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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 10th October, 2016

  • October 10, 2016
  • 4
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Oct 2016, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 10th October, 2016

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

General Studies 3

  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

 

Farm puzzle: Dip in fertiliser sales despite rains and low rates

There has been a significant drop in fertiliser sales amidst positive attributes such as good rains, low fertiliser prices and the Agriculture Ministry projecting an all-time-high kharif foodgrain and oilseeds production in2016. However, this has puzzled both the policy makers as well as industry.

Sale of Fertilisers

Urea

  • Fertiliser firms sold 143.71 lakh tonnes (lt) of urea during April-September
  • It was 7.2% below the 154.80 lt for the corresponding kharif season period of 2015.
  • Urea is the most widely used fertiliser in India

Others

  • Sale of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) dipped from 50.73 lt in 2015 to 42.06 lt in 2016.
  • Sale of complexes (fertilisers with varying proportions of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and sulphur) saw downfall from 43.08 lt to 39.97 lt in an year.

It is considered an unprecedented situation as there was a normal southwest monsoon in 2016 which resulted in higher kharif-sowing area of 3.7 million hectares over 2015.

There was a record output of kharif cereals (126.33 million tonnes), pulses (8.70 mt) and oilseeds (23.36 mt).

To further stimulate the demand, there was reduction in prices of urea and DAP. But the unexpected happened as even the low prices did not boost the sale.

What is the reason for declined fertiliser sales?

 

  1. Increase in pulses production
  • The negative sales growth of urea can be partly pertained to 29.1% jump in pulses acreage in 2016.
  • Pulses being leguminous plants, whose root nodules harbour bacteria that naturally ‘fix’ atmospheric nitrogen, require less urea.
  • In addition, it can save roughly one bag per hectare for the succeeding crop.
  1. Neem coated urea
  • The government’s policy to make 100 per cent neem-coating mandatory for both domestically manufactured and imported urea is said to be more important reason.
  • Normal urea is prone to nitrogen loss on accounting of ‘leaching’ (underground percolation) and ‘volatilisation’ (escaping into the atmosphere).
  • Neem coating can control these by ensuring slow release of nitrogen.
  • It has further stopped illegal urea diversion for non-industrial uses like plywood and melamine manufacture.
  • The neem coating has also led to improved urea consumption efficiency.
  • Previously, farmers may have been applying urea once in 10days, but with crop retaining greenness for a longer time due to slow nitrogen release, the frequency of application could have reduced to 15 days.
  • Thus, instead of three bags for an acre of paddy, they need to be buying only two.
  1. Drought for past two years
  • Pulses may not need nitrogen but it requires phosphorous. Even then, the sale of other fertilisers.
  • The reason for overall sluggish sales may have to do with drought too.
  • Though the rains have been good in 2016, the 2014 and 2015 droughts have left man farmers without any money to buy fertilisers.
  1. Inadequate credit availability
  • The droughts have not only dented farmers’ incomes but also their confidence
  • Though official figures on seasonal agricultural operation loans are not available, the industry believes that crop credit flow has suffered.
  • The public sector banks had to make higher provisions against non-performing assets and farmers’ own accounts have turned irregular due to back-to-back droughts.

Conclusion

  • The government has to help restore the farmer incomes as well as confidence through proper implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
  • Many reformist ideas are being implemented to increase farmers’ income so that he can invest more in productive technology.
  • Farm mechanisation, new crop technology, e-technology in aid of farmers, GM seeds are long term measures to increase agricultural productivity. But, to sustain current population’s food security, fertilisers play an important role in enhancing farm adequacies.
  • Hence, government has to protect farmers’ interest and provide them with all the necessary agricultural inputs to sustain and grow the foodgrain availability of population, even in distress times.

Connecting the dots:

  • It has been observed that despite good rains and low fertiliser prices, the sale of fertilisers has decreased. Is this a worrying concern? Explain?
  • Though fertilisers are important for increasing agricultural production, they are harmful for crops and land too. Critically analyse if organic farming should replace fertilisers.

