tourism are other causes. The destruction of wet lands, swamps in coastal ares, which are acted as a cushoin is also cause of this.

Hence, there is an urgent need to forma comprehensive policy to comabt the floods. The spending on these is minute, compared to economic and social loss in floods.

A flood is a situation when water level in the river rises and it goes on to submerge the surrounding areas of river bank. River may flood due to several reasons. Most prominent of them is metrological factors, India receive majority of its rainfall during 3-4 months of monsoon. Heavy precipitation during a short span of time results in flooding. Tropical cyclone driven heavy rain also creates flood situation in Indian rivers. Geomorphic factors such as slope & river gradient, drainage system, catchment areas also leads to floods. In recent time human activities such as deforestation, dams, embankment or rapid urbanization etc. has also resulted in to flooding of rivers. As observed during Uttrakhand flood, region has become more prone to landslides due to mining and hydro projects. Frequent landslides during rainfall season increase the suspended mass in water & raise the water level of river. Deforestation results in accumulation of silt in river bed and make it vulnerable to flooding. Mumbai flood in Mithi river had occurred due to construction activities in the river bed itself.

State of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, UP are more prone to flooding due to natural factors such as Monsoons. Bihar is a special case where heavy rain fall in Nepal catchment region of rivers and frequently changing course of Kosi River has been a major cause of flood. Coastal areas of India are also flood prone in wake of annual tropical cyclones. While the plains of Haryana & Punjab & parts of Rajasthan have become prone to flooding due to poor drainage caused by human activities.

3) Explain the working of Tsunami Warning System in India. (200 Words)3

The earthquake and following Tsunami of 2004 exposed the vulnerability of Indian coasts to tsunami threats. Thus Government of India setup a Indian Tsunami Early Warning System(ITEWS) in the Indian Centre of Ocean Information System(INCOIS), at Hyderabad . The

System consists of real-time network of seismic stations, Bottom Pressure Recorder(BPR),tide gauges and 24×7 operational surveillance to such threats. This warning system provides tsunami advisories and alerts to the vulnerable communities. It gives the tsunami bulletin within 10 minutes of a an Earthquake thus leaving a sufficient response time to the people.

It maintains a database of the previous movements and provides forecasts. The identification of the

vulnerable areas also falls under its mandate. With the help of satellites and seismic stations it is capable of generating geospatial maps and providing necessary information for a planned rescue operation. More people can subscribe to its alerts if they desire so. The 2004 disaster led to a massive loss of life and property in Indian Subcontinent , especially in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This system now ensure sufficient prior watch over such incidents so that any future disaster can be managed effectively. It also coordinates with the systems of other regional countries and verifies the information.

4) Write a critical note on “National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project” (NCRMP) (150 Words)3

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project(NCRMP) was launched to mitigate of the effects of cyclones in the country. It seeks to build suitable infrastructure, mechanisms, capacity, awareness, preparedness to meet the risk of cyclones. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), as a nodal agency, will work in coordination with state governments, identified with varying vulnerability to cyclones. The project , funded by World Bank as a Adaptable program loan , will be financed as Centrally sponsored scheme on a 75:25 basis . The project will include building of cyclone shelters for safety to people during along with adequate roads etc easy access to them. Efficient Early Warning and Communication System is to be installed in the prone areas . The local inhabitants will be trained and made disaster prepared. Of the 13 identified states work has started in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Past cyclones and high risk in future necessitates the project and if implemented would be a major success in Disaster Management.

Internal security 1) Examine the important features of the National Cyber Security Policy 2013. (250 Words)3 21st century has witnessed a connectivity revolution riding piggyback on the spread of information and communication technologies to the less developed world. India has emerged as a major global hub for IT and related products and is one of the fastest growing internet users in the world. The technologies have also posed a increased risk in the form of cyber attacks, frauds etc, In this light the Indian government has unveiled the Cyber Security policy.

With the main aim of creating a secure and resilient cyber ecosystem in the country the policy outlines the need for using infrastructures, processes , technologies to achieve the aim. The policy proposes setting up of National critical information infrastructure protection centre to develop the mechanism and Computer emergency response team as nodal agency to deal with crisis management. The policy aims at realizing effective public private partnerships in developing indigenous facilities including research and development facilities, education of the human resources and also an aim to create a workforce of 500,000 professionals in next 5 yrs to tackle the challenge. It also looks into seminars, workshops etc to popularize the agenda.

The policy is very much needed specially today where increasing dependence on the ICT for even provisioning of basic services by the government is being sought, it has however some shortcomings like it does not address the threat from cloud computing, social networking sites and a chance of creating a parallel structure by the army in its cyber security initiative also needs to look into. Overall success would depend on implementation of the policy and if implemented in letter and spirit it will go a long away in realizing many of Indian dreams. 2) Examine how internet is used as a tool to spread and propagate terrorism in India. (250 Words)3

Virtual cyber space has the real power the vitiate and derail the social, political and economic milieu of the country. There has been growing incidence of propagation of terrorism from this virtual platform due to increasing security and intelligence on the traditional ways.

There are numerous examples like the attack on critical infrastructure like service delivery and power grids and e-governance initiatives. This can lead to loss of strategic information to vested interest. The recent example of defacing of govt websites by Chinese and Brazilian hackers is one such example The inflammatory speeches and hate videos on social networking sites can also create terror. The mass ethnic exodus of N-E people and the recent uploading of a fake video that ignited muzzafnagar communal violence is case in hand.

Internet is also used to hacking the personal account information of social networks accounts and also used as a framework for increasing money theft from bank accounts and fake transactions that are used for funding terrorist activities abroad. Fake advertisements for money and subsequent loss of savings of common man has terrified has general public.

Recently, it has been pointed out that online websites are also used for recruiting the youths for terrorist activities and are providing relevant data for bomb making etc. Further most of the satellite and defense infrastructure is linked to internet in one way or the other and this can be used by terrorist organizations. Internet has opened new avenue for creating terrorism in the minds of people and government. It is using new ways of disrupting the normal life of a country in different fields ranging from defense to communication and economic to political and governance related matters.

3) “While development is a useful tool against Maoist extremism, it is imperative that a semblance of order precede injection of resources into the extremist-affected areas.” Critically comment. (250 Words)3

One of the grave internal security challenges faced by the country is Maoist extremism.Maoists are naxals who are inspired by the political philosophy of China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong, with the vision of upholding the rights of poor Indian peasants and landless farmers. The movement which started as a peaceful tribal protests soon after independence changed into a fierce armed protests with the intend to topple the present government.It is seen to be rapidly infected throughout regions called the ‘red corridors’ in the country.

This indeed led to governmental attention to these areas, which were seen to be both development and democracy deficient. Ever since then several initiatives through

dialogues,negotiations,development programmes have been undertaken in order to restore peace and tranquility in these extremist affected regions. Though there were some bottlenecks relating to the in-coordination and inefficiencies from the government’s side,majority of these initiatives have been seen to be constantly disrupted by violent Maoists attacks leading damage to both man and matter.And also loss of life.Hence it became imperative to think of military action,even which dint turn out to be a good solution.

For a successful settlement,It is a precursor to maintain harmony for the development to seep in.Hence there arises a dire need to look for a judicious mix of military action and diplomatic negotiations.Also its the demand of the hour to extend and embrace ex-Maoists in rehabilitating them with employments and giving them a chance to live a better life.

4) Discuss about the linkages between organized crime and terrorism, and potential threats emanating from such linkages in the Indian and global context. (250 Words)3 Terrorism has become highly institutionalised with shades of modern personnel system, financial architecture and global networking. It is clear that the massive funding required for this sophisticated terror machinery can not come from legitimate sources. Hence, organised crime, which is consciously coordinated and pre-planned crime, has become the route of financing these operations. Organised crimes like drug trafficking, extortion, illicit trade including in arms, human trafficking etc. generate heavy resources for sustaining the terror machinery. The,thus, wealthy so called ‘business-men’ indulging in these invest in the terror groups and often seek political or economic returns.

In the global context, Syria would perhaps be the best example. Here, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist outfits were allegedly funded to bring about regime change. Similar shades are visible in Afghanistan, Libya etc. where trade in drugs sustains them and thus extremism is common in the rural hinterlands. Spillovers from these can be witnessed throughout the globe in Africa, Asia and now even Europe. For India, neighbouring hubs of extremism like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, potential threat from such linkages are always visible. For instance, the motive behind the recent Hyderabad blasts as touted by Indian Mujhaheedin was to thwart foreign investment in India. Terrorist groups may not have such primary objectives unless some group finances and exhorts them for the same, to eliminate competition.

The threats from organised crime and its linkages deal a double blow any nation disturbing both the socio-economic life as public order. 5) “India’s internal security challenges are inextricably linked with border management.” Examine the statement in the light of various security challenges being faced by India at its borders and their threat to internal security. (250 Words)3

The concept of security is a very wide and comprehensive one. When seen from human perspective, a wide gamut of measures is to be included for security and its maintenance. In this context border management is intextricably linked to internal security.

The most prime factor is of transnational terrorist activities. Indian western , particularly in Jammu and Kashmir region this problem has been endemic. The militancy has led to alienation of Kashmiris and at same time hurt the economic development of the region. Recent incident at Keran and previous ones of Kargil are significant ones.

Further illegal immigration coupled with human trafficking poses a big risk to the social fabric inside the country. The problem is more persistent along the indo-bangla border. The demographic inversion in Tripura, kokrajhar riots and continous strain on social cohesion in north east and northern Bengal is testament to the fact. Many a times the migrants are able to secure voting and identity cards with help of administrative corrupt machinery thus posing a risk to national security and orientation of the government as a whole.

Further smuggling of various materials ranging from Narcotics, Arms, Cash etc affects the society as a whole, besides having a corrupting influence on the society it also serves as linkup with criminal syndicates in the country.

Thus border management needs to be continuously updated to tackle rising contemporary problems. The linkages are often reinforcing forming strong supply chain mechanism thus making it important to step up vigil at the start point.

6) “India’s procurement of weapons platforms and other equipment as part of its plans for defence modernization, must simultaneously lead to a transformative change in the country’s defence technology base and manufacturing prowess.” Critically analyze. (250 Words)3 Weapons and armaments have served to assure nation-states against the security deficit of the

international order. India has been a major importer of arms and ammunition. However increasing the emphasis on creation of domestic industry and strengthening the linkages with modern technology is critically important.

The procurement agreement should definitely include clauses for transfer of technology and joint production. The benefits of a domestic industry are many; it saves the country from disruption in supply chains for any reason. Recent delay of INS vikramaditya would have placed India in a difficult situation specially in context of the lone Indian carrier on the verge of retirement, INS Viraat in this light serves to act as backup for national security.

Further linkages with creation of jobs, contribution to economic growth, revenue etc. Moreover with a continous and stable demand by the Indian armed forces domestic production makes economic and strategic logic. The case of Brahmos and recent talks with USA, Russia for joint production is a decision in right direction.

Further India could high grade technology, best management practices and could also emerge as a major exporting nation. Thus with more strategic weight, we can extend credible help to our friends and in turn get much more benefits. Case of supply of Indian weapons to Mauritius , Vietnam and role of Vietnam in India-Asean FTA, allocation of south china sea oil block are discernibly linked. Thus one can say that by improving and increasing the domestic production of equipment, India can reap benefit in the sphere of security as well as economic and associated ones.

