Gist of Editorials: A Wake-up Call on Proprietary Seeds | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Theme of the Article

How India can shift its agriculture from a high-yield ideal to a high-value one.

Why has this issue cropped up?

PepsiCo was suing small farmers in India for growing a potato variety that is used in its Lay’s chips.

The downward spiral of small-scale farming

  • Many small farmers are reliant, directly or indirectly, on proprietary seeds.
  • These seeds are grown in high input environments that erode local biodiversity.
  • High inputs, loss of the skills and social relationships has lowered income, status and dignity.

Are farmers to blame for relying on proprietary seeds?

  • Agricultural extension officers have taught farmers to buy ever-higher-yielding seeds.
  • The Plant Variety Protection law permits farmers to sell seeds to other farmers.

The concern with proprietary seeds

Farmers are adapting to local conditions and traditions in order to use genetically standardized seeds, to ruinous effect.

Time for paradigm shift

  • It may be useful to take a peep into recent regulatory efforts in Europe.
    • The EU encourages the use and marketing for organic agriculture.
    • EU is supporting the creation markets and marketplaces facilitating trade of heterogeneous seeds.

How can India shift its agriculture from a high-yield ideal to a high-value one?

  • First, small farmers must be educated and encouraged in traditional/desi agriculture.
  • Second, an immutable record-keeping system is needed to break the link between the profitable and the proprietary.
  • Third, India’s invaluable traditional ecological knowledge systems need to be revived.

Conclusion

The lawsuit by PepsiCo must be a wake-up call to the government and policymakers for the economic development of Indian farmers and of the entire nation.


Gist of Editorials: Private, Public and Political Morality | GS – IV


Relevance :  GS Paper IV


Theme of the Article

People with a political life must follow an ethic distinct from private morality.

Introduction

Though related, political, public and private morality are not identical.

Asoka’s Version of Ethics

  • Neither hate speech nor speech glorifying oneself was acceptable as part of public morality.
  • Ruler owed janahita and janasukham to his subjects.
  • The political domain requires the impartial or just use of power for the good of all.

Hegel’s Version of Ethics

  • Politicians have enduring consequences affecting the lives of large number of people. This brings with it enormous public responsibility.
  • Powerful politicians must show great care and sensitivity to the appropriate use of force and violence.

Private and Political Morality

  • It is wrong to think that moral scrupulousness in one’s private life automatically guarantees high moral stature in political life.
  • A person who is profoundly moral in his private life may brazenly violate all norms of political morality.

Conclusion

It would be wonderful if our private and political moralities were perfectly aligned and we achieved the highest moral standards in both.


Gist of Editorials: Resolving India’s Banking Crisis | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Theme of the Article

Acceleration in economic growth is not possible without addressing the problem of non-performing assets

Introduction

The new government will have to resolve India’s banking sector problem.

Non-performing Assets Data

  • NPAs at commercial banks amounted to ₹10.3 trillion in 2018.
  • Public sector banks (PSBs) accounted for 86% of the total NPAs.

Origin of the NPA crisis

  • Credit boom in 2004-05 to 2008-09; Indian firms borrowed furiously.
  • Most of the investment went into infrastructure.
  • Thereafter, many things went wrong such as environmental clearances.
  • Global financial crisis in 2007-08 and the slowdown after 2011-12
  • Financing costs rose as policy rates were tightened in India
  • The depreciation of the rupee meant higher outflows for companies that had borrowed in foreign currency.
  • This made it difficult for companies to service their loans to Indian banks.

NPA problem more concentrated in PSBs

  • PSBs had a higher exposure to the five most affected sectors — mining, iron and steel, textiles, infrastructure and aviation.
  • PSBs accounted for 86% of advances in these five sectors.

Plans to prevent such Crises

  • Wholesale privatization of PSBs is not the answer.
  • One immediate action that is required is resolving the NPAs.
  • Indian Banks’ Association has set up a panel to oversee resolution plans.
  • Government must infuse additional capital needed to recapitalize banks.
  • RBI needs to develop better mechanisms for monitoring.
  • Action needs to be taken to strengthen the functioning of banks.
  • Governance at PSBs, meaning the functioning of PSB boards, can certainly improve.
  • Succession planning at PSBs also needs to improve.

Conclusion

The task of accelerating economic growth is not possible without finding a solution to the problems that confront the banking system.


