IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 23rd October, 2015
TOPIC: General Studies 2
Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Bleeding Fault-lines: Bahishkrut Bharat
Equality has become a far-fetched ‘term’ in the bedrock of deep-rooted caste system that exhibits not only crimes like rapes, murders, and physical assault but also social and emotional boycott that is not visible on the ground.
The recent lynching at Dadri has set off echoes regarding the ‘endemic’ status that anti-Dalit violence holds; the caste fault-lines divided and bleeding, for the 16% of India’s population.
The acceptance of social hierarchy and the unwillingness of the powerful upper castes to share power and resources with Dalits mark the disturbing pattern of gruesome violence existing in the landscape of India.
The situation can be understood from two angles:
Stigma of pollution attached: Anti-social, anti-progress character of an unjust social order
Practices employed to protect from the ‘polluting’ element and the vital connection established through networks of force and ideology with the existing political power
Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, Scheduled Castes
Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
Article 15(2) states that no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth be discriminated with regard to
(a) Access to shop, public restaurants, hotel and public entertainment; or
(b) The use of wells, tank, bathing Ghats, roads, and places of public resorts.
Under Article 15(4), the State is permitted to make anyspecial provision for advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes ofcitizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
According to the Article 16(1), of the Constitution there shall be equality of opportunity in matters of public employment, affirmative action to be taken for scheduled castes and tribes.
Reservations in elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions + Abolition of Untouchability (Art. 17) + Prohibition on forced labour
Venture Capital fund for Scheduled Castes:
Social Sector Initiative to promote entrepreneurship amongst the SCs by providing them with concessional finance
Green Business Scheme:
Loan for unit cost up to INR 1 lakh (concessional finance) for climate friendly technology usage: E-rickshaws, solar pumps, etc
Efforts of Past:
Mahatma Jyotiba Phule formed the SaytaShodak Mandal in 1873 with the aim of liberating non-brahmins from the clutches of Brahminism, MaharshiVitthal Ramji Shinde’s (l873-1944) ‘Depressed Class Mission’ and Babasaheb Ambedkar’s (1891-19S6) ‘anti-untouchability’ in Maharashtra
In the pre-independence period, the Dalit movements comprised of a strong non-Brahman movement against Brahmanism in Maharashtra.
Religious reformers of the 19thcentury were influenced by the work of Christian missionaries in India. The BrahmoSamaj(1828), the Prarthana Samaj (1867), the Ramkrishna Mission, and the Arya Samaj (1875) are the examples of such institutions
Belonged to Pulaya agricultural labor community of Kerala and fought for dalit rights in Tranvacore
Formed Sadhu Jana Paripalana Sangham and Kayal Sammelan
Kayal Sammelan– Meetings of Dalits on boats as no Dalit meetings were allowed on land
Dalit freedom fighter from Kolar region, Karnataka
Dalits were originally Buddhists, but Brahmins stigmatised them as ‘untouchables’
Thought of them as ‘AdiDravidars’ (original Dravidians) and began “Dravid Buddha Sangam”
Two factors had made deep impact on caste system which also brought social upheaval and an awakening among Dalits:
First, the western impact with its ideas and values of liberality of thought, individual freedom and equality started making inroads into the traditional matrix of the Hindu social system, the caste and other institutions.
Second, the British administration with equality before law and introduction of modem technology created the necessary intellectual and psychological climate for the emergence of social reforms movements.
Ensuring Dignity & Justice in Present Times
To be more compassionate when dealing with cases that involves Right to life
Quick identification and arrest of culprits,
Speedy trial and award of stringent punishment
Effective communication of the idea of egalitarian society and deepening of egalitarian consciousness making democratisation process faster
Stringent implementation of law for no unequal battle to be fought
Make Dalits a part of political leadership to target the diversity deficit existing in the parties
Devising evidence-based social policy which will help take steps for providing visibility and representation to communities and groups that have been invisible in the political-social-economic arena
There is a need for the public policy and popular practice to together act in tandem with each other as the progress with respect to abolishing untouchability and in assuring equal rights, remain unattained and uneven.
Though the changes have been majorly influenced by state policy, reform movements and westernisation; the growing consciousness and the liberal attitude can contribute the most in diminishing the disabilities and discriminations that emanates from the social landscape of the country.
Connecting the Dots:
Examine the factors responsible for emerging Dalit consciousness in the society.
