IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 19th February 2018
State of women in India: Caste and rural-urban divide
Part of: Mains GS Paper I- Social Issues
- According to a report released by the United Nations, the caste of a women in India can increase her exposure to mortality due to various factors like inadequate healthcare and poor sanitation.
- Caste disparity-
It has been reported that women belonging to Dalit caste dies 14.6 years younger than women from other castes at an average.
- Rural-Urban disparity-
The report also brings out how it is more likely for a woman from rural household to get married under the age of 18, and become an adolescent mother as compared to women from urban households. It also points to how it is less likely for a rural household woman to go to school as compared to those from urban areas.
About the report:
- The report released is called Turning promises into action: gender equality in the 2030 Agenda.
- The UN report covers 89 countries and has been released two years after the adoption of UN’s 2030 Agenda.
- The report examines through a gender lens the progress and challenges in the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- It emphasises on how the progress of a woman is essential for an overall development to be achieved. It focuses on the importance of providing benefits and services to one and all and is complemented with a pledge to leave no one behind on the journey to sustainable development.
The report states that strategies should be built by creating a sense of solidarity through redistribution, risk sharing, and universal services, to ensure no one is left behind on the path of development.
Article link: Click here
Geo-tagging of MGNREGS assets in Kerala
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Infrastructure
- Kerala is soon to get assets generated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme geo-tagged and perhaps become the first State to achieve this distinction.
- Geo-tagging is being done under the GeoMGNREGA, a software solution, to photo geotag all completed assets under the MGNREGS using space technology and to integrate the details of wage and materials into public domain to ensure transparency and accountability, according to the MGNREGS website.
- The objective of GeoMGNREGA is to create Geographical Information System solution to explore the data of assets created under the MGNREGA.
- It essentially enables to view such assets across India on a map.
Article link: Click here
Hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Infrastructure
- The Virgin Group, a British multinational corporation, has signed an ‘intent agreement’ with the Maharashtra government on to build a hyperloop transportation system between Mumbai and Pune.
- The hyperloop route will be a fully electric system that can travel at up to 1,000 kmph.
Benefits of the hyperloop:
- The hyperloop is expected to reduce travel time between the cities to 20 minutes, from the present three hours.
- With easier access to airport gates, the loop will be able to ferry 15 crore passengers every year.
- The proposed hyperlink system will transform the transportation system and make Maharashtra a global pioneer in the space.
- The socio-economic benefits of the project is $55 billion, and will create thousands of jobs.
Article link: Click here
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its neighborhood and International – relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
India and It’s Neighbors
India’s salience in global matters has grown over time.
- The presence of 10 leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at India’s Republic Day celebrations.
- The visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Palestine.
India now need to contemplate and reflect deeply on what is happening in our immediate neighbourhood.
In the vicinity:
Far more than East, South-east Asia, or West Asia, it is India’s immediate neighbourhood that directly impacts it geopolitically, geo-strategically and geoeconomically.
Whatever be the ambit of India’s reach elsewhere, India’s principal focus should be on its neighbourhood.
In West Asia:
India still possesses enough leeway to engage in skilful manoeuvre around contentious issues in West Asia.
- India successfully handled an Israeli Prime Minister’s visit to India just prior to Mr. Modi’s visit to Palestine, and yet avoid a negative fallout.
- Mr. Modi, during his Palestine visit concluded as many as six agreements and express the hope that Palestine would soon emerge as a sovereign independent country in a peaceful manner without having to specifically refer to a “united” and “viable” Palestine.
- With the UAE, trade and economic ties along with counter-terror aspects have improve over time.
- With Oman, an established friend, the option of closer naval co-operation and of reaching an agreement to give the Indian Navy access to Duqm port should be explored.
In South Asia:
Nepal and Bangladesh:
- India needs to contemplate ways to deal with a new government in Nepal (comprising the Left Alliance of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre).
- India also needs to now contemplate the prospect of prolonged unrest and possibly violence, both communal and terror-related, in neighbouring Bangladesh, prior to scheduled elections in 2019.
Dealing with both Nepal and Bangladesh will need closer monitoring.
An imminent challenge for India is to sort out the imbroglio in the Maldives which is threatening to spill out of control.
India cannot afford not to be directly engaged in finding a proper solution.
Relations between India and the Maldives have undergone significant changes since the days of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
- After the Maldivian Democratic Party, headed by former President Mohamed Nasheed, came to power, for the first time anti-Indian forces within the Maldives gained some support.
- Under the current President, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, anti-Indian tendencies have steadily increased and there has been a pronounced tilt in favour of China.
- The free trade agreement that the Maldives signed recently with China has been providing China with an excellent opportunity to enhance its influence and retain de facto possession of the Southern Atolls in the Maldivian archipelago.
- With the U.S. taking a step back, China has begun to display a great deal of interest in the area.
The Maldives today occupies a crucial position along the main shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean.
India cannot, hence, afford to remain idle and must come up with an answer soon enough that is consistent with its strategic interests.