7) ” Either terrorism triumphs or Civilization triumphs.” Comment on the above statement (200 Words) Violence or rebellion by armed means as an expression of disagreement with/opposition to ideologies have been an integral part of mankind since time immemorial. However, terrorism as we know it today is a more recent phenomenon, evolving specifically towards the latter half of the 20th century, with a ferocity seldom known to mankind before. While violent movements have indeed caused much loss of human life, they have mostly been restricted to specific pockets geographically as well as ideologically. The scary aspect of terrorism today is simply its scale and reach across the globe. Disparate groups are often brought together and coordinated attacks take place. The impact too is on a scale not seen before. September 9, 2001 will go down as a pivotal moment in world history, with people finally waking up to the real dangers posed by terrorism. In a single group of coordinated events, many thousands died, that too in the heart of the most developed nation of the time.

Civilization refers not only to human life but also their way of living. The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas indicate that motives of terrorists today are far deeper than before and they are better-equipped than before. Little wonder then that years of war with terrorists have largely been futile. With many nuclear weapons available today, threat to civilization by terrorism is real.

Essentially, only one of the two can survive. Both cannot coexist.

. What is International Terrorism? Discuss various actions taken by the United Nations in to eliminate the causes underlying international terrorism. (200 Words)

Earlier terrorism was considered as local phenomenon where group of people were involved in violent activities to topple the ruling government or spread fear. Post 1990s, terrorist activities have spread across all the regions the world. Terrorists grouped have forged alliance with the other criminal such drug traffics, smugglers etc. located in different regions. Even some of the states allow their territories /weak states are used by terrorists to commit crimes against other states. Terrorist activities which operates in different geographies or have consequences in several regions are been termed as international terrorism. International terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda has been involved in attacks in more than 10 countries geographically located in different continents.

United Nations has enacted several measures to control the international terrorism. Some of them are highlighted as under:

• Providing technical/financial support to weaker states to counter terrorists. • Promoting social/political rights of people and address issues such as poverty/unemployment., Political grievances etc. that push people in to terrorism. • Promoting information sharing among the states about suspected activities, financial transactions etc. • Making diplomatic pressure on states to refrain from allowing their territories to be support terrorist activities.

India is fighting war on many fronts. Analyze the basic causes of terrorism and insurgency and the effectiveness of state response in dealing with these threats. Ans

India is facing many challenges to its internal and external security in the form of terrorism, insurgency, naxalism and cyber security threats etc. Terrorism and insurgency is the most potent threat of these as they had been instrumental in nipping the democratic governments in bud and destroying the social and economic fabric of the countries. The causes of terrorism are mostly inconclusive though researches have pointed out that it may be due to social and political injustice, dehumanization, nationalism and separatism etc. These groups whether terrorist or insurgent enjoys ideological, religious or cultural etc affiliations. These threads are needed to be faced with iron hand as they stigmatize the people, disrupt normal life and destabilize the government, violate human rights and impede upon the freedom of people. The recent terrorist attacks in India pointed out the sad state of affairs in tackling such problems. The main reason is the disjunction between intelligence agencies and local police. There is lack of information sharing and swift action and this deficit is used by terrorist to carry out their operation. Further India has a long boundary and porous borders and there is no close collaboration in averting terrorism and insurgency with neighbouring country except with Bangladesh. The military operation requires support from local people and they must be bought into confidence so that anti national elements do not find a hedge but because of certain draconian laws like AFSPA there is gross human rights violations and illicit killing which only ignite separatist tendencies. India has failed on most of fronts like curbing black money which are used to fund terrorist activities and providing alternative avenues like employment for youths so that they do not take up arms.

Lack of institutional mechanism like NCTC, close collaboration between centre and state and harmonization between intelligence agencies and local police have render the efforts of the government ineffective.

21, January 2014 insights

21, January 2014 insights

1. Write a note on the need for APMC reforms. (200 Words)

2. “The current crisis in Thailand is an extension of the same partisan deadlock that has characterised the country’s politics for years.” Elaborate. (200 Words)

3. Critically analyze the latest developments that have taken place since Arab Spring revolutions. (200 Words)

4. What are the objectives of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)? Do we need two separate schemes for rural and urban population? Comment. (200 Words)

5. Discuss the salient features of city architecture of the Vijayanagar empire that was built in Hampi, in Karnataka.  (200 Words)

6. Write a note on the contribution of Jainism to literature in ancient and medieval India. (200 Words)

7. “From caste discrimination through forced marriages to sex-selective abortions, entrenched practices among sections of the British South Asian diaspora pose continuing challenges. ” Comment. (200 Words)

 

 Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act

Agriculture markets are regulated in India through the APMC Acts. According to the provisions of the APMC Acts of the states, every APMC is authorized to collect market fees from the buyers/traders in the prescribed manner on the sale of the notified agricultural produce.

The relatively high incidence of commission charges on agricultural / horticultural produce renders their marketing cost high, an undesirable outcome.

This suggests that a single-point market fee system is necessary to facilitate the free movement of produce, bring price stabilization, and reduce price differences between the producer and consumer market segments. As the APMCs were created to protect the interest of farmers it would be in the fitness of things to secure farmers the choice to go to the APMC or not.

In the light of this, the Inter-Ministerial Group recommended that the APMC Act be revisited, so that enough flexibility is imparted to farmers to sell their produce. Further, it is important to develop a robust agricultural marketing system through adequate investment – domestic and/or foreign – so as to strengthen the back end infrastructure and reduce wastages.

The Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) on Inflation convened in 2011 has suggested reforms of APMC Acts to strengthen supply-chain effeciency. Overall, any strategy for strengthening agricultural marketing needs to have a three-pronged objective:

  1. of providing remunerative prices to farmers; 
  2. strengthening efficiencies of supply chain; and 
  3. ensuring that end consumers are charged fair and reasonable prices

National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)

The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is an initiative undertaken by the government of India to address the health needs of underserved rural areas in April 2005

The thrust of the mission is on establishing a fully functional, community owned, decentralized health delivery system with inter-sectoral convergence at all levels, to ensure simultaneous action on a wide range of determinants of health such as water, sanitation, education, nutrition, social and gender equality. Institutional integration within the fragmented health sector was expected to provide a focus on outcomes, measured against Indian Public Health Standards for all health facilities.

Some of the major initiatives under National Health Mission (NHM) are as follows:

Accredited Social Health Activists

Community Health volunteers called Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) have been engaged under the mission for establishing a link between the community and the health system. ASHA is the first port of call for any health related demands of deprived sections of the population, especially women and children, who find it difficult to access health services in rural areas. ASHA Programme is expanding across States and has particularly been successful in bringing people back to Public Health System and has increased the utilization of outpatient services, diagnostic facilities, institutional deliveries and inpatient care.

Rogi Kalyan Samiti (Patient Welfare Committee) / Hospital Management Society

The Rogi Kalyan Samiti (Patient Welfare Committee) / Hospital Management Society is a management structure that acts as a group of trustees for the hospitals to manage the affairs of the hospital. Financial assistance is provided to these Committees through untied fund to undertake activities for patient welfare.

 

Untied Grants to Sub-Centres

Untied Grants to Sub-Centers have been used to fund grass-root improvements in health care. Some examples include:

  • Improved efficacy of ANMs[ in the field that can now undertake better antenatal care and other health care services.
  • Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committees (VHSNC) have used untied grants to increase their involvement in their local communities to address the needs of poor households and children.

Health care contractors

NRHM has provided health care contractors to underserved areas, and has been involved in training to expand the skill set of dctors at strategically located facilities identified by the states. Similarly, due importance is given to capacity building of nursing staff and auxiliary workers such as ANMs. NHM also supports co-location of AYUSH services in Health facilities such as PHCs, CHCs and District Hospitals.

Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)

JSY aims to reduce maternal mortality among pregnant women by encouraging them to deliver in government health facilities. Under the scheme cash assistance is provided to eligible pregnant women for giving birth in a government health facility. Large scale demand side financing under the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) has brought poor households to public sector health facilities on a scale never witnessed before.

National Mobile Medical Units (NMMUs)

Many un-served areas have been covered through National Mobile Medical Units (NMMUs).

National Ambulance Services

Free ambulance services are provided in every nook and corner of the country connected with a toll free number and reaches within 30 minutes of the call.

Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakarm (JSSK)

As part of recent initiatives and further moving in the direction of universal healthcare, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakarm (JSSK) was introduced to provide free to and for transport, free drugs, free diagnostic, free blood, free diet to pregnant women who come for delivery in public health institutions and sick infants upto one year.

Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK)

A Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services has been launched in February 2013 to screen diseases specific to childhood, developmental delays, disabilities, birth defects and deficiencies. The initiative will cover about 27 crore children between 0-18 years of age and also provide free treatment including surgery for health problems diagnosed under this initiative.

Mother and Child Health Wings (MCH Wings)

With a focus to reduce maternal and child mortality, dedicated Mother and Child Health Wings with 100/50/30 bed capacity have been sanctioned in high case load district hospitals and CHCs which would create additional beds for mothers and children.

Free Drugs and Free Diagnostic Service

A new initiative is launched under the National Health Mission to provide Free Drugs Service and Free Diagnostic Service with a motive to lower the out of pocket expenditure on health.

District Hospital and Knowledge Center (DHKC)

As a new initiative District Hospitals are being strengthened to provide Multi-specialty health care including dialysis care, intensive cardiac care, cancer treatment, mental illness, emergency medical and trauma care etc. These hospitals would act as the knowledge support for clinical care in facilities below it through a tele-medicine center located in the district headquarters and also developed as centers for training of paramedics and nurses.

National Iron+ Initiative

The National Iron+ Initiative is an attempt to look at Iron Deficiency Anaemia in which beneficiaries will receive iron and folic acid supplementation irrespective of their Iron/Hb status. This initiative will bring together existing programmes (IFA supplementation for: pregnant and lactating women and; children in the age group of 6–60 months) and introduce new age groups.

 

 

The National Urban Health Mission (NUHM),

The National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), aimed at providing primary healthcare for the poor in cities and towns with a population of over 50,000, was launched by Union Health Minister Gulam Nabi 20th January 2014.

One of the flagship programmes of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre, National Urban Health Mission is the urban counterpart of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

It will cover Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore, Ullal and Bagalkot in Karnataka in the first phase.

It will eventually cover 779 urban pockets across the country.

Though health was a State subject, the Centre had stepped in to speed up reaching primary healthcare to the poor, offering 80 per cent of the total investment.

The Minister said the urban poor are often in a worse condition than their rural counterparts, with pollution, unhygienic living conditions and lack of clean drinking water making them prone to diseases.

Urban boom

Anuradha Gupta, Mission Director, National Health Mission, said the concentration of population in urban areas is projected to be 46 per cent total bulk by 2030, with increased migration. Investment in urban health has been “sub-optimal” and the poor were making out-of-pocket expenses to meet their healthcare needs in private hospitals, she said.

 CONTRIBUTION OF JAINISM TO LITERATURE IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL INDIA.

Perhaps the most creditable contribution of Jainas is in the field of languages and literature. It is quite evidence that right from the Vedic period two different currents of thought and ways of life known as (a) Brahman culture and (b) Sramana culture are prevalent in India The Sramana culture is mainly represented by the Jainas and the Buddhists and of them the Jainas were the first to propagate that culture. That is why from ancient times we have the Sramana literature besides the Brahmanic literature. The characteristic features of the Sramana literature are as follows: It disregards the system of castes and Asramas; its heroes are, as a rule, not Gods and Rule, but kings or merchants or even Sudras. The subjects of poetry taken up by it are not Brahmanic myths and legends, but popular tales: fairy stories, fables and parables. It likes to insist on the misery and sufferings of samsara and it teaches a morality of compassion and ahimsa, quite distinct from the ethics of Brahmanism with its ideals of the great sacrificers and generous supporter of the priests, and of strict adherence to the caste system.

