IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 23rd April 2018
The lunar “Gateway” Program
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Science & Technology
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa) goal of returning to the moon should see a major push in early 2019 with the lunar “Gateway” program.
- The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway is Nasa’s planned “staging” area intended for studies of the moon and the deep-space environment.
- The Gateway would also further Nasa’s goal of another human landing on the moon and will help determine whether water near the surface could be used to manufacture propellant for deep-space missions.
- The moon’s gravity could also help a spacecraft reduce the blistering speeds used for six-month voyages back-and-forth to Mars, thus facilitating re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere.
Article link: Click here
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- 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
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting: Outcome and Expectation
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in London came with hopes of a “re-energised Commonwealth”.
The summit was being held in the U.K., the founder of the grouping of mostly former British colonies, after 32 years.
- The broader agenda was to revive the 53-nation grouping as Commonwealth 2.0, amidst Britain’s rocky exit from the EU.
- In India too, the summit was seen to be a promising place to play a leadership role. Mr. Modi was the first Indian Prime Minister to attend CHOGM in a decade. So, it was widely expected that India would step up to a bigger role, and help chart a future course for the Commonwealth.
The summit was pegged as one that would breathe fresh life, energy and relevance into the grouping.
Given the expectations, the outcome of the meet was underwhelming.
- It was announced Prince Charles would ‘succeed’ his mother as the head of the Commonwealth, ignoring calls for the position to be more democratically shared or rotated.
- There were substantive statements on the Blue Charter on Ocean Governance and on the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment, which could together counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
But there was little by way of a road map to achieve the goals.
- Prime Minister Theresa May failed to convince most members of the Commonwealth that Britain would reverse its policies on immigration.
The U.K.’s hard line on Indian “illegals”, which prevented the signing of a bilateral agreement on immigrant “returns” between Mr. Modi and Ms. May, too indicates that post-Brexit London is likely to welcome trade in goods from the Commonwealth, not services.
Silence on mobility:
Immigration has long been an issue for the Commonwealth as it has for other multinational bodies, but in the wake of the rise of populist forces around the world, and the supposed opportunity the Commonwealth offered as a bulwark against these, the 2018 summit could have presented an opportunity for it (its Western powers in particular) to send a signal that it stood for something different.
Sending a message of openness would have indicated a real willingness to revisit and revitalise the organisation.
The Commonwealth remains a great platform for development aid, democratic values and educational opportunities, but its relevance is unlikely to increase unless it adopts a more egalitarian and inclusive attitude to its next generation of Commonwealth citizens, to partake in a prosperity their forefathers built.
Connecting the dots:
- The Commonwealth remains a great platform for development aid, democratic values and educational opportunities. However, the latest summit held in U.K. led to outcomes much below the expectations. Discuss.
Reference article: India’s interest in re-energised Commonwealth
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.
Organic Farming: Training the farmers
Sikkim is India’s first fully organic State. It means no use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers, or genetically modified crops.
What started 14 years ago as a small change in a tiny region, has now become a great example for the entire nation to learn from.
Can the entire country go organic?
- India is home to some of the most fertile and productive farmland with more than 60 per cent of the land area being arable and 58 per cent of the rural population depending primarily on agriculture for livelihood.
With such an enormous potential, promoting healthier and sustainable farming practices can transform the entire nation’s agronomical profile and, thereby, the nation’s health index.
- Experts suggest that going organic has a positive impact on both income and profitability of farmers. Those who have tried it, have experienced the benefits beginning from overall farm health to a huge increase in productivity.
- Globally, experts suggest that organic agriculture is the future. For the western world, it is new-found treasure. For India, it is about going back to the past and picking up ancient practices.
There is relatively lower awareness about organic farming in India.
According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Moment (IFOAM), India stands ninth on the list of countries relying on organic farming.
While most farmers don’t know the harmful impacts of chemical-based farming, others understand them but do not know how to bring about the much-needed change. This is where the importance of farmer education gains momentum.
Way ahead: Training the farmers
Organic farming should begin with training the most important people behind the big picture: the farmers.
- Farmers need to be informed about the latest technological and scientific developments in this area.
- Incorporating organic tools and techniques into their daily operations in an efficient and effective manner will require ongoing training.
- Farmers will need to be weaned off quick-fix chemical methods and reintroduced to our long lost indigenous knowledge. They need to be trained afresh on aspects such as soil building, pest management, inter-cropping, and compost and manure preparation.
- Agronomists must be deployed in the field to monitor the quality of produce and give timely advice to farmers.
- Certification programmes such as the Indian government’s National Centre for Organic Farming (NCOF) and Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS) need to be made mandatory.
To make organic farming cost effective and easily accessible, the farmer needs to be brought in, in a way that he sees financial promise and possibilities.
With farmers and consumers both benefiting from clean, healthy, non-chemical produce, along with unprecedented gains for the environment, organic farming could put Indian agriculture in a win-win situation.
Connecting the dots:
- To make organic farming cost effective and easily accessible, the farmer needs to be brought in, in a way that he sees financial promise and possibilities. Discuss.
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