Gist of Editorials: The Cost of Resistance | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Even though antimicrobial resistance is acknowledge, few have considered its economic impact.

The Economic impact of Antimicrobial Resistance

  • May cause high scale global economic shocks
  • nearly 10 million people estimated to die annually
  • health-care costs and the cost of food production will spike
  • income inequality will widen
  • world may lose 3.8% of its annual GDP by 2050

India’s Case

  • difficulty in implementing India’s antimicrobial resistance plan
  • twin challenges of antibiotic overuse and underuse
  • poorly regulated pharmaceutical industry

Way forward

  • Nations must acknowledge this eventuality and act to fight it.
  • Phase out critical human-use antibiotics in the animal husbandry sector
  • Private pharmaceutical industries must distribute drugs in a responsible manner.
  • Philanthropic charities must fund the development of new antibiotics
  • Citizen activists must drive awareness
  • improve hygiene and vaccinations

Conclusion

India must consider the consequences of a failure.


Gist of Editorials: A Washington Pipe Dream | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Why has this issue been Raised?

U.S. has decided not to issue any additional ‘Significant Reduction Exceptions’ to existing importers of Iranian oil.

Countries Impacted this Decision

India, China and Turkey will feel the greatest impact of this policy.

China’s Response

  • China is likely to defy the American demand as it is a major world power.
  • Furthermore, it is firmly opposed to unilateral sanctions.

Turkey’s Response

Turkey and Iran have overlapping strategic interests such as regarding Kurdish secessionism, territorial integrity of Iraq, shared antipathy towards Saudi Arabia.  Therefore, it is unlikely that Turkey will bend completely to American will.

India’s Response

  • New Delhi is likely to comply with American demands because of the following factors:
    • S. is India’s largest trading partner.
    • convergence of American and Indian interests regarding containing China.
    • civil nuclear relationship with the U.S. is very important for India
  • However, India will have to pay the price for compliance with the American diktat because:
    • India is involved in building the Chabahar port in southern Iran.
    • Iran is also important for in the context of Afghanistan.
    • Iran shares India’s antipathy toward Pakistan.

Will Iran surrender to American threat?

Iran has stood up to unprecedented sanctions for four decades and remained unbowed. The current American policy of forcing Tehran to cut its oil exports to zero will only and end up with Tehran adopting an even more virulent anti-American posture.

A Dark Scenario Possibility

  • It can well become a prelude to another major war in West Asia.
  • Iran is likely to retaliate by withdrawing from the nuclear accord.
  • This could lead to strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities which Iran will retaliate to.
  • The mayhem in the region can be disastrous for West Asia and for flow of energy supplies.

Conclusion

If not reversed, such a strategy could well lead to another American misadventure in West Asia.


Gist of Editorials: Conservation Minus the People? | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


India is moving away from community-involved conservation models.

Why has this issue cropped up?

Recently, the Supreme Court issued ordered eviction of more than a million forest-dwellers.

Importance of this court order

It provides valuable insights into India’s conservation objectives and approaches..

Importance of involvement of communities

Involving communities is an effective tool of conservation. This was affirmed by the 1992 Earth Summit and IUCN.

The reality of conservation in India

  • India’s conservation policies and legislation over the years reveal a dichotomy of intent and action.
  • Indian Forest Act, 1927 and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 contain provisions to restrict local use of natural resources and landscapes.
  • Joint Forest Management Guidelines (JFM), 1990, created community institutions for co-management, in collaboration with the forest bureaucracy.
  • Forest Rights Act, 2006 conferred rights to local communities over forest land and produce.

Role of Communities ignored in India

  • Third National Wildlife Action Plan, introduced in 2017 is of the view that locals hinder conservation.
  • In 2018, there was a Draft National Forest Policy that left little room for communities.
  • The Supreme Court’s order in early 2019 rejected claims under the Forest Rights Act.
  • In March 2019, the proposed amendment to Indian Forest Act extinguishes rights granted under the Forest Rights Act.

Conclusion

While other countries are recognizing the value of community-involved conservation models, India is moving in the opposite direction.


Gist of Editorials: The Gender Ladder to Socio-Economic Transformation | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


India’s recent election gave unprecedented focus on women’s employment.

What data show?

  • The female labour force participation rate in India fell to 23.3% in 2017-2018.
  • This decline has been sharper in rural areas.