The authors of this Sramana literature have contributed enormously to the religious, ethical, poetical, and scientific literature of ancient India. A close examination of the vast religious literature of the Jainas has been made by M. Winternitz in his ‘History of Indian Literature’. In this masterly survey of ancient Indian literature, M. Winternitz has asserted that the Jainas were foremost in composing various kinds of narrative literature like puranas, charitras, kathas, prabandhas, etc. Besides a very extensive body of poetical narratives, the non-canonical literature of the Jainas consists of an immense number of commentaries and independent works on dogma, ethics and monastic discipline. They also composed legends of saints and works on ecclesiastical history. As fond of story-telling, the Jainas were good story-tellers themselves, and have preserved for us numerous Indian tales that otherwise would have been lost. Kavyas and mahakavyas too, of renowned merit have been composed by Jaina poets. Lyrical and didactic poetry are also well represented in the literature of the Jainas.

Apart from these, the most valuable contributions have been made by the Jainas to the Indian scientific and technical literature on various subjects like logic, philosophy, poetics, grammar, lexicography, astronomy, astrology, geography, mathematics and medicine. The Jainas have paid special attention to the arthasastra (or politics) which is considered to be “a worldly science” par excellence. Thus there is hardly any branch of science that has not been ably treated by the Jainas.

The literature of the Jainas is also very important from the point of view of the history of Indian languages for the Jainas always took care that their writings were accessible even to the masses of the people. Hence the canonical writings and the earliest commentaries are written in Prakrit dialects and at a later period Sanskrit and various modern Indian languages were used by the Jainas. That is why it is not an exaggeration when the famous Indologist H.H. Wilson says that every province of Hindustan can produce Jaina compositions either in Sanskrit or in its vernacular idioms. It is an established fact that the Jainas have enriched various regional languages and especially Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.

Regarding the Jaina contribution to Kannada literature, the great Kannada scholar R. Narasimhacharya has given his considered opinion in the following terms: “The earliest cultivators of the Kannada language were Jainas. The oldest works of any extent and value that have come down to us are all from the pen of the Jainas. The period of the Jainas’ predominance in the literary field may justly be called the ‘Augustan Age of Kannada Literature’. Jaina authors in Kannada are far more numerous than in Tamil. To name only a few, we have Pampa, Ponna, Ranna, Gunavarman, Nagachandra, Nayasena, Nagavarman, Aggala, Nemichandra, Janna, Andayya, Bandhuvarma and Medhura, whose works are admired as excellent specimens of poetical composition. It is only in Kannada that we have a Ramayana and a Bharata based on the Jaina tradition in addition to those based on Brahmanical tradition. Besides kavyas written by Jaina authors, we have numerous works by them dialing with subjects such as grammar, rhetoric, prosody, mathematics, astrology, medicine, veterinary science, cookery and so forth. In all the number of Jaina authors in Kannada is nearly two hundred”.

As the Jainas have produced their vast literature in these languages from very ancient times, they have certainly played a very important part in the development of the different languages of India. The medium of sacred writings and preachings of the Brahmins has all along been Sanskrit and that of the Buddha’s Pali. But the Jainas alone utilized the prevailing languages of the different places, besides Sanskrit, Prakrit and Apabhramsha, for their religious propagation as well as for the preservation of knowledge. It is thus quite evident that the Jainas occupy an important position in the history of the literature and civilization of India.

VIJAYANAGARA ARCHITECTURE:


During the Vijayanagara period (1336 – 1646) “South Indian art attained a certain fullness and freedom of rich expression in keeping with the general consciousness of the great task of the empire”. (K. A. N. Sastry). Percy Brown considers this art as “the supremely passionate flowering of the Dravidian style”. The Vijayanagara architecture shows the Chalukya, Hoysala and Dravidian features.

One of the distinct features of Vijayanagara art was the introduction of subordinate structures within the enclosure of the temple. In every important the God’s chief wife was provided with a separate shrine. Another unique addition is the Kalyana – Mantapa, generally put on the left in the courtyard of the temple when we enter it from the east. This is an ornate pillared pavilion with a raised platform, wherein the icons of God and Goddess were ceremonially united on festival days.

The so called “thousand – pillared Mantapa”, a huge hall with many rows pillars, became another feature of the Vijayanagara style. It also marked for the profusion of strong, yet delicate, carving which adorns the pillared halls, the many columns (surrounded by miniature pillars, sometimes giving the seven notes of Indian music) of which are so decorated that they became sculptures in their own right.

Though the buildings of Vijayanagara style are spread all over South India, the finest examples are found in the ruined city of Vijayanagara now called Hampi, “a vast open air museum of Hindu monuments”. The Vittalaswami Temple, though incomplete and damages, is the best example of ornateness, “the flower of the sculptured art patronized by the Vijayanagara court”. The main temple occupies the centre and compromises three distinct sections – the Maha Mantapa, an open pillared hall in front, an open pillared hall in front, an ardhamantapa, a similar closed hall in the middle and the garbhagriha in the rear. The style of its composite monolithic pillars of granite is the outstanding attraction of the Vittala Swami temple. The Kalyana Mantapa, known for the excellence of its statuary and theratha or the chariot of the God, a heavy stone car with movable wheels is the other specialities of the temple.

The Hazara Ramaswamy temple is a more modest but perfectly finished example of this style. Besides the main shrine, there are other subsidiary structures like a shrine for the Goddess and a Kalyana Mantapa. The walls and pillars of the temple are beautifully adorned with bas – reliefs illustrating the chief episodes of the Ramayana.

The Rameshwara temple at Tadapatri (Ananthapur District) is an excellent specimen of Vijayanagara architecture. Its gopuram is remarkable for its rich and equisite carvings, In the rest of the empire, Velluru, Kumbhakonam, Kanchi and Srirangam are celebrated for their temples in the same style. The temple at Velluru is known for the grace and beauty of theKalyana Mantapa. The Ekambaranatha and Varada raja temples at Kanchi contain vast pavilions and elaborate statuary. The Sheshagiri Mantapa at Srirangam has a colonnade of furiously fighting horses “in a technique so emphatic as to be not like stone but hardened steel”.

Among the secular buildings of the Vijayanagara Empire a few basements have survived. Out of them two masonry platforms give us an idea of the noble structures raised on them the King’s Audience Hall and the Throne Platform. The Kamala Mahal, the Elephant Stables and two tower – like structures have survived in a preserved condition. These buildings elicited the wonder and generous praise of the foreign tourists. Vijayanagara was regarded as a city “of widespread fame, marvelous for its size and prosperity with which for richness and magnificence no western capital could compare”.

 

PM Yingluck Shinawatra struggles to hold on to power.

 

Thailand teeters on the edge as PM Yingluck Shinawatra struggles to hold on to power.

Explosions have rocked Bangkok ahead of the February 2 snap elections called by the embattled prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, in an attempt to quell the anti-government protests led by former opposition politician, Suthep Thaugsuban. More than 500 people have been injured since the demonstrations began in November last year, and nine people have died.

The current crisis is an extension of the same partisan deadlock that has characterised the country’s politics for years, with demonstrators looking to overthrow Yingluck’s government on the charge that she is a stooge of her brother Thaksin, the divisive former PM deposed in a 2006 coup and since convicted of corruption, currently in self-imposed exile in Dubai. Thaksin is still influential and is believed to be instrumental in determining some of the Yingluck administration’s policies. Tensions boiled over late last year when the ruling party tried to push through an amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin to return.

Protesters now are aiming to bring Bangkok to a standstill in an apparent attempt to provoke a confrontation with Yingluck supporters. Bloody skirmishes on the streets of Bangkok, a tragic echo of the 2010 clash between Thaksin’s Red Shirts and the security forces that left 90 people dead, would serve to de-legitimise the Yingluck government. Prolonged violence, even on a small scale, could trigger an intervention by the powerful Thai army, which has staged a dozen-odd coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

Thailand’s conventional politics was upended in 2001, when Thaksin first won office on the back of support from the majority rural poor, permanently putting into electoral shade urban middle-class Thais in Bangkok and pro-establishment royalists. Now, the stand-off threatens to further undermine democratic governance in a country where military coups have been all too commonplace, and where parties have rarely accepted defeat peacefully

PRESSURE AND WINDS

PRESSURE AND WINDS

We do not ordinarily think of air as having too much weight. But air has weight and it exerts pressure. Let us take an empty bicycle tube and weight it. Now fill tube with air and weight it again. You will find that the weight of the air filled tube is more than when it was empty. If you go on filling air in the tube a situation comes when the tube bursts. The bursting of the tube occurs due to increase in air pressure in the tube. Similarly, the air around us exerts pressure. But we do not feel the weight of the atmosphere because we have air inside us which exerts an equal outward pressure that balances the inward pressure of the atmosphere. Atmospheric pressure is important to us because it is related to winds and it helps to determined, weather conditions of a place. In this lesson you will study air pressure, its distribution, winds and their types.

OBJECTIVES

After studying this lesson, you will be able to :  give reasons for the decrease of air pressure with increase in altitude;  describe with examples the effect of low air pressure at high altitude on the daily life of man;  explain the relationship between the spacing of isobar and pressure gradient;  establish relationship between the temperature and the existence of equatorial low pressure and the polar high pressure;  give reason for the existence of sub-tropical high pressure and subpolar low pressure belts;  explain the distribution of atmospheric pressure with the help of isobar maps of the world for the months of January and July;  establish the relationship between pressure gradient and speed of winds  explain the influence of coriollis effect on the direction of winds of both the hemispheres;  draw diagram showing pressure belts and planetary winds;  distinguish between (a) planetary and monsoon winds (b) land and sea breezes (c) valley and mountain breezes and (d) cyclones and anticyclones:  describe the characteristics of Important local winds

11.1 MEASUREMENT OF AIR PRESSURE

The atmosphere is held on the earth by the gravitational pull of the earth. A column of air exerts weight in terms of pressure on the surface of the earth. The weight of the column of air at a given place and time is called air pressure or atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric pressure is measured by an instrument called barometer. Now a days Fortin’s barometer and Aneroid barometer I are commonly used for measuring air pressure.

Atmospheric pressure is measured as force per unit area. The unit used for measuring pressure is called millibar. Its abbreviation is ‘mb’. One millibar is equal to the force of one gram per square centimetre approximately. A pressure of 1000 millibars is equal to the weight of 1.053 kilograms per square centimetre at sea level. It is equal to the weight of a column of mercury which is 76 centimetre high. The international standard pressure unit is the “pascal”, a force of one Newton per square meter. In practice atmospheric pressure is expressed in kilopascals, (one kpa equals 1000 Pa).

 The weight of a column of air at a given place and time is called air pressure.  Barometer is the instrument which measures air or atmospheric pressure.  The unit of measurement of atmospheric pressure is millibar (kilopascals).  One millibar is equal to the force of nearly one gram per square centimetre. The mean atmospheric pressure at sea level is 1013.25 millibars. However the actual pressure at a given place and at a given time fluctuates and it generally ranges between 950 and 1050 millibars

11.2 DISTRIBUTION OF AIR PRESSURE

Distribution of atmospheric pressure on the surface of the earth is not uniform. It varies both vertically and horizontally.

