IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 11th May 2019
Gujarat facing massive water crisis
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Conservation
- Gujarat is facing a massive water crisis due to rising mercury levels and severe heat wave.
- Water scarcity is acute especially in Saurashtra region, Kutch, North Gujarat and parts of tribal pockets in central and South Gujarat.
- Gujarat is in the midst of a major water shortage. Except river Narmada, all other water bodies and dams have negligible water.
Navy joins exercises in South China Sea
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International affairs; Security/Defence
- Navy ships INS Kolkata and Shakti carried out Group Sail with the naval ships of Japan, the Philippines and the U.S. in the South China Sea (SCS) from May 3-9.
- The Group Sail exercise showcased India’s commitment to operating with like-minded nations to ensure safe maritime environment through enhanced interoperability.
- The coordinated “group sail” included Indian guided missile destroyer INS Kolkata and fleet tanker INS Shakti, American destroyer USS Williams P Lawrence, Japanese helicopter carrier JMSDF Izumo and destroyer JMSDF Murasame and Philippines frigate BRP Andres Bonifaci.
Do you know?
- Indian Navy warships INS Kolkata and tanker INS Shakti had took part in the Chinese international fleet review. (was held at Qingdao, China on April 23)
- They later took part in the Phase I of the maritime security field training exercise under the aegis of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) from May 1 to 3 off South Korea.
India to add 3 million tech jobs by 2023
According to Indian Staffing Federation (ISF), the apex body for the ‘flexi’ working industry –
- Indian tech industry will add another three million new jobs in the next five years.
- With the additions, the size of the country’s tech army will be 7 million by 2023.
- All these new jobs would come up in digital technology areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Internet of things (IOT), data science, analytics, big data, blockchain and augmented reality.
- Jobs would also be created in newer technology areas that are presently unknown but are expected to emerge and evolve in the next few years.
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; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
PepsiCo versus potato growing farmers
- Multi-billion dollar conglomerate PepsiCo had sued 11 farmers, asking them to pay ₹1.05 crore each as damages for ‘infringing its rights’ by growing the potato variety used in its Lays chips.
- Farmers groups had launched a campaign calling for government intervention.
- According to the farmer groups, the law allows them to grow and sell any variety of crop or even seed as long as they don’t sell branded seed of registered varieties, and warned that the case could set a precedent for other crops.
- After pressure from farmers’ groups, PepsiCo has decided to withdraw cases against about 10 farmers in Gujarat and Rajasthan who were allegedly cultivating its FC-5 variety — registered by it under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act 2001 (PPVFRA) — for their own use.
- The patent is for the potato plant variety FL-2027 (commercial name FC-5). Pepsi’s North America subsidiary Frito-Lay has the patent until October 2023.
- For India, PepsiCo India Holdings (PIH) has patented FC-5 until January 2031 under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001.
- PIH, which has a buyback agreement with Gujarat farmers, accused the 11 farmers — three of whom earlier had contracts with the company — of illegally growing, producing and selling the variety “without permission of PIH”.
- The agreement was that PIH would collect potatoes of diameter greater than 45 mm from the farmers who had contracts with the company.
- However, random farmers got registered seeds from known groups and farmer communities. They had been sowing these for the last four years or so, and had no contractual agreement with anyone.
- They learnt they were growing a registered variety only when they got a court notice on April 11.
- According to Section 39 of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act 2001 (PPVFRA), “A farmer shall be deemed to be entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into force of this Act: Provided that the farmer shall not be entitled to sell branded seed of a variety protected under this Act.” (However, the seeds in case, were not sold as branded seeds.)
- Section 42 says: “A right established under this Act shall not be deemed to be infringed by a farmer who at the time of such infringement was not aware of the existence of such right.” (This makes any claim of damages tenuous.)
- Indian PPV & FRA law is aimed at facilitating the growth of the seed industry, ensuring the availability of high-quality seeds, as well as securing the livelihood and plant varieties of the farmers.
- Therefore, it was apparent that PepsiCo never had a strong legal case against farmers growing its registered potato variety without entering into a contract.
- The government should put into place clear mechanisms to avoid a repetition of this episode in future. There should be absolutely no compromise on farmers’ rights and seed sovereignty.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- International Relations
- Policies of developed and developing countries and their impact on India’s interests
New clouds over the Persian Gulf: Iran threatens to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran will withdraw partially from the landmark nuclear deal of 2015.
- Iran’s decision to reduce its commitments to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the P5+1 agreement, comes as a reaction to the U.S.’s attempts in recent weeks to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
Why the issue?
- The issue started after US President Donald Trump pulled out from the nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
- Iran had the option of walking out too. But it did not. Iran had hoped that the European powers as well as Russia and China might help limit the effects of America’s renewed hostility.
- Europeans had criticised the US withdrawal, affirmed that Iran was in compliance with the nuclear agreement, and offered to sustain economic engagement with Iran if Tehran stayed true to the deal.
- China and Russia had also criticised the US decision as unilateral and arbitrary.
- Trump administration went on to re-impose sanctions on Iran.
- Now, Iran is demanding the remaining signatories of the deal — the U.K., China, France, Germany and Russia — to ease the restrictions on its banking and oil sectors in the next 60 days.
- In case the five endorsers of the deal decide not to act in favour of Iran, the authorities of Tehran will remove the caps on uranium enrichment levels and resume work on the Arak nuclear facility.
- Iran’s partial withdrawal from the nuclear agreement is aimed at convincing US’s allies in Europe as well as its competitors that time is running out to save the deal.
- Iran’s plans are very clear, and they put an end to long and laborious multilateral negotiations which put strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activities in return for lifting most international sanctions.
- By resuming its uranium enrichment operations, Iran could be taking a huge risk, putting at danger its diplomatic relations with Europe and playing the game of the Trump administration that has been taking a hard line against Tehran.
- Consequently, Iran might be economically isolated, but the message coming out from Russia is that Iran is not alone.
- US sanctions against Iran will certainly result in the development of cooperation between Russia and Iran, but also with countries like Turkey which are important to American foreign policy.
- US sanctions are likely to hit the earnings of Iran’s major metals companies, which will have immediate impact on the Iranian government’s revenues and also will deteriorate the balance sheets of Iran’s heavily indebted metals and mining companies.
- This situation will be followed by mass unemployment, especially among blue-collar workers employed by state-owned enterprises who form the backbone of Iran’s economy.
For Donald Trump and his aides, the outcome of their confrontation with Iran is clearly to deprive the Iranian regime of the funds it can use to impose its hegemony around West Asia, but also to put pressure on the everyday life of Iranian citizens.
Troubled times are ahead for Iran, West Asia and the global market.
Connecting the dots:
- Rivalries and tensions between the US and Iran could throw some challenges to India’s dealings in West Asia. Analyse.
- Discuss the likely causes and impacts of Iran pulling out of historic 2015 nuclear deal or P5+1 agreement.
Resolving India’s banking crisis
Picking up the pieces after Cyclone Fani
A confession in Iran
Making contract farming suitable for farmers