Factors responsible for low workforce participation

  • low social acceptability of women working outside the household
  • lack of access to safe and secure workspaces
  • widespread prevalence of poor and unequal wages,
  • dearth of decent and suitable jobs.
  • engagement in subsistence-level work
  • Educated women efusing to do casual wage labour

Way forward

  • facilitating women’s access to decent work by
    • providing public services,
    • eliminating discrimination in hiring,
    • ensuring equal and decent wages, and
    • improving women’s security in public spaces.
  • recognise, reduce, redistribute, and remunerate women’s unpaid work.
  • Fair and decent living wages and appropriate social security
  • safe and dignified working and living conditions for migrant workers
  • allocate social housing spaces for women workers
  • enumerate and remunerate the unpaid and underpaid work.

Gist of Editorials: The Cost of Resistance | GS – II


Relevance : GS Paper II


Theme of the Article

India must brace for the economic shocks from uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance.

Why has this issue cropped up?

Even though antimicrobial resistance is acknowledged by policymakers as a major health crisis, few have considered its economic impact.

The economic impact of antimicrobial resistance

  • A recent report says in about three decades from now uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance will cause global economic shocks on the scale of the 2008-09 financial crisis.
  • With nearly 10 million people estimated to die annually from resistant infections by 2050, health-care costs and the cost of food production will spike, while income inequality will widen.
  • In the worst-case scenario, the world will lose 3.8% of its annual GDP by 2050, while 24 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030.

India’s case

  • India first published almost nine years ago the broad contours of a plan to fight antimicrobial resistance. The difficulty has been in implementing it, given the twin challenges of antibiotic overuse and underuse.
  • On the one hand, many Indians still die of diseases like sepsis and pneumonia because they don’t get the right drug at the right time.
  • On the other hand, a poorly regulated pharmaceutical industry means that antibiotics are freely available to those who can afford them.

Way forward

  • Nations must acknowledge this eventuality and act to fight it. For high- and mid-income nations, the price of prevention, at $2 per head a year, is extremely affordable. For poorer countries, the price is higher but still modest compared to the costs of an antibiotic apocalypse.
  • There is a need to phase out critical human-use antibiotics in the animal husbandry sector, such as quinolones. But these steps cannot be driven by regulation alone. A multi-stakeholder approach, involving private industry, philanthropic groups and citizen activists is needed
  • Private pharmaceutical industries must take it upon themselves to distribute drugs in a responsible manner.
  • Philanthropic charities must fund the development of new antibiotics, while citizen activists must drive awareness.
  • These stakeholders must appreciate that the only way to postpone resistance is through improved hygiene and vaccinations.

Conclusion

It is a formidable task as India still struggles with low immunization rates and drinking water contamination. But it must consider the consequences of a failure.


Gist of Editorials: Rethinking India’s Space Policy | GS – II & III


Relevance : GS Paper II & III


India has signalled its determination to deter space threats by doing ASAT test.

Factors that India should take care of:

  • A comprehensive military space policy and the necessary investments.
  • India must now wrestle with the exponential growth of the space market.
  • India must promote a massive expansion of the private sector’s role in space.
  • Instead of trying to do everything, ISRO could focus on a few critical objectives.
  • India must prepare for the inevitable evolution of the global space regime centred around the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.
  • India needs collaboration with allies and partners in outer space

Conclusion

India will need all the strategic pragmatism, legal acumen and diplomatic skill in shaping new rules for the regulation of outer space.


Gist of Editorials: The Anti-Corruption Scorecard | GS – II


Relevance : GS Paper II


Last few years have seen attacks on anti-corruption laws and institutions.

Blows to Fighting Graft

  • PCA: The amendment to PCA narrows down the definition of corruption, and negatively impacts the whistle-blowers.
  • CBI: Recent months have witnessed a brazen undermining of the autonomy of the CBI.
  • LOKPAL: The government failed to take the necessary steps to appoint a Lokpal in five years.
  • WHISTLE BLOWERS: The government has failed to promulgate rules and operationalise the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2014.
  • GRIEVANCE BILL: No attempts have been made by the government to reintroduce the Grievance Redress Bill that deals with ‘petty corruption’.
  • RTI Act: Not a single commissioner was appointed to the Central Information Commission in the last five years without intervention by courts.
  • ELECTORAL BONDS:. The electoral bond scheme prevents citizens from finding out who is funding political parties.

Conclusion

Political will to take necessary steps to curb corruption is needed.