(a) Vertical Distribution

Air is a mixture of various gases. It is highly compressible. As it compresses, its density increases. The higher the density of air, the greater is the air pressure and vice versa. The mass of air above in the column of air compresses the air under it hence its lower layers are more dense than the upper layers; As a result, the lower layers of the atmosphere have higher density, hence, exert more pressure. Conversely, the higher layers are less compressed and, hence, they have low density and low pressure. The columnar distribution of atmospheric pressure is known as vertical distribution of pressure. Air pressure decreases with increase in altitude but it does not always decrease at the same rate. Dense components of atmosphere are found in its lowest parts near the mean sea level. Temperature of the air, amount of water vapour present in the air and gravitational pull of the earth determine the air pressure of a given place and at a given time. Since these factors are variable with change in height, there is a variation in the rate of decrease in air pressure with increase in altitude. The normal rate of decrease in air pressure is 34 millibars per every 300 metres increase in altitude; (see figure 11.1). The effects of low pressure are more clearly experienced by the people living in the hilly areas as compared to those who live in plains. In high mountainous areas rice takes more time to cook because low pressure reduces the boiling point of water. Breathing problem such as faintness and nose bleedings are also faced by many trekkers from outside in such areas because of low pressure conditions in which the air is thin and it has low amount of oxygen content.

(b) Horizontal Distribution

The distribution of atmospheric pressure over the globe is known as horizontal distribution of pressure. It is shown on maps with the help of isobars. An isobar is a line connecting points that have equal values of pressure. Isobars are analogous to the contour lines on a relief map. The spacing of isobars expresses the rate and direction of change in air pressure. This charge in air pressure is referred to pressure gradient. Pressure gradient is the ratio between pressure difference and the actual horizontal distance between two points. Close spacing of isobars expresses steep pressure gradient while wide spacing indicates gentle pressure gradient

The horizontal distribution of atmospheric pressure is not uniform in the world. It varies from time to time at a given place; it varies from place to place over short distances. The factors responsible for variation in the horizontal distribution of pressure are as follows: (i) Air temperature (ii) The earth’s rotation (iii) Presence of water vapour

(i) Air Temperature: In the previous lesson, we have studied that the earth is not heated uniformly because of unequal distribution of insolation, differential heating and cooling of land and water surfaces. Generally there is an inverse relationship between air temperature and air pressure. The higher the air temperature, the lower is the air pressure. The fundamental rule about gases is that when they are heated, they become less dense and expand in volume and rise. Hence, air pressure is low in equatorial regions and it is higher in polar regions. Along the equator lies a belt of low pressure known as the “equatorial low or doldrums”. Low air pressure in equatorial regions is due to the fact that hot air ascends there with gradual decrease in temperatur causing thinness of air on the surface. In polar region, cold air is very dense hence it descends and pressure increases. From this we might expect, a gradual increase in average temperature thords equator. However, actual readings taken on the earth’s surface at different places indicate that pressure does not increase latitudinally in a regular fashion from equator to the poles. Instead, there are regions of high pressure in subtropics and regions of low pressure in the subpolar areas.

(ii) The Earth’s Rotation: The earth’s rotation generates centrifugal force. This results in the deflection of air from its original place, causing decrease of pressure. It is believed that the low pressure belts of the sub polar regions and the high pressure belts of the sub-tropical regions are created as a result of the earth’s rotation. The earth’s rotation also causes convergence and divergence of moving air. Areas of convergence experience low pressure while those of divergence have high pressure

(iii) Pressure of Water Vapour : Air with higher quantity of water vapour has lower pressure and that with lower quantity of water vapour has higher pressure. In winter the continents are relatively cool and tend to develop high pressure centres; in summer they stay warmer than the oceans and tend to be dominated by low pressure, conversely, the oceans are associated with low pressure in winter and high pressure in summer.

 An isobar is a line connecting points that have equal values of pressure.  Pressure gradient is the ratio between pressure difference and horizontal distance between two points.  On an average air pressure decreases by 34 millibars per 300 metres increase in height.

The horizontal distribution of air pressure across the latitudes is characteriesd by high or low pressure belts. This is however, a theoretical model because pressure belts .are not always found as such on the earth. We will see it later how the real condition departs from the idealized model. and examine why these differences occur.

These pressure belts are: (i) The Equatorial Low Pressure Belt;. (ii) The Sub tropic High Pressure Belts; (iii) The Sub-polar Low Pressure Betts; (iv) The Polar High Pressure Belts (

Polar High

(i) The Equatorial Low Pressure Belt

The sun shines almost vertically on the equator throughout the year. As a result the air gets warm and rises over the equatorial region and produce equatorial low pressure. This belt extends from equator to 100N and 100S latitudes. Due to excessive heating horizontal movement of air is absent here and only conventional currents are there. Therefore this belt is called doldrums (the zone of calm) due to virtual absence of surface winds. These are the regions of convergence because the winds flowing from sub tropical high pressure belts converge here. This belt is also known as-Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).

(ii) The Sub-tropical High Pressure Belts

The sub-tropical high pressure belts extend from the tropics to about 350 latitudes in both the Hemispheres. In the northern hemisphere it is called as the North sub-tropical high pressure belt and in the southern hemisphere it is known as the South sub-tropical high pressure belt. The existence of these pressure belts is due to the fact that the up rising air of the equatorial region is deflected towards poles due to the earth’s rotation. After becoming cold and heavy, it descends in these regions and get piled up. This results in high pressure. Calm conditions with feeble and variable winds are found here. In olden days vessels with cargo of horses passing through these belts found difficulty in sailing under these calm conditions. They used to throw the horses in the sea in order to make the vessels lighter. Henceforth these belts or latitudes are also called ‘horse latitudes’. These are the regions of divergence because winds from these areas blow towards equatorial and subpolar low pressure belts.

(iii) The Sub-polar low Pressure Belts

The sub-polar low pressure belts extend between 450N and the Arctic Circle in the northern hemisphere and between 45°S and the Antarctic Circle in the southern hemisphere. They are known as the North sub-polar low and the South sub-polar low pressure belts respectively. Winds coming from the sub-tropical and the polar high belts converge here to produce cyclonic storms or low pressure conditions. This zone of convergence is also known as polar front.

(iv) The Polar High Pressure Belts

In polar regions, sun never shines vertically. Sun rays are always slanting here resulting in low temperatures. Because of low temperature, air compresses and its density increases. Hence, high pressure is found here. In northern hemisphere the belt is called the North polar high pressure belt while it is known as the South polar high pressure belt in the southern hemisphere. Winds from these belts blow towards sub-polar low pressure belts.

This system of pressure belts that we have just studied is a generalised picture. In reality, the location of these pressure belts is not permanent. They shift northward in July and southward in January, following the changing position of the sun’s direct rays as they migrate between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The thermal equator (commonly known as the belt of highest temperature) also shifts northwards and southwards of the equator. With the shifting of thermal equator northwards in summer and southwards in winter, there is also a slight shift in pressure belts towards north and south of their annual average location.

 Sub-tropical high pressure belts are also called horse latitudes.  Subsidence and piling of air in sub-tropical belts cause high pressure.  Convergence of subtropical and polar winds result in the formation of cyclones in the sub-polar regions.  High pressure belts are dry while low pressure belts are humid.  With the movement of sun northwards and southwards thermal equator also shifts northwards and southwards.  Pressure belts also shift northwards and southwards with the shift of thermal equator.

DISTRIBUTION OF PRESSURE

The variation of pressure from place to place and from season to season over the earth plays an important role in affecting the weather and climate. Therefore we study pressure distribution through isobar maps. While drawing isobar maps, the pressures of all places are reduced to sea level to avoid the effect of altitude on air pressure.

(i) January Conditions

In January, with the south-ward apparent movement of the Sun, the equatorial low pressure belt shifts a little south of the mean equatorial position (see fig. 11.3). Areas of lowest pressure occurs in South America, Southern Africa and Australia. This is because the land tends to get hotter rapidly than water. Sub-tropical high pressure cells are centered over the ocean in the southern hemisphere. The belt of high pressure is interrupted by the continental land masses where the temperature is much higher. They are well developed in eastern part of the ocean where cold ocean currents dominate.

In the northern hemisphere, ridges of high pressure occur in the sub-tropical latitudes over the continent. A well developed high pressure cell occurs in the interior parts of Eurasia. This is due to the fact that land cools more rapidly than oceans. Its temperatures are lower in winter than the surrounding seas. In the southern hemisphere, the sub-polar low pressure belt circles the earth as a real belt of low pressure and is not divided into cells, because there is virtually no landmass. In northern hemisphere two cells of low pressure namely Iceland low and Aleutian low develop over the North Atlantic and the North Pacific oceans respectively.

(ii) July Conditions

In July, the equatorial low pressure belt shifts a little north of the mean equatorial position because of the northward apparent movement of the Sun. All the pressure belts shift northwards in July. (

The Aleutian and Icelandic lows disappear from the oceans while the landmasses, which developed high pressure during winter months, have extensive low pressure cells now. In Asia, a low pressure develops. The subtropical hights of the northern hemisphere are more developed over the oceans – Pacific and Atlantic. In the southern hemisphere, the sub-tropical high pressure belt is continuous. Sub-polar low forms a continuous belt in the southern hemisphere while in northern hemisphere, there is only a faint oceanic low.

11.5 WINDS

We have just studied that air pressure is unevenly distributed. Air attempts to balance the uneven distribution of pressure. Hence, it moves from high pressure areas to low pressure areas. Horizontal movement of air in response to difference in pressure is termed as wind while vertical or nearly vertical moving air is called air current. Both winds and air currents form the system of circulation in the atmosphere.

(i) Pressure Gradient and Winds

There is a close relationship between the pressure and the wind speed. The greater the difference in air pressure between the two points, the steeper is the pressure gradient and greater is the speed of the wind. The gentler the pressure gradient slower is the speed of the wind. (

(ii) The Coriolis Effect and Wind

Winds do not cross the isobars at right angles as the pressure gradient directs them. They get deflected from their original paths. One of the most potent influences on wind direction is the deflection caused by the earth’s rotation on its axis. Demonstrated by Gaspaved de Coriolis in 1844 and known as the Coriolis effect or coriolis force. Coriolis force tend to deflect the winds from there original direction. In northern hemisphere winds are deflected towards their right, and in the southern hemisphere towards their left (see fig. 11.6) This is known as Farrel’s law. The Coriolis force is absent along the equator but increases progressively towards the poles.

11.6 TYPE OF WINDS

For ages man has observed that in some areas of the earth the winds blow predominantly from one direction throughout the year; in other areas the wind direction changes with the season and in still others the winds are so variable that no pattern is discernible. Despite these difference, the winds are generalized under three categories. (a) planetary winds or permanent winds (b) periodic winds and (c) local winds

(a) Planetary Winds

Planetary or permanent winds blow from high pressure belts to low pressure belts in the same direction throughout the year. They blow over vast area of

(i) The Easterlies

The winds that blow from sub-tropical high pressure areas towards equatorial low pressure areas called trade or easterly winds: The word trade has been derived from the German word ‘trade’ which means track. To blow trade means ‘to blow steadily and constantly in the same direction’. Because of the Coriolis effect the northern trade winds move away from the subtropical high in north-east direction. In southern hemisphere the trade winds diverge out of the sub-tropical high towards the equatorial low from the southeast direction As the trade winds tend to blow mainly from the east, they are also known as the Tropical easterlies.

(ii) The Westerlies

The winds that move poleward from the sub-tropical high pressure in the northern hemisphere are detected to the right and thus blow from the south west. These in the southern hemisphere are deflected to the left and blow from the north-west. Thus, these winds are called westerlise (

(iii) Polar Easterlies

Polar easterlies blow from polar regions towards sub-polar low pressure regions. Their direction in the northern hemisphere is from north-east to southwest and from south-east to north-west in the southern hemisphere.

(b) Periodic Winds

The direction of these winds changes with the change of seasons. Monsoon winds are the most important periodic winds.