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

 

Evolution of the education policy

A new education policy being finalised by MHRD is aiming at making education both emancipator and enabler while encouraging innovation over rote learning. This inclusive and participatory approach is hoped to give positive outcomes for the knowledge economy.

  • Gross enrolment was the focus area in earlier schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Right to Education, National Literacy Mission.
  • But, poor quality of education is a pressing issue at present which has been reflected in several national-level surveys, third-party assessments, and at the employment stage.
  • Thus, this challenge has to be addressed which is possible through studying various aspects of the Indian education system at the grass-roots level such as
    • Quality of trainers
    • Curricula upgradation
    • Use of e-learning
    • Assessment pedagogies
    • Institutional accreditation
    • Focus on extracurricular activities
    • Common syllabi
    • Foreign universities Bill
    • Not-for profit model

The new education policy should include four important facets:

Regulatory

  • In a new approach, the Telangana government announced its education policy and brought most of the educational institutions under a single department of education rather than different regulatory divisions.
  • Such reforms are essential at the central level where there exists many regulatory bodies like UGC, AICTE, NCERT and various course-specific councils and boards.
  • On the lines of single regulatory bodies like TRAI or IRDA, an educational regulatory body will be helpful in improving the overall productivity of the institutions.
  • A single regulatory educational body would allow educational institutions to focus more on education delivery to students.
  • Different regulatory body means too much paperwork, rent-seeking and corruption.

 

Accountability

  • Often, parallel education system or coaching institutes are criticised in the Indian education system.
  • But it has to be known that their existence is owed to failure of main education system comprising schools, colleges and universities.
  • This is because there is no accountability system in our educational system.
  • For comparison, in USA, Every Student Succeeds Act was passed in December 2015 which reduced the role of federal government and made schools more accountable and performance-oriented.
  • Similarly in India, schools or colleges should not be allowed to consider themselves merely custodians of licences to grant degrees or certificates. Instead, they ought to be responsible for the final learning outcome and also make teachers accountable.

Reservation

  • Reservation is one of the efficient way towards social equilibrium. However, it need not necessarily be just caste-based reservation.
  • When the practice was started just after gaining independence, caste was perhaps the only practical way to differentiate the privileged and underprivileged.
  • But today, there is a huge databases and multiple ways to separate both categories.
  • The social benefits of reservation for a poor family or deprived student from the general category (as defined currently) is far greater than reservation for an affluent reserved category individual (based on the current caste system).
  • The regressive part is that no government would dare to change the reservation system to solve the unequal distribution of benefits. Thus, any update on this issue in new educational policy is unlikely.

Financing

  • The Central government spends less than 4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) on education.
  • The allotment in 2016-17 budget with increase of just 4.9% year-on-year increase is actually lower as a percentage of GDP if inflation is factored in.
  • The government has to validate its claim of considering education as a national agenda by giving proportionate allocation.
  • In that context, the hefty fees of premier insitutions like IITs and IIMs should be reduced. No doubt it gives good salary packages to the graduates but it might also deter a student from becoming an entrepreneur due to the burden of educational loans.

Conclusion

  • The market forces should be allowed to decide which educational institution is better rather than the regulaorty bbodies deciding.
  • The government should make teachers and institutions accountable by reviewing their eligibility criteria.
  • If education is listed among the “9 pillars” to transform India, then eventually the issue of reservation will have to be addressed in order to foster excellence in education governance.
  • The duty of government is to provide best education to the deserving candidates. Even if education is made free at these powerhouse institutions, there would be an additional expense of only about Rs1,400 crore which is less than 0.1% of India’s yearly budget or just 0.01% of national GDP.
  • But, it could have a multiplier effect on the development of an economy which has 54% of its total population below 25 years of age.
  • Thus, the new educational policy is expected to bring in some critical reforms to enhance the quality of education, institutions and overall system.

Connecting the dots:

  • How does education plays a critical role in creating demographic dividend? Elucidate
  • What according to you should be major reforms as a part of new education policy? Discuss

 

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