IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 28th October, 2015
General Studies 2:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues ; Governance Issues
General Studies 3:Inclusive growth and issues arising from it; Public Distribution System; Food Security.
Conditional Cash transfer
Perverse political hegemony over economic sense, hand in glove nature of corrupt bureaucrats, ineffective poverty identification, social exclusion due to caste, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and huge inadequacies in a centralized distribution system- all have contributed to the sorry state of affairs of Public Distribution System.
When a subsidy is transferred directly into a bank account there is very little scope for leakage between the transferring authority and the bank account.
Humans can take rational decisions and this process can be transformative as well as informative, providing a kind of security to those who’ve been time and again, left out from the developmental process.
Linking PM Jan-Dhan Yojana with mobile network and database of biometric information will help make the bottommost members visible in the Public Distribution System and will help plug in the leakages by eliminating the ‘ghost beneficiaries’. (JAM Trinity)
Intervention of technology will also help in faster, less corrupt practices and efficient targeting of benefits of the subsidies as well as the benefits of social welfare programmes to the needy. It will ensure that redesigning of PDS Shops/State delivery mechanisms take place bringing in more efficiency in the process.
With the help of MNREGA, both backward and forward linkages have been taken care of. Even the Formation of SHG’s and various Farmer’s cooperatives can compete with better terms in an interlocked market.
However, to realize this, government must enhance state capacity (PRI’s; Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan) and reform the subsidy delivery system by strengthening quality of service provision. Poverty should be tackled simultaneously with strengthening of health and education system.
Penetration of Banking Services:
Appointment of Business Correspondents, to help identify the poor and ensure benefits to the illiterate will help serve the goal of maximum financial inclusion and better targeting of beneficiaries.
Though, the ‘middlemen syndrome’ and existence of ‘Non-Performing Assets’ of the banks, can be a source of controversy during the process of benefits of cash transfer, it will still be an opportunity worth gambling upon
Empowers the beneficiaries with choices and will not necessarily lead one to the lap of liquor and drugs
Cultivation of an entrepreneurship spirit with the saved money
When the cash has been provided, the individual does not only invest it in food but also invest in commodities that can bring income to someone else or puts in the business and provide income to someone else.
This increases liquidity in the market and in short, an inflationary pressure gets established which calls for a better monetary policy of the government. A slow growth period will lag behind in absorbing the extra cash in the economy.
There is a need for the government to reach the vulnerable left out areas to tackle poverty syndrome. BCA’s can help fill the gap here.
The uncertainty of the market mechanism coupled with the vagaries of the climate might force farmers to shift their course and invest in crops that are more reliable, increasing our dependence upon imports. Government needs to come up with innovative policies and attractive schemes to let the farmer be in the same line. After all, good governance is the need of the hour; not just by the way of stating but way of its implementation.
Schemes: Need to reform their functioning and improve their quality, learning creative inputs from the best practices set in other countries
While the usage of biometric information can help in efficient identification and less wastages, proper legislations need to be put in place to avoid the abuse of the data and pro-active redressal mechanisms should be established
Food Voucher Model: Here the PDS dealer can engage in no such practice as in addition to records filled up on a form, the dealer also has to provide coupons that he gets from the consumers to support his documented credentials.
Cash Voucher in Education: According to WB, Cash Voucher program in education will promote competition amongst the schools and can increase the social inclusion of the underprivileged students as well as decrease the number of out of school children
There needs to be a link between the expectations of the people and the expenditure made by the Government of India. Here, social audit and wide publicity can generate awareness and hold the authorities accountable to their deeds.
Private sector participation with proper responsibilities and grievance redressal mechanism can help free the resources of government and lead to a systematic implementation of the benefits of Cash Transfer Scheme. Investment in R&D would double the scope of the spread of the benefits by taking care of other related issues that a country might face in future.
Connecting the Dots:
Are Conditional Cash Transfers an effective delivery alternative to the traditional PDS System? Discuss
Analyse the reasons behind the failure of the PDS. Suggest reforms for the overall mechanism of benefits transfer for the poor, to absorb them in the mainstream developmental process.
General Studies 3:Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment; Agriculture
Punjab : A case study in agricultural and economic mismanagement in India
From the breadbasket of India, Punjab has become a basket-case economy.
Endowed with ample water and good soil, Punjab’s happy, progressive people had a dream that is now a distant memory.
The Centre’s policies aimed at increasing food production to ensure an adequate supply of grain, coupled with export restrictions, have taken a toll.
Trickledown effect did not occur in Punjab:
In the early years of development government focussed on trickled down theory based on experiences of USA and other western countries.
However, the expected progression of Punjab from agricultural economy to industrial powerhouse to service-sector leader never took place.
Food processing, essential for agricultural prosperity, never bloomed — for instance, Punjab exports wheat but imports wheat flour.
Till such time as off-farm jobs aren’t created, discontent is going to rise.
Why Punjab is a failed state in sustainable agriculture?
It’s not right to blame the Green Revolution for the whole mess — there’s more to it than that.
Lack of quality and progressive research:
Starved of state government funds, the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) has witnessed decreasing faculty strength and new research has completely ceased in the last decade.
The state government imposes high taxes on the purchase of foodgrain by the Food Corporation of India. If just 5 per cent of this were provided to the PAU, it would help its revival.
But political expediency takes precedence over vision and foresight to dis-incentivise the monoculture of wheat and rice
Punjab is suffocating from its estimated 6,00,000-plus tractors.
Tractor-ownership is viable only if they are operated for over 900 hours per year. In contrast, average farm-use in Punjab is possibly half this figure.
As a result, once a farmer buys a tractor, he works for the bank for life to repay the loan and interest.
Overexploitation of natural resources:
Over exploitation of groundwater because of the free power provided to farmers has resulted in the water table falling to dangerously low levels.
The cost of drawing water from greater depths is causing more indebtedness among farmers.
4. A fertilizer trap:
Urea is sold at one-fourth the price of table salt today.
But the excessive use of cheap urea destroys the soil and leads to more plant vegetative growth.
An explosion of insect and pest populations is then inevitable.
Indiscriminate, unregulated sale of pesticides and spurious products is leading to an ecological disaster.
Need for an Evergreen revolution:
Indian farmers have to mainstream the ecological principles in farming practices in order to continue with the agricultural growth that India has achieved till date.
Ever-green revolution is the only pathway available to developing countries with small farms and a large malnourished population.
Connecting the dots:
Critically examine the socio economic and ecological impacts of green revolution in India.
Critically analyse the need for a second green revolution in India.
Ever-green revolution is the only pathway available to developing countries with small farms and a large malnourished population. Critically discuss the relevance of above statement to India.