Monsoon Winds

The word ‘Monsoon’ has been derived from the Arabic word ‘Mausim’ meaning season. The winds that reverse their direction with the change of seasons are called monsoon winds. During summer the monsoon winds blow from sea towards land and during winter from land towards seas. Traditionally these winds were explained as land and sea breezes on a large scale. But this explanation does not hold good now. Now a days the monsoon is generally accepted as seasonal modification of the general planetary wind system. The Asiatic monsoon is the result of interaction of both planetary wind system

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar(Burma), Sri Lanka, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, South-east Asia, North Australia, China and Japan are important regions where monsoon winds are prevalent.  Winds which reverse their direction with the change of seasons are called monsoons.

(c) Local Winds

Till now we were discussing the major winds of the earth’s surface, which are vital for understanding the climatic regions. But we are all aware that there are winds that affect local weather. Local winds usually affect small areas and are confined to the lower levels of the troposphere. Some of the local winds are given below :

(i) Land and Sea Breezes

Land and sea breezes are prevalent on the narrow strips along the coasts or a lake. It is a diurnal (daily) cycle, in which the differential heating of land and water produces low and high pressures. During the day when landmass gets heated more quickly than the adjoining sea or large lake; air expands and rises. This process produces a local low pressure area on land. Sea breeze then develops, blowing from the water (high pressure) towards the land (low pressure). The sea breeze begins to develop shortly before noon and generally reaches its greatest intensity during mid-day to late afternoon. These cool winds have a significant moderating influence in coastal area.

At night, the land and the air above it cools more quickly than the nearby water body. As a result, land has high pressure while the sea has comparatively a low pressure area. Gentle wind begins to blow from land (high pressure) towards sea (low pressure). This is known as land breeze (

(ii) The Mountain and Valley Breezes

Another combination of local winds that undergoes a daily reversal consists of the mountain and valley breezes. On a warm sunny day the mountain slopes are heated more than the valley floor.

Hence, the pressure is low over the slopes while it is comparatively high in the valleys below. As a result gentle wind begins to blow from valley towards slopes and it assumes the name of valley breeze (see fig. 11.10). After sunset, the rapid radiation takes place on the mountain slopes. Here, high pressure develops more rapidly than on the valley floor. Cold arid heavy air of mountain slopes starts moving down towards the valley floor. This is known as the mountain breeze (see fig. 11.10).

The valley and mountain breezes are also named as anabatic and katabatic breezes respectively.

(iii) Hot Winds

Loo, Foehn and Chinook are important hot winds of local category.

(1) Loo

Loo are hot and dry winds, which blow very strongly over the northern plains of India and Pakistan in the months of May and June. Their direction is from west to east and they are usually experienced in the afternoons. Their temperature varies between 45°C to 50°C.

(2) Foehn

Foehn is strong, dusty, dry and warm local wind which develops on the leeward side of the Alps mountain ranges. Regional pressure gradient forces the air to ascend and cross the barrier. Ascending air sometimes causes precipitation on the windward side of the mountains. After crossing the mountain crest, the Foehn winds starts descending on the leeward side or northern slopes of the mountain as warm and dry wind. The temperature of the winds vary from 15°C to 20°C which help in melting snow. Thus making pasture land ready for animal grazing and help the grapes to ripe early.

(3) Chinook

Chinook is the name of hot and dry local wind which moves down the eastern slopes of the Rockies in U.S.A. and Canada. The literal meaning of chinook is ‘snow eater’ as they help in melting the snow earlier. They keep the grasslands clear of snow. Hence they are very helpful to ranchers.

(iv) Cold Winds

The local cold winds originate in the snow-capped mountains during winter and move down the slopes towards the valleys. They are known by different names in different areas.

(1) Mistral

Mistrals are most common local cold winds. They originate on the Alps and move over France towards the Mediterranean Sea through the Rhone valley. They are very cold, dry and high velocity winds. They bring down temperature below freezing point in areas of their influence. People in these areas protect their orchards and gardens by growing thick hedges and build their houses facing the Mediterranean sea.

(1) Air Mass

An air mass is an extensive portion of the atmosphere having uniform characteristics of temperature, pressure and moisture which are relatively homogeneous horizontally.

An air mass develops when the air over a vast and relatively uniform land or ocean surface remains stationary for long time to acquire the temperature or moisture from the surface. The major source regions of the air masses are the high latitude polar or low latitude tropical regions having such homogeneous conditions. Air masses, therefore, are of two kinds-polar and tropical air masses. Polar air mass is cold and tropical air mass is warm. When cold air mass and warm air mass blow against each other, the boundary line of convergence separating the two air masses is termed as front. When the warm air mass, moves upward over the cold air mass the front formed in such a situation is called warm front. On the contrary, when the cold air mass advances faster and undercuts the warm air mass and forces the warm air upwards, the front so formed is called cold front. The frontal surface of cold front is steeper than that of a warm front (see fig 12.5). A prevailing air mass in any region – polar, tropical, maritime or continental largely controls the regions general weather.

(2) Cyclones

Typical cyclones are elliptical arrangement of isobars having low pressure at the centre with a convergence of winds within them. The wind direction in the cyclones is anti clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. Cyclones are of two types – the temperate or mid latitude cyclones and the tropical or low latitude cyclones (

(a) Temperate Cyclones

Temperate cyclones are formed along a front in mid-latitudes between 35° and 65° N and S. They blow from west to east and are more pronounced in winter season.

Atlantic Ocean and North West Europe are major regions of temperate cyclones. They are generally extensive having a thickness of 9 to11 kilometers and with 1040-1920 km short and long diametres respectively. Each such cyclone alternates with a high pressure anticyclone. The weather associated with the cyclone is drizzling rain and of cloudy nature for number of days. The anticyclone weather is sunny, calm and of cold waves.

(b) Tropical Cyclones

Tropical cyclones are formed along the zone of confluence of north-east and south-east trade winds. This zone is known as the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Cyclones generally occur in Mexico, South-Western and North Pacific Ocean, North Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean. These cyclones differ from temperate cyclones in many ways. There are no clear warm and cold fronts as temperature seldom differs in Inter Tropical Convergence Zone. They do not have well-defined pattern of winds and are energised by convectional currents within them. Generally, these are shallow depressions and the velocity of winds is weak. These are not accompanied by anticyclones. The arrangement of isobars is almost circular. These are not extensive and have the diametres of 160-640km. However, a few of them become very violent and cause destruction in the regions of their influence. They are called hurricanes in the Carribean Sea, typhoons in the China, Japan and phillipines, cyclones in the Indian Ocean and willy-willies in Northern Australia (see

Tropical cyclones often cause destruction on the coasts. You would have heard cyclones striking Indian coasts in summer and autumn months. They cause heavy loss of life and property in these regions. The steeper pressure gradient causing strong high velocity winds and torrential rainfall bursting upon a restricted area combine to create distructive storms. However about 8 to 48 km. area around their centre called the eye of these stormy cyclones remains calm and rainless. If this eye is detected, it is possible for the modern science to stop further development of these strong cyclones and thus protecting us from them.

 An air mass is a large body of air having uniform temperature and moisture contents.  The boundary line separating two air masses is termed as front.  Temperate cyclones are prevalent in mid-latitudes while tropical cyclones develop in tropical regions.

WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNT

Atmospheric pressure is the weight of the column of air at a given place and time. It is measured by an instrument called barometer. Unit of measurement of pressure is millibar. The distribution of atmospheric pressure varies both vertically and horizontally. It is shown on the maps through isobars which are the imaginary lines joining the places having equal air pressure. In high latitudes, atmospheric pressure is more than the pressure at low latitudes. The zonal character of horizontal pressure is commonly known as pressure belts. There are four pressure belts spread over the earth. They are equatorial low pressure belt, sub-tropical high pressure belts, sub-polar low pressure belts and the polar highs. Thermal factor causes difference in pressure. Pressure belts are not fixed, they shift northwards in summer and south wards in winter with the apparent movement of the sun. Pressure gradient is the difference in horizontal pressure between regions of high pressure and region of low pressure. The difference in air pressure causes movement of air called wind. There are wind systems that blow regularly on a daily pattern. Examples include the land and sea breezes, the mountain and valley breezes and winds warmed as a result of compression. There is a close relationship between pressure gradient and wind speed. Due to Coriolis force, winds deflect from their original course. In Northern Hemisphere they deflect towards their right and in Southern Hemisphere towards their left. This is known as the Ferrel’s law. Winds are grouped under planetary, Periodic and local winds. Planetary winds blow in the same direction throughout the year, while the other types of winds get modified due to certain reasons. Monsoon are seasonal winds while local winds below generally on diurnal basis. Air masses are horizontal large bodies of air which have uniform temperatures and moisture contents. The boundary line between two different air masses is called a front. Air masses and front cause temperate cyclones in mid-latitudes. Another type of cyclones are tropical cyclones which originate on tropical oceans and influence the coastal areas. Sometimes they turn violent and cause heavy loss to life and property.

LAND, SOIL AND VEGETATION RESOURCES IN INDIA

LAND, SOIL AND VEGETATION RESOURCES IN INDIA

The nation’s strength, be it social, economic or political depends mostly on the available resources and their proper utilisation. But what is a resource? In simpler terms, resource is the matter or substance which satisfies human wants at a given time and space. Before any element can be designated as resource three basic pre-conditions must be satisfied. They are the knowledge, technical skills and demand for the material or services produced. If one of these conditions is not satisfied the particular substance remains unutilised. Let us explain it through one example. From time immemorial, water is present on the earth. But it becomes a source of energy when people gained the knowledge and technical skills for hydel power generation. It is therefore human ability and need which create resource value and not their sheer physical presence. So the basic concept of resource is also related to human well-being.

India has rich endowment of resources. An integrated effort is now being made by our country to make the best use of the existing resource potential. It helps to meet the demands of growing population and also provide opportunities for employment. Simultaneously, it acts as indicator for the levels of development. In this lesson we will study three vital resources i.e. land, soil and vegetation.

OBJECTIVES

After studying this lesson, you will be able to :  recognise the significance of land as a resource;  identify the main uses of land;  explain some of the problems in land resource and their solutions;  recognise the significance of soil as a resource; .  recall the main characteristics of each major soil type in India;  locate major soil regions on the map of India;  identify different factors that are responsible for the soil erosion in different parts of India;  explain the problems created as a result of soil erosion;  establish the relationship between measures adopted for soil conservation with types of erosion in different parts of India.  identify major constituents of vegetation;  recognise major vegetation types;

20.1 LAND RESOURCE

Land is our basic resource. Throughout history, we have drawn most of our sustenance and much of our fuel, clothing and shelter from the land. It is useful to us as a source of food, as a place to live, work and play. It has different roles. It is a productive economic factor in agriculture, forestry, grazing, fishing and mining. It is considered as a foundation for social prestige and is the basis of wealth and political power. It has many physical forms like mountains, hills, plains, lowlands and valleys. It is characterised by climate from hot to cold and from humid to dry. Similarly, land supports many kinds of vegetation. In a wider sense, land includes soil and topography along with the physical features of a given location. It is in this context that land is identified closely with natural environment. However, it is also regarded as space, situation, factor of production in economic processes, consumption goods, property and capital.

Availability of Arable Land

India is well endowed with cultivable land which has long been a key factor in the country’s socio-economic development. In terms of area, India ranks seventh in the world, while in terms of population it ranks second. Arable land includes net sown area, current fallow, other fallow and land under tree crops. Arable land covers a total area of 167 million hectares which is 51 % of the total area of the country.