Caste and Indian Polity
Consequences of Dalit Consciousness
Pressure Group of Dalits
General Studies 3:Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country; transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints.
General Studies 2: Governance Issues; Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Racing pulse price in India
Retail prices of all major pulses have crossed Rs 100/ kg.
In the case of tur/ arhar (pigeon pea), they have crossed the double-century mark of Rs 200/ kg in several places.
The continuation of such price-rise would sound the death knell for any political party in power.
Evidently, the present government’s mission to bring down food inflation has faced a severe blow.
How did government try to control the increasing prices of pulses ?
It constituted a committee to find out the reasons for the increasing trend and also to come up with potential solutions that can reduce the prices.
Invoked the Essential Commodities Act against traders and stockists (hoarders).
Imposed stocking limits on dal mills, large retailers, warehouses, etc.
Imported 7,000 tonnes of tur dal, banned exports, reduced the import duty to zero, and suspended futures and forwards trading.
Tur prices in markets like Rajkot, Bangalore, Puducherry and Chennai have touched Rs 200/ kg (and even higher) , an annual increase of 100, 163, 147 and 141 per cent, respectively.
Who in the government is accountable for the present situation in pulses?
Alarm bells rang out in early September about pulse production falling by more than two million tonnes (about 11 per cent) in 2014-15 over 2013-14.
The effect of the 2015 drought on the major pulse-growing states — Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, meant that future supply pressures were near-certain.
While traders had their ears to the ground, the complacency of government officials has resulted in the present situation.
The time to act was then. Now, the economic damage to poor consumers and political harm to the government in power have been done.
Interestingly, the bureaucracy, which should be accountable for tracking production and prices, and ensuring smooth inter-/ intra-year supplies, goes scot-free.
But what went wrong?
First, who is a hoarder?
Let us remember that in any situation in which harvesting is concentrated in a one- to three-month window, though consumption is spread through the year, there is a need for someone to store the stock to smoothen supplies.
Is this not why the government is encouraging the creation of warehouses and cold storages?
Now, when the government imposes stocking limits, legitimate stockists become “hoarders” overnight.
Forcing them to offload stocks will certainly bring immediate relief to the markets, but what will happen to supply in subsequent months is anyone’s guess.
Additionally, this strategy also discourages further investments in warehouses/ cold storages by private stockists, inflicting deep damage to the system.
In the absence of stockists, market prices of, say, pulses in the months immediately after harvest would collapse, discouraging farmers from growing them in the subsequent season.
Second, by suspending futures and forwards markets, the government has simply shot the messenger.
Forwards and futures markets are supposed to give signals about likely future prices, and if harnessed well, they can actually help the government take early measures.
But by shooting them down, the government has, in fact, shot itself in the foot.
Now, the government is in a dark room, with no clue about existing stocks or the prices likely in the coming months.
Third, the government’s decision to import 7,000 tonnes of tur (5,000 tonnes earlier, and 2,000 tonnes now) to tame prices, shows the anxiety of officials.
In a country where the consumption of tur over between 3.3 to four million tonnes, aiming to control rising prices by importing 7,000 tonnes exposes the government’s ignorance in pulse price management.
What are the potential solutions now?
First, the government should create a buffer stock of around two to three million tonnes from domestic production and/ or imports, and release it whenever pulse prices spike.
Given that domestic consumption of pulses is around 23 million tonnes, this level of stocking is the minimum that is needed to stabilise prices.
Second, the government needs to create a crop-neutral incentive structure for farmers, which is at present skewed in favour of rice, wheat and sugarcane.
Much of the subsidies on fertilisers, power, and irrigation go to these crops.
These subsidies amount to more than Rs 10,000/ hectare. If the same amount were given to pulse growers, they would be incentivised to produce more.
Third, diversify and enhance the pulse basket.
While yellow pea and lupins can be imported from Canada and Australia, respectively, we need to use soya flour, along with rice, wheat and other pulse flours, and re-constitute these into pulses.
We are surplus in soya, and soya flour has a very high protein content — more than 40 per cent compared to 20-25 per cent for most other pulses.
Technology to do this exists and can be tailored to Indian tastes. Innovations like this and incentives to produce more pulses are the way to go.
Connecting the dots:
Critically examine the present cropping pattern in India, with special reference on pulses producing areas.
Critically examine the various measures taken by the government in order to tame food inflation in India.
American readiness to offer aid has bred dependence, and the U.S. has ended up as an enabler of Pakistan’s dysfunction