Reference article: Maldives in the midst of deep political crisis
Across the border:
Pakistan and Afghanistan, similarly demand our focussed attention.
India should act with a sense of responsibility expected of a regional superpower.
- India is facing a daily haemorrhaging of human lives due to cross border firing and terrorist violence from Pakistan.
- In spite of its internal political crisis, and U.S. President Donald Trump’s threatening Pakistan with dire consequences if it failed to amend its ways, Pakistan shows no sign of altering its anti-India trajectory.
- The daily massacre of innocents, men, women and children, civilian officials and military personnel, experts from several countries and diplomats, marks the start of the complete collapse of a system of governance.
- Despite periodic optimistic forecasts of the Taliban being in retreat, terrorists under check, and that the Afghan government is still in charge, Afghanistan’s position today is the worst ever since the 1970s.
This January, the capital city of Kabul witnessed one of the worst ever incidents of violence anywhere, in which over 100 civilians were killed following a series of terror strikes.
The prolonged period of chaos demonstrates that the Afghan state has virtually disintegrated.
As a regional power, India has significant stakes in Afghanistan.
- New Delhi has spent over $2 billion in providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
- India’s true stake lies in sustaining the future of the Afghan state.
Absence of peace in Afghanistan will only revive memories of the worst days of the Afghan jihad in the 1980s and 1990s.
- If Afghanistan were to cease to exist, its civilisational links with India would also evaporate.
For a variety of reasons, therefore, India cannot allow Afghanistan to collapse or cease to exist as a state in the modern sense.
This is something that demands India’s critical attention, and specially for a display of its leadership skills.
The outcome of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the turmoil in the East and South China Seas, or other big-ticket issues across the world are important, but it is South Asia and the neighbourhood that demands our concentrated attention.
Only after India actively involves in ensuring that the region is at peace and functions in conformity with its world view, the claims to its leadership will sound justifiable.
Connecting the dots:
- For India to gain leadership position in global affairs, it is required that our foreign policy is reframed so as to priorities our neighborhood. Analyze.
General Studies 3:
- Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
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; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
The finance minister announced Operation Greens, on the lines of Operation Flood, with a seed capital of Rs 500 crore in his speech on February 1.
Three days later, the Prime Minister said farmers are his TOP priority — T is for tomatoes, O for onions, and P for potatoes.
Operation Flood changed the face of milk production in India, making the country the largest producer of milk in the world — in 2016-2017.
- Operation Flood was driven largely by smallholders.
- The AMUL model ensured that 75-80 per cent of the price paid by milk consumers goes to the farmers.
Operation Greens wants to replicate that success story in fruit and vegetables, starting with tomatoes, onions and potatoes.
Objectives of Operations Greens:
- The main objective of this project is to reduce price volatility in these commodities, thereby helping farmers augment incomes on a sustainable basis.
- It also aims to provide these vegetables to consumers at affordable prices.
Overall the scheme aims to check the booms and busts in prices.
India is the second largest producer of vegetables in the world with about 180 MMT. But China produces four times more vegetables than India.
Checking prices collapse with rise in production:
The problem with vegetables is that their prices collapse when their production rises sharply.
The country lacks modern storage facilities and the links between processing and organised retailing are very weak.
As a result, farmers often end up receiving less than a fourth of what consumers pay in major cities.
Operation Greens needs to ensure that farmers receive at least 60 per cent of what consumers pay.
In the case of milk, the producers get more than 75 per cent of what consumers pay.
The basic principles of Operation Flood would be useful to operationalise Operation Greens as well.
What needs to be done?
- Linking major consumption centres to major production centres with a minimal number of intermediaries.
One needs to map mega consuming centres and link their retail networks with the producing centres of each commodity.
Farmers can be organised in farmer producer organisations (FPOs).
The Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act will have to be changed to allow direct buying from FPOs, and giving incentives to these organisations, private companies and NGOs to build back end infrastructure as was done in the case of milk.
The announcement of tax concessions to FPOs for five years is a welcome step in that direction, if it encourages building such critical infrastructure.
- Investment in logistics, starting with modern warehouses, that can minimise wastage should be done.
An example is of cold storage for onions, where wastage is reduced to less than 10 per cent, compared to the 25-30 per cent wastage in traditional storage facilities on farmers’ fields.
- Linking the processing industry with organised retailing.
On an average, about one-fourth of the produce must be processed. India is way behind on this curve compared to most Southeast Asian countries. Dehydrated onions, tomato puree and potato chips should become cheap, so that an average household can use them.
Processing industry adds value and absorbs surpluses.
In this light, the government’s announcement of increasing the allocation for the food processing industry by 100 per cent is a welcome step.
By developing forward and backward linkages under Operation Greens, the government can ease large price fluctuations, raise farmers’ share in the price paid by the consumer and at the same time, ensure lower prices for the consumers — a win-win situation for all.
Connecting the dots:
- The government announce Operation Greens this year. Discuss its objectives. Also suggest measures to meet desired objectives.
Parting the waters
Building maritime capacity in SouthEast Asia
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