However, the arable land-man ratio is’ not as favourable as in many other countries like Australia, Canada, Argentina, the USA, Chile, Denmark and Mexico. Conversely, the land-man ratio is more favourable in India than Japan, the Netherlands, Egypt, United Kingdom, Israel and China. What is the land-man ratio? Land-man ratio is defined as the ratio between the habitable area and the total population of a country.

The physical features in India are diverse and complex. There are mountains, hills, plateaus and plains which produce varied human response to the use of land resources. About 30% of India’s surface area is covered by hills and mountains. These are either too steep or too cold for cultivation. About 25% of this land is topographically usable which is scattered across the country. Plateaus constitute 28% of the total surface area but only a quarter of this is fit for cultivation. The plains cover 43% of the total area and nearly 95% of it is suitable for cultivation. Considering the differences in proportion of surface area, this allows us to conclude that taking the country as a whole, about two-third of it is usable. Moreover, soils, topography, moisture and temperature determine the limits of cultivability and the quality of arable land is determined by these factors. As a result of this, half of the surface area is cultivated. This proportion is one of the highest in the world.  Land includes both soil and topography with the physical features of a given location. It is also regarded as space, factor of production in economic processes, consumption goods, situation, property and capital.  Land-man ratio is defined as the ratio between the habitable area and the total population of a country.

 Land-man ratio in India is not as favourable as in many countries like Australia, Canada, Argentina, USA, Chile, Denmark and Mexico. Conversely, the land-man ratio is more favourable in India than in Japan, the Netherlands, Egypt, U.K., Israel and China.

20.2 LAND USE

Out of the total geographical area (328 million hectares), land utilisation statistics are available for 305 million hectares only. The balance 23 million hectares remains unsurveyed and inaccessible. The relevant statistic are given in Table 20.1. The significant features of land utilisation are : (a) high percentage of area suitable for cultivation; (b) limited scope for further extension of cultivation and (c) small area under pastures despite a large bovine population.

Table 20.1 Land Utilisation in India

Category Area in M. Ha % of total reporting area 1. Net sown area 142.40 46.30 2. Current fallow 13.70 4.20 3. Other fallow 9.70 3.00 4. Pastures and groves 15.40 5.00 5. Cultivable waste 15.00 4.70

6. Not available for Cultivation (a) Barren and uncultivable land 19.60 6.20 (b) Land under non-arable use 21.20 8.60 7. Forest 68.00 22.00

Total 305.0 100.0

Fig. 20.1 Land utilisation in India

Presently, a little more than 40 million hectares of land is not available for cultivation. Area under this category has shown a decline from 50.7 million hectares in 1960- 61 to 40.8 million hectares in 1990-91. There has been a marginal decline in fallow land from 9.9% in 1950-51 to 7.5% in 1990-91. Cultivable wastelands also witnessed an appreciable decline of 34% between 1950-51 and 1990-91. During 1950-51 and 1990-91, the net sown area has witnessed notable increase of about 20%. This area in 1950-51 was 118.7 million hectares which increased to 142.4 million hectares in 1990-91. Only 14% of the net sown area or 41.7 million hectares produced two or more crops in 90-91. Surprisingly, only 5% of the land is under permanent pastures and grazing in a country with the largest bovine population of the world. Land under non-agricultural use has increased with the accelerated growth in economy. The process of industrialisation and urbanisation demands more land under roads, railways, airports, human settlements and industries not excluding huge multi-purpose dams. Essentially, on the limited total area all the cultural uses of land must be accommodated. Obviously, it can be realised mainly at the cost of land under agriculture. In 1950-51, the total area under non-agricultural use was 9.3 million hectares which increased to 21.2 million hectares in 1990-91. Contrary to general belief, the percentage of land under forest is one of the lowest in the world. Forests occupy not more than 22% of the total geographical area of the country, while the world average is 30%. According to land use statistics, area under forests has increased from 40 million hectares in 1950-51 to 68 million hectares in 1990-91. It is much below the desired national goal of one third of the total area.

Thus, land use is a dynamic process. It changes over time due to a number of factors, including increasing population, changes in cropping system and technology. As the various sectors of the economy develop, there may be a shift in the pattern of land use. However, the bulk of the land continues to be used for raising crops. With unabated population growth, the pressure of population on arable land is bound to grow. Indeed, it should be a matter of great national concern.

20.3 LAND PROBLEMS

Out of the total land area, as many as 175 million hectares suffer from degradation. Land degradation is caused largely by soil erosion, but also by water logging and excessive salinity. The most serious threat to the soil is posed by deforestation. Heavy railfall during monsoon damages the soils. Steep slopes encourage rapid runoff leading to soil erosion especially on the southern slopes of the Himalayas and the western slopes of the Western Ghats. Major portions of the Himalayas are prone to landslides and erosion. Wind erosion is prevalent in Rajasthan, gully erosion in Chambal Valley, Chotanagpur, Gujarat, Submontane Punjab Himalaya. Water logging and salinisation which constitute the second major threat to soil have already consumed 13 million hectares and threaten many more. The lands affected are mostly situated in canal irrigated areas. They have suffered because of the absence of adequate drainage. Land is also degraded due to mining operations in many parts of the country. The total land area affected is about 80 thousand hectares by mining. Urban encroachment on good quality agricultural land is another problem by which the amount of land used for agriculture is steadily declining. In other words, there is a tough competition between agriculture, urban and industrial development. There are social conflicts that are arising out of the rights to occupy and transfer of land. The tenant cultivators face major disincentives such as the fear of eviction, the insecurity of tenure, high rents and inadequate surplus to invest. Land ceiling laws have not been implemented with adequate strictness.

20.4 SOLUTION OF LAND PROBLEMS

To deal with these problems, the country has adopted a two-fold approach; physical and social. Physical reclamation of land is achieved through chemical treatment of water-logged soils and is followed with scientific rotation of crops. Similarly, land rendered useless by river action and river floods are also reclaimed after necessary freatment to restore their fertility and texture. Physical reclamation of desert lands calls for more sustained efforts. It requires introduction of suitable natural vegetation and canal or well irrigation or even both. It helps to raise water table. Social approach on the other hand is reflected through state legislation aiming at overall rural reconstruction, promoting agriculture and its productivity in particular. Consolidation of land holdings is one measure among many. It provides necessary motivation and empowerment of a tiller by confirming on him the rights of land tenure/ownership. Elements of social exploitation are promptly. removed e.g. absentee landlords. Thus legislation is used to ensure social justice. Remote sensing data have shown that about 200 square kilometres of the Gulf of Kuchchh have been covered by sedimentation. The National Remote Sensing Agency has estimated 53 million hactares (16%) as wasteland in the country. Among the states, the highest incidence of wastelands is recorded in Jammu and Kashmir (60%) followed by Rajasthan (38%), Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh (37% each) and Gujarat (17%). The Government of India constituted the National Wasteland Development Board in 1985 with a view to enhancing productivity of wastelands. It includes the programe of afforestation of 5 million hectares per year.

India does not have shortage of land. But, land reform policies need to be reoreinted for further increase in food production.  Land use is a dynamic process. It changes over time due to a number of factors including increasing population, changes in cropping system and technology. As various sectors of the economy develop, there may be a shift in the pattern of land use.  The major land problems include land degradation due to soil erosion, water logging, salinisation, mining operations and urban encroachment on good quality agricultural land.  India has adopted two ways to develop land: (a) physical (reclamation of land) and (b) social (land reforms) INTE

20.5 SOIL RESOURCES

Soil is defined as upper layer of the earth composed of loose surface material. It is a mixture of many substances including endless variety of minerals, remnants of plants and animals, water and air. It is the end product of continuing interaction between the parent material, local climate, plant and animal organisms and elevation of land. Since each of the elements varies over space, soils also differ from place to place. Soil is an important segment of our ecosystem, as it serves an anchorage for plants and source of nutrients. Thus, soil is the seat, the medium and fundamental raw material for plant growth. Through its relative fertility, it affects man’s economic activities and shapes the destiny of our country. When the soil is lost, property and culture are also lost. Therefore, it is a valuable national and fundamental earth resources of the country.

TYPES

The soils of India are broadly divided into following six types:

1. Alluvial Soils

Alluvial soil is the most important soil type of India. It covers the vast valley areas of the Sutlej, Ganga and Brahmaputra and the fringes of the southern peninsula. It is thin near the fringe of the plateau. The alluvial soils occupy 64 million hectares of the most fertile land. The soils vary from sandy loam to clay in texture and are rich in potash but deficient in nitrogen and organic matter. Generally, the colour varies from grey to reddish brown. These soil are formed of deposits of silt and sand brought down by the rivers flowing from the Himalayas and the Great Indian plateau. Being young, the soils lack profile development. Being extremely productive, these soils are most important from the point of view of Indian agriculture. Based on geographical considerations, this soil can be subdivided into two divisions: newer alluvium (khadar) and older alluvium (bangar). Both are different in texture, chemical composition, drainage capacity and fertility. The newer alluvium is a light friable loam with a mixture of sand and silt. It is found in river valley, the floodplains and deltas. On the other hand, the older alluvium lies on the inter fluves. The higher proportion of clay makes the soil sticky and drainage is often poor. Almost all crops are grown on these soils.

2. Black Soils (Regur)

The black soils are found mainly on the Deccan lava region covering large parts of Maharashtra, some parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and small parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The soils are formed by disintegration of volcanic basaltic lava. The colour of the soil is generally black due to presence of compounds of aluminium and iron. The soil is locally known as regur which extends roughly to 64 million hectares. It is generally clayey deep and has low permeability and impregnable. But it’s depth varies from place to place. It is very thick in lowlands but very thin on highlands. The most important characteristics of this soil are its ability to retain moisture even during the dry season. The soils form wide cracks during summer due to moisture loss and swell and become sticky when saturated. Thus, the soil is aerated and oxidised to deep levels which contribute to maintain its fertility. This continued fertility is favourable in the area of low rainfall for cotton cultivation even without irrigation. Other than cotton, this soil is favourable for the cultivation of crops like sugarcane, wheat, onion and fruits.

3. Red Soils

Red soils cover large part of the Peninsular upland in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, South east Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chotanagpur Plateau and Meghalaya Plateau. They encircle the black cotton soil zone. They have developed on the crystalline rocks like granite, gneisses and cover roughlyLand, Soil and Vegetation Resources in India 72 million hectares of the arable land. Iron compounds are abundant making the soil reddish in colour but they are deficient in organic matter. The red soils are generally less fertile and are not as important agriculturally as the black and alluvial soils. But the productive capacity can be raised through irrigation and use of fertilizers. This soil is suitable for rice, millet, maize, groundnut, tobacco and fruits.

4. Laterite Soils

The laterite soils are commonly found in area of high altitude and heavy rainfall in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Assam and Meghalaya extending over 13 million hectares. They generally form under hot and humid climatic conditions. The lateritic soils are particularly found on high flat erosion surfaces in areas of high and seasonal rainfall. Loss of nutrients by accelerated leaching is the most common feature which renders the soil infertile. The pebbly crust is the important feature of laterites which is formed due to alteration of wet and dry periods. As a result of weathering, laterite becomes extremely hard. Thus, their characteristics include complete chemical decomposition of the parent rock, complete leaching of silica, a reddish brown colour given by the oxides of aluminium and iron and lack of humus. The crops which are generally grown are rice, millets, sugarcane on lowland and tropical plantation such as rubber, coffee and tea on uplands.

