IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 26th April 2018
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Government interventions
- The second stage of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is set to take off with a much wider spread than its first stage.
- It is a scheme of the Centre aimed at making higher education institutions provide solutions for problems of villages.
- While just 143 premier institutions like IITs and NITs took part in the first stage, UBA 2.0 will see open and much wider participation from many higher educational institutions.
- Both technical and non-technical institutions have been invited to build systems in villages as per their strengths.
- The idea is to have a coordinated approach where the government and institutions work together to facilitate rural development.
- It is expected to be a two-way learning process, where institutions share their knowledge with villages and also learn from the wisdom and commonsense of rural folk.
- The key points include helping villages achieve 100% school results, creating 25 jobs each in four sectors in each village where work would take place, increasing rural incomes, providing drinking water and sanitation to villages, disposing village garbage, among other things.
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TOPIC : General Studies 2:
- India and its neighborhood- 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.
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Since ancient times, regional partnerships have driven growth all over the world and brought prosperity. In today’s times also, we have witnessed how Indian foreign policy has engaged with trans-regional, regional and sub-regional initiatives to nurture shared goals of regional stability and development.
BIMSTEC – What it stands for
This year will mark the 21st anniversary of the establishment of BIMSTEC – Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. In this timeframe, this regional grouping has come a very long way.
Though the desired level of collaboration has evaded the organisation so far, escalating pressures in the neighbourhood of South Asia and South-East Asia have renewed pragmatic hope for stronger ties between BIMSTEC member states.
Importance for India:
BIMSTEC stands at the very important intersection of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East Policy’.
Encompassing seven member States — five stemming from South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka) and two from South-East Asia (Myanmar and Thailand) lying in the largest bay in the world — the Bay of Bengal, BIMSTEC demonstrates regional unity as well as contiguity.
BIMSTEC could enable integration and economic development of the North-East region.
BIMSTEC is one of the least integrated regions of the world.
Renewed foreign policy and strategic focus signalled by the 2016 BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit in Goa and several that followed provides timely encouragement for the private sector to articulate a proactive engagement strategy.
In alignment with the Indian foreign policy focus on BIMSTEC, FICCI convened a Core Group on BIMSTEC in 2017.
The resulting knowledge paper ‘Reinvigorating BIMSTEC, An Industry Vision for the Next Decade’ laid out powerful recommendations including-
- Creation of a BIMSTEC fund, strengthening of BIMSTEC Secretariat as well as improving government-to-business interface in the functioning of BIMSTEC.
- Lack of connectivity and timely availability of business information is the greatest hindrance to closer economic engagement.
Multimodal connectivity and a speedy conclusion of the BIMSTEC FTA along with an effective energy sharing mechanism will have a multiplier effect on trade and investment.
- On a backdrop of shared history, new and fresh connections have to be forged between students and young entrepreneurs, youth icons, cultural and literary role models and elected representatives. Building Brand BIMSTEC by identifying such brand ambassadors would build soft power equity.
BIMSTEC holds catalytic potential to transform economies of member states and create a peaceful, prosperous and integrated neighbourhood.
The road from potential to reality will be successfully traversed only when all actors and stakeholders come together to play their role well to achieve a shared dream for peace, stability and prosperity for this dynamic region.
Connecting the dots:
- The BIMSTEC holds catalytic potential to transform economies of member states and create a peaceful, prosperous and integrated neighbourhood. For this to happen, the stakeholders need to come together to see that the required steps are taken towards its actualization. Comment.
General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3:
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment
Reforming Farmer Producer Organisations: Doubling farmers’ income
The government has this lofty goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
Among the different instruments to achieve this goal, promotion of new and scaling up of existing Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) have been given focus.
Given the extremely small landholdings, FPOs, through collectivisation, which leads to economies of scale, are supposed to address the problems and improve the bargaining power of farmers through backward (inputs) and forward linkages (marketing to processors and retailers).
Have FPOs been successful in reducing input costs and bridging the gap between farm and market prices — a marker of farmers’ bargaining power?
Have they been successful in providing more markets and eased credit constraints of group members?
Bihar case study:
To address the above questions, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) implemented a study of FPOs in Bihar.
The results show some success but also several challenges.
- The farmers seem to have tasted some success in getting information on crops and technology, inputs (seeds, fertilisers and pesticides) at cheaper rates, higher price for their produce, and linking with new markets.
- FPOs seem to falter in terms of risk mitigation. Sixty-five per cent FPO farmers rate sudden collapse in market price as their biggest fear.
- One of the biggest challenges for FPOs is ineptness in accessing capital (mere 3 per cent farmers reported improved credit access post-membership).
- One of the prime motives behind formation of FPO or FPC is to provide capital access. Around 59 per cent FPO farmers reported status quo in access to capital.
- The other challenges are lack of proper monitoring, no or incomplete record of farmer members, no penalties for wrongdoers, no incentives for good performance, and other problems like free-riding.
- Lack of proper monitoring and evaluation seems to be hampering the growth of FPOs. Many of them do not have records about members, and several farmers themselves do not know whether they are members or not.
- The FPOs need a proper selection mechanism for the promoters/organization as well as members based on merit.
- Optimal size determination: It is always convenient to monitor smaller group. Smaller sub groups, of 25-30 members, within a group could be easier to monitor and can also deliver better on attributes like quality and food safety.
- Optimal composition: Participation of members with different skills is important to reap the gains based on comparative advantage. Heterogeneity in that sense is desirable. Policy should try to minimise the entry barriers for farmers based on social, economic and political factors so benefits of different skills can flow.
- Product differentiation: FPOs can maximise prices for farmers if their products are differentiated.
Product differentiation levers can be taken, such as freshness (plucked in the morning on day of sales), organic (small farmers hardly use fertilisers/pesticides for vegetables and fruits), and some local sourcing identifiers. There can also be differentiation of products by packaging. If farmers start packaging their products properly, they can command a price premium.
Connecting the dots:
- Among the different instruments to achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, promotion of new and scaling up of existing Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) have been given focus. Various survey shows FPOs aren’t working as desired. Discuss the challengs and the way ahead.
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