5. Desert Soils

The desert soils occur in western Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Kutchchh, western Haryana and southern Punjab. The occurance of these soils is related to desert and semi-desertic conditions and is defined by the absence of water availability for six months. The soil is sandy to gravelly with poor organic matter, low humus contents, infrequent rainfall, low moisture and long drought season. The soils exhibit poorly developed horizons. Plants are widely spaced. Chemical weathering is limited. The colour of the soil is either red or light brown. Generally, these soils lack the basic requirements for agriculture, but when water is available, variety of crops like cotton, rice, wheat etc. can be grown with proper dose of fertilizers.

6. Mountain Soils

The mountain soils are complex and extremely varied. The soils vary from deep alluvium in the river basins and lower slopes to highly immature residual gravelly on higher altitudes. Because of complex topographic, geologic, vegetation and climatic conditions, no large areas of homogenous soil groups are found. Areas of steep relief are mostly devoid of soil. Various types of crops are grown in different regions like rice in valley, orchards on slopes and potato in almost all areas.

20.7 SOIL EROSION

Soil erosion is described as the carrying away of soil. It is the theft of the soil by96 natural elements like water, wind, glacier and wave. Gravity tends to move soil down slope either very slowly as in soil creep or very rapidly as in landslides. The present shape of land has been carved through thousands of years. Soil erosion has become now one of the major environmental problems and a serious constraint for agricultural production. There are many physical and social factors which determine the extent and severity of soil erosion. The principal physical factors are erosivity of rainfall, erodibility of soil, severity of periodic floods, length and steepness of the slope. The important social factors are deforestation, overgrazing, nature of land use and methods of cultivation. Ravines, gullies and landslides are most serious and highly visible forms of land erosion. On the other hand, sheet erosion caused by rains and erosion due to winds are least visible but equally serious as they too take a heavy toll of our precious top soils. Soil erosion by ravines and gullies is widespread in India, It has been estimated that 3.67 million hectares of soil surface is damaged. There are four major areas of ravines and gullies in India.

They are (1) Yumuna-Chambal ravine zone, (2) Gujarat ravine zone, (3) The Punjab Siwalik foothills zone and (4) Chhotanagpur zone. There are other areas of substantial ravine erosion in the Mahanadi valley, upper Son valley, upper Narmada and Tapi valleys, Siwalik and Bhabar tract of the western Himalayan foothills and edges of Ganga Khadar in western Uttar Pradesh. The relatively less affected areas are whole of Deccan south of the Godavari, the Ganga-Brahmputra plains, east of Varanasi, Kutchchh and western Rajasthan. Sheet erosion is widespread over sloping deforested terrain, unterraced uplands of Peninsular region, Sutlej-Ganga plains, Coastal plains, Western Ghats and North- Eastern hills.

The occurrence of landslides is common in earthquake sensitive belts, particularly the Siwaliks. Heavy rainfall and cutting of slopes for roads, buildings and mining activities trigger landslides. In the last 50 years, the Rajasthan desert has encroached upon 13000 hectares of land in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Glacial erosion is limited to high Himalayas and sea erosion is confined to coasal areas only. Soil erosion and soil exhaustion due to loss of soil nutrients pose serious threats to our efforts of increasing the productivity of soil faster than the population growth.

20.8 SOIL CONSERVATION

Methods by which soil is prevented from being eroded consitute soil conservation. If the soil is wasted or blown away, it is not easy to replenish it. Therefore, the most important step of soil convservation is to hold the soil in place. This is possible by improved agricultural practices in different regions. Contour ploughing and terracing are generally practised on the hill slopes. They are the simplest conservation methods. Rows of trees or shelter belts are planted to protect the fields in desert regions from wind erosion. Afforestation of the catchment areas and slopes in the Himalayas, the Upper Damodar valley in Jharkhand and the Nilgiri hills in the south has been implemented. It reduces the surface runoff and binds the soil. Ravines are noted for their enormous size and depth with vertical sides. The Central Soil Conservation Board has established 3 research stations: (1) Kota in Rajasthan, (2) Agra in Uttar Pradesh and (3) Valsad in Gujarat to suggest methods of reclamation of ravine lands. Overgrazing by sheep, goat and other livestock has been partly responsible for soil erosion. Erosion due to these factor has been reported from Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

Soil exhaustion can be prevented by the application of manure and fertilisers.  The six major types of soil found in India are alluvial, black, red, laterite, desert and mountain soil.  Both physical and social factors cause soil erosion. The physical factors are erosivity of rainfall, erodibility of soil, severity of periodic floods and length and steepness of the slope. The social factors are deforestation, overgrazing, nature of land use and methods of cultivation.  Major forms of soil erosion are ravines, gullies, landslides and sheet erosion.  Contour ploughing, terracing, planting of shelter belt afforestation checking of overgrazing and application of manures and fertilizers are the methods of soil conservation.

20.9 NATURAL VEGETATION IN INDIA

The assemblage of plant species, e.g. trees, shrubs, grasses, creepers and climbers and the like living in association with one another in a given environment is known as natural vegetation. Contrary to this, a forest denotes a large tract covered by trees and shrubs which has an economic significance for us. Thus, a forest has a different connotation than what the Natural Vegetation has. The variations in climatic conditions in India have resulted in having various types of natural vegetation in different parts of the country. It is so because each plant needs a definite range of temperature and precipitation for its growth. This justifies the growth of tropical evergreen vegetation confined mainly to the Western Ghats, on account of hot and wet climatic conditions. The same is true for temperate evergreen vegetation of northeast India and thorny or arid or semi-arid vegetation of Rajasthan desert and adjoining areas. Deciduous vegetation grows in central parts of India owing to moderate climatic conditions prevailing over there.

MAJOR VEGETATION TYPES

Natural vegetation cover in India is generally divided under the following heads: i) Moist Tropical Evergreen and Semi–evergreen Vegetation ii) Moist Tropical Deciduous Vegetation iii) Dry Tropical Vegetation iv) Tidal Vegetation and v) Mountain Vegetation.

1. Moist Tropical Evergreen Vegetation

These are the tropical rain forests which are further divided into two sub-types on the basis of their characteristics as under:

(a) The Wet Tropical Evergreen Vegetation is found in regions of very high annual rainfall exceeding 300 cms. with a very brief dry season. Southern parts of Western Ghat of Kerala and Karnataka are very wet. Northeastern Hills are known for this type of vegetation. It resembles the equatorial vegetation. This type of vegetal cover has been badly depleted due to over cutting of trees. The major characteristics of this type of vegetation are: (i) These forests are dense and have lofty evergreen trees, often as high as 60 metres and above. (ii) The number of vegetal species per unit area is too large to exploit them commercially. (iii) Mahogony, cinchona, bamboos and palms are typical species of plants found in these forests. Undergrowth is very dense and thick. Grass is almost absent. (iv) The wood of these trees is very hard and heavy to work with.

(b) Moist Tropical Semi-evergreen Vegetation is found between wet evergreen vegetation and moist temperate deciduous vegetation. This type of vegetation is found on the Meghalaya plateau, Sahyadris and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This vegetation is confined to areas receiving an annual rainfall of about 250 to 300 cms. Its important characteristics are: (i) The vegetation cover is less dense than the wet evergreen forests. (ii) Timber of these forests is fine textured and of good quality. (iii) Rosewood, aini and telsur are important trees in Sahyadris, champa. joon and gurjan in Assam and Meghalaya and ironwood, ebony and laurel grew in other regions. (iv) Shifting agriculture and over exploitation of forests have depleted this vegetal cover to a great extent.

2. Moist Tropical Deciduous Vegetation

This is the most wide spread vegetal cover of India. This type of vegetation is found in areas receiving annual rainfall of 100 to 200 cms. These include the Sahyadris, the northeastern plateau of the peninsula, the Himalayan foot hills in the Siwaliks, the bhabars and terai. The important characteristics of this vegetation are: (i) The trees shed their leaves once in a year in dry season. (ii) This is a typical monsoon vegetation consisting of larger number of commercially important species than the evergreen forests. (iii) Teak, sal, sandalwood, shisham, cane and bamboo are important trees of these forests. (iv) Large scale cutting of trees for timber has depleted these forests hopelessly.

3. Dry Tropical Vegetation

This type of vegetation is divided into two groups as under:

(a) Dry Tropical Deciduous Vegetation is found in regions receiving annual rainfall between 70 to 100 cms. These regions include parts of Uttar Pradesh, northern and western Madhya Pradesh, parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. These areas experience a long dry season and a moderate rainfall limited at best to four months. The important characteristics of this vegetation are : (i) Stretches of open grass are most common between group of trees. Teak is the dominant tree of this type of vegetation. . (ii) The trees shed their leaves during the long dry season.

(b) Dry Tropical Thorny Vegetation is found in areas receiving annual rainfall less than 70 cms. These areas include north and northwestern parts of India and leeward side of the Sahyadris. The important characteristics of this type of vegetation are: (i) Vast, poor and coarse grasslands are interspersed with widely spaced trees and bushes. (ii) Acacia, euphorbias, cactus etc. are true representatives of this type of vegetation. Wild palm and spiny and thorny varieties are also found here and there.

4. Tidal Vegetation

This type of vegetation grows mainly in the deltaic regions of the Ganga, Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna which are flooded by tides and high sea waves. Mangrove is the representative of this type of vegetation. Sundari is the typical tree of tidal forests. It is found in abundance in the lower Ganga delta of West Bengal. This is the reason why it is popularly known as Sunderban. It is known for its hard and durable timber.

5. The Mountain Vegetation

Due to the difference in temperature and other weather conditions of northern and peninsular mountain ranges, there exists difference in the vegetal cover of these two groups of mountain ranges. Hence, the mountain vegetation can be classified as the mountain vegetation of Peninsular plateau and the mountain vegetation of the Himalayan ranges.

(a) The Mountain Vegetation of Peninsular Plateau: The high altitude area of the plateau region include Nilgiri, Annamalai and Palni hills, Mahabaleshwar in Western Ghats, Satpura and Maikal hills. The important characteristics of vegetation of this region are: (i) Stretches of open rolling grass plains with undeveloped forests or bushes are found. (ii) The wet temperate forests below 1500 metres are less dense than those found above this height. (iii) The forests have thick undergrowth, epiphytes, mosses and ferns. (iv) Magnolia, laurel, elm are common trees. (v) Cinchona and eucalyptus have been introduced from outside the country.

(b) The Mountain Vegetation of the Himalayan Ranges: In the Himalayan mountain region, the vegetation is different at increasing altitudes. This can be divided into following types:

1. Moist Tropical Deciduous forests are found along the foot hills in the Siwaliks, upto the height of 1000 metres. We have already learnt about these forests. 2. The Wet Temperate Evergreen forests are found in the areas lying between 1000 to 3000 metres. The important characteristics of these forests are:

(i) These are very thick forests of lofty trees. (ii) Oak and chestnut are the predominant trees of the eastern Himalayan region while chir and pine are in the western part. (iii) Sal is the important tree in lower altitudes. (iv) Deodar, silver fir and spruce are predominant trees between the height of 2000 and 3000 metres. These forests are less dense as compared to the forests at lesser elevations. (v) These forests are of great economic importance to the local population.

3. Dry Temperate Vegetation is found on the higher hilly slopes of this mountain region which has moderate temperatures and rainfall between 70 cms and 100 cms. Important characteristics of this type of vegetation are:

(i) This vegetation resembles the Mediterranean vegetation. (ii) Wild olives, acacia are important trees along with hard, coarse and thick savanna grass. (iii) Oak and deodar are found here and there.

4. Alpine Vegetation is found between the altitude 3000 and 4000 metres. The important characteristics of these forests are: (i) These are far less dense, (ii) Silver fir, juniper, birch, pine and rhododendron are important trees of these forests. However, all of them have only a stunted growth. (iii) Alpine pastures are found at still higher altitudes. (iv) The trees get progressively stunted as they approach the snow line.  Natural vegetation is the assemblage of plant species living in association with one another in a given environment.  Variations in temperature and rainfall conditions have a clear impact on vegetation of different regions.  The major vegetation belts include the moist tropical evergreen, the moist tropical deciduous, dry deciduous, the tidal and the mountain vegetation. Mountain vegetation spans almost from the tropical to Alpin types.

WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNT

Land is our basic resource. It has different roles like productive economic factor, foundation for social prestige and is the basis of wealth and political power. India is well endowed with cultivable land. It has favourable land-man ratio than Japan, and Netherlands, whereas it is not as favourable as it is in Australia, Canada and the U.S.A. Land use is a dynamic process. It changes over time due to a number of factors including increasing population and changes in cropping pattern and technology. However, bulk of land continues to be used for raising crops. India faces a lot of problems related to land. They are land degradation, tenure or ownership of land and deforestation. India has adopted two broad measures, land reclamation and land reforms to solve these problems. Soil is defined as upper layer of the earth composed of loose surface material. The soils of India are broadly divided into six groups. They are alluvial, regur or black, red, laterite, desert and mountain soils. Like land, soil also has problems such as soil erosion and soil exhaustion. Various soil conservation methods like contour ploughing terracing, shelter belt formation and afforestation are adopted in India. Natural vegetation implies the assemblage of plant species living in association with one another in a given environment. Diversity in climatic conditions has resulted into a marked diversity in natural vegetation. The important vegetation types in India include the moist tropical evergreen, the moist tropical deciduous, the dry deciduous, the tidal forests and the mountain vegetation. TERMINAL QUESTIONS

Internal Migration and Regional Disparities in India

Internal Migration and Regional Disparities in India

Introduction

Internal migration is now recognized as an important factor in influencing social and economic development, especially in developing countries. According to census 2001, the total population of India is 1028 million consisting of 532 million males and 496 million females. India is geographically divided into 28 states and 7 Union Territories. There is a tremendous variation in the aggregate population size across the state. It varies from 0.54 million in Sikkim to 166.2 million in Uttar Pradesh. In 2001, 309 million persons were migrants based on place of lastresidence, which constitute about 30% of the total population of the country. This figure indicates an increase of around 37 percent from census 1991 which recorded 226 million migrants.

Objectives

This paper is aimed to address mainly the following aspects of spatial mobility within India during the last intercensal decade of 1991-2001. 1. Reasons for migration 2. In-migration, out-migration and net migration levels of all states. 3. State to state migration flows. 4. Some insights on the determinants of internal migration in India.

Data Source

This paper uses data from census 2001, which was released recently. Census in India collects information on migration based on spatial and temporal aspects. In India, the place of birth and place of last residence of a person provide information on the spatial aspects of movement, while duration of residence provides data on the temporal aspects of migration. The data covers spatial movement of persons within a state or between the states based on crossing geographical / administrative boundaries. Census, however, does not provide economic characteristics of the states. For the economic variables, the paper uses data of various sources, including publications of the Reserve Bank of India, Central Statistical Organization and Planning Commission, India

Results

Internal migration in India

In 2001, 309 million persons were migrants based on place of last residence, which constitute about 30% of the total population of the country. This figure indicates an increase of around 37 percent from census 1991 which recorded 226 million migrants. Out of the total migrants 91 million are males and the rest 218 are females. Thus migrants constitute around 30 percent of the total population, male and female migrants constituting 18 percent and 45 percent of their population respectively. Of the total migrants, 87 percent were migrants within the state of enumeration while 13 percent were interstate migrants. Among the male migrants, 79 percent moved within the state of enumeration while 21 percent moved between states. Among females, 90 percent were intrastate migrants and 10 percent were interstate migrants.

In all censuses, rural to rural migration stream has been the most important. Females constitute a significantly higher proportion of rural wardmigrants mainly on account of marriage.

As regards long distance (inter-state) movement in India, a clear sex differential is found from census 2001. Among the male interstate migrants, rural to urban stream emerged as the most prominent accounting for 47 percent.On the other hand, rural to rural has remained the major pattern of female movement, with 36 percent of them migrating from rural to rural areas.

Reasons for migration

98 million persons moved during the decade 1991-2001. Out of this, 33 million are males and 65 million are females. Of the total intercensal migrants, 83 percent were intrastate migrants and 17 percent were interstate migrants. However, among the males, 74 percent migrated within the state of enumeration while 26 percent moved between states. A corresponding percentage of females (13 percent) were recorded as interstate migrants. This indicates that mobility of Indian population has significantly increased during the 1990s.

In census 2001, the reasons for migration have been classified into seven broad groups – work/employment, business, education, marriage, moved at birth, moved with family and others.

It is observed that employment among males and marriage among females are the main reasons for migration. Associational reasons – movement on account of accompanying parents or any other member of the familyis elicited second most important reason among both male and female intercensal migrants. Around 44 percent of the total intercensal migrants have moved due to marriages. However, it is predominantly led by females as 65 percent of females have migrated owing to their marriages compared to 2 percent among males. Among male migrants, employment has continued to be the main reason for migration with nearly 40 percent of them accounted by it.

When interstate migration is taken into account, employment emerges as the main reason for migration. Nearly 32 percent of all interstate migrants during the intercensal period migrated for the reason of work or employment. This is closely followed by ‘moved with household’ reason accounting for around 30 percent of the intercensal interstate migrants. However, there is a clear difference between different streams of migration. While nearly 79 percent of females in intrastate rural to rural migrants during the intercensal period reported marriage as the reason for migration, it is only 37 percent among females in the case of urban to urban interstate migrants.

‘Moved with household’ as a reason also emerges as an important cause for both male and female migration in all streams ofmigration during the intercensal period. Inter – state migration flows 1991-2001

Although out-migration and in-migration are enough to measure the amount of net migration, the direction to/from which the migrants moved can be used to explain the structure and pattern ofinternal migration in a country. Flow matrices are not readily available from the census publications. However a directional flow matrix (28 * 28) between the states can be developed from census data.

From the largest three or fourmagnitudes of out-migration proportions of each state, it is clear that majority ofthe migrants have moved to neighboring states only. However there are exceptions for this. For Uttar Pradesh, which constitutes 41 percent of all our migrants, migration to Maharashtra accounts for 32 percent even though Maharashtra is not a border state. Likewise, out migrants from Orissa preferred Gujarat and Maharashtra as the destination even when these states are not border states. Out-migration to these states made up to 34 percent of total out-migrants from Orissa.

A close look at the pattern of each state’s out-migration is as follows. 56 percent of out-migrants from Uttar Pradesh have gone to Maharashtra, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. In the case of Bihar, nearly 50 percent out-migrants have moved to Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Out-migrantsfrom these two states made up to 70 percent of total out-migrants. More than one-third of Tamil Nadu migrants moved to Karnataka. The rest of the out-migrants have chosen mainly Kerala, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. More than three-fourth of out-migrants from Andhra Pradesh have moved to the border states namely, Karnataka,Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. For the out-migrants from Rajasthan, destinations are Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Turning to Kerala, about 48 percent have moved to the neighboring states, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. However, a slightly more than one-fourth of the out-migrants from Kerala have moved to Maharashtra, which is not a bordering state. Overall it is observed that majority of the out-migrants have moved to the bordering states. Nevertheless, it is observed that migration to non bordering states has also been significant. Here, one has to remember the enormous variations in the geographical sizes of Indian states. With the distance covered by an inter-district migrant in state like Rajasthan, a migrant in smaller states can reachanother state, thus qualifying as interstate migration.

From the flow matrix, Maharashtra emerges the most favored destination for migration. Half of the entire interstate migrants have moved to Maharashtra. Gujarat and Haryana are the other preferred destinations with nearly 30 percent of the migrants moving to these states. The three states, thus, attracted 80 percent of all interstate migrants during the intercensal period 1991-2001.

Inter-state migration: socio-economic determinants.

There is growing evidence in India to suggestthat the country is moving fast in the overall development. Structural transformation in the 1990s has propelled the growth of the economy further. The percentage of people below poverty line has reduced and per capita consumption has improved simultaneously. Although Indian economy is predominantly agricultural, the proportion of work force engaged in agricultural activities has fallen significantly. This reduction is perhaps, a sign of enhanced job opportunities in other sectors.

With this scenario of an optimistic economic growth at the national level, an attempt is made to relate the levels of migration ofeach state with some social and economic indicators. The following variables have been considered for the preliminary analysis: – proportion urban, per capita income, proportion of non agricultural workers, density, economic dependency ratio, average earnings of rural labor, sex ratio, proportion age 15-59 and sex ratio of age15-49.Zero order correlation coefficients of these variables with migration levels is expected to providesome insights on the mechanisms of push pull factors of spatial mobility in India. The measurement errors in both the sets of variables, socio economic variables as well as migration, cannot be summarily ruled out, although efforts will be made to maximize the reliability.

Further, from the host of socio economic variables, some variables are considered for a linear regression analysis with the levels of in-migration. A quick look at the flow matrix shows that the poorest states in terms of state’s per capita income have moved to states with high per capita income. The mean per capita income of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the decade 1991-2001 is Rs.3209 and Rs.6757 respectively. But the preferred destination states, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana have high per capita income of Rs.16254; Rs.13980 and Rs.15386 respectively. On the other hand, Punjab with a higher per capita income of Rs.16765 has not attracted migrants in the decade. In overall, it is found that states with less per capita income has migratedto states with higher per capita income, higher wages and better opportunities.

DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND”

The glib talk of a “demographic dividend” seems to have erased all concern about population growth from public discourse in India. The term “family planning”, or even the politically correct term of “family welfare” has all but disappeared from the national lexicon, including the Economic Survey and Budget documents. At a time when even China is, in fact, reviewing its ‘one child’ policy and many economies around the world are more worried about ageing, India is one of the world’s youngest countries with more than half the population below 30 years of age. Also, the fertility rate, or the number of children per woman, has been declining steadily, almost halving from the late sixties through 2009. In several states where prosperity and education levels are higher — Andhra, Kerala, Punjab — among them fertility rates have fallen below replacement levels, putting them on a par with some advanced nations. These numbers are reassuring but don’t tell the full story. Large parts of India are yet to make the demographic transition to lower fertility rates.

On an all-India basis, the fertility rate at 2.76 is still significantly behind China’s 1.77, no doubt the result of the latter’s stringent one child policy. As a recent article by Indicus Analytics in this newspaper pointed out, using one estimate of constant fertility rate, India’s population is set to exceed China’s by 2022, just 11 years from now. This date could be postponed by 18 years to 2029 if we use a lower fertility assumption. Either way, India is going to have a lot of people. Global corporations and businessmen see this in terms of burgeoning potential markets for a range of consumer goods and a useful talent pool. But as the Indicus Analytics analysis pointed out, these numbers may set out probable scenarios but “they do give some pointer to the huge resource requirements ahead for feeding, clothing and housing India’s growing population”. Ergo: it’s no point having lots of people if they are neither educated properly nor healthy. This is certainly a major issue even today; despite being among the world’s top ten fastest growing economies, the Human Development Indicators (HDI) provide a depressing dampener ever year. India’s 2010 HDI ranking was 119 (among 169 countries), to China’s 89, Brazil’s 73 and Russia’s 65, putting it way behind all its BRIC competitors.

Despite strenuous efforts and some notable successes (in primary schooling, for example), the centre and state governments’ ability to provide its 1.2 billion people with adequate health, sanitation and education remains poor, more so in the rural areas where the bulk of the population lives. Going by